Music and baseball in the forest

At the front of the group of people in this photograph are nine musicians.  So it must have been a musical retreat in the woods.  But wait, are the men in the second row holding baseball bats?  Are the musicians and baseball players camping together?  And who plays baseball in the woods, anyway?  There’s a horse-drawn omnibus behind the group, so at least we know how they got around.

The photo was taken by William Howard Tipton (1850-1929), who was based in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  (You can see his stamp on the back of the photo here.)

Music and baseball 2

Music and baseball 3

The guy in the cap, above, is holding a bat (detail below):

Music and baseball 8

Music and baseball 4

The guy in the center, above, is holding a ball and catcher’s mask (detail below):

Music and baseball 9

The two guys on the right, below, are holding bats:

Music and baseball 5


In 1863, roughly twenty years before this photo was taken, William Tipton was a 12-year-old apprentice at the only photo studio in town, run by brothers Charles and Isaac Tyson.  In July of that year the Battle of Gettysburg took place, which would be the bloodiest battle in American history and the turning point in the Civil War.  The Tyson brothers and young Tipton were among the first to photograph the battle.


Music and baseball 7



38 thoughts on “Music and baseball in the forest

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  1. So many questions, with this one. What’s on the shelf tacked onto the tree? What’s on the stump? Who are those women? Why are they there? (I love the smile on the face of the woman next to the guy with the ball and catcher’s mask.) Is this a precursor to a Battle of the Bands: except a Battle of the Bats and Bands? Could it be an itinerant theatrical troupe that had its own orchestra?

    I’m flummoxed!

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Interesting photo and story. It led my to learn about the gettysburg cyclorama, which the photographer helped the painter by documenting the battlefield. It was a 360 degree painting mounted on circular walls, to be seen from the center of the room. It was shown in various parts of the country for twenty years, notably Chicago and Boston, in the yearsafterthewar. Eventually theBoston version ended up with the Gettysburg park where it remains, while the other copies were lost to time.

    I wonder if this photo is some kind of anniversary of the battle. But more likely a reunion or outing. I wonder how many of this photographer’s photos are in the Ken Burns Civil War documentary!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’ve seen that cyclorama! I visited Gettysburg National Military Park about 15 years ago. It’s worth a visit. I’m glad you mentioned Ken Burns, as he has done so much to promote the study of history in this country. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Andrea!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I have to start by telling you that I have a huge smile! Although I don’t know a single person in this photo it feels very special to me. I never knew my grandfather. He served in WWI before returning home and marrying my grandmother. By profession he was both a pitcher in minor league baseball and a jazz violinist! I’m very blessed to have his violin. This is a beautiful photo full of wonderful details It gives me a glimpse into what life might have been like for him. Thank you so very much Brad. 😊🌷🎶

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Wow, a pitcher and a jazz violinist! What a combination! And an amazing coincidence as well. It just goes to show that we pigeonhole people at our peril. We can’t avoid making assumptions about people, but we should always remember that those assumptions could be wrong. I’m so glad you enjoyed the photo!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I can’t tell if the baseball players were miffed or if they were just trying to look tough, haha! I guess everyone was staying in the tents, but who knows. By the way, excellent piece on Pretty Boy Floyd for the Missouri Historical Society. They have a great website. I’ve visited the website a number of times over the years, and corresponded once with someone there about a photo I was researching.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. This photo definitely has more questions than answers. Three groups-the musicians, the women and the baseball players all meet up in the woods?! It almost looks like 3 photos superimposed upon each other. No Photoshop back then so I wonder what’s going on. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I know, it defies explanation. 😀 I get a kick out of the fact that the baseball players are wearing baseball clothes, which seem out of place in the woods. And of course the instruments, which wouldn’t have been easy to cart around in those days. Their owners must have had a good reason!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Looking at your lovely pictures, Brad, I always think that most of them are pictures of theater groups. Strange association) I also admire a number of musically educated young people. That’s wonderful!

    Liked by 2 people

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