Pastime Portraiture, #6

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Ralph Kiner, spring training, Tuscon, AZ, March 1955.

Kiner’s final spring, and final season. After nine seasons in the NL, and a bad back betraying the prolific slugger, he would spend 1955 with the Cleveland Indians as a part-time LF and pinch-hitter, with 18 HRs and 54 RBIs, but would retire after the season, at only 32 years of age. He would have a short career as a minor league executive in San Diego, until his old buddy and current GM Hank Greenberg hired him for play-by-play with the White Sox in 1961. After that, New York came calling, and Ralph became a Mets’ icon, with over 50 years of Amazin’ memories. And Ralph is still with us in 2013, at 90 years of age. So for having one of the shortest HOF careers (10 years), he’s one of the few that can say he’s been in professional baseball for over 70 years in some capacity. Long live Ralph Kiner.

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

Hy Peskin Collection – Baseball

Pastime Portraiture, #5

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Nellie Fox, Yankee Stadium, June 19, 1955.

The Pale Hose would drop a doubleheader to the Yanks that day, with 2B Fox going 3-8 with a double. The perennial All-Star had a good year in ’55, playing every game, leading the league in AB’s and finishing 7th in AL MVP voting, but the Sox would finish third behind the Yankees. Fox would finally win the MVP with the pennant-winning Go-Go Sox of 1959. He died young, of skin cancer, in 1975. He was elected into the HOF by the Veterans Committee in 1997.

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

Hy Peskin Collection – Baseball

Pastime Portraiture, #4

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Richie Ashburn, Spring Training, March 1956. One word: color.

Ashburn would have another good year for the Phillies in 1956, batting .303, and would be the Fightins’ Iron Horse for the next few years, leading the lead in plate appearances in 1956, 1957 and 1958, and would only miss 8 games through the 1960 campaign.  He probably had his best year in 1958, leading the league in average (.350), hits, triples, walks, OBP and plate appearances. And of course, he was a lovable 1962 Met to round out his career. He was elected to the HOF by the Veteran’s Committee in 1995.

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

Hy Peskin Collection – Baseball

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, #2

Another in a series of great baseball portraits that almost no one knows. Mantle, Yankee Stadium, May 14, 1955. He went 2-4 against the Tigers that day, including a triple, and a single with 2 outs in the 9th to continue the game-winning rally as the Yanks scored 3 in the final frame to win it, 7-6, Mantle scoring the winning run. Just a day’s work for the consummate modern-day Yankee slugger.

This was the shot used on the June 18, 1956 Sports Illustrated cover, but with restrained color. Here’s the photo in it’s pre-magazine-processed glory; be sure to click through for a somewhat larger version.

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