Baker: Looking at the 10 greatest World Series program covers

From Jim Baker at Baseball Nation on October 22, 2013:

One of the annual rites of the American autumn is the release of the World Series program, and over these past 11 decades there have been some great ones. After a great deal of study and consideration, I have selected what I believe to be the 10 best of these (at least until next week’s follow-up).

You might detect a bias in my selections, a bias toward full-color, non-photography covers from what I call the Golden Age of Graphic Arts, when painters, illustrators, and cartoonists ruled the printed visual world. This period began in the mid- to late 1920s and about ran its course by 1970.

For many years, both participating Series teams produced their own program cover. This was great because it put twice as many images out there, but it also produced some playful covers whereon one team’s mascot is getting the better of the other’s. (This was a common ploy on weekly college football program covers of this era as well, often with excellent results.) In 1974, Major League Baseball took over the publication of the programs and reduced it to one generic offering, usually with a stock-looking photograph or painting on the cover. For many years, the participating teams weren’t even mentioned. Most of these are incredibly banal, although the 1985 program was an exception.

As you will see, there was a short return to glory in the 1998-2001 period. Since then, the covers have gotten less generic, and at least contain the names of the teams as well as player images. For our purposes, though, the problem is that they are cluttered with redundancies, and none really stand out from their own crowd. Which leaves us, instead with these gems:

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Originally published: October 22, 2013. Last Updated: October 22, 2013.