Baseball and Bubblegum

Celebrating a Medium and its Makers

In the 1970s, as photography was finding wider recognization as an art form and appearing in art galleries and museums, artist Mike Mandel captured the moment with his Baseball-Photographer Trading Cards. 134 photographers across the country participated in his project, posing with baseball gloves or bats and providing statistics about their height as well as their favorite cameras and film. 

From early supporter and participant, Imogen Cunningham to Ansel Adams, Bill Eggleston, and Ed Ruscha, the set includes some of the greatest photographers of the 20th century. 

Like regular baseball cards, Mandel's photographer cards were packaged in sets of ten and even included a stick of bubblegum. When the cards were released in 1975, they were featured in Newsweek, Sports Illustrated and Popular Photography and exhibited in museum collections while photographers across the country threw trading card parties.

This complete set includes all 134 photographer cards and an accompanying collector's checklist.

Around that period, the mid ’70s, photographers started to become recognized. They started to become able to sell work through galleries and be collected by museums. And, to make fun of that, I thought I would do a project. And that project was the Baseball-Photographer Trading Cards. So that idea was to go around and make pictures of well-known photographers.

Mike Mandel

Watch as Mike Mandel discusses the project with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art