Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Baseball, Printing, and the 4th of July

Baseball cuts have always been popular, as these pages from a Barnhart Brothers and Spindler type specimen book illustrate. We’re more familiar with printing than old-time baseball, but a few years ago we had the opportunity to learn more. And we received a special gift from a friend in the process.

An old letterpress newspaper office in Illinois, in business for 150 some years, was disposing of its printing equipment, type, and cuts. Another local couple and my husband and I bought the type and cuts in the shop and divided them between us. Among the more interesting items was a copper electrotype of baseball players.

The cut measures about 8 ½ by 8 inches, one of the largest cuts we have, and is mounted on wood. The detail on it is as sharp as ever, and it prints beautifully. My husband consulted with a friend at the Baseball Hall of Fame, and according to him the uniforms and equipment illustrated on the cut date back to the 1880’s.

We often open up our print shop to visitors, and one day our next door neighbor Jack Kraemer came over to check things out. A talented woodcarver, Jack was fascinated by the image of the baseball players. He asked to borrow a proof of the cut to see if he could carve the batter and catcher. Then he presented us with the statue pictured below at one of our annual 4th of July get-togethers.

It was amazing to me to see how Jack was able to transform the flat image of the cut into a three dimensional wood carving. We proudly display the cut and the wood carving together in our print shop. It feels like they belong together since both of them preserve a 130 year old baseball game where the details might otherwise have been forgotten.

At this year’s 4th of July picnic we asked Jack to autograph his wood carving and pose for a picture with it. Celebrate Independence Day − long live Freedom of the Press!

The cut itself is amazingly detailed and prints very well.

Jack displays his woodcarving of old-time baseball players.

The baseball display in our basement print shop.


  1. Wow, that is cool. How nice of your neighbor to carve that for you. Love the display showing it all.

  2. Jack is very generous. He began woodcarving later in his life, and has a whole houseful of carvings, which are really something to see.

  3. That is just amazing how Jack transformed that print into a 3-D carving, and it looks just great! The display is especially nice. You are so lucky to have such fine neighbors.

  4. Thank you, Julie! Yes, we are fortunate to live next door to such great people -- we appreciate them!