Look Magazine collection chronicles iconic visuals from baseball’s past

Written by: Janey Murray

Dating back to the sport’s earliest days, baseball images have shaped our understanding of the game and its rich history.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s Dean O. Cochran, Jr. Photograph Archives contain more than 300,000 photos that document 150-plus years of baseball history.

And while many of the Museum’s photos are accessible to the public online, one collection remains largely behind the scenes. The Look Magazine collection, which was first donated to the Museum in 1954, features a total of 4,108 photos, most of which are negatives.

The photos come from Look Magazine – a bi-weekly, general interest magazine that was published in Des Moines, Iowa, from 1937-71, and typically placed more of an emphasis on photos rather than written articles.

While much of the Look Magazine collection needs additional funding to be reorganized, rehoused and conserved, a small portion of the collection has already been digitized with the help of a previous grant.

One digitized photo depicts Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller finishing a practice pitch along the side of an unidentified field. Feller sports a Cleveland Indians road uniform, with his No. 19 visible on the back of the jersey. Several fans are scattered throughout the stands in the background of the photo.

The negative was likely taken in 1939 – a season in which Feller went 24-9 with a 2.85 ERA, recording a league-leading 24 complete games and a major league-best 246 strikeouts.

Feller, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962, tossed three no-hitters over his 18-year career, leading the AL in victories six times and winning the 1948 World Series with Cleveland.

Two other significant photos in the collection were taken at one of baseball’s iconic stadiums: Ebbets Field.

The first, which was likely taken in 1940, depicts Brooklyn Dodgers third baseman Cookie Lavagetto batting in a Dodgers home uniform at Ebbets Field. Also visible in the photo is a photographer crouched on the field – a practice that was discontinued beginning in the mid-1950s.

Lavagetto, a native of Oakland, Calif., began his career with the Pirates, spending three seasons in Pittsburgh before he was traded to the Dodgers in 1936. In 1940, Lavagetto batted .257 with four homers and 43 RBI, earning his third of four consecutive All-Star Game selections.

One of the most iconic moments of Lavagetto’s career came in Game 4 of the 1947 World Series. Lavagetto stepped to the plate against Yankees pitcher Bill Bevens, who was one out away from a no-hitter, and quickly broke up the no-hitter and won the game for the Dodgers – delivering a two-run double to walk it off for Brooklyn in the bottom of the ninth.

The other photo taken at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field comes from one of three preseason games played between the Dodgers and Yankees from April 11-13, 1941. Later that season, the two teams would meet again in the World Series, with the Yankees emerging victorious.

In the photo, Dodgers first baseman Dolph Camilli kneels as he makes a play at first, his right foot touching the bag while Yankees center fielder Joe DiMaggio approaches in front of him. DiMaggio is dressed in a Yankees road uniform, while Camilli sports a Dodgers home uniform with the No. 4 on the back.

These three photos, as well as the many others that are part of the Look Magazine collection, depict significant characters and moments from baseball’s rich history, and funding is still needed to help preserve them and make them all visible to the public.

“For preservation reasons, we do not make our negatives accessible to the public in the Giamatti Research Center,” Kelli Bogan, the Museum’s Director of Digital Assets/Photo Archivist, said. “That means most of these images have never been seen by the public, as only a small portion of the photographs taken actually ended up in the magazine. With thousands of negatives in our Look Magazine collection, being able to bring these out of storage would be an incredible opportunity.”

To learn more about the collection and donate to this important project, click here.

Janey Murray was the digital content specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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