January 15, 2012
The Winter Photo Tradition
I know, I know. It's the doldrums of the off-season. We sit with bated breath, waiting for news on who Prince Fielder is talking to today, when Yu Darvish is going to sign, where Albert Pujols is buying his house, why Alex Rodriguez is wearing hipster glasses, and what is in the Derek Jeter gift basket du jour. And we complain when we have nothing to talk about that afternoon! Boy, do we take things for granted.
It could be so much worse. In the 1930s and 1940s, for example, we would have been lucky to get a ridiculous photo of our favorite players to keep us happy. How about Lou Gehrig in a cowboy outfit on the set of his movie "Rawhide"? (Yes, *his* movie.)
Or Hank Greenberg living it up in a barefoot dance class in Miami?
From the February 14, 1938, issue of "LIFE Magazine":
Organized baseball, appreciating the between-season appetite of its supporters, tries to keep them supplied with news in the form of possible trade rumors and prolonged player holdouts. But a necessary item of winter fodder for fans is a photograph of a baseball player.
The article included a few more of these "winter pictures" of contemporary stars. Here you see Jimmie Foxx in a Philadelphia gym:
Did you know Earl Averill worked in a greenhouse during the offseason?
It wouldn't be the winter without seeing a photo of Paul Waner with his pants rolled up after a golf tournament.
Wes Ferrell owns a miniature horn.
And, finally, here's Joe DiMaggio taking a bite out of a giant glove-shaped cake.
Now that I think about it, maybe we need to get back to this "winter picture" tradition. In the meantime, I guess we have to make do following R.A. Dickey on his climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro.