Baseball's Good Old Days; Pictures from '50S and '60S in District Now Available
Byline: Dick Heller, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Uncomfortable at being next to a manager he detested, Joe DiMaggio wears a pained expression and grips a bat in the Yankees' dugout while Casey Stengel gabs away.
Washington Senators manager Mickey Vernon holds out his hand checking for raindrops as Detroit skipper Bob Scheffing looks on before the first game at D.C. (now RFK) Stadium in April 1962.
Stan Musial tugs at Duke Snider's Mets cap as if to say, "The Duke of Flatbush in a New York uniform - what gives?"
President Dwight Eisenhower throws out the first ball on Opening Day at Griffith Stadium as Senators owner Clark Griffith, Chief Justice Earl Warren, House Minority Leader Joe Martin and other dignitaries watch.
Vice President Richard Nixon, looking uncharacteristically sunny, presents Senators slugger Roy Sievers with the keys to a new Mercury.
These photos and negatives are part of a gigantic collection of 6,750 candid baseball shots taken by Don Wingfield in the 1950s and '60s, most but not all at Griffith and D.C./RFK stadiums when Washington actually had a major league team. They represent an astonishing archive of the sport at a time when it was the national pastime in fact as well as name. And now some of the pictures are available for sale to the public.
Wingfield, who died in the mid-'90s, was the Senators' official photographer. He also shot for Topps Baseball Cards, wire services, the Sporting News and other outlets. When he retired in 1989, he sold his immense assortment of negatives to fellow photographer Charles Shoup. In turn, the cache was purchased from Shoup this year by entrepreneurs John Rogers of North Little Rock, Ark., and Art Jafee of New York City.
Rogers, only 30, has an immense respect for and fascination with what often has been called the golden age of baseball. Seeking to obtain collectibles from that era, he began running ads in newspapers and hobby publications. Soon he was contacted by a representative for Shoup, and the rest - literally - is baseball history.
"At first, I thought it was too good to be true - when they said they had 7,000 negatives, I thought they meant 700," Rogers said. "We're still inventorying some of them, but we should be finished soon."
The presidential archive includes, Rogers says, 50 pictures of Eisenhower and 30 of John F. Kennedy. Among mostly unpublished individual shots, there are 50 of Ted Williams, 35 of Mickey Mantle and 24 of DiMaggio.
Chances are, not many players turned down Wingfield's request to pose. In those days, players were less rich and more cooperative than now. …