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Friday, June 01, 2012

io9.com: The Awesomely Weird Art of 1800s Baseball Photography

In the late 1800s, baseball players didn’t have the luxury of high-tech cameras to capture their in-game bravado. Instead, players would sometimes pose with imperceptibly hung baseballs in portrait studios.

This bit of camera legerdemain was supposed to make players appear as if they were furiously concentrating on America’s pastime. More often than not, this trick made the athletes look like telekinetic popinjays with fantastic mustaches.

 

Lassus Posted: June 01, 2012 at 06:43 AM | 37 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: general

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   1. TerpNats Posted: June 01, 2012 at 10:03 AM (#4145008)
What's the oldest known on-field baseball action picture? I'm just wondering if anything out there is older than that iconic photo of Ty Cobb sliding into third, dirt in the air (which I presume was taken in the early 1910s at the latest).
   2. Lassus Posted: June 01, 2012 at 10:31 AM (#4145024)
If someone with proper keys (repoz, gamingboy?) wants to insert a picture in the OP, they should, as they are mesmerizing, and more people should see them.
   3. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: June 01, 2012 at 10:40 AM (#4145031)
It's like a steampunk adaptation of Phantasm.
   4. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: June 01, 2012 at 10:46 AM (#4145036)
Those are fantastic pictures (I particularly like the one tagging the corpse at second). Gives you a good sense of early fielding techniques. What's with the one-handed catch?
   5. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: June 01, 2012 at 10:47 AM (#4145037)
Our Little League pictures had a ball hanging on fishing wire in front of us 100 years after those pictures. I was trying to be funny, so I posed with the ball hitting me in the side. Of course, I had to run laps.
   6. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: June 01, 2012 at 10:51 AM (#4145039)
These photos are great even without the mysterious floating orbs, just for their illustration of how people caught the ball before gloves.
   7. puck Posted: June 01, 2012 at 11:06 AM (#4145045)
The cardigans are cute.

Interesting that baseball went to gloves and cricket did not.
   8. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 01, 2012 at 11:17 AM (#4145052)
I like the one of the guy standing on a base and watching a ball that's about a foot and a half away from hitting him right between the eyes.
   9. Random Transaction Generator Posted: June 01, 2012 at 11:33 AM (#4145072)
I would love to see modern baseball players recreate these poses/shots.
Hell, you could make it a limited edition baseball card set.
   10. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 01, 2012 at 11:35 AM (#4145074)
I'm obviously biased, and it's not 19th century, but this 1912 team photo has got to be my favorite baseball portrait of all time.
   11. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 01, 2012 at 11:46 AM (#4145086)
Hey, if you like to see other great stuff, the original story that io9.com copied was from the website of an old friend and colleague of mine, John Ptak of J.F. Ptak's Science Books. This is one of the absolutely greatest websites out there, at least if you've got a love for the serendipitous. The baseball card story was part of his "Daily Dose of Dr. Odd" series that also includes bits like The Future of Air Travel, circa 1900.
   12. PreservedFish Posted: June 01, 2012 at 11:52 AM (#4145090)
I like the ones with the Gilbert & Bacon photos with the forest backgrounds.
   13. Perry Posted: June 01, 2012 at 12:03 PM (#4145105)
We used no mattress on our hands,
No cage upon our face;
We stood right up and caught the ball
With courage and with grace.

-- George Ellard
   14. Urkel's Boner Posted: June 01, 2012 at 12:42 PM (#4145143)
These guys would look right at home at the Cyclones' "Williamsburg Hipster" night.
   15. McCoy Posted: June 01, 2012 at 01:10 PM (#4145169)
What's the oldest known on-field baseball action picture? I'm just wondering if anything out there is older than that iconic photo of Ty Cobb sliding into third, dirt in the air (which I presume was taken in the early 1910s at the latest).

That is the Conlon photo of Cobb sliding into third with Jimmy Austin manning third. It was taken on July 23, 1910. But no it is most definitely is not the first on-field baseball action picture. I don't know what the first one is but I do know they have action photos from the 1906 World Series. I think I've seen them for the 1905 WS as well. Cobb has a good one for the 1908 WS as well. In it he is bursting out of the box. Even the 1903 WS has photos.
   16. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: June 01, 2012 at 01:16 PM (#4145179)
This book of Charles Conlon's photos is a great one. I don't know what the earliest action photo is but it was probably taken by Conlon.
   17. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 01, 2012 at 01:33 PM (#4145197)
That is the Conlon photo of Cobb sliding into third with Jimmy Austin manning third. It was taken on July 23, 1910. But no it is most definitely is not the first on-field baseball action picture. I don't know what the first one is but I do know they have action photos from the 1906 World Series. I think I've seen them for the 1905 WS as well. Cobb has a good one for the 1908 WS as well. In it he is bursting out of the box. Even the 1903 WS has photos.

The Reach and Spalding guides from the early 20th century each had many hundreds of photos, but nearly all of them were of teams, on every level from the Majors to Insane Asylums.

The 1906 Reach guide has quite a few action photos from the 1905 World Series, but 1903 is another story. The 1904 Reach guide covers the "Inter-League Series of 1903" with lots of text and a portrait of the Boston manager Jimmy Collins, and that's it. OTOH the Spalding guide doesn't even mention the Series at all, probably because it was the National League guide and the Pirates lost the Series. I'm sure that there are action photos of that 1903 Series, though, and I'd love to know where to find them.
   18. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 01, 2012 at 01:34 PM (#4145200)
The cover of the New Historical Abstract shows a catcher diving to tag out a runner at home. It's not identified anywhere, but looks like it's from around 1910. Does anyone know when and where that hails from?
   19. Gamingboy Posted: June 01, 2012 at 01:42 PM (#4145212)
I actually don't have the keys, Lassus. I just submit.
   20. Yonder Alonso in misguided trousers (cardinal) Posted: June 01, 2012 at 01:44 PM (#4145217)
Despite that I can't seem to change my screen name (is it not allowed anymore, or I am I just doing it wrong?) "Telekinetic popinjay with a fantastic mustache" would make a great one.

Edit: Also, those photos are truly amazing.
   21. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 01, 2012 at 01:45 PM (#4145218)
This book of Charles Conlon's photos is a great one. I don't know what the earliest action photo is but it was probably taken by Conlon.

The earliest action photo in that book is the one of Cobb and Austin that was taken in 1909. (Wiki has the date wrong.) But the frontispiece has an even more interesting 1911 shot of "New York [Highlander] base runner Bert Daniels [having] just been thrown out at the plate by Cleveland center fielder Shoeless Joe Jackson. Catcher Ted Easterly applies the tag as umpire Billy Evans makes the call. Cleveland third baseman Ivy Olson looks on." You can also see the field umpire and several other players in the background, along with the League Park LF stands and about a dozen ads lining the LF wall.
   22. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 01, 2012 at 01:50 PM (#4145230)
The cover of the New Historical Abstract shows a catcher diving to tag out a runner at home. It's not identified anywhere, but looks like it's from around 1910. Does anyone know when and where that hails from?

If that's the NBJHA you're talking about, the players aren't identified, but the catcher looks like Mickey Cochrane, and the fact that the runner has a uniform number means that it's after 1929.
   23. McCoy Posted: June 01, 2012 at 01:56 PM (#4145245)
   24. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: June 01, 2012 at 02:01 PM (#4145256)
Wow, an ad for "Old Bushmills" 101 years ago.
   25. vortex of dissipation Posted: June 01, 2012 at 02:05 PM (#4145261)
If that's the NBJHA you're talking about, the players aren't identified, but the catcher looks like Mickey Cochrane, and the fact that the runner has a uniform number means that it's after 1929.


Yes, it is Mickey Cochrane. I wish I could remember where I read it, but someone tracked down the photo as being taken at an exhibition game in Philadelphia between the Athletics and the Phillies.
   26. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 01, 2012 at 02:21 PM (#4145280)
Bert Daniels photo.

Yep, that's the one. Thanks, McCoy.

--------------------------------------

If that's the NBJHA you're talking about, the players aren't identified, but the catcher looks like Mickey Cochrane, and the fact that the runner has a uniform number means that it's after 1929.

Yes, it is Mickey Cochrane. I wish I could remember where I read it, but someone tracked down the photo as being taken at an exhibition game in Philadelphia between the Athletics and the Phillies.


If that's true, then it was taken in either 1932 or 1933, and the Phillies runner was Pinky Whitney. The Phillies didn't sport numbers until 1932, and Cochrane left the A's after the 1933 season.
   27. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: June 01, 2012 at 02:42 PM (#4145326)
Since we're on the topic of early images, does anyone know the earliest ML game for which we have complete footage (or, close to it)?

What is the earliest ML game for which we have a complete filmed inning (or half-inning)?
   28. Spahn Insane Posted: June 01, 2012 at 05:25 PM (#4145494)
Post 10:

Tremendous. Is "Czolgosz" President McKinley's assassin Leon Czolgosz, by any chance?
   29. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 01, 2012 at 05:35 PM (#4145502)
Post 10:

Tremendous. Is "Czolgosz" President McKinley's assassin Leon Czolgosz, by any chance?


Can't imagine who else it would be, especially since that assassination was still well within living memory---only 11 years before that photo was taken. And if inmates were calling themselves "Wellington" and "Brutus", why not Czolgosz?

BTW note that that hospital still exists, though obviously not under quite so blunt a name.

   30. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 01, 2012 at 05:41 PM (#4145510)
Since we're on the topic of early images, does anyone know the earliest ML game for which we have complete footage (or, close to it)?

What is the earliest ML game for which we have a complete filmed inning (or half-inning)?


Game 6 of the 1952 Yanks-Dodgers World Series is the earliest I can think of, and it's about 95% complete. And game 7 of that same Series is missing only a few pitches. Both of them are kinescopes filmed off of a TV screen, and the original Gillette "Look sharp, feel sharp" commercials are in there, too, along with Mel Allen and Red Barber on the mikes.

But AFAIK those are not only the earliest complete games, they're also the earliest films that contain anything other than brief highlights. Those half hour WS highlight films began in 1943, and they're nowhere near as vivid as those 1952 kinescopes, which have a totally "live" look.
   31. Ebessan Posted: June 01, 2012 at 05:55 PM (#4145518)
I'm obviously biased, and it's not 19th century, but this 1912 team photo has got to be my favorite baseball portrait of all time.

Now I'm trying to figure out if the manager was sane and that was his actual surname, or if he was insane and thought that he was William Jennings Bryan.
   32. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: June 01, 2012 at 06:03 PM (#4145524)
Wow, an ad for "Old Bushmills" 101 years ago.


I think Bushmill was old before he started making whiskey.
   33. PreservedFish Posted: June 01, 2012 at 06:07 PM (#4145526)
Yes, I thought that Bryan was by far the most sinister of the names. I was disappointed when I looked up and saw that it was the manager - probably just the real name of an asylum employee.
   34. bobm Posted: June 03, 2012 at 02:46 PM (#4146892)
A Game of Inches says the first US telecast was Princeton-Columbia on May 17, 1939 on W2XBS, an experimental NBC station in New York City.

The first telecast of an MLB game was Reds-Dodgers on August 26, 1939, by Red Barber again on W2XBS.
In return for allowing the game to be televised, Larry MacPhail asked only that NBC install a set in the Dodgers' press box. ... Two cameras were used in this game, both on the third base line, but one by the visitors' dugout and the other behind the right-handed batters' box.
   35. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: June 03, 2012 at 03:05 PM (#4146900)
I'm a bit surprised that MLB, given the popularity of the sport, didn't film any of the earlier World Series games -- for example, during WWII, for the troops to watch.
   36. bobm Posted: June 03, 2012 at 03:20 PM (#4146906)
[17] You may have seen this, but this blog features an in-game panoramic photograph which is deduced to be from a 1903 game from the Library of Congress' collection:

That's Nixey Callahan of the White Sox wielding his bat in the batter's box, leading off the top of the fifth inning in a game against Boston at the Huntington Avenue Grounds in Roxbury on September 22, 1903.
   37. bobm Posted: June 03, 2012 at 04:28 PM (#4146949)
A Game of Inches also references "The Earliest-known Baseball Photograph" by Tom Shieber, available here within SABR's "The National Pastime # 17" in PDF format.

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