22 thoughts on “Baseball, circa 1939

  1. Mike, I also thought BHS from Buckman field, but the windows are different. I have several aerial photos from 1947 and the white house isn’t quite right. There was a house at the NW corner of the park, but nothing like that across the street. I don’t think it was Buckman field or Benson.

  2. The e-files copy says the date is December 31, 1939, which must be the date of acquisition of the photo or something like that. This explains the “circa” in today’s headline. I can’t imagine kids being outside as pictured, in December! The paper that year ran numerous stories about softball games, but those played by adults or college students were far more prevalent than those mentioning boys or girls.

    On December 2 (p.5) the paper wrote that Eldon I. Jenne, Director of Physical Education in the Portland Public Schools had petitioned the city for worn-out fire hose that could be converted into bases for the 74 softball diamonds used by grade and high school teams in Portland. So it looks like there were a lot of places where teams such as ours today could have played!

  3. The shirtless boy with the upturned ballcap certainly had center stage in this photograph with his teammates (this was a handsome group), perhaps he was the catcher.
    I played a lot of baseball all through childhood; mainly as a pitcher or outfielder. There was always a lot of “politics” going on with the adult coaching staff in little league and that is why I always enjoyed playing games on back lots in the neighborhood. I always felt bad for our third baseman Tim Iversen (short, pudgy, glasses) because his dad would always show up at games drunk & stand behind the wire backstop shouting out complaints against the umps. He was almost always asked to leave.

    I find the boy’s shoes interesting here. Well-worn high-top sneakers and shoes with short broken laces and their jeans had seen a lot of action.

    These boys were lucky as they got to set out WWII, but Korea would have been another matter. I wonder if any of them are alive today?

  4. The fun they must have had just playing…no coaches and politics…no new shoes and uniforms and the best equipment money can buy…and the private coaching for 9 year olds…just living in the moment and enjoying each other as they played. The life skills they must have learned!
    * Wish we could go back to simpler times…but even 15 years ago our 5 year old had a coach whose 5 year old son was dressed to the nines…who always played at the expense of the other children, who just wanted to develope skills and play.
    * I think the adults should have stayed out of it…a poor attempt to live vicariously. Just let them play.
    * But I digress…my 2 cents.

  5. Look at the sheer happiness on some of those faces! Just a group of boys, all friends, all abilities, playing baseball some summer day on a school ballfield in 1939 Portland. What a great photo!

  6. Pingback: Baseball, circa 1939 – Urban Fishing Pole Lifestyle

  7. My guess is an elementary school field on the east side or perhaps north Portland. It’s hard to tell without landmarks like a hill. Mt. Tabor, Council Crest, etc. It looks pretty flat. It appears to be a single level school, hence a local elementary school. How many elementary schools were in Portland in 1939? Check the Sanborn maps!

  8. I am thinking this might be Grant High. The cinder running track behind the group is in a “bowl” that still exists today.

  9. The boy in the front row far right seems to be the one of most disadvantaged of the group as well as the boy front row far left. Both are wearing adult size mom tailored pants and the boy far right front is hiding his severely worn shoes behind the bench leg from the camera’s prying eye. I wish I had one tenth of the apparent optimism that shows on most of their faces. I also wish I was there and part of their group right now.. . God bless them all.

  10. I bet this is the view from the north end of the track at Buckman field. However, I think the picture was flipped. Boys shirts have buttons on the right. This pic has them on the left. If you flip this they appear as boys shirts should. Also, the historic restrooms would be visible. The house behind looks similar to the one a few years later in the 05/17/2013 VP post. The brick detail and columns are consistent with the existing Benson High school building, although the windows have been filled in with brick. and he parapet capped with sheet metal, but it’s there.



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