18 June 2014

Player Collecting: Team photos, remember those?

     On the rare occasion that a player collector gets to the end of the line when it comes to traditional baseball cards, having picked up a copy of every different card (documented or not) that exists for a particular player, the yearning to pick up something else persists.  In that situation, the mind wanders to other items featuring player photographs, be they magazines, game programs, pocket schedules or what have you.  Quite possibly the oldest, yet frequently neglected item available to the dedicated player collector is the team photo or team picture.
1869 Peck & Snyder Red Stockings
1869 Peck & Snyder Red Stockings

     Some of the earliest documented baseball cards are actually just team photos, usually tied to a sponsor or business of some sort.  While technology has improved in photography and printing, the same arrangement that existed between teams and sponsors in the 1880s is still alive and well today in the form of team pictures as stadium giveaways and newspaper premiums.  In fact, this is usually the only way team pictures are made available in the present.  And don't think it's just a baseball thing, pretty much every pro and college team sport issues team pictures in some format.

     As a collectible, they are often overlooked for reasons of storage.  In most cases over the last 30 years, team pictures are large.  Usually 11" x 14" or bigger.  In some cases, they are more posters than what one might think of a simply a "photo".  My collection of team photos is only about two years old, but quickly grew to include 20 or so items, ranging from large postcards to posters.  Below are what I have and what I'm hunting for each of my player collections.

Dave Winfield

    Naturally, having played the longest, Winfield has the most team pictures available, especially given that the San Diego Padres started issuing team photos, sponsored by the San Diego Union-Evening Tribube, back in their minor league days as far back as 1964, and continuing with various sponsors through 1995.  As a result, Winfield's entire time as a Padre is covered.  These were generally large photos, measuring 14"x11".

1973 San Diego Padres
(this should have the blue banner at the bottom, but it was trimmed off my copy)

1974 San Diego Padres

1975 San Diego Padres

1976 San Diego Padres

1977 San Diego Padres

1978 San Diego Padres
(I have this one, but it is in pieces, so I'm looking for an intact copy)

1979 San Diego Padres

1980 San Diego Padres
(pretty sure this was taken in front of the Hilton out on Harbor Island Dr.)

The only form I can find the 1980's & early 1990's New York Yankees team photos are in the form of these stadium giveaway mugs.  You can see several of them here:

New York Yankees Fan Day mug SGA Collection 1977 - 1995

1990 California Angels

1991 California Angels

1992 Toronto Blue Jays - sponsored by MCI

1992 Toronto Blue Jays - issued by The Postcard Factory

1992-93 Toronto Blue Jays /  Maxwell House 5" x 7"

1992 Norman James 1992 World Champions Toronto Blue Jays Poster

1995 Cleveland Indians Photo File
I don't know whether or not there was any kind of official team picture issued for the '95 Indians, but I did finally land this Photo File collage of the team.  I suppose it will have to do.

Hensley Meulens

    Given the Yankees lack of traditionally issued team pictures, most of what I've found for Bam Bam have been minor league team pictures.  These are typically stadium giveaway items from the first couple of months into a season.

1987 Prince William Yankees

In the case of the 1990 Columbus Clippers, the team photo was combined with one of their yearly baseball card sets.

In 1992, the Columbus Clippers issued several posters featuring the team in the throwback uniforms of previous teams to play in Columbus.  Each poster contained a photo of the 1992 team along with a few historical photos of players from the earlier team.

1992 Columbus Buckeyes poster

1992 Columbus Senators poster

1992 Columbus Red Birds poster

1992 Columbus Jets poster

1992 Columbus Clippers poster

1993 Columbus Clippers - sponsored by Nickles Bakery and Jolly Rancher
  Unfortunately, Hensley Meulens face is semi-obscured by a printing/ink issue.

2005 Indianapolis Indians - Team Picture Night, 29 April 2005

2006 Indianapolis Indians - Team Picture Night, 21 April 2006, sponsored by Pepsi & BAND-AID, first 4,000 fans.

2007 Indianapolis Indians - Team Picture Night, 20 April 2007, first 4,000 fans.

2008 Indianapolis Indians

2012 San Francisco Giants - 18" x 12"

Karl "Tuffy" Rhodes

   Despite playing pretty much the whole season with the Tucson Toros in 1990, Rhodes did not make the team picture that season.

1991 Tucson Toros - Sponsored by Hinckley & Schmitt.

1993 Omaha Royals

Roberto Kelly

1993 Cincinnati Reds - The Reds issued these team photos consistently (and with the same basic design) from at least 1967-1998.  The photos were usually given away with a sponsor's coupon attached.  The design changed in 2000.

1997 Seattle Mariners - Two posters were produced, one measured 11"x14" and  was sponsored by the Seattle Times & J.C. Penney.  The other was 9.5"x14" and was given away at Safeco Caravan stops in the offseason.

1999 Texas Rangers - This poster was sponsored by AT&T.

Dave Henderson

1982 Seattle Mariners - 8" x 10"

1983 Seattle Mariners - sponsored by Showbiz Pizza

1984 Seattle Mariners - 14" x 8.5" poster

1991 Oakland Athletics - poster sponsored by Kodak

2014 Oakland Athletics 1989 World Champions 25th Anniversary

Bernardo Brito

1990 Portland Beavers

1991 Portland Beavers

1992 Portland Beavers?

1993 Portland Beavers (Smoky Bear 50th)

Dann Howitt

1987 Modesto A's - 10.75" x 8.25"

Steve Howard

1985 Modesto A's

1987 Huntsville Stars
       The highlight is that Walt Weiss is making a face at the camera dead center in the second row.


  1. I ended up adding a bunch of minor league team photos to my collection of Jeff Innis "cards." I didn't really feel motivated to do the same thing with Gary Cater, since he had enough traditional baseball cards to keep me busy through the end of his playing career.

  2. I was looking at the 1974 Padres picture and I thought it was interesting that Bill Almon was on it. Almon was the number one pick overall in the 1974 draft. According to Baseball Reference he didn't debut with the Padres until September 2 that year (after playing 40 games in the minors after signing). Given that there's 34 players referenced in the picture (including Derrel Thomas), the picture must have been taken after the rosters expanded at the beginning of September. I wonder if this was a give away for like a fan appreciation day at the end of the season.

    1. So far, the only schedule I've got is from the Padres 1977 season, since it was printed on those schedule cards I posted about awhile back. In '77 the team photo giveaway was September 24th.

  3. Team photos are pretty cool, and when you've pretty much finished the single-player cards I think this is a great way to keep a player collection active. I'm a bit surprised that I haven't (as far as I can remember) seen any recent team photos in Japan. I think those would be great replacements for the team checklists that always show mascots or just the team logos.

    1. Anything would be a great replacement for the mascots...:-)

      Now that you've made me think about it, I'm pretty sure the only time I've seen a team picture like that on a Japanese baseball card were the cards for the winning team in BBM's Nippon Series sets from 1991 to 2000. And the "throwback" cards for the 1951 All Star teams in the 2001 All Star set. There might be a couple in some of the team specific Anniversary sets but, as you say, there seems to not be any for recent teams. I wonder why that is.

    2. I must be tired...I can't believe I wrote "there seems to not be any" rather than "there doesn't seem to be any". Gotta remember to edit BEFORE I hit publish...

  4. I've tried searching for team pictures from NPB teams, but always seem to end up with little league or school teams in NPB uniforms having their photo taken at one of the NPB stadiums.