Ozzie Sweet’s strategy when it came to portraying baseball players often involved putting them on a pedestal, figuratively speaking (and, sometimes, even literally). His low-angle views emphasized a player’s muscular build or lankiness or height, and typically gave players a larger-than-life aura.
Most of all, Ozz loved smiles, as so many of his photographs reveal. It was no accident: He would concentrate on getting each subject to surrender an authentic, honest smile. Baseball, in Ozzie’s eyes, was a happy place in the 1940s, ’50s, ‘60s, and beyond.
Occasionally, Ozzie made baseball an even happier place by bringing kids into the picture. And what better way to do that than to pair up a superstar with some autograph-seeking kids? Ozzie’s archives include a number of examples of stars signing for fans: Mickey Mantle, Frank Robinson, Sandy Koufax, and Pete Rose are among those who posed with pen and baseball in hand while accompanied by young fans.
The image here dates to 1963: Mantle posing with two boys whose obvious excitement couldn’t have been an act. The photograph appeared as an interior shot in Sport magazine; an alternate image of Mantle from the same session is on the cover of the August 1963 Sport.