Spring Training comes to Cooperstown
When Hall of Famer Pee Wee Reese saw Alex Traube’s photographs, he claimed the images “captured something about Spring Training – about baseball in general – which is recognizable and true to anyone who has spent time in training camps and ballparks.”
This year, the Baseball Hall of Fame Library has an extra special reason to celebrate the return of Spring Training. Photographer Alex Traube donated the images he shared with Reese to the Museum’s permanent photographic collection. Traube’s donation consists of 79, 11 x 14 inch, black and white photographs depicting Grapefruit League Spring Training in Florida in 1978, 1979 and 1980. And Pee Wee was right: The images truly capture the character of spring training.
Traube had press access to training venues, “but was entirely on my own in terms of who and what I shot,” he said.
Traube used his creativity and skill with a camera to create a portfolio of work that is remarkable both for its aesthetic quality and content. He took informal portraits of players sitting in the dugout, warming up before a game, or hanging out by the batting cage. He captured players being interviewed or photographed by the media, or signing autographs for fans. The photographs show games in progress and batting practice. Traube photographed fans in the stands wearing the striking plaids and checks particular to the era. He depicted teammates lined up across the field hats over hearts for the playing of the National Anthem, kilted marching bands, and members of a color guard rehearsing.
The photographs provide an inside view into day-to-day events at spring training, and express the flavor of preseason from an earlier decade. Reese wrote that the images “present us with a portrait of the rituals which are an everyday reality to the players.”
Traube’s photographs are now part of the Hall of Fame’s collection of more than 500,000 images, documenting every aspect of the game of baseball. They join hundreds of other photographs depicting Spring Training from the early 20th Century to the present.
Jenny Ambrose is the curator of photographs at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.