Monday, September 17, 2007

Identification: White Stars BBC

Here's a nice identification project to jump start the baseball iconography blog.

The photograph in Carte de Visite format, shows the White Stars Baseball Club from Decorah in 1870.

Period ink used to ID the image with the A.D. ( Anno Domini) caption before the year.

The only Decorah I know of is in Iowa, but little to none about early baseball activity in the area have been found.

I've been unable to find any other information on the web about this club.

Feel free to drop us a line if you have anything that can help the project.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Baseball Tintypes (1)

I've been asked in multiple occasions to explain what a Tintype photograph is, so I thought this would be an interesting topic to write about now that I'm back from a short 2 week vacation with the family.

Let's start with some basic information about tintype photographs before talking about baseball tintypes.

Definition: tin·type, also known as a ferrotype photograph, is a negative image produced on a thin piece of black enameled iron plate, viewed as a positive due to the black enamel background.

Tintypes were a popular photographic method since 1860 until the 1890's due to their simple making process as well as their low price.

Tintypes are part of the solid or hard type photographs group, along Daguerreotypes (glass plate) and Ambrotypes (Copper Plate).

Tintypes were made in many sizes, as shown on the list below. (Sizes are aprox)

Full Plate: 6.5" x 8.5" (Rarest)
Half Plate: 4.5" x 5.5"
Quarter Plate: 3.5" x 4.125"
Sixth Plate: 2.625" x 3.25"
Ninth Plate: 2" x 2.5"
Sixteenth Plate: 1.375" x 1.625"
Gem: 1"x1" or smaller

Baseball Tintypes: The tintype process, particularly an american process, was used during the days of our national pastime infancy so it is not uncommon to find a good size of baseball related tintypes.

Most of the baseball tintypes known are from the 1870's-1890's three decade period with just a bunch of the examples coming from the 1860's.

Examples like the one above, showing a full dressed 1860's club, are simply non-existant, not to mention the fact that this is a gem sized image measuring just an inch on both height and width.

Part 2 on my next post.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Identified: 1869 Ripon College First Nine

Thanks to Valerie Viers, archivist at Ripon College, we were able to fully identify the players pictured in the Ripon College First Nine CDV.
This particular photograph was made at Wyckoff's Photographic Studio in Ripon, Wisconsin.

Standing, starting from left to right are Albert J. Miller, the Left Fielder, who was a preparatory student in 1869. Next to him is Benjamin F. Thomas, the Center Fielder who graduated from Ripon College in 1872. Then standing at far right is Albert F. Rust, who was the club's Right Fielder and graduated in 1870.

Sitting in the middle row are George Kingsbury, Third Baseman, Henry W. Akin, 2B, and Henry W. Wright, the First Baseman, who was a student in english and optional studies in 1869, just like his clubmate Kingsbury. Akin graduated in 1872.

Sitting in front are Mather D. Kimball, Short Stop, Class of 1871, Hal A. Cooper, the Pitcher, who graduated from college in 1872 just like his battery mate, Jess Fox Taintor.

In the photograph, which was taken in the same year baseball saw it's first professional club, the players were still wearing long pants uniforms. Kimball was holding a long bat, particular of this era and Cooper, the hurler, is shown holding his prized tool of the trade, a lemon peel style baseball.

If you have any genealogy experience and would like to add more about the players pictured, please contact me at

Monday, August 28, 2006

They were gentlemen: The 1874 Boston Red Stockings

The New York Herald, July 15th, 1874.

"The Boston nine, individually is not nearly so strong as at least two other nines, and yet they win more games than any other club. There are several very good reasons for their being constantly at the head of the list.
First of all, there is nowhere in their ranks a man against whose character or honesty of purpose one breath of suspicion can be whispered. They are gentlemen. Besides, they have attained, and continually maintain, a higher degree of discipline than any other club, and, above all, they invariably play to win. The latter cannot be said of all the professional nines now contesting for the championship. Indeed to such a low ebb have the morals of so many professionals players descended that no man can now witness a game between many of the clubs and be sure that both sides are striving to win.
Gamblers buy up one or more players to lose a game and it is lost. Detecting a player in losing a game is next to an impossibility, for they have arrived at such a high degree of perfection in the art of "how not to do it," that a single error at certain stages of the game may throw a victory into the hands of the oposing nine and piles of greenbacks into the pockets of a few blacklegs.
These things are greatly to be regretted, but there is an effectual remedy, and it is in the hands of the public. If men will sell games of base ball by not trying to win, let the public, which supports these clubs, keep away from the games."

Thanks to Harry & George Wright, Albert Spalding, Jim "Orator" O'Rourke, Ross Barnes and Cal McVey, The 1874 Boston club went on to finish first with a record of 52 Wins and 18 Loses.
Spalding, aged 23 at the time, won all of the 52 games. He posted an ERA of 2.35

If you want to see the 1874 Boston Red Stockings Roster and Stats, click here: 1874 Bos Stats

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Baseball Carte de Visite Project

The Baseball Carte de Visite Project is back online.
About 22 CDV images and data have been uploaded to an interactive google map.
There are still about 40-50 CDV's ready to be uploaded but we are still seeking new scans.

For those of you who didn't know about the project, its main objective is to catalog as many baseball cartes de visite as possible with the help of baseball photographica collectors, historians and institutions.

More information can be found by following the project's direct link:

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Grand Match at Hoboken

It's ironic that Harry Wright, one of the fiercest opponents of gambling on base ball, provided one of the first known links between money and the game. In 1863, when Wright was preparing to leave the Knicks, the club hosted a three-game series of benefits for him, Sam Wright Sr. and others. Spectators were charged 25 cents to get in, but for 50 cents they could receive a souvenir stub with a portrait of a player on it.

The clubs consisted of nine Brooklyn Excelsiors versus a collection of four New York Gothams, a New York Eagle, one of the champion club of New Jersey and three St. George's Dragonslayers. Wright, the leadoff hitter, paced his team in batting, with three runs in the third game. Though the benefit was not held exclusively for him, it was Harry who received the $29.65 in profits.

The third game was billed as St. George's v. Base Ball match, but it was really a mix of 18 cricket and base ball players versus 9 base-ballists.
Though the former largely outnumbered the latter, their "advantage" turned out to be anything but.

Text Source:
Harry Wright: The Father of Professional Base Ball
Christopher Devine
ISBN: 0786415614

Image Source:
Verso of William Crossley Benefit Match CDV
ex-Leiderman Collection

Monday, August 07, 2006

Base Ball Pitcher

The following article appeared in the July 28, 1870 issue of the Daily Miners' Journal, a Pottsville, PA newspaper.

Base Ball Pitcher.- As the national game is all the go now, a brief description of this important member of the nine will be appreciated: "On receiving the ball he raises it in both hands until is level with his left eye. Striking an attitude, he gazes at it two or three minutes in a contemplative way, and then turns it around once or twice to be sure that it is not an orange or coconut. Assured that he has the genuine article he then winks once at the first baseman, twice at second baseman, and three times at the third baseman, and after a scowl at the short stop and a glance at the home plate, finally delivers the ball with the precision and rapidity of a cannon shot."