Diamond Visions: Baseball’s Greatest Photographs, Part 4

Babe Ruth, 1920.

Babe Ruth, 1920.

Roger Kahn had it right when he titled his wonderful book about aging Brooklyn Dodgers, The Boys of Summer. There is a special poignancy to the passage of time in baseball. As all clocks are stopped in the confines of the ball park, where the game ain’t over till it’s over, so is the fan impervious to the slipping sands of time. The heroes of our youth grow old–“the boys of summer in their ruin,” in Dylan Thomas’s full phrase—yet we seem the same. That’s why such occasions as Old Timers’ Day or the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies are so sadly sweet; better, we may think for a moment, to preserve these heroes in our memories as they were, frozen in a baseball-card pose, so that we too might stay young forever.

But often we say our baseball heroes age and stumble, foretelling our own fates.And when photographs depict, say Babe Ruth or Willie Mays in their primes, and are on hand to record the sad final days of their storied careers, that is the glory of the game. For even when we see the boys of summer in their ruin, we recall them ever after at their peaks, when they were young and so were we. Like a photograph, baseball stops time and holds it.

[Clicking on a photograph will enlarge it.]

16. Jackie Robinson steals home in Game 1 of the 1955 World Series; Yogi Berra still contests the call; Frank Hurley, New York Daily News.

16. Jackie Robinson steals home in Game 1 of the 1955 World Series; Yogi Berra will enduringly contest the call; Frank Hurley, New York Daily News.

17. Opening Day of the Grand Pavilion of South End Grounds, Boston, May 25, 1888; photographer by Augustine H. Folsom.

17. Opening Day of the Grand Pavilion of South End Grounds, Boston, May 25, 1888; photographer Augustine H. Folsom.

18. Babe Ruth hits one out at the Polo Grounds, ca. 1920; photographer unknown.

18. Babe Ruth skies one at the Polo Grounds, July 13, 1920; photographer unknown.

19. October 8, 1904 New York Highlanders battle for pennant with Boston Pilgrims on final day of season, Huntington Avenue Grounds; photographer George R. Lawrence.

19. October 8, 1904 New York Highlanders battle for pennant with Boston Pilgrims on final day of season, Huntington Avenue Grounds; photographer George R. Lawrence.

20. Babe Ruth on his final day in the majors, with Boston Braves; photographer Bruce Murray.

20. Babe Ruth on his final day in the majors, with Boston Braves; photographer Bruce Murray.

Photos 21-25 tomorrow! This series commenced here: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2015/03/02/diamond-visions-baseballs-greatest-photographs/

9 Comments

Hi John: Just wanted to drop you a line on the baseball photos posts. I am enjoying the photos greatly, but today’s No. 18 (Babe Ruth in the Polo Grounds, c. 1920) brought back special memories. According to Lamb family legend, my grandfather, a staunch Giants fan, brought my Dad, a renegade Yankees fan, to his first game in the Polo Grounds in 1921. It was a Giants v. Pittsburgh game. But the following year, Dad got to see a Yankees game and Babe Ruth hit a home run (or so the story went). The point here is that my grandfather and father were seated in the right field stands that day, right above the “O” in the Safety Razor sign depicted in photo No. 18. And when Dad started taking me to the Polo Grounds (I was a boyhood Giants fan) we always sat in the same spot near where that Safety Razor sign used to be (and right behind Don Mueller). Dad has been gone many years now, but seeing photo No. 18 instantly brought back fond memories. So, thanks much for posting it. I look forward to tomorrow’s photos.
Hope all is well and look forward to seeing you next month in Cooperstown. Till then, take care. Bill Lamb

This might be my favorite set yet. I love pictures that show that the game was being watched intently by 50,000 diehards.

Lovely, Bill. Thanks!

Thank you for these John. I love the alternate views of the quintessential, historic moments, “The Catch”, and JR stealing home on Yogi, (still on the fence if he was safe or out). I’ve never seen those before. But for my money, at least from what you’ve presented so far, the best of all is the Silk photograph from atop the Cathedral of Learning during ’60 Series. Not only does it capture one of the greatest moments in the history of the game, and the pure joy of being a fan, but on top of all that, it’s one hell of a great photograph.

Jim, you can’t go wrong choosing that one. It is astounding.

This is really cool. The look on Babe’s face in the Braves uniform is striking.

What beautiful and accurate commentary. Regards;Tito Rondon.

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