Diamond Visions: Baseball’s Greatest Photographs, Part 2

Willie Mays, "The Catch"--from CF.

Willie Mays, “The Catch”–from CF; less famous (!).

I would have liked to feature an image from each of the great baseball photographers, but as there are more than 25, it was impossible. Hy Peskin, Charles Conlon, Neil Leifer, George Silk, Walter Iooss, Louis Van Oeyen, Charles Williamson, Joseph Hall, Paul Thompson, James Wallace Black, Carl Horner, Gilbert Bacon, Ozzie Sweet … the list runs on and on, to well beyond the 25 that forms my upper limit this week. Maybe one of you out there in the dark, dear readers, might wish to tackle a guest piece here on the subject of the great baseball photographers?

Carlton Fisk HR, Harry Cabluck, AP

Carlton Fisk HR, Harry Cabluck, AP

Over the years, with advancing technology and instant access to mass media, much has been gained, but something has been lost too. The telephoto lens makes easy what once was hard, but beauty has generally been the casualty of technical proficiency. Long distance shots of such great moments as Hank Aaron’s 715th home run or Carlton Fisk’s imploring his drive to stay fair will not make the cut here. Great moments make for iconic images, but seldom artistic ones. My two cents, of course; feel free to box my ears.

And then there are the photographs that tell a richly layered story. I am a sucker for such images; they are the spur to memory, and a writer’s friend. But the beautiful image speaks unaided, so I have not felt compelled to provide back-story in this week’s blog entries. You could look it up, or send me a note by wire, or whatever the kids do these days.

[Clicking on a photo will enlarge it.]

6. Polo Grounds, Opening Day, April 29, 1886, shot from the stands with Kodak's new "detective camera"; Richard Hoe Lawrence.

6. Polo Grounds, April 29, 1886, shot from stands with Kodak’s new “detective camera”; Richard Hoe Lawrence.

7. The Catch, Willie Mays, Game One, World Series, September 29, 1954; Frank Hurley, New York Daily News.

7. The Catch, Willie Mays, Game One, World Series, September 29, 1954; Frank Hurley, New York Daily News.

8. Willie Davis, shot from remote camera, second base, Dodger Stadium, April 25, 1965; Neil Leifer.

8. Willie Davis, shot from remote camera, second base, Dodger Stadium, April 25, 1965; Neil Leifer.

9. Lou Gehrig in dugout, Detroit May 2, 1939; he would not play this day; unknown photographer, AP.

9. Lou Gehrig in dugout, Detroit May 2, 1939; he would not play this day; unknown photographer, AP.

10. Fenway Park, May 20, 1937: Cleveland's Jeff Heath leaps over Red Sox catcher Gene Desautels; Leslie Jones.

10. Fenway Park, May 20, 1937: Cleveland’s Jeff Heath leaps over Red Sox catcher Gene Desautels; Leslie Jones.

Photos 11-15 tomorrow! This series commenced here: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2015/03/02/diamond-visions-baseballs-greatest-photographs/

8 Comments

Regarding Neil Leifer’s photo of Willie Davis sliding into second at Dodger Stadium. Leifer had to get permission from the league and the Dodgers to hide a camera under second base. He wanted to get a shot of Maury Wills sliding into second, preferably on a stolen base attempt, ideally with a close tag. But Wills didn’t get on base until late in the game. Meanwhile, Davis, running to second to break up a double play, slid into the camera and broke it. There was no possibility of delaying the game to fix the camera, so this is the shot he settled for. Not a bad Plan B!

Great back-story, Gabe!

Love those photos!

Love that 1886 shot, appears in 59 in ’84. Old Hoss on the mound, Mickey Welch at the plate, Monte Ward on deck. Beautiful.

It is one of five (or perhaps six) images shot that day from the stands. The original images reside at the New-York Historical Society. Friend Dick Perez worked from all of them, assembled like a jigsaw puzzle, to create this: a wraparound cover for SABR’s The National Pastime of 1984, a special pictorial issue devoted to the 19th century; and a limited edition print, visible here: http://goo.gl/vYMIGg

and here:

I love the Liefer photo, which I do not believe he could have surpassed with another version. (Thanks for that, Gabe.) Davis could fly.

the Willie Davis shot is incredible and the Gehrig photo says so much without any caption.

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