The Boys of Summer

I guess one of the appeals of baseball is that it never changes. It’s always been balls, bats, bases and mitts.

Believe it or not, we’re at Week 35 of The Capewell Glass Negative Collection, and we’ve only just scratched the surface!

John Capewell of Westville, New Jersey which is right across the Delaware River from Philadelphia shot this glass negative, but he’s not in the picture. He had included himself in a number of the shots in the collection by using a timer or rigging the shutter release with a length of string. My guess is that he wasn’t in this team, and maybe he thought of turning photography into a profession by selling prints to the boys.

Unlike last week’s shot, I don’t have any details in this negative that gives me an exact time or place. I assume they are in Westville or at least some place in Southern New Jersey. I assume the W stood for Westville, and the picture was taken probably any time from 1900 to 1910. I’m not sure if there are any records of amateur baseball leagues in the area, but if there are, drop us a line or leave a comment below!

The guy above vaguely reminded me of Michael Shannon in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.

As with all of the photographs in the Capewell Collection, I placed the 5″ x 7″ glass negative on a lightbox and shot it with a digital camera locked down on a tripod. The “processing” was done digitally on a Mac using Adobe Photoshop.


The Amazing Jerseyman just wrote me with this terrific piece of research:

While Westville had possessed a baseball team since at least 1901, I strongly suspect that the image above is of the 1908 team. In that year, manager Ed Davis fielded “some of the best amateur and semi-professional players in the State. That team included infielders Kilmer, C. Davis, Gelnn and Hoffman; outfielders Ed Davis, Hamilton and Lillig. Tepham played catcher and Ellis, pitcher. A 7 June 1908 article from The Philadelphia Inquirer continues,

“Ellis is one of the best pitchers in Jersey. He has speed and good curves. Ellis has pitched several extra inning games this season. One of eighteen innings. He has as much speed at the end of the game as at the opening. Topham is a fast catcher. Manager Davis will be lucky to hold on to this pair throughout the season, as they would both make good in minor league company.

Hoffman, the short stop, is playing a sensational game, and his batting has helped the team to win several games this season. Charlie Davis and Kilmer are playing great ball these days.

Ed Davis, Hamilton and Lillig do not let any fly balls drop into the grass in the outfield.

Manager Davis is negotiating to take his team on a barnstorming trip through Pennsylvania and Northern New Jersey in September.”


One giveaway that this might be the 1908 team discussed in the article above is the one guy wearing a blouse from the Covenant Athletic Club of Philadelphia. Two of the other men wearing Westville blouses have different initials on their sleeves one of which is an interlaced “SE,” standing for the Southeast League in Philadelphia, while the other one appears to be “WP,” indicating part of the William Penn League of amateur baseball.

Note, too, the blurred carriage going by on the road to the right.

Great stuff, as usual!

THANK YOU, Jerseyman!!!

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