Etherton Short - Episode 5

Amateur Team Sports Photographs (1880-1940)
June 23, 2020

At a time of year when we should be well into the NBA playoffs, major league baseball, and the start of NFL pre-season training camps, the fields are pristine and the stadiums are quiet. For the first time since World War II, the summer Olympics, the pinnacle of amateur sports, has been cancelled. In college sports, there are no Wildcats, Lady Vols or any other teams playing at home or on the road. All of this makes the introduction of the Etherton Collection of Amateur Team Photographs especially poignant. The Etherton Collection contains photographs of high school, college and club teams from 1880 to 1940. Terry Etherton began collecting vernacular portraits of college and high school baseball teams about 20 years ago. He sought rare photographs that included the complete team uniform, the equipment used for that sport and if possible, the team mascot. With the eye of collector and the zeal of the most ardent fan, Etherton quickly grew the collection to include portraits of football, basketball, hockey, crew, field hockey, bowling, swimming and archery teams. Today the collection numbers over 1,000 prints and includes rare photographs of Native American, women, Mexican, and African American teams. These pre-war photographs exhibit a sense of shared intimacy and camaraderie, and demonstrate the importance of the team over the individual athlete, values that eroded dramatically after World War II.