Diamond Visions: Baseball’s Greatest Photographs, Part 3

Boston's South End Grounds

Boston’s South End Grounds

Many baseball fans love the old ballparks, as much or more than they do the old players and teams. These hosts to great days, these halls of fame–they have a romance about them out of all proportion to their architectural merits. Soon, I expect, we will experience a nostalgic glow when recalling Shea Stadium. If the America that was survives anywhere, it is in baseball, that strangely pastoral game in no matter what setting—domed stadium or Little League field. There were baseball photographers who specialized neither in portraiture nor in game action but in sweeping vistas of these green cathedrals. George H. Hastings in Boston, George R. Lawrence in Chicago, Irving Underhill in New York, and a legion of unnamed practitioners of the panoramic art working for the Bain News Service or the Pictorial News Company.

The wooden ballparks of the early period were firetraps–even those as gorgeous as Boston’s South End Grounds, which succumbed to flame in midgame on May 15, 1894, a footnote to the Great Roxbury Fire. The concrete-and-steel palaces that sprang up liked dandelions as baseball boomed, beginning with Shibe Park and Forbes Field in 1909, became long-standing museums of a million memories, and even when we see a panoramic view of an old ballpark into which we never set foot, we feel good about baseball, and America, and ourselves.

In this next set of great photos, it may be said that the ballparks and the fans rise to the fore, with the players retreating for a moment.

[Clicking on a photo will enlarge it.]

11.  University of Pittsburgh students cheer wildly from atop the Cathedral of Learning as they look down on Forbes Field, Game 7, 1960 World Series; George Silk for Life.

11.  University of Pittsburgh students cheer wildly from atop the Cathedral of Learning as they look down on Forbes Field, Game 7, 1960 World Series; George Silk for Life.

12. Bird's-eye view of baseball game, Detroit at Chicago, October 1908; photographer unknown, Detroit Public Library.

12. Bird’s-eye view of baseball game, Detroit at Chicago, October 1908; photographer unknown, Detroit Public Library.

13.  Cy Young, fat and forty but still a star; George Grantham Bain Collection, LOC.

13.  Cy Young, fat and forty but still a star; George Grantham Bain Collection, LOC.

14. Hal Janvrin out at the plate, Game 2, 1916 World Series; photographer unknown.

14. Hal Janvrin out at the plate, Game 2, 1916 World Series; photographer unknown.

15. Casey Stengel of the Giants scores winning run with a ninth-inning inside the park homer, Game One, 1923 World Series; photographer unknown.

15. Casey Stengel of the Giants scores winning run with a ninth-inning inside the park homer, Game One, 1923 World Series; photographer unknown.

Photos 16-20 tomorrow! This series commenced here: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2015/03/02/diamond-visions-baseballs-greatest-photographs/

5 Comments

Some great photos!

In the Stengel pic: is that Matty standing in the dark coat gesturing toward him?

No. Matty coached for NY Giants in 1919-1921. Was at home, ill, in 1922. In 1923 he bought a part of the Boston Braves.

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