June 22, 2016

Sports Pictures of Yesteryear — Preserving History

There is history in those vintage sports photographs.

In a broad view, the physical photograph and the images on them are historical because they document “the way it was” during the time the picture was taken.

Many sports photographs from the 1920’s through the 1960’s were shot are in black and white as opposed to color. This had a lot to do with economics of producing color – where the film, processing and paper – were more costly as opposed to black and white.  It also made sense to shoot in black and white if the photograph was to be used for daily newspapers because very few newspapers printed anything in color.

Some will say that the back and white pictures are preferred over color. Many are absolutely beautiful as they have a real nice contrast and mixture of black, white and various mid-tone shades of gray.

As time marched on, advancements in technology improved the single image, motion picture and television cameras and lenses. This, in turn, provided opportunity for the cameraman to get more creative and take shots from different distances and angles.

Vintage sports photographs provide a glimpse of what sports and life looked like in America during a different time.

Vintage pictures show baseball players in hot wool uniforms and football players wearing early forms of protective equipment. They show the design and nuances of classic ballparks and stadiums that hosted memorable sporting events. You see what Yankee Stadium, Ebbets Field, Connie Mack Stadium, and Forbes Field looked like before they had their date with the wrecking ball.

The fan attending ballgame today is dressed very casual with many wearing ball caps and a replica jersey of their favorite player. In vintage sport pictures show many fans that are dressed up. The men look like they are going to work dressed in shirts and ties wearing a jacket and fedora hat – the women in skirts and dress shoes and looking like they just came from the salon.

Whereas all vintage sports pictures are historical, not all of them are historic. A picture becomes historic when the image captured is considered famous or important in history – the picture having great and lasting importance.

A wonderful example of an historic sports picture is of Lou Gehrig during his Farewell Speech delivered on July 4, 1939. The photograph is powerful — one cannot help but feel the emotion Lou Gehrig had on that day at Yankee Stadium.