Picture This

Written by: Craig Muder

For more than a quarter of a century, Brad Mangin has documented baseball history through his camera lens.

And through donations to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Mangin is assuring baseball fans that the history he has recorded will be preserved forever in Cooperstown.

Mangin, a Bay Area freelance photographer who has worked for Major League Baseball and Sports Illustrated, gave the Museum thousands of color slides– photos that capture a generation of baseball stars and iconic moments. At the same time, Mangin made his entire digital archive – more than 50,000 baseball photos – available to the Hall of Fame for educational and promotional use.

“In 2009, I did a day’s worth of baseball lectures in Cooperstown on baseball photography, and I got to see the photo library at the Hall of Fame,” Mangin said. “I really realized then how much the Hall of Fame cares, and that the Hall is the keeper of the game.

“There’s no other place that appreciates stuff like this like the Hall of Fame does. This is where these images belong.”

The photos are of big league baseball games from 1987 to the present, including regular season and playoff games.

Mangin is no stranger to the Hall of Fame photo archive. In 2002, he donated hundreds of other color slides to the Museum – all wonderfully preserved on Kodachrome film.

“You can’t put into words what this [donation] means. Brad has literally given us history that will be preserved forever.”

Jenny Ambrose, Curator of Photographs

“Major League Baseball was doing a purge, and sent the slides Brad had taken back to him,” said Pat Kelly, the Hall of Fame’s photo archivist. “Rich Pilling, who shoots for MLB, suggested that Brad give us the slides. It’s a wonderful collection.”

Mangin majored in photojournalism at San Jose State and began his career in 1987 as a 22-year-old intern with the Contra Costa Times newspaper. He quickly moved on to the National Sports Daily and MLB, and has shot eight cover images for Sports Illustrated.

His collection reflects Mangin’s wide-ranging skill as a photographer containing game action, portraits, informal shots of players in the dugout, fans, views of stadiums and “still lifes” of equipment.

The images depict stars like Derek Jeter, Ichiro Suzuki and CC Sabathia in their early years on the field; big hitters of the era such as Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Alex Rodriguez; and Hall of Famers including Roberto Alomar, Andre Dawson, Tony Gwynn, Rickey Henderson and Frank Thomas.

Mangin transitioned to digital images in 2003, and there began the process of the latest round of slides coming in Cooperstown. As agencies returned the slides to Mangin after use, his office was overflowing with images.

“Suddenly, I had tons of good slides – many of which I uploaded to my online archive,” Mangin said. “But when I came to the Hall of Fame in 2009 and toured the photo archive, I saw my 2002 slides in the cold storage area. I literally saw a binder of my collection at the Hall of Fame.

For Kelly, the donation fills a gap in the Museum’s photo archive that now is overflowing with photography of the highest caliber.

“I’m still in awe,” Kelly said. “Brad has even made all his archive shots accessible to authors, which is just exceptional. It’s one of the greatest donations we’ve ever received, along the lines of when several defunct New York City newspapers gave us their photos in the 1970s.”

And as with his first donation a decade ago, Mangin’s gift of slides mean his photography can be preserved for centuries.

“Because it’s film, they will hold up very well in our cold storage unit,” said Jenny Ambrose, the Museum’s Curator of Photographs. “You can’t put into words what this means. Brad has literally given us history that will be preserved forever.”

Here’s the best part: Mangin figures to add to his archive for another 20 or 30 years.

“I’m a baseball guy,” Mangin said. “This is who I am, and this is all I do now. I shoot at least 80 games a year, and through the Giants and the A’s I can see all the players in both leagues.

“This is the gift that keeps on giving. And I feel fortunate that it will be kept in Cooperstown.”

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum