Baseball Hall of Fame in Fayetteville

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Starting on Friday, March 22, and running through May 11, Picturing America’s Pastime will feature 51 framed photographs representing the Baseball Hall of Fame’s collection of approximately a quarter million images at the Fayetteville Art Council located at 301 Hay Street [map]. As an extension of the Museum’s exhibit in Cooperstown, the touring version of Picturing America’s Pastime captures the essence of an exhibit designed to show the historic link between the two American passions – baseball and photography.

The Arts Council’s presenting partner in this exhibit is the Fayetteville Woodpeckers, a Houston Astros affiliate in the Carolina League debuting in 2019. The exhibit coincides with the opening of Segra Stadium, which hosts its first Woodpeckers game on April 18.

Red Ruffing cross seam fastball grip
Red Ruffing cross seam fastball grip

Charles Herbert Ruffing was a legendary pitcher with the Yankees throughout the 1930s and early ‘40s. Sporting the home pinstripes, “Red” is demonstrating, circa 1938, his four-seam fastball grip, a pitch that would eventually place him among the game’s greatest in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967.

According to Ruffing, he found his fastball to be far and away his most effective pitch. It was said of the fireballer that he threw a two-speed ball: Fast and a little faster.

Of his longtime catcher with the Yankees, Bill Dickey, Ruffing said, “Bill and I never had any signs. I just told him to watch out for the fastball. Even in the (World) Series games I never used signs. Dickey used to flash them, but I never paid attention.”

1909 St. Paul Gophers
1909 St. Paul Gophers

Beginning in 1907 and continuing for the next handful of years, one of the country’s top black teams was the St. Paul Gophers. While the details and statistics are scant (and their opposition was uneven), the Gophers barnstormed throughout the Upper Midwest, playing more than 100 games a season and winning more than 70 percent of them. Over the course of a modern 162-game major league season, such a rate would yield a record of about 113-49. 

This photograph of the Gophers was taken following the May 22, 1909, game in Hibbing, Minn., northwest of Duluth (hence the sweaters). On this day, the Gophers (also occasionally called the Colored Gophers) had pasted the host Hibbing club, 17-2, in what the press called, “the worst drubbing Hibbing ever got.” As the season progressed and the Gophers’ win total increased, so too did its fame. Then, in July, the Gophers hosted the Leland Giants of Chicago, widely considered the best African-American team in the country, in a five game series to determine the nation’s best black ball club. After splitting the first four games, St. Paul won the final game of the series, 3-2, prevailing over a Giants lineup that included future Hall of Famer center fielder John Preston “Pete” Hill, and thereby earning the unofficial title of “World’s Colored Champions.”

A photo of Wrigley Field outfield on Aug. 30, 1936.
A photo of Wrigley Field on Aug. 30, 1936.

This is a photo of Wrigley Field on Aug. 30, 1936. The Cubs were playing a doubleheader against the New York Giants. The Cubs were the defending National League champions. They came into this game trailing the Giants by three games. They were tied for second with their rival, the St. Louis Cardinals.

In this photo you can see the outfield bleachers at Wrigley. Notice all the fans lined up in front of the fence. Some of them are sitting on top of the brick wall next to and behind the bleachers. The next year the Cubs would grow ivy on the walls.

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