Don's Favorite Baseball Photographs

Most of my favorite baseball photos appear in three of the many baseball textbooks I have written and compiled on the great American pastime. They are Baseball, The Major League Way, followed later by two books I co-authored with Hall of Fame manager Walter Alston of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The many sequence-series pictures were taken with a high-speed 35 mm camera that I used at big league ballparks in the country. They show the players precise techniques in executing the basic fundamental skills.

Baseball - The Major League Way (1962)

The title is most fitting because the words imply: how big leaguers play the game. Reflecting a wealth of experience and knowledge, the book presents an illustrious group of great players. They tell coaches and young players in their words how to improve their hitting, fielding and pitching. Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, and Stan Musial are among the slugging stars that are featured in the batting chapter. Warren Spahn, Whitey Ford, and Early Wynn, pictured below with me, take on new roles as pitching "professors", and fielding standouts as Bobby Richardson, shown on the cover, Brooks Robinson, and Vada Pinson give tips on defense.

Throughout the book, each of the twelve chapters contain numerous instructional quotes taken from the interviews I conducted with over 100 major league players, managers, and coaches. In his Foreword, Mel Allen, the great play-by-play announcer of the New York Yankees, wrote, "Never before has a book covered the fundamental skills of the game with such authenticity. Don's tape recorder makes it possible for the star performers to describe word for word how they execute the basic techniques. Hundreds of sequence photographs show the great players in action.

Batting Swing of Mickey Mantle

This sequence-series of Mickey was one of many that I took of the Yankees in 1961 during pre-game batting practice at Comiskey Park in Chicago. The great Hall of Fame center fielder is regarded by many as the game's most powerful switch-hitter. Using a comfortable stance, Mantle pushes off on his right foot while taking a fairly long stride. His level swing comes in contact with the ball well out in front of the plate. A great follow through enables Mickey to generate tremendous power into his swing.


Yankees Double Play Combo, Bobby Richardson and Tony Kubek

Chapter 8 - The Double Play Combination was the most gratifying and exciting I have experienced as a baseball photographer. In 1961, the Yankees and White Sox had just finished pre-game infield practice and went to the clubhouse, all but Bobby Richardson and Tony Kubek, pictured here in the dugout. In short right field, with a crowd of 35,000 fans looking on, Bobby and Tony, both close friends of mine, demonstrated for my sequence camera the basic throws and pivots in making the double play at second base.

Side arm throw. After fielding a grounder, Bobby makes a quick-sidearm flip cross his body to Tony at second base.

Across the Base, Dragging Right Foot. Receiving the throw in front of the bag, Tony brings his right foot through, kicks the corner of the bag, and makes a three-quarter arm throw to first base.


Pitching Technique of Sandy Koufax

Sandy Koufax demonstrates one of the greatest pitching styles in baseball history. After years of hard work, Sandy developed the proper rocking and rhythm motion where the body would come through at the right time --the leg lift, stride, and arm action, all coordinated.

In this series, Koufax demonstrates the timing and rhythm which comes when the arm and upper body are meshed with the striding leg and lower body. When Sandy's striding foot touches the ground, his throwing arm is up on top. He now has the necessary body momentum to drive on through.



The Complete Baseball Handbook (1972)


Co-authored with Walter Alston, Hall of Fame manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, The Complete Baseball Handbook enjoyed rave reviews from both coaches and writers, as "the all-time baseball classic" on playing techniques and strategy. The 567-page textbook featured over 500 instructional photos of top major league players demonstrating the basic techniques of the game.

Walter and I had the cooperation of over 150 standout major league players, managers and coaches, who were invaluable to us in demonstrating and explaining the fundamental basic skills and offensive and defensive strategy. Indeed, manager Alston was an astute "professor of baseball" and team organization. Known as an outstanding handler of men, Walter had the ability to get the most from his players. His pattern of offense varied from a slugging type of attack to a fast, opportunistic club.



One-Hand Pick-up by Brooks Robinson of a Slow Roller

One of the most exciting plays in baseball is the one-hand pick-up of a slow roller down the first base line, and Brooks Robinson performed it with perfection. As his left foot comes down, his bare hand comes in contact with the ball. Moving his right foot forward, Brooks goes into throwing position by pushing off his right leg. He comes over the top with an overhand flip on the run.


Shortstop Jim Fregosi Coming in on Slow Roller

The slow roller must be fielded on the run. Jim Fregosi charges the ball at full speed, catching and throwing the ball without straightening up. Fielding ball with his left foot forward, he then takes a step with his right foot to make the throw.


Second Baseman Glenn Beckert Fielding Ground Ball

An infielder should field the ball with two hands out in front of him. With a continuous motion, Glenn Beckert "gives" with the ball and brings both hands back into a throwing position. He has his legs apart, his knees are bent, and he steps toward first base.


First Baseman Wes Parker Catching Low Throw

With two hands, first baseman Wes Parker has to give with the low throw, as he cups the glove under the ball. With the palm of the glove facing up, Wes draws the glove and hand in toward the area of his belt. In cushioning the ball, he makes the impact softer.


Catcher Jeff Torborg Receiving Inside Pitch

The catcher takes a lead step left and slightly forward with his left foot to receive the pitch. After placing his right foot behind his left, Jeff Torborg steps forward straight toward second base.


The Pitching Artistry of Tom Seaver

Pushing hard off the rubber, Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver tries to drive low and right out at the hitter. The left knee of his striding leg remains bent, providing the flexibility so necessary for a smooth, powerful release and follow-through.



The Complete Baseball Handbook, Second Edition (1984)

Walter Alston and co-author Don Weiskopf teamed up again to develop a major revision and up-date of their classic guide to playing and coaching baseball. Every position on the diamond is comprehensively covered, supported by more than 500 photos, diagrams, and numerous training drills and practice schedules.

The Classic Batting Swing of Henry Aaron

Hank Aaron demonstrates one of the greatest batting swings in the history of baseball. Aaron's quick hands and wrists enable him to hit the ball out in front of the plate. He preferred a short stride because it keeps his body balanced and gives him split-second timing.


The Drag Bunt by Maury Wills

As he levels off the bat, Maury Wills steps toward first base with his front, right foot. The bat is approximately at a right angle with the side of his body. When contact is made, Maury's weight is on his right foot, with his left foot trailing slightly, ready to cross his right leg.


The Bent Leg Slide Demonstrated by Billy Grabarkewitz

In addition to being the safest slide in baseball, the bent leg enables the base runner to spring up quickly, ready to run if the ball goes through. In this excellent demonstration, Billy Grabarkewitz of the Dodgers slides only on the calf of the bent leg, which must be the bottom leg. Just sit down and nature will put the correct leg underneath.


Catcher Bob Brenly's Throw to Second Base

Catcher Bob Brenly takes a short, jab step with his left foot, a quick-gliding movement to create momentum toward second base. To get into position to throw, the catcher has to shift his weight back around to his right foot. Striding toward second base, Brenly throws directly overhand.


Second Baseman Bobby Grich Fielding a Ground Ball

The second baseman should field the ball with two hands out in front of him, and with a continuous motion, he "gives" with the ball and brings both hands back into a throwing position. Here, Bobby Grich has his legs apart, his knees are bent, and he steps toward first base.


Center Fielder Bill Russell Going Deep for a Fly Ball

To be a good outfielder, a player must be able to go back for a fly ball. Then he can afford to play shallower. Here, Bill Russell pivots on both feet in the direction he is going. In moving back, he should make one or two quick glances over his shoulder to check on the ball's flight.




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