Saturday, October 25, 2014

Interview with photographer Ken Babbitt

Ken Babbitt has been a professional sports photographer since 1987, and his work has appeared on numerous baseball cards. He kindly answered my questions about cards.

"Where the majority of the more recent cards are action cards, there's not really much to say about them. Back in the early days, however, it was a bit different, as they were just about all posed shots. One thing that I remember is more about a card that I didn't shoot! I asked a kid, he was in the Yankees organization at the time, if there was anything different that he wanted to do for a card photo. He wanted to do the Heisman pose, with his batting helmet turned around. I told him that I wouldn't send that in, so he pretty much refused to do anything else. I believe what got sent in on him was a head shot. That's more a behind the scenes tale of a card that never got shot. I guess that I should have just done it!

Favorite cards.....that I have done. In 1999 and 2000, Team Best did subsets called "Babbitt's Bombers". They were simply minor league guys posed with a big bat. They were all players that were supposed to be power hitters. I shot Josh Hamilton just a couple of months after he graduated from HS, and there were some other guys that made it, and some that fizzled out before ever reaching the big leagues. We missed on a few!
Another of my favorite cards is of a kid by the name of Mike Conroy who was from my hometown. I had know him since he was 14, and his family forever. He was a supplemental 1st rounder, taken by the Indians out of high school in 2001. After his season ended, Upper Deck sent me an Indians jersey and cap, and we met up behind Scituate (MA) High School and did the photos.
Another for the favorites file...I had gotten hooked up with what was then Pinnacle Brands, and dealt with a photo editor by the name of Paul Glines, who has since passed away. He was the first guy to help me correct things that that I was doing, making my photos more "card worthy". During one of our several phone conversations, I told him how I had become good friends with Mo Vaughn, and had given my son the middle name Vaughn. He used several of my photos for Mo's cards, including a couple with the big bat shot at Fenway. Paul is a guy that I look back on as a true mentor in this business, he was a wonderful man.
My favorite card as a kid was the 1970(I believe) Frank Howard, shot at Fenway with the Green Monster in the background.Not sure why, but I always liked it.
As for collecting cards......At this point, all I care about are the cards with my photos, and I have fallen way behind in finding those. I'm sure that I'll never complete that task!"



  1. I miss the posed photos that used to be a baseball card mainstay... particularly the oddball ones.

    We got excited about action photos because they were new and different... now they are pretty much all we get, and most of them are just as repetitive as the posed shots. At least with the posed photos, you could (almost) always see what a player's face looked like.

  2. Thanks for featuring Kenny. He's a grey friend from high school and I follow his baseball, BC hockey and football. He's a real pro!

  3. Very cool! Love to hear behind-the-scenes card stories like these.