|"Babe Bows Out," by Nat Fein|
Back in 2002, when I was editing a photography magazine, I got a call from my friend Neil Leifer, who besides being one of the great sports photographers of his time is also an avid student of sport photography history. He let me know that there was another great shot of Ruth's farewell taken that day—a shot that no one had ever seen. Was I interested? Oh, yeah. The picture was taken by Ralph Morse, one of Life magazine's cadre of renowned photographers. You can actually see Morse in Fein's photograph—he's kneeling along the first-base line, the second photographer from the right. His position meant that his picture would feature something that Fein's did not: the Babe's face. And one other thing: Morse was shooting color. And here's what he got:
|Babe's Farewell by Ralph Morris|
Which shot do you like better, Fein's or Morris's?
So why didn't Life run the Morris shot? Probably because the photographer was shooting Ekachrome with his Rolleiflex camera. In 1948 color printing was very expensive and even big magazines like Life used it sparingly. It wasn't published until Sports Illustrated picked it up for an anthology some years later. Then it was forgotten again. Today you can find a series of Morse's pictures from that day at Life.com, but not this shot. (At least I couldn't find it.)
For you National League fans, I should point out that Morse took another great picture that did indeed go on to become famous—the picture of Jackie Robinson stealing home against the Yankees in the 1955 World Series.
|Jackie Robinson steals home, 1955 World Series, by Ralph Morse|