In 1993, a collection of baseball photographs was published. The artist was the prolific Charles M. Conlon, a long-time photographer for The Sporting News whose work had only recently been rediscovered. The result was Baseball’s Golden Age: The Photographs of Charles M. Conlon. The black and white pictures, some portraits and some action shots, were remarkable for the detail and insight they provided into the game and its players in the first half of the 20th century.
One of my favorites is the the shot of Pirates great shortstop, Honus Wagner, featured above. His face is not shown but the picture captures the strength of the man, both in the rough, meaty aspect of his hands on the handle of the bat, and in the impressive striations in the muscles of his forearms. His woolen uniform is dirty and the viewer can almost feel the coarseness of the fabric.
Anyone who loved the first collection will be pleased to know that a second cache of Conlon’s negatives was found recently. Prints from those negatives have been compiled in the new release The Big Show: Charles M. Conlon’s Golden Age Baseball Photographs.
Baseball’s Golden Age: The Photographs of Charles M. Conlon is available thorough the DeKalb Library. If you like those photographs, look into The Big Show for glimpses into the early days of baseball.