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TO MAY 31
With four decades of photography for Sports Illustrated under his belt, Walter Iooss Jr. has a massive archive to fall back on—which pays off handsomely for Govinda Gallery. Though Iooss photographs national icons for the most popular chronicle of a well-documented sport, “Classic Baseball” somehow presents 42 images that are unfamiliar—and that remain as fresh as the day they were taken. Sometimes Iooss deftly captures a mood: a languid 1963 batting practice at Connie Mack Stadium, the spacey reverie of two polyester-clad 1979 St. Louis Cardinals, and the bittersweet reunion of wheelchair-bound Roy Campanella with his Dodger teammates at an old-timer’s game (like the famous photograph of Babe Ruth giving his farewell address, Iooss pictures Campy only from the back). Iooss also details on-the-field action with split-second accuracy: Sandy Koufax’s whiplash delivery; Ted Williams waiting, cobra-coiled, for a pitch; a brushback attempt that floors Boog Powell; and a tense grounder bobbled by (naturally) the 1962 Mets. Iooss is at his best documenting the pure aesthetics of the game: the twisted, almost unnatural pitching motions of Sam McDowell and Dwight Gooden; the isolated, red-uniformed shape of Kevin Mitchell floating within a sea of freshly cut grass; and a player receding into the geometrical void of the Polo Grounds’ dead center field. Iooss’ recent portraits of Ken Griffey Jr., Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Derek Jeter are too self-important for their own good, but Iooss’ 1999 images of Cuban children playing ball are out-and-out gems. In one (pictured), 12 children stand with casual symmetry on a street corner, watching a 13th in the middle preparing to thwack a hovering pitch—a composition as timeless, in its own way, as da Vinci’s The Last Supper. The exhibition is on view from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday, to Saturday, May 31, at Govinda Gallery, 1227 34th St. NW. Free. (202) 333-1180. (Louis Jacobson)