The Photo Archive at the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library captures every aspect of the game of baseball. It depicts the broad diversity of people on the field, the places they played, and the action of the game. The 250,000 photographs housed in the Photo Archive document more than 150 years of baseball history, visually recording the game’s place in American culture.
The collection features images of Hall of Famers and current MLB stars as well as players in the women’s and Negro leagues, and on barnstorming and amateur teams. The photographs capture the faces of all the people who contribute to the game on and off the field: the players, umpires, and managers; scouts and coaches; officials and executives; photographers, writers, and broadcasters; vendors, mascots, and ticket sellers; and baseball fans. The images show them as individuals, interacting in groups, and posed for team portraits.
The photograph collection documents major and minor league stadiums, illustrating changes in ball park architecture and locating stadiums within disparate cityscapes and landscapes. The images show the construction and demolition of structures. They capture grandstands, bleachers, and neighboring rooftops filled with cheering fans and adorned with bunting. The collection contains photographs of sandlots and games played in front of the Great Pyramids, on the bed of the Panama Canal, and in combat zones.
The photographs capture the day-to-day beauty of the game in play as a pitcher releases a ball, a batter steps up to the plate, or a runner slides headlong into a base. They depict players sitting in the dugout, celebrating victories, giving interviews to the media, and signing autographs for fans. The collection contains images illustrating the whole baseball season, from contract signings to spring training, through the regular season to the World Series.
Consisting of a wide variety of photographic formats, the collection depicts the changing world of baseball in black and white, color, and sepia. It includes albumen, gelatin silver, and chromogenic prints, as well as tintypes, film and glass negatives, color transparencies and slides, and digital photographs. It incorporates images created for a variety of uses including news and wire service photographs taken and distributed for publication in newspapers; publicity shots issued by the teams; images captured by professional sports photographers; classic posed portraits used by baseball card manufacturers; and images taken by fans.
Picturing America’s Pastime illustrates the breadth and depth of this remarkable collection. Some of the exhibition photographs and others chosen by our curatorial and research staff may be viewed in the Online Exhibit and in “Field of View.”