Solving A Photographic Mystery
People have asked where we get the photos for this web site. Mostly the online resources at various libraries and eBay have been used. Sometimes they are part of the contributors photo collections.
This phenomenal photo of Lou Gehrig sliding into home plate is one of millions of photographs available at the Library of Congress web site. In the old days the photographers were allowed to be on the field during baseball games. There were no telephoto lens’ used. The unknown photographer here was literally right on top of the action.
When researching a photo, the Library of Congress is among many sites that sometimes has only scant information on the subject presented. This photo had only the following notations:
- Title: [Umpire Nallan ready to make the call as Washington catcher Hank Severeid awaits ball while New York Yankee Lou Gehrig slides into home plate during baseball game]
- Date Created/Published: [1925 or 1926]
- Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.
- Notes: Title devised by Library staff ; Forms part of: National Photo Company Collection
I wanted to know what were the circumstances of this exciting play. So how do you research and find out?
First, the stadium is clearly not Yankee Stadium, so this game was played at the Washington Senators home field of Griffith Stadium.
Second, the catcher Hank Severeid played for the Senators only from June 19, 1925 – July 22, 1926.
With those two pieces of information I searched the Historical New York Times (available for free via most public libraries) within those dates and came up with a few possibilities of when the Yankees were on the road in DC, and Severeid caught and Gehrig scored a run. Also Richard Nallin (his name is misspelled in the LOC catalog entry) had to be the umpire.
Through this detective work came the answer. The date is August 16, 1925. It is the fourth inning and the action is described this way:
“Gehrig opened up on the ancient south-paw with a two-bagger to left centre (sic). Dugan sacrificed him to third and Bengough bunted. (Pitcher) Gregg throwing the ball home to get Gehrig. The toss was bad and Columbia Lou was safe at the plate, Benny going to second on the error. Shocker and Combs walked to fill the bases. Johnson missed his glorious chance by rolling out to Joe Harris.”
Gehrig had four hits in the Yankees 3-2 victory. It would not matter as the Yankees finished a disappointing 7th with a 69-85 record. The Senators were the American League Champions, but lost the World Series to the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-3.
Below is the complete article from the game. (Click to enlarge)