Lemme tell ya, nothing screams “deep blues authenticity” like a screening of a 50-year-old ballgame in which almost everyone in the stadium was white (although it’s arguably grittier than some of the other entries on the B.B. King’s calendar).
Such was the incongruous setting for last night’s screening of Don Larsen’s perfect game, which I attended with my buddy Michael McMahon. Reader Michael Gawley, who’d won free tix in last month’s raffle, came over and introduced himself, along with his pal Walt, whose T-shirt was a point of significant interest. Turns out it’s a campaign device for Heisman hopeful Beanie Wells. Walt said he made it himself. Want your own? Look here.
But I digress. Here are some notes I took regarding the screening of the game itself:
• I’d say slightly less than half of the players wore batting helmets. Among those who did, all of their helmets appeared to be flocked.
• Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Wolff, now in his 80s, was in attendance at the screening and did a little Q&A before the game was shown. When the screening got to the top of the 9th, they switched from the TV audio to Wolff’s radio call of the final three outs (I caught a glimpse of him at his table and he was beaming as he listened to himself). When Carl Furillo led off the 9th by flying out to Hank Bauer in right field, Wolff said Bauer was on the edge of “the cinder track” (or maybe “the cinder path” — couldn’t be sure), rather than the warning track. Never heard that term used in that context before before.
• The screening included all of the original commercials, which was actually the thing I was most excited to see. What I didn’t anticipate is that almost all of the commercials would be for Gillette razors, the official World Series sponsor. There was one ad for ballpoint pens after the end of the 6th inning, but every other spot was for Gillette. Incredibly, no two of them repeated. Most of them mentioned that for $1 you could get a pack of Gillette blades and a free “vest pocket-sized” baseball encyclopedia, which looked like a must-have, so when I got home I went straight to eBay and promptly located a copy.
• One of the Gillette ads featured former screwball master Carl Hubbell (long since retired by 1956), who was introduced, rather uni-intriguingly, as “Ol’ Square Pants himself.” I’d never heard of this sobriquet applied to Hubbell, so I did a bit of googling, which got me nowhere (although I’m now familiar with the handful of web sites that mention both Hubbell and SpongeBob). Anyone know the story behind this nickname?
• Roy Campanella had an open batting stance from the right side, which was extremely atypical prior to the 1990s.
• Sal Maglie came to the set/stretch position in the most bizarre manner of any pitcher I’ve ever seen — no words can do justice to it, but buy me a drink at the next Uni Watch party and I’ll try to pantomime it. For all I know, maybe Larsen came to the set in an unusual manner too, but of course he never had to pitch from the stretch in this game. (Speaking of which: Larsen had no windup to speak of — just a step-and-throw delivery, almost like a quick-pitch. Prior to the screening we were told that he’d scaled back his windup and adopted this more streamlined delivery just a few weeks earlier.)
• Mind-blowing factoid I’d never heard before: While Larsen was pitching the game of his life, his wife was filing for divorce. Insert “That makes his perfect day even better!” joke here.
• Vin Scully sounded almost exactly the same then as he does now.
• According to a little caption that was shown toward the end of the screening, there are only five pre-1965 ballgames whose broadcasts still exist in their entirety, and four of them are World Series games. Can that possibly be true? If so, it’s a sad commentary on the state of sports history and archiving.
My thanks to B.B.’s publicist John Seroff for letting me know about this unique event, and for providing the raffled tickets — much obliged.
Shortstop Can’t Stop Shorts: Amidst all my recent posts about baseball shorts, I forgot that I’d linked to this 1949 photo of the Mobile Bears a little over a year ago. Fortunately, Paul Deaver found that photo on his own. Plus he found this page (see the fifth graf), although I’ve been unable to turn up any visuals on that team. But it’s becoming clear that shorts were a more widespread minor league phenomenon that we realized.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Iowa’s newly renamed hockey team has an unfortunate antecedent. Details here (with thanks to Greg Wyshynski). … Key excerpt from this article about C.C. Sabathia: “One of the first players Sabathia met in the clubhouse was first baseman Prince Fielder, who at 5 feet 11 and 270 pounds is no longer the biggest man on the roster. ‘When I first walked in, he asked me if I needed to borrow some (uniform) pants,’ Sabathia said. ‘He’s probably the only guy with a pair I’d fit in'” (with thanks to Nicole Haase). … Mike Eckert notes that Miguel Cabrera was wearing Edgar Renteria’s sweatbands last night, but he really needs to get rid of the fucking Phiten-branded socks, NOW. … I noted yesterday that Jose and Argenis Reyes both have “Reyes” NOBs (no initial), but Matt Edwards notes that Jose has a “Reyes” strip of tape on the brim of his batting helmet while Argenis has “Argenis.” No photo yet. … The controversy regarding the Celtics’ championship banners continues. Yesterday I relayed the explanation that the “NBA” icon was solid green if the Celts won the title on the road and outlined if they won it at home, but several readers have poked holes in that one. Here’s a banner-by-banner analysis, as compiled by Darrell Hatfield. … The Brewers apparently have a different mound icon for every occasion. Here’s what they had over the weekend (with thanks to Ryan Connelly). … Shorpy does it again. … Best thing I’ve learned while researching baseball shorts (or maybe just the best thing in human history, period): Check out this 1950 L.A. Times article about the Hollwood Stars’ shorts, scroll down to the last full paragraph, and check out the name of the Pacific Coast League’s president at the time. When you stop laughing, you can read the rest of the article here. … Let’s say your mad about local zoning ordinances, and you want to paint your house an annoying color as a silent protest. What color do you paint it? Purple, of course (with thanks to Steve Laga). … Wednesday was “Jason Giambi Mustache Day” at Yankee Stadium. Photo gallery here … Scott M.X. Turner sent along a bunch of photo scans from this awesome book: First, check out this 1962 team photo. Note the white outlining on the NY logo — that was scrapped for subsequent editions of the team’s dugout jacket. Next, look at this shot, taken at the Polo Grounds (which means it’s either 1962 or ’63). Is that a flocked Mets batting helmet? Never seen that before. And finally, when skipper Wes Westrum resigned, he took his jersey with him. … Half-hour highlight video of the 1952 World Series available here, and the 1960 Series is here (great find by Roger Faso). … Best newspaper correction ever (courtesy of birthday girl Alleen Barber). … More awesome tag designs from Scott Little. … Someone out there is coming up with a bunch of NHL redesigns, and some of them are pretty interesting. This, for example, is pretty damn cool (with thanks to Nathan Gemignani). … Yesterday’s notes about the different number fonts on various old AFL jerseys prompted a lengthy and detailed response from Terry Proctor. It’s too long to reprint here in the Ticker, but you can read it here. … Before there were the Mets — like, long before — there were the New York Metropolitans. Back then, just as now, their true color was blue. The back of those cards, incidentally, looked like so (great stuff from Doug Mooney). … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Amazing early football helmet here. … UVA’s football team will be playing a throwback game against Richmond on September 6th. Details here (with thanks to Jason Perle). … Great West Virginia football clip, circa 1969, here (courtesy of J.D. Arendshorst). … Ricko sez: “These two photos have always intrigued me. It isn’t often you see two football shots of the same play taken by two different photographer=s from different angles, perhaps only hundredths of a second apart.” The WR is Art Powell, and Ricko has a lot to say about him. … Is Joe D.’s fly open here? Drew Cochrane thinks so. … I think I’m in love. That’s a high school team — the Duryea, Pennsylvania, Wildcats –from the 1950s. Saw it on the Chris Creamer board. … And at the other end of the spectrum (with thanks to Kamau Rotan. … Pretty excellent managerial tantrum here. … Jason Arndt reports that Alex Ochoa (who was supposedly a five-tool player when the Mets traded Bobby Bonilla for him in the early ’90s, but three of those tools turned out to be striking out, flying out, and grounding out) has been wearing his first name on his jersey in Japan for years now. … There’s an item about Mike Mussina’s pants at the very bottom of this page. And the last section of this page has some news about Joba Chamberlain’s stirrups. Both items were penned by Tyler Kepner, easily the most uni-aware beat writer out there. … Check out this cool vintage soccer ephemera (courtesy of Michael Orr). … Poor Nike, shut out from Olympic advertising. Breaks my heart.