From Andrew Ryan at The Boston Globe on April 8, with an appearance by SABR member Mark Stang:
Days before the first pitch of the 1939 baseball season, a sharp-eyed Boston news photographer pointed a camera at a 20-year-old rookie with big ears and freckles. The kid’s new Red Sox uniform hung off his scrawny frame, making him look like a boy wearing a man’s suit.
That moment was preserved by the shutter. The photographer, Leslie Jones, scribbled “Red Sox player’’ as a caption and squirreled the negative away in his Dorchester basement, where he kept tens of thousands of images from his life as a newspaper cameraman.
The kid, researchers have discovered, was Ted Williams. His Hall of Fame career stretched 19 seasons, but the image taken five days before his major league debut remained trapped on a negative — until now.
Today, the Boston Public Library will publish on the Internet the first 100 of a trove of nearly 3,000 rarely seen baseball photographs taken by Jones, who worked for the Boston Herald and the Boston Traveler from 1917 to 1956.
“It’s just breathtaking to see Ted Williams literally just days before he’ll play his first major league game,’’ said Mark Stang, a baseball historian from Tampa who has written seven books tracing the game’s pictorial past and helped the library on the Jones project. “But here he is, this skinny, kind of angle-y, gawky kid with a uniform that doesn’t fit him properly.’’
Originally published: April 8, 2011. Last Updated: April 8, 2011.