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Baseball's Golden Age: The Photographs of Charles M. Conlon Hardcover – September 1, 2011

4.9 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

He was called "The Baseball Photographer," the man who put his camera away after the World Series and didn't unpack it again until Opening Day, but Conlon's work is not that simple. Though he had no artistic pretense, his images are certainly works of art, and if his subject, on the surface, was the "National Pastime," his focus was really on capturing depth of character; his characters just happened to be ballplayers. Conlon's stark, vivid, black-and-white photographs caught an era that spanned the turn of the century to the second World War, and some of the moments he froze remain breathtakingly stunning: the sad eyes of Babe Ruth in deep close-up, the hope in the smile of a rookie Lou Gehrig, the dignity of Walter Johnson, the impishness of Casey Stengel, the burdens of Honus Wagner, the arrogance of Nap Lajoie and Tris Speaker, and the concentration of Christy Mathewson. This is a magnificent collection, one capable of superimposing the past onto the present; it is visually arresting--and alluring--like the game itself. --Jeff Silverman --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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"This is an invaluable volume for baseball fans and American history buffs alike."
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 198 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams (September 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1419701975
  • ISBN-13: 978-1419701979
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 1 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,653 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Were Charles Conlon still alive, I would track him down and kiss his feet for capturing in such vivid detail the historic giants of baseball. The book features remarkable photos of the greatest baseball players of most of the first half of this century. Suitable for framing, the photos typically depict individual players and small groups, often in game action. The well preserved photographs provide an important window on a truly beautiful game and its players in an era when outfield fences were optional, and a "baseball club" was just that. My favorite of Conlon's gems shows Hall of Fame shortstop Honus Wagner gripping his bat. Under his fingernails is Pennsylvania coal dust. His chipped, oversized piece of lumber looks unwieldy by today's standards. And his sinuous forearms are testament to the power that we remember him by. Other photos are paired to show the dramatic impact of age and the outfield sun on players of yesterday. Picture Wes Chandler spunky at 25 and then battle weary at about 50 and you'll understand why so many players strive so hard for a moment in the sun: they want to enjoy it before it's all gone.
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Format: Hardcover
This marvellous collection of the greatest baseball photographs ever taken qualify as one of the very best contributions to both baseball literature and serious photography. The consummate images of rough-hewn blue-collar stock named Wagner or McGraw or Overall silhouetted against rickety hardwood bleachers, rusty wire screens, and smoke-baptised brick houses; unmown grass and pock-marked infields beneath them; the smell of pancake mitts and hickory bats and unwashen wool uniforms in their nostrils; coal-dust and farm soil and blistering summer sun etching character into their faces. These, I say, seem to me the very breath and blood of the grand ol' game of baseball, all gloriously frozen in time in its purest splendor by the sensitive eye of Charles M. Conlon. These indelible images from the tool of a genius ARE NOT JUST BASEBALL PHOTOGRAPHS! Who can shake the documentary immediacy, mental peace, or aesthetic excitement aroused by the breath-taking images of Bob Rhoads warming-up his soupbone, shadowed by the hand-operated scoreboard at the wood-and-spit Hilltop Park? Or a flailing Tommy Leach squinting a pop-up into the merciless Brooklyn sun? Or Ty Cobb, his jaw curled into a fist, ruthlessly showering dirt and hellfire into a helpless third-sacker? Or muscular Tim Jordan gracefully balancing a heavy-weight stroke of his massive war-club? As the authors state, Conlon deserves to be ranked with Ansel Adams and Walker Evans, and compared with Eugene Atget. His undying images provide a unique look at a time and way of life gone by. P.S.: What I want to know is, WHERE IS THE SEQUEL? Conlon left 8000 negatives; and many of his most extraordinary--such as Russ Ford warming up by the Hilltop's trumpet-clutching "p.a.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
What can I say that the other reviewers have not already done so? This book is a must for anyone who appreciates baseball and photography. The marriage of the two as captured by Charles Conlon and brought to life again by the McCabe siblings is a baseball lover's match made in heaven. Both siblings were kind enough to sign my copy and I hope someday to see a sequel as there are quite a few other Conlon photos worthy of doing so.
When one reads of what Conlon went through to capture those photos and subsequently store them, it is even more amazing that these pieces of baseball history survive today for our educational enjoyment. One regret is that the major leagues were not integrated during Conlon's time and thus there are scant photos of Negro Leaguers similar to what's in this book.
I recall giving this book to a coworker to browse through on his work break with the intent that he could take it home and peruse it at his leisure. He wound up spending the next hour+ being absorbed by this book. So I guess I'm to blame for contributing to his poor productivity that day :-)
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Format: Hardcover
I have been a reader of baseball history for most of my 45 years, and I never heard of George S. Conlon. I know him now. This book is nothing less than fascinating. The photos are marvelous, but every printed word is interesting, starting with the preface. I could not put it down.
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Format: Hardcover
The cover photograph, featuring the hand of Chicago White Sox hurler Ed Walsh, indicates how great this book will be. Look at the dirt on the ball, the dirt on the hand and under the fingernails of Walsh, and you know that you are witnessing a baseball era very different from our own, an era when the words "players" and "pampered" would never be used in the same sentence.

I bought this book when it first came out in 1993, and I still enjoy looking at the photos and learning vicariously about a different era. If you love baseball and baseball history, and if you love photography that captures the unposed, this is a good book to own.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Conlon was a classic photographer and his images are timeless and puts us back in the days when baseball was innocent in our eyes. Even the cover evokes the complicated yet simplicity of the American past-time.
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