Today I wanted to take a look at the traditional Major League Baseball team photo, as it was done then and now. This team photo of the Cincinnati Reds is from the 1981 season. The 1981 season is well known because it featured a first half champion and a second half champion due to the work stoppage in the middle of the season. The Reds finished with the best overall record in their division that year but failed to make the playoffs due to the unusual season format.
This team still had some very famous names on its roster, many of whom played for the Big Red Machine, like Johnny Bench, Dave Concepcion, George Foster, and Ken Griffey. Another notable member of this Reds team was Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver. This Reds team was the last time you would see some of these famous names on the team, and was the last successful season for the Reds for many years to come.
This team photo is typical of the team photos of the day. It featured the players and coaches posed together on the field in one big family group. It was a bit like Olan Mills day at the ballpark. The bottom of the team photo featured the team's logo with '81 Cincinnati Reds in a great Cooper style font, found quite frequently in design from that time period. Under the team name was a full roster in simple black and white.
Fast forward to the present day and you find that the Major League Baseball team photo really hasn't evolved all that much over the years. The 2009 version benefits from modern graphics software, with the team name and roster being placed over the image, rather than on a white background. The team is photographed in the grandstands, and the pose is a bit more hip, but the idea remains the same, players and coaches all gathered together for one big happy family photo. One of the more notable improvements in 2009 versus 1981 is the clothing styles worn by the training staff.
Though many things have changed over the years in sports design, the traditional team photo still stays true to its roots as a staple in Major League Baseball each season.