Professional and college baseball players such as the 1919 University of Michigan baseball team were returning to the field in that first spring after the Great War’s end.

The days have been busy and full this week, which is a good thing. We took our students to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade yesterday afternoon to view and discuss the construction of Robert Moses’s Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. I concluded the presentation with a brief reading, just two paragraphs, from Truman Capote’s 1959 Holiday magazine article “A House in the Heights.” Capote lived in at least two rented homes in Brooklyn Heights during his time in New York City. I pointed out to students the one at 16 Pineapple.

I would be remiss if I were not to note that today is Opening Day of the Major League Baseball season. Today is the earliest Opening Day ever. It makes sense to push up the start of the season to accommodate the longer post-season; they just don’t want it falling into November. I came across this photograph of the 1919 University of Michigan baseball team and find it extraordinary on a number of level. First of all is the stunning clarity of this image, taken not on the field but within the control of a photographer’s studio. The menswear of both the players and coaches/managers is intriguing as well. One of baseball’s most special features is that you get dressed up to play it. Baseball uniforms are not so much gym clothes but style wear. There is a reason the Yankees wear pinstripes.

When this photo was taken ball players were returning from Europe and rejoining their college and pro teams. I’ll probably come back to it in October, but as it would turn out the 1919 Black Sox scandal, and subsequent trial, would add to the bitterness and cynicism of the post-Great War milieu in the early 1920s.

Enjoy the season.

(image/Rentschler’s Studio, Ann Arbor, Michigan; Bentley Historical Library)