This was one of the first photos I came across in the Newseum. It was a tremendously poetic photograph to me. The denotation is a baseball player sanding near home plate, holding his cap in one hand, and the bat in the other, supporting his weight. However, its connotation says much more about this photograph and the man positioned in the foreground. It is Babe Ruth. His shoulders are hunched forward and he leans on the baseball bat with an impeccable amount of humility and grace that truly captures the physical toll that playing baseball has taken on him. He appears forlorn, yet proud. His body language unveils the aches and pains that years of playing has given him. It brings the viewer to a state of awe, of Ruth’s sacrifice and commitment to this sport. It captures a moment of Ruth’s weakness, where the viewer can see and sense his exhaustion and humbleness. This photo was incredibly powerful, for me as an athlete, to see an athlete so great and powerful in his time and in legend, truly tired. As an athlete you are supposed to hide your exhaustion, to quell the will to quit and hide it deep within you. This photo, however reveals that moment when you stop to catch your breath, or hunch your back succumbing to the weight of your own listless muscles pulling you down. The line of players to the right in the photo is powerful, because it sets Babe Ruth apart from them. He is a part of the team, but alone at this moment in his exhaustion. I absolutely love this photograph.
February 17, 2011
Newseum: Babe Ruth