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  • Boston Public Library Baseball Project

    For the past 6 months or so, I was previleged to serve as one of three editors for the Boston Public Library "Leslie Jones Basesball Collection Project." Here's a link to a recent article that talks about the project:

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/mas...e=home_oneline

    Leslie Jones was the sports photographer for the Boston Globe from the late 1920's into the 1950's. The vast majority of his work was from baseball's Golden Age of the 1930's. During this long span, he amassed a photographic collection of the Boston Red Sox and Boston Braves of close to 3000 pictures. Almost all of the photos were taken at Fenway Park or Braves Field. The problem was that the almost all of the players in the photos (other than the obvious star players) were unidentified.

    This historic collection included many individual and small group shots, team pictures, fans, gag shots, action shots, locker room shots, celebrities, players' wives, umpires, front office personnel...you name it...if it had anything to to with Boston baseball during this period, it's in this collection. There's also a lot of shots taken during Red Sox-Braves interleague exhibition games. It provides a wonderful "taste" of baseball as it existed during this golden, bygone era, and also serves as a great slice of "Americana" from the '30's and 40's.

    The collection was stored away in the recesses of the Boston Public Library and was largely forgotten. Recently, someone from the Boston Public Library rediscovered this treasure trove and then contacted The Society For American baseball Research (SABR) asking for help in identifying the pictures. Baseball author Mark Stang was put in charge of the project and, as member of the SABR Photographic committee and someone who has had experience in identifying ball players in old pictures, I was enlisted to help.

    Working as a team Mark, myself, and another SABR member did about 90% of the identifying. My concentration was with individual and group identifications, while Mark and the other member did most of the action shots. Many photos were easy to identify, but others required massive amounts of research, time, and effort. It always gave me a wonderful feeling of satisfaction when I could positively identify some obscure, long-forgotten ballplayer from the '30's or '40's who would otherwise be totally lost to history. We didn't get them all, but I'd guess we identified about 80-85% of the pictures.

    There are some extremely rare photos in this amazing collection, including some never-berfore-seen pictures of star players like Ruth, DiMaggio, Williams, Foxx, Cronin, and Grove. There's a lot of shots of Ruth from his last year 1935 as a member of the Boston Braves. Since the collection covers both the National League (the Braves and their NL opponents), and the American League (the Red Sox and their AL opponents), many lesser-known and largely forgotten players from both leagues are featured in the collection.

    I thought that the collection would be of interest to the Baseball Fever community and would be a welcome new addition to the "Baseball Photography" thread. Since I have access to the collection, I thought it would be a good idea to start posting pictures. So I'll start with a few of my favorites today to give you a flavor of what's to come. I'll try to include a mix of stars, lesser knowns, forgotten players, and other shots that are interesting for one reason or another, and will add some commentary when appropriate. With almost 3000 pictures at my disposal, I've got a lot to choose from!

    The first two dozen or so are from a group of 100 that have just been released for public viewing. The rest will all be pictures that haven't as yet been released...so you'll be getting a sneak preview. If you enjoy loooking at old baseball pictures, especially from baseball's Golden Age of the 1930's, I think you'll find what I have here of interest.

    Please feel free to jump in with any thoughts or comments. Join me in a little trip down memory lane, as we go back in history to revisit Baseball in America as it existed in the 1930's and '40's!

    So let's get started...
    Last edited by GaryL; 12-24-2011, 12:16 PM.

  • #2
    To start things off, here's a nice shot from the Red Sox club house featuring (l to r): Ed "Bull" Durham, Wilcey Moore, Bob Kline and Paul "Ivy' Andrews, 1935:
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    • #3
      Boston Red Sox Jimmy Foxx points towards the outfield in front of unknown home plate umpire as New York Yankee DiMaggio walks toward home plate at Fenway Park, 1940.
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      • #4
        Philadelpia Phillie Dick Bartell and Boston Brave Rabbit Maranville at Braves Field, 1933
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        • #5
          HOF'ers Boston Red Sox Lefty Grove and St. Louis Cardinal Dizzy Dean shaking hands at Braves Field, 1936
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          Last edited by GaryL; 04-10-2011, 07:54 AM.

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          • #6
            Cool GaryL!

            So these will be shots that weren't previously available from the BPL online?
            Are they mostly 4x5 glass negatives?
            I look forward to seeing more...

            Cheers!
            ~B
            Say hello on Twitter @BSmile & Facebook "Baseball by BSmile"

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            • #7
              Red Sox manager Joe Cronin talks with former manager, Bill Carrigan, 1935
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              • #8
                Originally posted by BSmile View Post
                Cool GaryL!

                So these will be shots that weren't previously available from the BPL online?
                Are they mostly 4x5 glass negatives?
                I look forward to seeing more...

                Cheers!
                ~B

                These haven't been released to the public as yet. I just found out today that they are releasing the first 100 pictures today, and then will release more over a period of months. I'll be posting some new Ruth pictures that you can add to your Ruth thread!

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                • #9
                  Here's a nice picture of Claire Ruth and June O'Dea (Mrs. Lefty Gomez). I got the impression when I first saw this picture from the expression on Claire Ruth's face that she wasn't too thrilled to be sharing "center stage" with June O'Dea, who was an actress and, as they said back then, a "real looker"!. Claire, who in her younger days was considered to be quite attractive, looks rather ordinary next to the gorgeous June O'Day.
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                  Last edited by GaryL; 12-24-2011, 12:22 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by GaryL View Post
                    These haven't been released to the public as yet. I just found out today that they are releasing the first 100 pictures today, and then will release more over a period of months. I'll be posting some new Ruth pictures that you can add to your Ruth thread!
                    Nice.
                    BTW, I found the first 5 Babe pics that have been released. I'm working on the one with Babe, Carl Reynolds and Lou Gehrig right now. I'll be posting it a little later. I'll mention your involvement with the project of course (with a link to this thread).
                    Cheers!
                    ~B
                    Last edited by BSmile; 04-08-2011, 04:31 PM.
                    Say hello on Twitter @BSmile & Facebook "Baseball by BSmile"

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                    • #11
                      Here's a typical goup put together by Leslie Jones. He was always looking for reasons to put small groups of players together. Here, these are sluggers for the American League in the 1936 All-Star game. Once I figured out it was the All Star game, it wasm't hard to come up with the Higgins and Averill ID's. The others were obvious.

                      L-R: Philadelphia Athletic Pinky Higgins, Detroit Tiger Goose Goslin, New York Yankee Lou Gehrig, Cleveland Indian Earl Averill, Boston Red Sox Jimmie Foxx. All members of 1936 American League All-Star team played at Braves Field.
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                      • #12
                        Here's a "gag" shot put together by Leslie Jones (probably with Al Schacht's help!). There were a lot of these. Al Schacht is supposedly stealing a base and Weber is ready to hit him with the bat. These players (L-R) Ben Chapman, Al Schacht, and Billy Werber appears in a fair number of pictures.
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                        • #13
                          Here's one of the earliest photos in the collection. It's from 1928. Rogers Hornsby, Braves' manager, with Braves' owner Judge Fuchs. I spent hours trying to figure out who the player on the right was...but no luck. Can anybody help?

                          Update: I believe the third player is Jack Slattery



                          Which reminds me...as a kid a met Rogers Hornsby a number of times. He was friends with my grandfather and they used to ride together to Arlington Park Race Track almost everyday in the early '60's before Hornsby passed away in 1963. My grandfather got Hormsby to autograph a baseball for me...unfortunately, lost since lost!
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                          Last edited by GaryL; 04-14-2012, 11:03 AM.

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                          • #14
                            This is long-forgotten Braves' pitcher Art Shires signing autographs. By the look on the young girls' faces, I got the distinct feeling Shires was considered sort of a "heart-throb" at the time.
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                            • #15
                              Babe Ruth in 1935 receiving award with Boston Braves coach Duffy Lewis to Ruth's left and other Braves players looking on. Three players visible between the award presenter and Ruth are (l to r) Boston Braves Rabbit Maranville, Tommy Tompson, and coach Hank Gowdy. The player on the left in the Braves uniform is Wally Berger.
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                              Last edited by GaryL; 12-04-2011, 04:05 PM.

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