Spread the love

If They Knew Then…


Segregated Sox

A segment of a documentary (aggressively sponsored by Coca-Cola) which documents the 1954 Red Sox season. It’s notable for a great in-color look at Fenway Park at mid-century. The video also makes clear one of the reasons that the 1950s Red Sox could not compete in the American League — the failure of the team to integrate. This is abundantly obvious in a long section featuring star players on the home team and at that year’s All-Star Game. While the rest of the league is well along in the integration process with African American and Latino stars, the Red Sox are still all-white. In fact, Tom Yawkey and the Sox would become the last team in baseball to integrate, waiting until 1959 (Jackie Robinson had already retired) before putting Pumpsie Green into a game. In fact, the Sox passed on both Willie Mays (who they scouted) and Jackie Robinson (who tried out).

The clip also offers a look at the Cleveland Mid-Summer Classic (with its uneasy “Wigwam” stadium nickname and unfortunate logo) where we see cut off shirts, “Nelson” Fox and Chico Carrasquel with a cigarette on the field during warm-ups.

 Video Copyright Major League Baseball


Go Go You Pilots!

This is a clip from what appears to be a post-season promotional video in the unsuccessful effort to hold onto the Seattle Pilots —the American League expansion team that lasted just a year in town. The entire video is an unceasingly positive spin on what by all accounts was a disastrous first season in Seattle. Problems were numerous. The team lost money and attendance was poor. Minor league Sick’s Stadium was still being expanded on Opening Day and seated just 17,000 when the Pilots began play. The park often lacked water pressure after the 7th inning. and the team itself was barely passable — losing 98 games and finishing 33 games behind the Twins. And that was all before Jim Bouton released Ball Four.

Perhaps lacking much in the way of hitting or fielding highlights, this video shows an exorbitant number of fights and arguments, as seen here as a fight is rather disjointedly juxtaposed with a hokey fight song entitled “Go, go, You Pilots.” Did these kind of songs really fly in the same era as the Beatles and the Stones? 

Although the voice-over talks of division titles and all-star games in the Pilots future, by April of 1970 the Pilots had given up their wings after flying off to Bud Selig and Milwaukee to become the Brewers.

Copyright Major League Baseball


Cyndy’s Boy

Steve Garvey spent years perfecting a squeaky clean image as the golden boy of baseball. Don Rickles once joked that Garvey was so clean that “he washed his first baseman’s mitt” and Tommy Lasorda said if Garvey ever dated his daughter, he would “Lock the door and not let him out.” He was praised for his off-the-field work and a junior high school in California changed its name from Abraham Lincoln to Steve Garvey Junior High. After his career ended, however, a series of well-publicized extra-marrital affairs came out when he was hit by four lawsuits from former lovers and business partners. “Some people have a midlife crisis, I had a disaster,” Garvey has said. Here we see a clip from the 1976 All-Star game in which Garvey is perfecting his “aww shucks” persona with help of interviewer Bob Rich.
Video Copyright Major League Baseball


Gary Templeton: Superstar

One fascinating aspect in watching old baseball games is to study what broadcasters of the time believed that the future would hold. And of course, from our all-knowing position decades later we can judge their predictions.

Here we hear Joe Garagiola and Tony Kubek discussing 21 year-old phenom  and future “superstar” Gary Templeton who was playing in the 1977 All-Star game for the Cardinals. It’s hard to blame the announcers for preparing Templeton’s path to Cooperstown, as he laces a single through the left side of the infield and manages to turn it into a double with speed and determination.

But Templeton would never become the star that everyone assumed.  Despite two more all-star games and a 16 year career, Templeton would be an inconsistent player plagued by personal issues. In 1979, he refused to attend the all-star game because he was not selected as a starter (“If I ain’t startin’, I ain’t departin’). Two years later he made an obscene gesture to the home fans at Busch Stadium, got into a physical altercaction with manager Whitey Herzog in the dugout runway and disappeared to the tune of a $5,000 fine. After the season, Templeton was traded to San Diego for the shortstop from that era who would end up in the Hall, Ozzie Smith.

Video Copyright Major League Baseball


A Vote for the Wild Card

Baseball fans often fondly remember the days when winning your league or division really meant something. They decry the “baseball tournament” that exists now with 10 teams competing for baseball’s postseaon crown.

But here we see a game from Tiger Stadium as Detroit prepares to clinch the title against the lowly Brewers with their nearest competition some 12 games back. The atmosphere is rather listless as everyone waits for the inevitable.

Indeed, the old pennant races could result in some amazing endings. The 1951 NL race, 1967 AL race and the 1978 AL East race are examples of the breathless excitement that occurs when a 162 (or 154) game season comes down to a couple of contests. However, these stand-outs held that sort of excitement pricisely because most years ended in rather dull finishes. The old setup also meant that very few teams were even in the competition by mid-summer. Here we see the Tigers’ broacasters reviewing the standings in which only 3 of 26 teams (Minnesota, California and KC) had much left to think about in the final weeks of the season (and the Royals would finish with a rather comfortable three game lead). 

Video Copyright Major League Baseball

Shades of Bartman

Nineteen years before Steve Bartman would become perhaps the most infamous baseball fan in the history of the sport, an eerily similar play happened in another famous Cubs game. The year was 1984 and the Cubs and Cardinals rivalry was perhaps never better than in this wild 10-9 Cubs win in which Ryne Sandberg twice hit game-tying homers in the Cubs’ last at bat and Willie McGee batted for the cycle.  

But it was this play in the top of the tenth that might elicit bad memories for Cubs fans. Ozzie Smith hits a flare behind third base that makes its way toward the left field line. Like Moises Alou, Gary Matthews leaps for the ball only to have a Cubs fan prevent him from making the catch.  Matthews’ reaction is similar to Alou’s, as Cubs fans just seem to plague their left-fielders.

Video Copyright Major League Baseball


La Russa Before the Cards

A very young Tony La Russa is shown here watching the Cardinals plays the Royals in the 1985 World Series, years before he would take over the team and lead them in future World Series play. Announcers Al Michaels, Tim McCarver and Jim Palmer then discuss the upcoming turn of Ken “Hawk” Harrelson as GM of the White Sox, which some have called the worst GM tenure in baseball history.

Video Copyright Major League Baseball


Before He Was a Goat

About three hours before he would become arguably the most famous goat in baseball history, Bill Buckner is at bat in the first inning of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. 
His at bat is interrupted by a parachuter in the wild atmosphere at Shea Stadium.  This was Michael Sergio, who spent a short time behind bars that night before Senator Al D’Amato helped get him released from jail.  Sergio gets a handshake from Ron Darling and an approving nod from Dwight Evans before heading downstairs with police escort. Buckner flies weakly to center as Vin Scully comments on the first baseman’s bad legs.  It’s interesting to wonder why Buckner was in the game at all, nevermind batting third. He was 36 years old, had only a 733 OPS that season and — as the announcers point out — was second in the league in double play balls.  He was hitting .174 in the series.

Video Copyright Major League Baseball 



Next time a ballplayer is talking and you have a nagging feeling that you can’t quite believe your lying ears, check out this clip from the 1988 World Series. Jose Canseco, who would later write an autobiography appropriately named “Juiced,” trots out the old “think of my family” plea responding to a Thomas Boswell piece that was one of the first to raise the steroid suspicions publically. 
In the at bat that follows, Scully and Garagiola marvel at the young man’s power and Casey-like swing.

Video Copyright Major League Baseball

Leave a Comment