Erin Jang's 3D Collage for the Lebron Issue

3D Lebron Collage by Designer - Erin Jang

Today’s tennis balls can handle unreal pressure—as Samuel Groth proved when he unleashed a 163.4 mph serve. But they weren’t always so lively. In the early 1900s, balls were commonly packaged in paper bags, and the lack of air pressure made them flatten. It wasn’t until the mid-1920s, when companies began using pressure-packed metal containers, that balls became reliably zippy. Here are 12 historic containers from the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum in Newport, R.I. —MAYA A. JONES

Pennsylvania Rubber Co. - May 1947 & Elgee 1950s (post WWII) British

Pennsylvania Rubber Co. - Dec. 1939 & Wright & Ditson ca. 1920-1925

Sears, Roebuck & Co. - 1934 (or later) & Bancroft 1950s-1960s British

Johnny Callison's glove from the '64 All-Star Game. - he was a Philadelphia Phillies right-fielder 1960-1969

Johnny Callison ball from the '64 All-Star Game

Johnny Callison glove from the '64 All-Star Game

Johnny Callison ball and glove from the '64 All-Star Game

With the first modern World Series, in 1903, tied at three games apiece, editors of The Boston Globe promised to buy pocket watches for the Americans (precursors to the Red Sox) if they closed out the best-of-nine matchup against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Boston did, and a tradition was born. But in 1922—after pocket watches had fallen out of fashion because of their impracticality on the battlefields of World War I—the New York Giants started a new custom by bestowing rings upon their championship-winning players. Still, even as bejeweled bands became the gold standard in the late 1920s, watches were offered by a handful of clubs into the 1950s. Crafted by the country’s finest watchmakers and engraved in 14-karat gold, the keepsakes now fetch upward of $50,000 from collectors, according to Steiner Sports. So while rings are the standard now, these championship watches remain, well, timeless." —SARAH TURCOTTE

Group shot 01

1923 New York Yankees - Kenesaw Mountain Landis - MIB Commisioner - Gruen Watch Co.

1916 Boston Red Sox - Ban Johnson, Al President - Gruen Watch Co.

Elgin Watch Company

1903 Boston Americans -Freddy Parent - Shortstop - Waltham Watch Co.

1909 Pittsburgh Pirates - Vic Willis - Pitcher - Waltham Watch Co.

952 New York Yankees - George Weiss - General Manager - Wittnauer Watch Co.

It’s hard to imagine a time when the thrill of Cracker Jack wasn’t about using your inquisitive hands to sort through the sticky popcorn and peanuts to find the treasure within. But in fact, prizes weren’t added to the boxes until 1912, nearly two decades after the sugar bomb was introduced. Mini baseball cards were among the earliest trinkets; hundreds of toys have been sports-themed since. They are among the most coveted of the 18 billion prizes given away over the past century. You can see for yourself at the Cracker Jack Collectors Association convention—oh yes, it exists—which holds its 17th annual gathering this June in Bloomington, Minn. Or you can just check out this collection. —LIZZIE HALDANE

Boxer & BaseBall Player 1950s

Cross Bats Stud-Back Pin, 2nd Base & Catcher 1931

BaseBall Spinner game 1912-21 + Score Counter 1912-21

Mini PinBall Bowling game + Mini PinBall Football game 1970s

In 1933, the story goes, Charles Darrow plucked trinkets from his wife’s charm bracelet and used them as tokens for a prototype of Monopoly. Before long those charms were replaced by top hats, irons and thimbles. Years later, sports themed tokens were added to complement new editions of what had become America’s best- selling board game. No matter which sporty version you play, passing Go with any of these tokens—each requires 48 hours to mold from zinc—is still worth an always-welcome $200.

MLB edition, 2006 + Surfing edition, 2005

Surfing edition, 2005

Golf edition, 2002 + Snowboarding edition, 2004

NFL edition, 2007

NHL edition, 2010

Surfing edition, 2005