Cape’s a Swinging Town for Baseball

All the big hoopla about the blown perfect game brought my attention to a bunch of baseball and softball pictures I debated not running because the negatives were in lousy shape.

Then, I figured if an umpire can make a mistake, then maybe I’ll make one by letting you see my bad pix.

Playing baseball next to gravestones

This must have been taken at Notre Dame High School near the New Lorimier Cemetery. Because of the unusual location of the game, I left it in even though it is scratched all to pieces.

They take the game seriously

You’d think the World Series was on the line from the way some of these guys are giving their all. I learned later that shooting batters swinging away at the plate is the photographic equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel. Real sports photographers would rather get photos of plays on base.

The only problem was that most of the games I shot were at night, so I had to shoot something fairly close. I’d love to have been able to sit back with a long lens and wait for something great to happen, but (a) I didn’t have a long lens and (b) most of those fields were DARK, way too dark to shoot available light with the film available.

That’s why there are lots of swinging shots

Sometimes I’d get lucky

I loved it when something happened in front of me, but I usually had to go for the safe shot so I could get to another game or home to process my film.

Little League was scary

Before I became a regular newspaper photographer covering games for $5 a shot, I would go to little league games and shoot kids batting. I’d process the film and go back to the next game and try to sell prints to the parents. I ran across some of those left-over prints the other day and I think they were priced at less than a buck for a 3-1/2 x 5-inch print. I made enough to cover my expenses and a little more.

Because of my equipment limitations, I would crouch down about 12 feet from the home plate to catch the kids swinging. I wasn’t much afraid of a foul ball, because they couldn’t hit THAT hard. The biggest problem was that the kids had a hard time hanging onto the bats. I needed protective gear more than the players.

I’ll run some of those shots later.

Gallery of baseball photos

Here’s a collection of baseball and softball photos from various leagues, teams and games. I can guess where some of them were played, but everything else about them is lost in the fog. Click on any image to make it larger, then click on the sides of the photo to move through the gallery.

13 Replies to “Cape’s a Swinging Town for Baseball”

  1. I like those shots on the basepaths. In fact, that’s where the most interesting part of baseball takes place. But in order to sit close enough to the game to watch it you need to be a multimillionaire who can buy box seats, or else watch local games – minor league, high school, college.

    1. Spokesrider,

      If you know me, even from reading this blog, you know that I was never a sports enthusiast, particularly of team sports.

      Covering them was just another day at the office, pretty much the same as going to a city council meeting, only noisier. (Maybe that’s not entirely true. I’ve been to some pretty noisy council meetings.)

      Having said that, once you’ve been down on the sidelines, along the baseline or can roam up and down the basketball court, you’ll never want to watch a game from the nosebleed seats that are all I can afford.

      I always enjoyed covering high school sports more than college or the pros. These kids are doing it for fun and honor. The college players are doing it so they can have a shot at the pros; the pros are doing it for money and celebrity.

  2. I’ve long thought that basketball was at its best as a high school game, football as a college game, and baseball as a pro sport. But your photos show that baseball at the high school level can be played well enough to be interesting, too. (In a pickup softball game after work I must have done something well enough to surprise one of the young lab assistants, who was a pretty good athlete. She wondered where I had played the game before, so I mentioned that I played a little baseball in high school. “What position?” “Mostly on the bench.” Which was where most of my brief high school baseball career was spent. I did get one memorable base hit which the coach was kind enough not to get angry about, and which my friends didn’t let me forget.)

  3. Great pictures, as usual, Ken. Wish you had some of the day, Jack Hawk, (boyfriend then) hit a homer over the Cape Capaha Scoreboard back in 1959. Thrilled me to death! That CHS team went on to play at St. Louis Cardinals Stadium, but for some reason we didn’t win the State Championship. Can’t even remember where we placed!

  4. That was a “Connie Mack” league game. I recognize Jerry O’Connell hitting first base. and Dan Beard being tagged out sliding with Mike Schuette in back ground. Could be Joe Brockmeyer batting… not sure.
    Can hear the “crack of the wooden bats” when I close my eyes. Not the same with metal “pong”. No heart!

    1. You guys are good. I’ll have to dig out a bunch of old sports shots that I had set aside because I didn’t have a clue who, what, where or when they were taken.

      (I AM good enough to be able to differentiate between baseball, basketball and football. Most of the time.)

  5. Ken, got a request for ya. There was a guy at the Missourian, photographer smoked a cigar(Froenburger?). He used to take all the sports photos if memory serves me correct..Anyway I’m positive I was the greatest baseball player to ever come from Cape Girardeau and i’m looking for any evidence of that past glory…I could have played for the Birmingham Black Barons, Memphis Red Sox but on the days that they came through with their tryouts I was asleep. Well you can’t win em all now can you?lol… long story short is there any one place besides the newspapers of that time to go for game records,stats,etc. from 1957 to 1961, and for High School Sports, Little League, Babe Ruth League, Fire Department Teams. There also was a Cape Girardeau Golden Gloves Team with photos. If you are still in business can you point me in the right direction? Thanks Doug

    1. I retired from the business in 2008. The cigar-chomping photographer you’re thinking of was One-Shot Frony.

      He shot most of the sports until around the 1960s, when The Missourian would let high school kids like me shoot the games on a freelance basis.

      The local newspaper is your best bet. Even there, we didn’t cover EVERY game. When I was hired as a summer intern the day after I graduated high school, one of my first jobs was to fill in for the sports editor.

      Every morning, way before anybody else showed up for work, I’d drag a stack of scorebooks up to my desk and write ball game reports from the scribbles in the books.

      I was far from a sports enthusiast and had never touched a score card until the sports editor gave me a five-minute crash course in how to read one, so I wouldn’t put a whole lot of stock in my accuracy.

      Talk to Sharon Sanders in the library in The Missourian. She might have some better ideas.

  6. 2015 – A Better computer and a magnifying glass – CORRECTION: in pic #3 that is Dan Beard sliding, but that is DAVE HAHS on the pitching mound not Mike.
    Plus. . . .
    NEW OBSERVATIONS: Pic #11 is also Joe Brockmeyer (finishing the swing he started in #4). Pic #2 is Louie Ervin batting. and the Last Pic #12 is Brad Brune batting against Notre Dame in 1966.

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