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1960 New York Yankees Hand-Study Photographs, Including Roger Maris, By Photographer Ted Polumbaum for Life Magazine (7)
Starting Bid - $500.00, Sold For - $928.00
This incomparable collection of extreme close-up hand-study photographs, taken by noted photojournalist Ted Polumbaum for LIFE magazine in 1960, captures the batting grips of seven different New York Yankees players, including Roger Maris. These photos pay homage to the great baseball photographers of old, such as Charles Conlon, who, during the early 1900s, frequently made artistic studies in which players gripped the bat or ball. That practice, however, soon became a lost art among baseball photographers. It seems fitting that Polumbaum resurrected this art form; like Conlon in a bygone age, he was a master of his craft and not constrained by convention. The grips photographed were those of Roger Maris, Tony Kubek, Bob Cerv, Elston Howard, Hector Lopez, Gil McDougald and Moose Skowron. Each of these black-and-white photographs originates in the Ted Polumbaum LIFE magazine archive of the previous lot, all of which have been consigned directly from the Polumbaum family.
All the photos, taken for a 1960 LIFE magazine photo assignment, date from a three-game series between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on September 23rd, 24th and 25th. Their unusual nature aside, these photos are unique; they are the only prints ever made from the original negatives and have never before been seen, except by the editors, the photographer and the players. One of the interesting anecdotes regarding these photos, as told by Ted Polumbaum to his wife at the time, concerns the Maris hand study. After each game, the procedure called for a courier to carry the film to New York for overnight processing and bring back prints to Boston on the early train so that the photographer could show them to the players before the next game.
When one of Maris' teammates looked at the photos he called him over, "Hey Roger, come look at this, look at the way you're cocking your wrist." Maris, despite his MVP performance that summer, was in the midst of a mild slump as the season was coming to a close. After seeing the photo he immediately changed his grip, got a hit, and broke out of his slump. Maris, of course, went on to have a pretty good season in the following year, 1961. While no one can say for certain that his record-breaking performance the following year was due solely to the adjustment he made after seeing this photo, it does make for an interesting side note to what is certainly a unique Maris photo. All of the offered photos are original LIFE magazine prints from 35 mm negatives. Each photo is printed on 11x14 double-weight, matte-finish fiber paper and trimmed flush by the lab to approximately 9 x 13.5 inches. All of the photos bear the LIFE magazine stamp on the reverse that includes date, assignment identification ("Yankees-Red Sox Ball Game") and photographer's name ("Ted Polumbaum"). Additionally, each photo also bears handwritten notations on the reverse to identify both the player and the negative number. Because of the time elapsed and handling by the players when the photographer showed them the photographs, nearly all display minor handling faults. Overall the collection remains in Excellent to Mint condition. Total 7 photographs. Reserve $500. Estimate $1,000/$1,500. SOLD FOR $928.00
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