Published: May 27, 2016
NEW YORK CITY — Since the mid-Nineteenth Century, when the New York Knickerbockers played the first organized baseball games using modern-day rules, New York has been home to some of the sport’s most successful and beloved teams.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art will present the exhibition “The Old Ball Game: New York Baseball, 1887–1977,” on view June 10–October 20, featuring nearly 400 baseball cards featuring players from numerous teams, from the New York Metropolitans and the Brooklyn Bridegrooms to the Giants, Dodgers, Yankees, and Mets. All of the cards are from the collection of the Met; many will be on display for the first time.
Highlights of the exhibition include never-before-shown cabinet cards of the late Nineteenth Century, such as an 1894 example picturing George Davis, the Hall-of-Famer shortstop for the New York Giants. The first six hitters in the Yankees’ famed 1927 lineup — Earle Combs, Mark Koenig, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Bob Meusel, and Tony Lazzeri, also known as “Murderers’ Row” — will be represented through cards published in the 1920s and 1930s by the American Caramel Company and Big League Goudey Gum, respectively.
The majority of the cards on display are drawn from the Jefferson R. Burdick Collection, a massive and comprehensive collection of American trade cards. Burdick (1900–1963), an electrician by profession, deposited more than 300,000 items at the Met between 1943 and 1963, including more than 30,000 baseball cards, for which he developed a cataloguing system that remains in use today. Since 1993, in response to the enthusiasm of collectors and fans, the Met has put on display groupings from the Burdick Collection of several dozen baseball cards at a time, rotating them at six-month intervals.
The exhibition is organized by Allison Rudnick, Assistant Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints. It will be featured on The Met’s website as well as on social media via the hashtag #OldBallGame.
The exhibition “Printing a Child’s World,” on view nearby, will feature two works with a baseball theme: the George Luks painting “Boy with Baseball,” circa 1925, and a recently donated Parian porcelain statuette, “Catcher,” circa 1875–76, designed by Isaac Broome and manufactured by Ott and Brewer.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is at 1000 Fifth Avenue. For more information, www.metmuseum.org or 212-535-7710.
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