Saturday, September 25, 2010

1960 World Series Kinescope Found in Cellar

Bill Mazeroski is greeted at home plate after hitting his series-ending homer.
It's hard to begin any discussion about baseball in the 1960's without mentioning Bill Mazeroski's walk-off homer in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series.

Not only did the Pittsburgh second baseman give the Pirates their first world champion in 35 years but it was the first time a Fall Classic had ended with a home run (the only other being Joe Carter's Game 6 dinger in the 1993).

Now Major League Baseball fans will get a chance to see the entire game pitch by pitch, out by out thanks to an amazing find in a legendary singer and actor's wine cellar 33 years after his death.

Here's the story thanks to 'Duk at the Yahoo blog "Big League Stew" and New York Times' writer Richard Sandomir.

Posted at "Big League Stew" (Fri Sep 24 07:26am PDT)

Bing Crosby (far right) with Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour.
Bing Crosby gave us the greatest Christmas album of all time, an early version of videotape and an unlikely but memorable sing-along with David Bowie.

Now, 33 years after his death, the iconic singer and actor is still helping define the key moments of the 20th century.

As first reported by the New York Times, an entire copy of NBC's television broadcast of Game 7 of the 1960 World Series was recently found in a wine cellar at Crosby's old home near San Francisco.

That game — which will celebrate its 50th anniversary on Oct. 13 — is one of the greatest in World Series history and ends with Bill Mazeroski's dramatic walk-off homer to give the Pittsburgh Pirates a 10-9 victory and a World Series win over the New York Yankees dynasty.

Like many other games of that era, it was assumed that no complete copy existed and that our visual playback capabilities were limited to highlights contained on newsreels. Crosby's copy is a huge find because not only does it contain every out, the film reels were also in great condition. They've already been transferred to a DVD and the game will be shown during a special on MLB Network this December.

So how did Crosby come into possession of the game? As the story goes, Crosby was a part-owner of the Pirates at the time — that's him with Honus Wagner above — and he was nervous that he'd jinx the team if he watched Game 7 in person.

So he flew to Paris to listen to the game on the radio (he said he couldn't even be in the country) while some of his employees filmed a television set with a kinescope. When he returned to the United States, Crosby was able to relive the glory at Forbes Field (while also mastering the art of time shifting about a few decades before everyone else).

Writes the NYT's Richard Sandomir:
After Crosby viewed the 2-hour-36-minute game, probably in a screening room in the house, the films took their place in the vault, said Robert Bader, vice president for marketing and production for Bing Crosby Enterprises.

They remained there undisturbed until December, when Bader was culling videotapes of Crosby's TV specials for a DVD release -- part of the estate's goal of resurrecting his body of work.

He spotted two reels lying horizontally in gray canisters labeled "1960 World Series." They were stacked close to the ceiling with home movies and sports instructional films. An hour or so later, he found three others on other shelves. Intrigued, he screened the 16-millimeter film on a projector. It was Game 7, called by the Yankees' Mel Allen and the Pirates' Bob Prince -- the complete NBC broadcast. The film had not degraded. [...]

I had to be the only person to have seen it in 50 years," Bader said. "It was just pure luck."
Major League Baseball says this game was high on its wish list of lost games, so it's nice to see such a serendipitous find making headlines, and it'll be a nice winter treat to watch that in a few months when there's no baseball being played.Also nice? A rare positive headline for the downtrodden Pirates franchise.

Leave it to Father O'Malley to provide for us all.

Editor's Note: Crosby played the role of Father O'Malley in the 1944 movie "Going My Way." The film garnered seven Oscars the following year including "Best Picture" and one for Crosby as "Best Actor in a Leading Role.")

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Yaz, Lou and Fred Bruckbauer

By Dan Johnson

The skies were overcast with a slight hint of rain as, Carl Michael Yastrzemski, the son of a Polish potato farmer stepped to the plate for his first Major League at-bat. The previous year he had hit .339 with seven homers and 69 RBIS for the Minneapolis Millers of the American Association. The Millers were the the Red Sox' Triple-A affiliate in 1960 but now they were laid to rest and they home at Metropolitan Stadium taken over by a Washington Senators franchsie which was moving from the nation's capital to become the Minnesota Twins.

It was a chilly 45 degrees at Boston's Fenway Park for Opening Day as the 10,277 spectators looked on.

The Fenway Faithful, were deeply concerned. Their cherished left fielder over past 19 years had retired with a flourish at the end of the previous season, hitting his 512th career homer in his final at-bat - a Hall Of Famer known to most as "The Splendid Splinter," "The Thumper," "Teddy Ballgame" and, early in his career, called "The Kid."

"Who will guard the Green Monster now?" they wondered. "Who could possibly replace Ted Williams? How could you possibly replace the greatest hitter who ever played the game?"

Wearing a big red number "8" on his back, Yastrzemski put his best foot forward and toed the same left side of the batter's box that his predecessor had. With one out in the bottom of the second and Boston trailing 2-0, he bite into a Ray Herbert fastball and stroked it down the left field line off of Kansas City Athletic hurler Ray Herbert for single.

Red Sox fans were skeptical and even more so when Yastrzemski took off for second and was caught trying to steal for the third out of the inning. They had no idea of the greatness that lay within the brawny 5-11, 175 lb frame of the 21-year-old Southampton, NY native.

Yastrzemski played in 148 games in 1961, hitting 31 doubles, six triples, 11 homers and 80 RBIs while batting a respectable .266. He went 1 for 5 in that debut with two strikeouts and two groundouts. His lone base hit was the first of 3,318 hit he would amass over a 23-year career, all with the Red Sox.
Yastrzemski didn't win the A.L. Rookie Of The Year award in 1961 but that honor did go to one of his teammates - 25-year-old pitcher Don Schwall, who posted a 15-7 record with a 3.22 earned run average in 25 games (10 of which were complete games). In the National League, the ROY award went to Cubs' leftfielder Billy Williams who, late in the season, shared the hallow ground of Wrigley Field with another future Hall Of Famer who made his MLB debut on Sept. 10, 1961.
Imagine playing in your first Major League game. You're playing center field and batting lead-off against the Philadelphia Phillies. You single up the middle off of 14-year veteran Robin Roberts in your first at-bat only to be doubled off on a line drive to the shortstop. You're about to finish afternoon 1 for 5 with a pop up and three groundouts.
No problem. Your team - the Chicago Cubs - have built a comfortable lead in the 90-degree heat before knocking Roberts from the hump after four and two-thirds. And with Don Ferrarese relieving, Billy Williams has just hit his second triple of the game to increase the Cubs' advantage to 6-1 .
Then, all hell breaks loose for starter Don Cardwell, and relievers Barney Schultz and Bob Anderson as the Phillies score seven runs in the seventh inning (including a Don Demeter grand slam), then tack on six more in the eighth inning off Anderson and Don Elston, thanks in part to your throwing error (one of two errors charged to you on the afternoon and one of seven by the Cubs!)
"Tough break kid! There'll be better days," someone says to you.

Lou Brock played in four games during the 1961 season. He came to the dish 12 times and other than the single in his debut and walk later on, showed little hint of his greatness. He struck out three times and batted a paltry .091 with no stolen bases. The next two years were of little comfort. He stayed with in the Majors for good but felt uncomfortable in centerfield and right, as well as the plate, batting around .250 each year.

By the middle of the 1964 season, the Cubs had lost their patience and traded him to the St. Louis Cardinals along with Jack Spring and Paul Toth for former 21-game winner Ernie Broglio, Doug Clemens and Bobby Shantz. It turned out to be one of the worst trades in history. The Cardinals switched Brock to left field (a position he couldn't play in Chicago because of Williams), then asked him to concentrate on using his speed and steal some bases.

Brock and the Cardinals were off to the races, capturing the World Series in seven games against the Yankees and breaking Phillie fans' hearts in the process. The change of venue was so uplifting, he came in 10th place in the N.L. MVP voting in 1964.
Elected to the Hall Of Fame in 1985, Brock collected 3,023 hits, 149 homers, 900 runs batted in and made six all-star appearances. He played in three World Series (1964, 1967 and 1968), of which the Cardinals won two. Of course, he stole a few bases during his 19 years in the Bigs too - 938 to be exact, leading the league eight times. Twelve times, he surpassed the 50-mark and stole a then-record 118 in 1974. To this day, the award honoring the N.L. leader each year is name after him, despite having his all-time career stolen base mark eclipsed by Rickey Henderson.


Unlike the careers of Yastrzemski and Brock, Frederick John Bruckbauer's life in the Major Leagues neither started well nor ended well. But he does share a record that can never be broken.

On April 25, the Minnesota Twins made a visit to Municipal Stadium to play the Kansas City Athletics. The former Senators started out well in their new home and were 8-2. They sent Ted Sadowski on the mound while the 2-5 Athletics countered with Norm Bass, a prospect who had made his debut in relief two days earlier.

By the end of the third inning, Sadowski and reliever Lee Stange had surrendered a 7-0 lead. The Twins got two runs back in the top of the fourth as pinch-hitter Elmer Valo grounded in a 6-4-3 double play which scored Earl Battery and Zoilo Versalles lined a single to left to score Reno Bertoia. Eventually, the Athletics drubbed the Twins 20-2.

Bruckbauer, a native Minnesotan and former University of Minnesota Gopher star hurler, started the bottom of the fourth serving up a double to left field to future Yankees and Royals manager Dick Howser then an RBI single to center to Jay Hankin and walked Jerry Lumpe before Lou Klimchock sent him to the showers with a two-run double to right.

He faced four batters, gave up three hits and walked the fourth. Three of the runners scored and Bruckbauer never retired, nor faced, another Major League batter in his life. His career ERA is recorded as infinity, an unbreakable record he shares with - among other - another New Ulm, MN native Elmer "Doc" Hamann, who pitched to seven Boston Red Sox in 1922 (three walks, a hit batsman and three hits) without recording an out.

In all, 112 players made their debuts during 1961. There were 75 in the American League while 37 made their debuts in the senior circuit. One reason for the difference, most likely, was that the American League was expanded by two teams to a 10-team league during the season and needed new players to fill the rosters. One of the new franchises was called the Los Angeles Angels. The second was a brand new version of the Washington Senators, which popped up in D.C.

Kansas City Athletic pitcher Lew Krause was the youngest of the newcomers (slightly younger than White Sox pitcher Mike DeGerick and Indians' fireballer Sam McDowell) while Milwaukee pitcher Chi-Chi Olivo was the oldest at 33 years. Before the year was over, Olivo posted a 18.00 ERA in three games for the Braves then didn't return to the Majors until 1964.

MLB Players Who Debuted in 1961




18 times




6 times




4 times




6 times




11 times




1 time








3 times




1 time




3 times




3 times

MLB Pitchers Who Debuted in 1961




3 times




6 times




2 times





























Monday, July 26, 2010


If you want to read a great book about baseball read Mark Ribowsky's "The Complete History Of The Home Run." It gives a decade-by-decade breakdown of the home run from the mighty blow that was thought to have literally killed Jim Creighton in 1862 ("Didn't we warn you guys about trying to hit them balls out the park?") through Barry Bonds asterisk-setting 73 round-trippers in 2001. It was published in 2003 by Citadel Press.

However, there's something I've noticed on my own.

There have been 23 occasions since 1995 that players have reached the 50+ mark. Only once was it done by a man whose last name was Bonds. Mark McGwire did it four times, as did Sammy Sosa. A-Rod has done it (so far) three times and Ken Griffey Jr. did it twice. The others were Albert "Don't Call Me Joey" Belle (1995), Brady Anderson (1996), Greg Vaughn (1998), Luis Gonazlez (2001), Gentleman Jim Thome (2002), Andruw Jones (2005), Ryan Howard (2006), David Ortiz (2006) and Prince Fielder (2007). And.... there were only 18 occasions on which it was done in the whole history of Major League Baseball prior to 1995.

So, with that in mind, how many times did it happen in the 35-year span from 1961-1995? Five. Yes, that's right. Five times! From the beginning of the Expansion Era to the year Belle hit his steroid-induced/corked bat 50 only Roger Maris (61 in 1961), Mickey Mantle (54 in 1961), Willie Mays (52 in 1965), Cincinnati Reds' outfielder George Foster (52 in 1977) and Prince Fielder's papa Cecil Fielder (51 in 1990) turned the trick.  During all of the 60's it only happened three times.

Think of it? With the likes of Mays, Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Harmon Killebrew, Reggie Jackson, Willie McCovey, Mantle, Maris, Ernie Banks, Willie Stargell, Carl Yastrzemski, Billy Williams, Al Kaline, Norm Cash, Ron Santo, Frank Howard, Brooks Robinson, Robert Clemente, Jimmy Wynn, Willie Horton, Boog Powell and Orlando Cepeda playing during the decade only three of them were able to break the century mark. Another slugger got as far as choking twice, hitting at 49 homers  in 1964 and 1969 because the mental block of breaking the barrier was too strong (I'll leave his true identity a secret as to not embarrass my childhood idol any further). During his triple crown season, Orioles' rightfielder Frank Robinson could only muster 49 dingers in 1966. Even the great Lou Gehrig topped out at 49 twice (1934 & '36).

No one in the 1970's hit 50 or more other than Foster and that includes the one and only, Reginald Martinez Jackson. It also includes Foster's own teammate Johnny Bench and any other members of the Big Red Machine.

At first glance you'd think the only people hitting home runs in the early 80's were Phillies' slugger Mike Schmidt, Andre Dawson and Dale Murphy. It was guys like Rickey Henderson, Vince Coleman, Ozzie Smith, Ron Leflore and Tim Raines who dominated the game. They ran the base paths with near-reckless abandon, causing havoc for all that dared throw over to first base. The homer didn't seem that important anymore. Then Bonds, McGwire, Rafael Palmerio and Ozzie Canseco's evil twin Jose arrived on the scene. Andre Dawson of the Cubs won the MVP and the National League home run title by hitting 49 in 1987. McGwire set a rookie record in '87 with the same number of dingers to pace the American League and it was if the rest of players said, "hey, I want to do that too!"

Just about every baseball that's been hit out of the park has been scrutinized since. Shortstop and second baseman, which used be the weakest bats in the lineup, known for defense and place-hitting, soon became power positions. Everyone was hitting home runs except the pitchers because the DH and the fact that most of them hadn't held a bat in their hands since they were in junior high.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


This former Red Sox/Athletic/Angel slugger (pictured left) and his son (right) are - probably - the only two MLB players in history whose full names include four parts of the human body?
Who are they?

Interview with former Major Leaguer Bill "The Spaceman" Lee

Nope. I didn't get to interview him. I was looking for photos of Bill Lee and came across a website about the Alaska Goldpanners, a baseball he pitched for in 2008 (and may still). There was a quote concerning his thoughts about the loss of the Montreal Expos franchise which included the quote:

"It's a travesty to humanity. Greed and corruption are the reasons behind it, and the only way to save the world is through baseball. Had there been a franchise in Iraq most of the problems with Saddam could have been avoided. Baseball did the world a great justice by putting a team in Montreal, and now they want to take it away. It's wrong."

The interview in its entirety can be found at:

I have to admit, the man's pretty far out there. But then he was a good friend of the late Warren Zevon and the late Hunter S. Thompson.