SABR Bibliography Committee
Research Guide No. 11: A Checklist of Daguerreotypes in The Sporting News
Editor's note: This guide was first published by the SABR Bibliography Committee in 1989. To download the original in PDF form, click here.
By Bill Hugo
Daguerreotypes were early nineteenth century photographs produced on a silver plate. If a photograph offers a physical likeness of a person, why not expand the meaning of daguerreotype to also show what is behind the picture, a photo, if you will, of a person's life.
So we have that marvelous series, DAGUERREOTYPES TAKEN OF FORMER STARS OF THE DIAMOND, that ran in The Sporting News over a period of almost two decades, although during the last thirteen years of the run, appearances of the feature were few and far between. Typically they were accounts of seventy-six major league players, with the narratives concentrating on their baseball careers. Each "photo" provided a minimum of 1,500 words of biography, which was supplemented with the player's statistical record, both mlnor and major league, year-by-year. Incidentally, a small photo did accompany each article.
The first daguerreotype made its appearance in the November 3, 1932 issue of The Sporting News, and immediately became a regular feature of the baseball weekly, although during the first two months it appeared bi-weekly. During the 1933 season the feature took a back seat to box scores and news of action on the playing field, but still managed an appearance about once a month. After that season the biographies began to appear on a regular basis again, although it resumed its original bi-weekly status. However, this time there was no letup during the 1934 baseball season, but then a hit-and-miss schedule (one week in, one week out, and sometimes none at all) prevailed into the spring of 1935.
The career of Walter Henry Holke appeared in the issue of May 9, 1935, but only twenty more were published during the remaining sixteen years of the column's life, with eight of those coming in 1939. As a dying person making a final gallant effort to say his piece, DAGUERREOTYPES made its last appearance in The Sporting News in the issue of February 7, 1951, by making a grand exit. Side by side on page two were career biographies of two great home run kings, Jimmie Foxx and Mel Ott.
A forerunner of DAGUERREOTYPES in The Sporting News was a feature known as LEAVES FROM A FANS SCRAPBOOK, a similar offering that gave treatment to current players of the day, players whose careers had not come to an end. The scrapbook biographies made their debut in the issue of May 19, 1932, and during the years that column experienced some of the same ups and downs as its companion.
In the mid-1930s the first and only book of daguerreotypes, as they were featured in The Sporting News, was published. Several later editions have been provided, but only the first contained biographical material. That first edition, copyrighted in 1934, included all of the original offerings in The Baseball Paper of the World, as The Sporting News called itself in those days, through the issue of August 23, 1934, forty-five players in all, plus seven additional players of the early 1930s who had originally been featured in LEAVES FROM A FANS SCRAPBOOK. The only difference between the presentation in the book from what was published in the weekly "baseball bible" was that the biographies of the forty-five were given a few additional lines for updated material when needed. Needless to say, the seven additional players required a complete rewrite of some of the material.
Finally, it is interesting to note that the daguerreotypes were published in no particular order, Ty Cobb having to wait until The Sporting News issue of January 11, 1934, to make his entrance. for example. It also made no special attempt to honor all of the greatest, as witness the absence of profiles of such players as Cap Anson and Buck Ewing.
To view the checklist of Sporting News Daguerreotypes, click below to download the PDF file (list begins on page 3):
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