Wednesday 22 April 2015

The Boys of Summer

In a photograph collection with hundreds of standout images, this one is an absolute favorite.

In 1932, the men of the Hampton Baseball Club made local history by winning the Kings County League (Western Section) Championship. To mark the event, the players posed for Saint John photographer Charles Conlon in a professional shot that captured the winning team alongside their elegant trophy.

The photo is interesting for a number of reasons, chief of which is the professional look of the team. The players are well suited with fine uniforms sporting the “HBC” logo of their club; they are not a rag tag group in second-rate jerseys and equipment. These were players in a well-organized and well-supported league even though, at the time of the photo, Canada was in the depths of the Great Depression. Money was desperately scarce, but the community of Hampton still put its best foot forward, supporting its team and their efforts. The worries of the day do not seem to penetrate here; this winning team poses proudly, secure in their win and their position within the community.

This prominent standing is also demonstrated by the inclusion of the player names on the picture mount (names that are still to be found in Hampton today, such as Bovaird, Dixon, Ryan, Fairweather). There was obvious pride in this local achievement, enough that each man was individually recognized on the final picture (we have a good selection of team photos within our collection – this was rarely the case!)

Part of the fanfare for this Hampton team was due, of course, to baseball’s incredible popularity at this period. And much of baseball’s popularity was due in great part to the performance of Babe Ruth. In fact, 1932 was especially historic for Ruth and his New York Yankees: they won the World Series and on their road to victory (in Game 3 of the series) Babe Ruth ‘called’ his shot, pointing to the center field bleachers as he came to bat, indicating that he would hit a home run….. which he did. A legendary act that has had sports fans talking ever since.

Can this local baseball club with their Kings County Western Division win compare to the feats of players like Babe Ruth and his New York Yankees? No. But what they accomplished at this time is still worthy of celebration. In difficult times, a local win like this brought people together, raising the spirits of all, just as Babe Ruth’s plays did for thousands of fans during the Depression. And though none of the names on this picture would ever attain the fame of a player like Babe Ruth, they did accomplish something Ruth did not – in the following year, they won their league championship again.

This is the winning ball that records the Hampton Baseball Club's next victory in 1933.

For a beautiful online exhibit of sporting moments in New Brunswick’s history, check out “Balls, Bats & Boats” by our friends at the New Brunswick Museum. An incredible collection of images and stories from New Brunswick’s sporting past!

An interesting side note for sports fans: Babe Ruth attributed much of his training and talent to one of the teachers at his Catholic school, Brother Matthias. Brother Matthias’ real name was Martin Boutilier and he was born in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia in 1872.

1 comment:

  1. Where did you get the photograph. I am collecting photographs by Charles A. Conlon