The Screwball: Fun With Old Photos

Not the pose in which we're accustomed to seeing Babe Ruth. (via Underwood Archive)

Not the pose in which we’re accustomed to seeing Babe Ruth. (via Underwood Archive)

A pop quiz, for the discerning baseball fan:


This 1860s player (above) is:

A) the league leader in hit by pitches.

B) nicknamed “Fancy Pants.”

C) wielding the cardboard tube from a roll of wrapping paper.

D) sad that The Pirates of Penzance is yet to be written.

Dan Casey, Charlie Bastian and trainer

This lefty:

A) produces a gumball whenever his arm is pushed downward.

B) enjoys spontaneous massages from sweater-wearing strangers.

C) can control his own pulse, and likes to prove it.

D) isn’t sure what’s happening.


A Hardball Times Update
Goodbye for now.

This player is:

A) frequently fooled by change-ups.

B) slated to perform for inmates at Folsom State Prison.

C) about to beat the dust from an area rug.

D) rocking the trendy popped-collar look.


This pitcher is:

A) also known as Cornelius the Cable Guy.

B) not even scared of those ghosts behind him.

C) telling the photographer to change shutter speeds.

D) wondering if he left his glove on the trolley.


This man:

A) leads the league in nonchalant walks.

B) dropped his other fake mustache on the floor.

C) can see the string, you dummy.

D) is getting verrrrrrrrrrrry sleepy.


This baserunner is:

A) failing to slide safely into home, which is located on the hill behind him.

B) likely to be run over by a horse-drawn carriage.

C) stopping, at last, to smell the grasses.

D) playing an early form of Twister.


This guy is:

A) controlling the baseball with his mind.

B) developing the soon-to-be-rejected shovel toss.

C) lobbing an ostrich egg to a nattily dressed anthropologist.

D) tired of holding this pose.

Red Stockings of Cincinnati, 1869

These players are:

A) solemn.

B) serious.

C) seriously solemn.

D) good at poker.


This player is:

A) experiencing some back discomfort.

B) wondering why, with regard to his cap, it’s called a “jaunty” angle.

C) just now realizing that the ball should be white, probably.

D) not in the market for hot-pan holders.

William Hay, center fielder

This guy:

A) enjoys long, awkward hikes through photography studios.

B) didn’t knock down that fence rail, and you can’t prove he did.

C) is allergic to fake flowers, somehow.

D) enjoys playing for the W’s way more than he did for the L’s.

Deacon McGuire, Philadelphia Quakers

This fellow:

A) is probably from France.

B) won’t wow anyone with his fastball.

C) will not lead the league in strikeouts.

D) All of the above


Brooklyn catcher Albert “Doc” Bushong is:

A) wondering how the photographer grew fescue indoors.

B) about to realize that a diamond is actually a rhombus.

C) not yet aware that a catcher’s mask is worn on the face.

D) suddenly considering a switch from dentistry to pulmonology.

George Pinkney

This man is known as:

A) The Great Fortuni, Teller of Fortunes.

B) The Great Kidneyni, Shower of Large Kidney Stones.

C) The Great Bruisini, Bearer of Painfully Bruised Hands.

D) George Pinkney, infielder for the Brooklyn Grays.


King Kelly:

A) is practiced in the art of seduction.

B) does not want to be placed on a pedestal, but is okay with leaning on it.

C) is contemplating a new Vaudeville routine titled “Mustachioed Elegance.”

D) leans a bit to the right, politically.


These fellows are:

A) the oldest boy band in the competition.

B) both color blind and pattern blind.

C) developing an ineffective zone defense.

D) not getting the memo.


This guy:

A) blames the weatherman, definitely.

B) hates exhibition games in Nome.

C) is assessing the camera’s potential as kindling.

D) wants desperately to warm up in the bullpen.


This man is thinking:

A) “That’s the worst piñata I’ve ever seen.”

B) “Um, I am smiling.”

C) “The ‘P’ is for ‘pummel,’ believe you me.”

D) “’No pepper on grass,’ my fanny.”


Honus Wagner is:

A) starting to realize this won’t be enough firewood.

B) growing weary of these weighted deep knee bends.

C) getting bored with novelty oversized toothpicks.

D) wondering what’s in that mysterious black bag.


White Sox outfielder Matty McIntyre is:

A) executing history’s worst pole vault.

B) pioneering the art of folk-rock album covers.

C) realizing he’ll need deeeeep focus to see the spaceship in the 3D art.

D) actually a mannequin.


Casey Stengel is:

A) thinking, “The future’s so bright, I gotta something something.”

B) beginning to realize that the X-Ray Specs don’t work.

C) ridiculing the home plate umpire, nonverbally.

D) asleep.


Boston’s Pat Donahue is:

A) pleading with paramedics to help his impaled teammate.

B) telling authorities that the attacker was “yay wide.”

C) shouting, “He stole my shin guards, what was I s’posed to do?”

D) wearing a throw pillow on his left hand.


Pittsburgh outfielder Ed Mensor is:

A) signaling that they went that-a-way.

B) proposing that you take a left at Albuquerque.

C) encouraging the groom’s family to sit on the left (their right).

D) gonna wear his pants any way he wants, thank you very much.


Boston pitcher Dick Rudolph is:

A) not upset, apparently, that someone misspelled his name.

B) definitely out of the batter’s box.

C) hopeful that attendance will pick up.

D) wearing pajamas, for sure.


Tris Speaker (left) and Ty Cobb are:

A) struggling with the concept of charades.

B) not so sure about the new line of minimalist furniture.

C) still not talking to each other because of an ongoing collar disagreement.

D) being terrible humans, probably.

Babe Ruth Slides Home

Babe Ruth is:

A) ahead of Jane Fonda by more than half a century.

B) inventing lateral semaphore.

C) signaling the vendor that he wants five hot dogs and one jumbo soda.

D) safe, but just barely.


Athletics second baseman Eddie Collins (right) is:

A) upset that his hand-buzzer malfunctioned.

B) not concerned about the upper-respiratory bug going around.

C) reading Frankie Frisch’s “life line.”

D) terrible at arm wrestling.


St. Louis manager Rogers Hornsby and pitcher Buck Newsome:

A) are having trouble pronouncing “Del Boca Vista.”

B) have just learned that Garbo wants to be alone.

C) are each thinking, “Okay, fine, but where’s my motivation?”

D) want customers to “hit a home run” at Fred Johnson Motors.


Slugger Jimmie Foxx is:

A) number one in your heart, number nothing in your program.

B) enjoying spring break at the Haggar Slacks factory.

C) hoping to win the Immunity Challenge on Survivor.

D) not a baseball writer.

Tigers Hitters Greenberg, Goslin, Gehringer And Fox

Hank Greenberg, Goose Goslin, Charlie Gehringer and Pete Fox are:

A) not amused by the opening monologue.

B) first to the set of 1979 action thriller The Warriors.

C) not entirely convinced of this newfangled batting stance.

D) holding very, very still.


Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio are:

A) having fun with the Magical Levitation Bat.

B) showing Yogi Subbayah Pullavar just how it’s done.

C) in the planning stages of an ultra-cheap domestic airline.

D) demonstrating that DiMaggio can’t hit the letter-high fastball.


Bob Feller is:

A) auditioning for the Radio City Rockettes.

B) attempting to receive radio signals with his spikes.

C) a charter member of the Ministry of Silly Walks.

D) falling backward.


Roy Cullenbine, Joe Vosmik, Pee Wee Reese and Charlie Gilbert are:

A) the worst Olympic bobsled team America has ever produced.

B) not so sure about this Island of Misfit Toys.

C) getting tired, frankly, of spring training in Innsbruck.

D) not entirely convinced that Eskimos have 300 words for this stuff.


Yogi Berra is:

A) demonstrating the effectiveness of wintergreen breath mints.

B) criticizing the umpire’s attempts to fly.

C) singing Oh! Susannah, with emphasis on the “oh!”

D) experimenting with chakra breathing.


Ted Williams is:

A) going to need more leg room on the flight to Detroit.

B) about to realize how big his strike zone will be.

C) planning to introduce a new line of urinals.

D) aware, at last, as to how Bindini the Magnificent saws the lady in half.


Boston manager Joe McCarthy and catcher Birdie Tebbetts are:

A) angry about the direction of the country.

B) concerned that the umpire is staying out too late.

C) dead even in the finals of the Rage Tournament.

D) miming A Streetcar Named Desire.


These Brooklyn Dodgers rookie hopefuls are:

A) learning what it’s like to give birth.

B) in agreement that “V” is for “victory.”

C) suffering from elephantiasis of the testicles.

D) actually a squadron of the new Navy prototype V-9 bomber.


Mickey Mantle is:

A) running from his own shadow.

B) posing for the debut-album cover of a young Seals and Crofts.

C) unsure as to the subtleties of keep away.

D) never gonna fall for that trick again.

National Baseball Hall of Fame Library Archive

Willie Mays is:

A) wondering why they give square dance lessons at home plate.

B) just another unwitting victim of rampant germ transmission.

C) thinking, “We need something higher … and five-ier.”

D) not pleased that the back of his jersey reads “Cheesecake Recipe.”


Tigers catcher Bill Freehan and Cardinals runner Lou Brock have:

A) picked a strange time to practice the tango.

B) never posed for a hood ornament this creative.

C) not been formally introduced.

D) a lot to discuss over postgame beers.


These players are watching:

A) a small but entertaining Mardi Gras parade.

B) a tennis match at a nudist resort.

C) a rudimentary, and very large, prototype of Pong.

D) other.

John Paschal is a regular contributor to The Hardball Times and The Hardball Times Baseball Annual.
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Eric F
Eric F

No answer key? I wanted to see how I did…

John Paschal

You know how some publications will print the answers upside down? Well, that’s exactly what I had intended to do, but then, as I actually began typing upside down, the blood started rushing to my head and I eventually passed out.

Seth Keichline

This is fantastic.

John Paschal

Thanks very much, Seth. ‘Twas great fun to put together.

I discovered a bunch more cool pictures, so stay tuned — I’ll publish another installment next time. Cheers!

Pirates Hurdles
Pirates Hurdles

Notgraphs Lives! Excellent work.

John Paschal

If nowhere else, NotGraphs lives in all our hearts. And all our souls. And all our lower intestines.


Well played, well played.

Just for one thing, tho:

“B) both color blind and pattern blind.”

I seem to recall in my reading that at one time somebody experimented with different uniform colors and patterns for the different positions. Maybe this is a photo from that (thankfully, failed) experiment.

Or maybe the uniform budget that year was 17 cents a player and they had to scrounge at Goodwill …

John Paschal

Thanks, bucdaddy.

And yes, you’re absolutely right regarding that (failed, miserably) sartorial experiment, pictured here indeed. While doing “research” for this post I discovered that amazing fact among many others — so many others that I now plan to do a sort of fun-fact post at some point in the near future. Stay tuned!

Huff Knuckla
Huff Knuckla

Ted Williams is . . .

D. Waiting for Vince Coleman to be born.

John Paschal



Casey Stengel is:

E) The inspiration for Weekend at Bernie’s

John Paschal

I like it, AD. He does look rather propped-up, doesn’t he?

87 Cards
87 Cards

Newsom and Hornsby put in five tours of St. Louis between them (two each with the Browns and the Rajah with the Cards). Newson played for nine teams in twenty-years with 16 transactions; Hornsby managed six teams. E/ “Plains, Trains or Automobiles?” ************************************************************************************* The Colt 45s pic is from Sep. 27, 1963, the famous all-rookie lineup. The players are likely eying a monstrous Buffalo Bayou mosquito. Rusty Staub (far right) is thinking of way to cook it; next to him Joe Morgan is timing the flight of the pest (Joe hit a triple that day) and Jay Dahl (front left)… Read more »

87 Cards
87 Cards

part two from above reply:

That was Jay Dahl’s only MLB game; he went 2.2 innings. Another rookie hurler, Jerry Yellen, was scratched from the card that due to his observance of Yom Kippur. Dahl was the last 17 -year old big leaguer and died at 19; I suppose the is the shortest-lived MLB player.

Pointer Sisters big brother and future NFL official Aaron Pointer has the big smile in the center of that picture.

John Paschal

Great info, 87 Cards. You know your stuff. Thanks!

I became aware of Jay Dahl while doing some reading last year — happy start, very sad ending.

And I had no idea about Aaron Pointer. Awesome. Cheers!


Good stuff, John. And some great photos, especially that one of Wagner.

John Paschal

Thanks, hopbitters.

And yes, I agree, many of the photos are absolutely fantastic. That Wagner pic is poignant.


Just to raise the tone of the game a bit, could we start calling him Honus Vag-ner, like the composer? Bonus: His nickname could be Der Meister-swinger.
Of course we’d also have to start talking about Babe Root, which is not so good.

John Paschal
John Paschal

We can indeed call him Vag-ner, but only upon confirmation that he hit for the Ring Cycle.



Great stuff John! I too love the old photos. My 9 year old already knows about the Flying Dutchman, and I’m not talking about the ghost on Spongebob, and recognizes his photos instantly. Baseball is both my boys favorite sport and I actually see that with a lot of their friends. I really think we’re about to see a big resurgence with baseball’s popularity.

Paul G.
Paul G.

*applause* (looks again) *applause* The answer to the first one is probably (A) as I don’t think HBP was anything other than painful in the 1860s, so technically he led the league or whatever with 0. Unless we are discussing an unofficial stat involving how often the batter is bruised for no gain, which would be one of those fuzzy stats that might be folded into forecast models. For each time the batter was pegged, minus 2.3 hits or some such. Then we would need to classify “pitch owies” based on location, velocity, and batter orneriness, adjust for the ballpark… Read more »

John Paschal
John Paschal

Great stuff, Paul G., as always.

And yes, I believe he spells it Jean E. Damon. Am I right?

Paul G.
Paul G.

You are correct, sir!

The Human H

Hilarious stuff, really enjoyed this one.

I wasn’t as familiar with Tris Speaker’s racism as Cobb’s and so clicked through to the SABR bio to learn more.

Found it also hilarious that the bio goes from describing his defensive style and ability to his admitting to a teammate he was in the KKK right back to casually describing his defensive style and ability.

Paul G.
Paul G.

The KKK was in a more “populist” phase at that point, attracting a lot of people who never would have joined the other more racist incarnations. Apparently some of Tris’s best friends were Jewish, his wife was Catholic, and he was credited for teaching Larry Doby how to play the outfield in Larry’s Hall of Fame speech. Needless to say, by the organization’s standards he was not a very good member.

John Paschal
John Paschal

Paul G: You make very good points (coupled with a great closing line). This sort of thing fascinates me, actually — people who might otherwise show outstanding character but who, for reasons of style or populism or pressure or convenience, align themselves with people who bow to a contemptible ideology. While combing through these old photos, I came across a picture of a Ku Klux Klan baseball team. As I stared at these smiling, otherwise normal-looking young men, I thought, “You know, I have no doubt that many if not most of these guys loved their families, were good to… Read more »

Paul G.
Paul G.

I stole that last line from Tim Gay. Didn’t plan on it but really there was no better way to phrase it. Most of that post comes from Tim Gay’s somewhat more detailed discussion found here:

Honestly, I should have just quoted the whole thing. There. Credit where credit is due and guilt lifted!

John Paschal
John Paschal

Thanks, The Human H.

Yep, it must be difficult for a SABR bio writer to balance a player’s character flaws/moral shortcomings with a slick glove, etc., but they usually do a pretty good job of it. Still, it can get awkward at times.

Sort of like: “After bilking the elderly woman out of her life savings and stealing that kid’s lunch money, Player X worked hard to improve his plate discipline and posted a career-high .426 OBP.”



What’s that uniform Ruth is wearing?

Paul G.
Paul G.

According to the link, it was a barnstorming uniform. Not sure which one.

87 Cards
87 Cards

Speculation here: Babe Ruth might have played for the LA entry of the California Winter League. has a link but no data The stimulus of my conjecture is from the book “1921: The Yankees, the Giants and the Battle for Baseball Supremacy of New York”, Lyle Spatz’s and Steve Steinberg’s fine 2011 SABR Seymour Medal winner. Therein Spatz and Steinberg mention that Ty Cobb and others played one winter in a California winter league. I don’t own the book (I borrowed it from the San Antonio Library; closed at the moment I compose) but I do weakly recall… Read more »

87 Cards
87 Cards

Ok, forget my Babe Ruth guess from the above (“1921” is still a good read though). For the Babe Ruth picture , I am going with this: It a publicity still for the 1927 short film “Babe Ruth” comes home. Described by as” Babe Dugan, star player of the Angel baseball team, chews tobacco and gets his uniform dirtier than any other player. Vernie, the laundress who cleans his uniform every week, becomes concerned over his untidiness; Babe calls to apologize for unintentionally striking her with a ball during a game; and his pal, Peewee, falls in love with… Read more »

John Paschal
John Paschal

Sorry I’m late to the party, and thanks for all the input. This has been a fascinating journey into history — and I didn’t have to do any of the legwork! (Seriously, thanks for your volunteerism.) Your efforts point to a unique phenomenon: Once you start looking backward through the fuzzy veils of the past, there is no shortage of paths you can travel.


Thanks for the laughs, hilarious juxtaposition of pics and pseudoacademia. Or something.

John Paschal
John Paschal

Thanks, Kevin. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

And yes, pretty much everything I do is pseudosomethingorother.



Thank you! I don’t recognize a few of these photos and it’s refreshing to see some of the game’s most stoic players enjoying such frivolity. In other cases, the comments put seriously classic photos in a whole new light. Kudos!

John Paschal
John Paschal

Thanks, Jef. I enjoyed putting it together.

And stay tuned: Let’s just say I discovered a LOT more photos.



I need
in my

John Paschal


I’d prefer
you say
with flowers.