I’ve occasionally linked to photos of MLBers who played minor league ball in Alaska. There’s a certain novelty to these shots, but it’s based purely on distance — like, “Whoa, Alaska sure is far away! And lookie, they actually have baseball teams!!”
Now reader Michael Orr has turned up something a lot more interesting: a University of Alaska archive of baseball photos from the early 1900s. Yes, I’ve linked to lots of old historical pics in recent months, but these are different, because they reflect a sense of place not often seen in early sports photos. Remember, Alaska didn’t even become a state until 1959. In the early 1900s, it was still a pretty ragtag assortment of loggers, prospectors, miners, land speculators, and a lot of wilderness, and you can really get a feel for that in these photographs. Some of them look like they were taken in a labor camp; in others, the game is overwhelmed by the forest and mountains in the background.
A few specifics worth noting:
• See that “Midnight Sun” insignia? According to the photo’s caption, “The Six Mile team played the Ladd Field team and the winning team played the winning team of Fairbanks in a midnight game on the longest day of the year.” Only in Alaska, kids.
• Dig the moose head insignia on this 1930 team.
• According to the inscription at the bottom of this photo, this team played “indoor baseball.” Anyone know anything about that?
• Although it’s not uni-related, I love this grandstand photo, which really provides a sense of how small-time these games were.
• There was football in Alaska, too. This shot was taken in 1940.
Last Chance Raffle Reminder: The raffle for the authentic Tracy McGrady All-Star Game jersey will close today at 5pm eastern. Ticket sales have picked up a bit, but it’s still a relatively small pool at the moment. One last time: $3 for one virtual raffle ticket, or two for $5, five for $10, a dozen for $20, or fifty for $50. PayPal your ticket purchases to me at paul_lukas at earthlink dot net (or, if you don’t like PayPal, mail payment to Paul Lukas, 671 DeGraw St., Brooklyn, NY 11217 and e-mail me so I know it’s on the way). I’ll announce the winner on Monday.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Craig Biggio has been told to stop wearing his Sunshine Kids cap pin during batting practice, which seems like a really idiotic PR move by MLB. I’ve written something about this for ESPN today — look here. … Soccer news from Dominic Litten, who reports that Liverpool and Arsenal have unveiled their 2007-08 away kits. … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Gilbert Arenas was wearing some bizarro footwear on Wednesday night, plus he took off his jersey and placed it on the court as officials reviewed the status of his buzzer beater. … You know how you’ll sometimes see an MLB player wearing a clip-on mic during a nationally televised game? Expect to see umpires wearing the microphones this season, thanks to a new arrangement with the umps’ union. … Stewart Small notes that they have some pretty weird ideas about basketball uniforms in Korea. … I have a feeling I’ve linked to this before, but just in case: Here are some really bad soccer jerseys (as spotted by Robert Neddermeyer). … An inside source whispers that the NBA’s D-league will soon be test-driving “a new jersey style that will feature a lighter-weight material, fewer seams, and a more athletic fit.”