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Going Back, Waaay Back

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baseball(Ed. note: This post comes to us from Phil Michel, Digital Conversion Coordinator for the Prints & Photographs Division, and one of the authors of the new book Baseball Americana.)

While the baseball season winds down and the excitement of another World Series chase begins, we’re celebrating the national pastime with a new book, Baseball Americana: Treasures from the Library of Congress (drawing rave reviews in places like Sports Illustrated) and a two-day symposium on baseball at the Library October 2-3, 2009.

Long before TV and the Internet provided coverage of every game and at-bat, Americans saw images of their favorite teams and players in books, newspapers  and magazines.  They saw them on tobacco and candy packages, on sheet-music covers  and in the movies.  People were playing baseball everywhere, and we found baseball everywhere in our rich visual collections.

Images and artifacts from the game are as old as our country and mark its heritage and history–in a children’s book published in Worcester, Massachusetts the same year that that U.S. Constitution was written, in a depiction of Civil War prisoners actively playing in a North Carolina camp, in baseball cards showing the first heroes and stars of the game, in the first Negro League World Series in Kansas City in 1924, in the games we’ve played ourselves in sandlots and fields around the country.

As a member of the Library’s Flickr pilot team, I’ve enjoyed watching that community discover and enjoy baseball pictures they’d never seen before.  To make selections for the book, my co-authors and I also had fun poring through thousands of images to find even more rare surprises. Why is Babe Ruth lying unconscious on the field? It’s not what you might think.  We put the Babe and a sampling of 22 other photographs from the book into this week’s new Flickr set.  Enjoy!

To see more historic baseball resources at the Library, visit the America’s Pastime page and a resources page here.  You can also purchase the Baseball Americana book and other baseball-related items in the Library’s online shop.

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