Beating the Baseball Blues

Monday, May 18, 2020

The crack of the bat. The roar of the crowd. It’s base… Well, right now it is just my imagination. Spring hasn’t been the same without the boys of summer, but if you are searching for some baseball while you are stuck in your dugout, the Hagley can help you keep your head in the game.

Over the last few years, our staff published several articles discussing baseball materials in both our museum and archives collections. For example, our article titled Philadelphia Phillies Records at Hagley provides an overview of materials in our Philadelphia Phillies collection and traces the team through the years when the Carpenter family owned the franchise. The Phillies weren’t always at their best during the Carpenters’ reign, but the collection’s records provide interesting windows into an era of baseball that included league expansion and the dawn of free agency. 

If you are disappointed that Beach Towel Day at the ballpark may be canceled this year, our article Major League Baseball Promotional Stunts: A Historically Quirky Affair may help. The article delves deeper into Hagley’s Phillies collection to highlight some of Major League Baseball’s successful and some of its catastrophic in-stadium promotions and giveaway days. Scrap Metal Day anyone? 

It may be months before the stadium’s organist keys us to holler CHARGE, but the Hagley’s Dallin Aerial Survey Company collection contains aerial photographs of stadiums and sporting events (among many other scenes) that can drop you into the action. Our article The Baker Bowl: Played-Out Ball contains an aerial photograph of the Philadelphia Base Ball Grounds otherwise known as the Baker Bowl—the ballpark predecessor to Philadelphia’s Shibe Park. The article tells the history of the Baker Bowl and provides a link to additional photographs available to view instantly in Hagley’s Digital Archives. Your imagination can supply the appropriate soundtrack. 

Are you still wondering who’s on first? Apparently, it’s the DuPont company. Our article Play Ball! Bobby Shantz, Willie Mays, and Leo Durocher’s MLB Uniforms includes photographs of each of the three ballplayers’ jerseys which are part of the “DuPont Firsts” artifact collection. The article discusses the role that the DuPont Textile Fibers department had in developing a more dynamic jersey for Major League ballplayers in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Thanks to DuPont synthetic fibers, players were no longer burdened with heavy wool uniforms. When Mays hit four home runs and knocked in 8 RBIs on April 30th, 1961 – he was wearing a jersey with 55% DuPont Dacron fiber. 

No discussion of baseball would be complete without reminiscing over family picnics in the park, hot dogs sizzling on the grill, and a game of baseball adding some competitive fun to a sunny afternoon. While our family gatherings are temporarily postponed, I encourage you to take a moment with our article Celebrating Summer—and the NAM Employees. The article describes the National Association of Manufacturers’ annual picnic which included an annual baseball game between the 49th Street Bums and the 26th Street Sluggers. 

The Hagley is great for “talkin’ baseball!” But, when you finish reading these articles and your longing for the game returns—grab a ball, a glove, and a buddy because playing catch is a perfect, social-distancing activity.

"Baseball Catcher Drawing" from the Thomas Lamb papers (Accession 2181) and the Hagley Digital Archives Universal Design collection


Michael DiCamillo is a Processing Archivist in the Manuscript & Archives Department at Hagley Museum and Library.