From Player Portraits to Baseball Cards

With the World Series just around the bend, baseball has been on my mind.

In 1910, photographer Paul Thompson copyrighted a series of photographic portraits he had taken of baseball players. The portraits are simple straight-on head-and-shoulders shots with the players gazing directly back at the camera. These same portraits would serve as the basis for the 1911 Gold Borders baseball cards from the American Tobacco Company.

Below you’ll see the Chicago Cubs’ terrific infield trio of Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers, and Frank Chance, who live on amongst the Hall of Fame immortals, most notably for their proficiency at turning the double play.

Photograph shows Joe Tinker, shortstop for the Chicago Cubs, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing front.

Joe Tinker, Chicago Cubs. Photo by Paul Thompson, 1910.

Joe Tinker

Joe Tinker, Gold Borders baseball card, 1911.

Johnny Evers

Johnny Evers, Chicago Cubs. Photo by Paul Thompson, 1910.

Johnny Evers

Johnny Evers, Gold Borders baseball card, 1911.

Frank Chance

Frank Chance, Chicago Cubs. Photo by Paul Thompson, 1910.

Frank Chance, Gold Borders baseball card, 1911.

Frank Chance, Gold Borders baseball card, 1911.

Learn More:

  • The Baseball Card collection presents a Library of Congress treasure—2,100 early baseball cards dating from 1887 to 1914. The cards show such legendary figures as Ty Cobb stealing third base for Detroit, Tris Speaker batting for Boston, and pitcher Cy Young posing formally in his Cleveland uniform. A special presentation provides more context to the story behind  “Tinker to Evers to Chance!”
  • Home of the world’s largest baseball collection, the Library of Congress presents Baseball Americana. With more than 350 images–many never before published–it chronicles the game’s hardscrabble history. Among the Library’s treasures are the first known image of baseball published in America (1787), the first dated baseball card (1865), and the Paul Thompson photographs (1910) shot specifically for the landmark T206 baseball cards, as well as vintage advertising, posters, film stills, cartoons, maps, and more.

One Comment

  1. Bill Welch
    November 2, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Some before my time, but I can remember my family speaking of these men. It bring back good memories . Thank you.

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