Yes, the Olympic Games are coming to a close, but many of us in the US have also had our eyes on baseball. I don’t know why baseball is our National Pastime, but I’d like to believe it has something to do with baseball being such a narrative sport – that’s because there’s a lot of time when things aren’t happening (in the big sense), so you fill in the gaps with stories about things that happened. It’s in this spirit that we bring you three (as in three strikes in an out, three outs in an inning, and three runners to load the bases) sports photo books inspired by baseball.
Mid-70s Baseball Dudes by Paul Windle leads us off. Windle’s distinctive style incorporates pop, graffiti, and a certain outsider aesthetic to re-imagine players from one of the sport’s most nostalgia-tinged eras.
In the number two spot is Baseball by Vincent Scilla. Scilla’s art has something in common with the of the graphic folk style of Peter Blake but also the fluid figuration of Thomas Hart Benton (he played for the American Regionalists). Still, the style, the way his players forms combine with their advertising backdrops, is uniquely his own.
Batting in third is FOUL BALL!, a wildly inventive pop-amalgamation from artist Pat Riot. Baseball cards are altered, giving players the heads of animals, crackers, and comic book characters. It may seem sacrilege to collectors, but baseball, like many sports, is full of outsized personalities. And with Riot, they’ve met their collective match.
Still not convinced baseball’s a somewhat bookish sport? During a recent San Francisco Giants game, radio announcer David B. Flemming, retold the much-loved Story of Ferdinand, the bull who didn’t want to fight in the ring. It was enough to make a book lover and baseball fan proud.