Below are a few photos that inspired some of the art and words of A Ticket to the Pennant, our picture book which comes out April, 2016. I’ll include more stories and links eventually, but each image inspired something in the book. For those who want to dig deeper into the local history, they will provide a kind of scavenger hunt once you have the book in hand. It might be fun to see if you can find how the below photos match with objects and characters in A Ticket to the Pennant. Feel free to send any comments. I’d love to collect stories and images from Seattle Rainiers and 1950’s Seattle and post them for others to enjoy.
Linked here and here are a couple of blog posts from illustrator John Skewes regarding his own inspiration for the book. He seemed to have as much fun with research as I did. Enjoy.
Most images from the David Eskenazi Collection
The Owls softball team from the 30’s. They remain a mystery and no one seems to know much about them. But I thought it an interesting enough mystery to ask John Skewes to refer to it visually somewhere in the illustrations.
These two images are from the book by Lyle Kenai Wilson, “Sunday Afternoons at Garfield Park,” published in 1997. It’s available to read in the Central Branch of the Seattle Public Library.
Here is a historylink essay with more information on why I chose the name “Barnett” for Huey’s neighbors. This article by David Eskenazi also shows the rich legacy of the local African American teams of the region. http://sportspressnw.com/2203231/2015/wayback-machine-a-legacy-of-black-baseball
The Northwest African American Museum (NAAM) also provided amazing information in their Pitch Black exhibit displayed in 2015. (They’re a great resource and still have tote bags available for checkouts to schools if you’re interested in teaching diversity through baseball.)
Bobby Balcena – a “favorite of kids”
Borracchini’s Bakery on Rainier Ave.
Mark Holtzen & Remo Borracchini
Radio announcer for many years, Leo Lassen. To hear his voice watch my book trailer here: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQECmQNMU9k)
Or this documentary has some excellent Lassen sound bites as well as an overall feel for the Seattle Rainiers and what they meant to Seattle.
These are some of the ’55 Rainiers players aiming their bats at the knothole in the outfield fence. You’d win big money if you hit the ball through the hole. Pat Patrick, the bat boy for the Rainiers for the 1955-56 seasons, said the hole was so small they couldn’t even get the baseball through while standing in the outfield and tossing it (they tried).
The actual sign illustrator John Skewes used as inspiration for the endpapers of the book.
Stewart Lumber still in business along Rainier Avenue.
It took me forever (no really, forever) to find a photo of an actual street sign from 50’s Rainier Ave. I finally did in the municipal archives available online.
Harry Yoshimura of Mutual Fish. His father started the business in the 30’s. He was not a fan of having his photo taken, but posed with me anyway.
I could not find a photo of Pre’s Garden Patch until I attended the Rainier Valley Historical Society (please support them if you can – they do good things for the community) fundraiser dinner. There it was on display near the front door.
“Cheapskate Hill.” “Tightwad Hill.” Either way you get the idea.
The Vacca’s family farm outside the left field fence.
Frank Protrera’s barber shop was near where the Chevron now stands on MLK and McClellan. He cut hair (for Remo Borracchini, too) there for over fifty years.
Bobby Balcena again. First Filipino player to play pro ball.
Above is a photo from the “Old Woody” contests that the Seattle Times held for many years. Here’s another historylink.org essay about what one such competition meant to a kid from those days.
The original program from the 1955 season. John uses this image in the actual book illustrations. It’s a nice touch.
Most images from The David Eskenazi Collection.