Ball Game, Sargentville, ME

Catherine Marston Wood Collection
Gift of Diana Marston Wood

Even though baseball became a professional sport in the 1850s, at the end of the 19th century almost every Maine town, large and small, still had its own baseball team. Evie Barbour’s photo makes clear how little a town needed in order to play the game. Here the team has established a ballpark in an open field without any special equipment in sight. Even gloves and bases seem to be absent.

The men in their shirt sleeves gather to play and kibbutz while the women—protected from the sun by their hats and parasol—look on. One wonders if the little girl, so focused on the field at the moment of the pitch, wishes she could join the action.

You can glimpse the ocean beyond the trees—and the on-lookers and the players are spread across the horizon like another layer of the scenic view. The ballplayers and onlookers appear to be part of the landscape, creating a nostalgic portrayal of America’s national sport.