Pastime Portraiture, #3

Okay, last one for now. Two for the price of one, Sunday, August 18, 1957, Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron wait their turn at the cage prior to a game against the Cardinals. Actually, they played two that day – Mathews hit a home run in the first inning of the first game during a 3-9 day, but Aaron went an uncharacteristic 1-9, as the Braves dropped both games against the second place Cardinals (Stan Musial won the first game in the 10th with a 2-run blast). Milwaukee certainly earned a pass though, coming off an 18-3 stretch going into the day, picking up 8 games on St. Louis in the process, and after the double defeat the Braves still had a commanding 6 1/2 game lead, and would take the NL pennant by 8 games over St. Louis; they would go on to win Milwaukee’s only baseball championship to date.

Yet another great Hy Peskin shot, check out his site and buy a classic photo or two:

Hy Peskin Collection – Baseball

Pastime Portraiture, #1

“Going over the hitters it was decided that we should pitch Frank Robinson underground.”
– Jim Bouton

How about a series of classic baseball portraits? I come across many wonderful photos that really don’t have an elaborate story behind them, except the perfect capture of subject and era, and should be shared. The wildly popular choices aside (Ruth at Yankee Stadium in 1948, Gehrig leaning against the batting cage with a smirk, we all know them), there are many that haven’t been properly exposed to the masses and desserve to be recognized, so let’s do just that.

First up, this may be my favorite baseball photo of all time, or at least my current favorite – taken Sunday, August 12, 1956, in County Stadium in Milwaukee by renowned photographer Hy Peskin, a 20-year old Frank Robinson in all his Redleg glory, in the midst of his record-setting rookie season (ROY, then home-run record 38 round-trippers for a rookie, and even led the league in HBP due to his fearless crowding-the-plate batting style), on the cusp of one of the most impressive baseball careers of all time. That said, I would love to report of his offensive heroics that day, but he went a rare 0-4 against Braves’ star hurler Lew Burdette as the Reds lost 8-2, but rebounded nicely to go 4-4 with a HR the following night in the final game of the series.

It’s all there: the serious determination and confidence, rare in a rookie player in any sport; the classic sleeveless uniform design complete with the high stirrups of the day, and even Mr. Red himself, the only year that he would appear on the front of a Reds’ uniform.

So here’s to you, Mr. Robinson, a definitive representation of a classic era of the grandest of games.

Yet another great Hy Peskin shot, check out his site and buy a classic photo or two:

Hy Peskin Collection – Baseball

A Moment In Time – 7/12/55

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maysnewpTuesday, July 12, 1955, the 22nd All-Star Game, County Stadium, Milwaukee. Top of the 7th inning, AL up 5-0, one on, two out, and Willie Mays leaps at the fence to steal a home run away from Ted Williams, which would’ve made the score 7-0. In the NY Times: “…Williams stroked a powerful smash to right center. But Willie gave chase and just as the ball appeared to clear the wire railing, the Say Hey Kid leaped up to snare the ball in his glove.”

As it was an All-Star Game, there were many press photographers present, and as shown here, there were photos taken from all angles of this amazing catch, since no doubt there were many cameras already trained on Mays. Willie was flying high in 1955, as the reigning NL MVP, batting champ, and with the other New York Giants, World Series Champions from 1954. Unfortunately, the Gold Glove award was not originated until 1957, but it’s a sure bet that Mays would have snagged a few in the early ’50’s, as he in fact won 12 straight NL OF GG’s right from the award’s inception until 1969. Also, in the ’50’s and ’60’s, you could’ve almost renamed the ASG “Willie Mays Day” as he participated in the game in every season of his career, except his rookie season (in which he was Rookie Of The Year!).

 

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The American League could’ve used that clout by Williams; after Mays caught the last out in the top of the 7th, above, he trotted in and led off the bottom of the inning with a single, eventually coming around to score as the NL tallied 2 in the 7th, and then for good measure, Willie also singled and scored during a rally in the 8th as the National League scored 3 more to tie it. Mays did strike out looking with two on to end the 9th, however, sending the game into extras. Would the Say Hey Kid have one more magical moment this day? Perhaps, but Stan Musial had other ideas, hitting a game-winning home run in the bottom of the 12th inning to give the NL a 6-5 victory – with Mays on deck.