Larry Canale co-authored Mickey Mantle: The Yankee Years (1998) and The Boys of Spring (2005) with photographer Ozzie Sweet. Both titles received Casey Award nominations for best baseball book of the year. He spent six years (1994–2000) editing the sports memorabilia magazine Tuff Stuff, and continues to write a column for Sports Collectors Digest. In 2001, Canale launched Antiques Roadshow Insider, a newsletter published by Belvoir Media Group and licensed by the PBS series Antiques Roadshow. His favorite categories in the world of antiques and collectibles, naturally, are sports memorabilia and vintage photographs.
To those who have been following this series on baseball’s best photographers, my apologies for the rain delay. That’s what you can call the chunk of time that passed between Part 6 (“George Grantham Bain: Master of Mystique”) and this new installment. And who better to get “Legends of the Camera” back in focus than pioneering Paul Thompson?
In the first quarter of the twentieth century, few photographers framed baseball’s early legends as cleanly and classically as the Cleveland-based pioneer Louis Van Oeyen.
Photographers George Burke and George Brace are forever connected, both professionally and personally. Burke came along first, a Chicago-based photographer who corralled the younger Brace as an assistant and mentored him for years. Their output—portraits and poses, candids and action shots—captured the faces of everyone from the Babe Ruths and Hank Aarons of the game to the likes of Johnny Niggeling (a World War II-era pitcher with a 64-69 lifetime record) and Gene “Half-Pint” Rye (a .179 lifetime hitter in 17 games for 1931 Red Sox).
My favorite baseball photograph, believe it or not, doesn’t come from one of the “Legends of the Camera” featured in this series. Instead—at the risk of sounding arrogant—I took the photo. It happened at the Yankees’ spring training camp in Tampa on March 2, 2005, and it’s a sunny image of a “domino effect” scene that still makes me smile 10 years later.
Here’s what I captured on that warm Florida day:
If you follow music, you know the phrase “one-hit wonder”: a recording artist who charted one huge Top 40 hit and then faded to oblivion. There’s Pilot (1975’s “Magic”), and Terry Jacks (1974’s “Seasons in the Sun”), and Edison Lighthouse (1970’s “Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes”), to name just three among thousands.
The first time a photograph really caught my eye—I actually remember the moment—was in spring 1969. Already a baseball-card-carrying kid, I received my April ’69 Sport magazine, with its “Farewell to Mickey Mantle” cover line, and was knocked out by the photograph staring back at me. It’s a low-angle, dramatic portrait of the Magnificent Yankee, hat in hand, glove tucked under arm, eyes looking off into the distance. . . .