Play Ball!

This post was written in collaboration with Carla Simms.

In honor of the Major League Baseball playoffs, the Cartographic and Architectural Branch has pulled together a few records featuring the national past-time.  We hope you enjoy this small tribute.

First up, an aerial view dated July 17, 1941, showing the original Busch Stadium, formerly known as Sportsmans Park, along North Grand Boulevard in St. Louis, MO.  The St. Louis Cardinals played here, just south of Fairground Park, until 1966 when they moved to a new Busch Stadium in downtown St. Louis.  The original stadium shown here has since been demolished, but there is now a baseball field right next to the stadium’s? old location.

RG 145 Aerial Photographs NAID 305870

Whether professional or amateur, the game leaves an unmistakable footprint on the landscape, as in this 1927 photograph of  Washington DC.  Calvin and Grace Coolidge would have passed no fewer than 11 ball fields on an evening stroll from the White House to the Washington Monument!

RG 328 DC 1927 199 print
RG 328 Aerial Photography of Washington DC 1927, print 199 NAID 305955

Baseball is everywhere in aerial photography covering the U.S. In this 1949 coverage of Nobles County Minnesota, you can even see the lights around the ball park in the town of Wilmont, population just 473 in the 1950 federal census.

RG 145 Aerial Photography of the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service, 1934 – 1954 NAID 305870

Of course, there are also times when you can’t play out of doors, and a spin through the patent drawings shows that baseball loving inventors had plenty of ideas on how to fill that time.

RG 241 Drawing for a “Base Ball Game Apparatus,” Utility patent 863758, NAID 305888

We only hold the drawings here in the Cartographic Branch, but the rules of play can be found in the US Patent & Trademark Office, Patent Full Text and Image Database.

Patent drawings also document the desire to improve the game, and perhaps gain fame and fortune in the process. In this quest, some inventors were more successful than others.

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RG 241 Utility Patent Drawings, 1837 – 1911 NAID 305888

Finally, we’ll go out on one last Major League Park for tonight’s game at Wrigley Field, pictured here in 1952, in a scan downloaded from the US Geological Survey’s EarthExplorer website.

RG 57 Aerial Photography, 1935 – 1966 NAID 305471

World Series Post Script

By popular demand, we offer these two additional photos, downloaded from the US Geological Survey’s EarthExplorer website: Municipal Stadium in 1955 and Shea Stadium in 1966. It’s closing time Friday here at the Archives, so no fancy close-ups this time– click the image to view and download full size files and enjoy!

For more information on how to research aerial photography, see the earlier post Snapshots in Time of the American Landscape or contact reference staff at :

7 thoughts on “Play Ball!

  1. I am so proud that our little town’s ballpark appeared in your blog.
    I especially loved the catcher’s masks.

  2. Great post–just one point of clarification. The second Busch Stadium is also history having been replaced by Busch Stadium III in 2006. It was constructed on the parking lot of the old Busch Stadium II.

  3. Having grown up in Wilmont, it was so enjoyable reading your blog that included our little town baseball field. My siblings and I all grew up with a love of baseball because of the emphasis put on it in our small town.

  4. looking forward to the aerial views of the world series teams, like municipal stadium in kansas city and shea in NYC.

    1. Thank you for your message. Coverage of these sites here at the Archives has not yet been scanned. However, there are some nice photos available to download for no charge from the US Geological Survey’s EarthExplorer website. I posted one of each in a “Post Script” above, but there are additional choices available on the site. Have fun!

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