Play Ball! Remembering America’s Favorite Pastime with Vintage Baseball Photos

If you grew up in the U.S., you know that summer is for baseball. Since the sports began to sweep the nation in the 1850s, baseball has been considered America’s pastime. And while the look of the uniforms and the amenties of the stadiums have changed considerably, the game itself remains fundamentally the same — and so does the admiration we feel for it.

Check out these vintage baseball photos, mostly from the Library of Congress, to see how much the sport has changed — and how gorgeous the early photography of the sport really was.

dick rudolph pitcher
Pitcher Dick Rudolph shows his grip in this image from the Library of Congress‘s Bain News Service archive.

vintage baseball photos
As this image from the Nantucket Historical Society proves, baseball was a game enjoyed by both pros and amateurs alike.

vintage world series images
In the days before television, even those who couldn’t afford seats to the game would find ways to watch. This image from the Library of Congress shows residents of Philadelphia watching the 1914 World Series from their rooftops.

ebbets field brooklyn
Genevieve Ebbets, youngest daughter of Charley Ebbets, threw the first ball at opening of the field which bore her father’s name, Ebbets Field. The park, which was located in Flatbush, Brooklyn, was the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, from 1913 until 1957. There are now apartments in the spot, which are called the Ebbets Field Apartments. This image comes from the Library of Congress.

vintage baseball photos
No crying in baseball? This photo, from Florida Memory, comes with a note: “Its a hit and batter Dottie Schroeder, blonde pigtails and all, start[s] running for first. Catcher Mary Rountree and Umpire Norris Ward. These girls really hit…and are lightning when running.”

Florida Memory adds the following information: “Dorothy “Dottie” Schroeder was born on April 11, 1928 and became the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League’s youngest player at age fifteen. Miss Schroeder was the only girl who played all 12 seasons for the AAGPBL. She passed away on December 8, 1996.”

vintage baseball photos
Taken some time around 1914, this image from the Library of Congress is labeled with the last names of the players: Gowdy, Tyler, Connolly.

vintage baseball photos
Here’s another one from the same year. The Library of Congress writes that the “photograph shows baseball player Herbert Rodney Perdue (1882-1968), who was a pitcher in the Major Leagues from 1911-1915.”

hank gowdy
And here’s another one of Hank Gowdy, also from the Library of Congress. In addition to being a great hitter, Gowdy also became famous for being the first active major league player to enlist in the military to serve in World War I.

vintage baseball bat
Where did all those satisfying wooden bats come from? From a baseball bat factory, of course. The Missouri State Archives provides this image of a man making bats.

vintage baseball photos
No, the man with the camera in this picture wasn’t actually a sports photographer. Of this photo, the Library of Congress says this:
“Photo shows Herman A. “Germany” Schaefer (1876-1919), one of the most entertaining characters in baseball history, trying out the other side of the camera during the Washington Senators visit to play the New York Highlanders in April, 1911. Germany Schaefer, a versatile infielder and quick baserunner, played most of his career with the Detroit Tigers and the Washington Senators. The camera is a 5×7 Press Graflex with a modification to accommodate the large lens. The camera was produced by the Folmer & Schwing Division of Eastman Kodak Co. between 1907 and 1923.”

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Hanna Brooks Olsen is a writer and editor for CreativeLive, longtime reporter, and the co-founder of Seattlish. Follow her on Twitter at @mshannabrooks or go to her website for more stuff.