February 18th, 2009

pulsing jock

Hey ya lousy mugs: The face of baseball, 80 years ago

For lack of any real content to put in my journal (work, eat, sleep, and the occasional fuck), we return to the Library of Congress photography archives at flickr. Baseball, along with boxing, are the two most photographed sports in the archives.

What’s interesting is how most of the baseball players looked – they’re not particularly young, and many of them look like alcoholic grifters. There’s no facial hair on any of them (even though it was an accepted if not preferred style for older men, particularly wealthy or accomplished ones, at the time) – the handlebars you may remember from various renditions of “Casey at the Bat” were from a good 20-30 years earlier.

I think these photos rival August Sander’s for documenting how people (well, middle-aged Anglo-Saxon American men) actually looked 80 years ago – even more so, since Sander selected his subjects, and these are self-selected by whoever chose to play professional baseball back then.

Also notice how ill-fitting the uniforms appear to be, and certainly not in any way aerodynamic for fast running. Of course, this was before the invention of the many synthetic stretch fibers we now take for granted, and likely a loose-fitting garment was deemed necessary for the range of movement needed by a baseball player.

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