In the late 1800s, baseball players didn't have the luxury of high-tech cameras to capture their in-game bravado. Instead, players would sometimes pose with imperceptibly hung baseballs in portrait studios.

This bit of camera legerdemain was supposed to make players appear as if they were furiously concentrating on America's pastime. More often than not, this trick made the athletes look like telekinetic popinjays with fantastic mustaches.


Here's a sampling of these unintentionally hilariously moments of frozen valor. You can see even more of these photos at the New York Public Library's website — all of your favorite sports stars from the Philadelphia Quakers and Atlantics of Brooklyn, in one place! And for more photographic curiosities of a bygone century, check out the women of the future, these naughty cats, the master of bacon, and the horrors of ventriloquism.

[Via Ptak Science Books]