The Chicago History Museum is digitizing thousands of images from the Chicago Sun-Times photo archive that was lost for a while and resurfaced in 1917 in a storage locker in Dixon, Illinois. An estimated 5 million images are in the collection. When I learned about this new resource, the first thing I searched for was old baseball photos.
Within a few seconds of typing “Cubs” into the search box, I gasped at the incredible number of photos from the early days of Major League Baseball. Tinker, Evers, Chance? All three are there. The “friendly confines” of Wrigley Field? Absolutely. Even the old West Side Grounds are well represented.
Next I entered “White Sox” in the search box, and dozens more images popped onto my screen. Among the White Sox were many of the “Black Sox” players, Ed Cicotte and Shoeless Joe Jackson among them, banished from the game in the 1919 World Series gambling scandal.
Not only were the home teams’ players coming up, but players from other big-league clubs showed up. The White Sox results turned up dozens of photos of visiting Cleveland players — from the Indians, and from the Naps, what the team was previously called in honor of second baseman Napoleon Lajoie.
The photos not only show you the players and the stadiums of yore, but they are a delightful compendium of uniform styles across the decades. I am generally not a fan of dark uniforms, like the hideous dark gray road uniforms I saw the Arizona Diamondbacks wear in Philadelphia a couple of summers ago.
But the black Cleveland uniforms and others worn by the New York Giants look retro-cool among all the black and white photos.
It’s also fun to type in the names of players to see what comes up. Babe Ruth shows up frequently in Yankees regalia, but he’s also shown as a young pitcher for the Red Sox early in his career and on the last leg of his playing days with the Boston Braves.
Here’s a screen shot of White Sox uniforms over the years, from a small section of the search results.
The Sun-Times archive isn’t just about baseball, of course. Search for just about any topic and you’ll find something to scratch your Windy City history itch. For now, I’m concentrating on baseball. Let’s try the Philadelphia teams next….