Unless you’re a fairly serious student of 1930s and ’40s baseball, you probably haven’t heard of George Case. A banjo-hitting outfielder who spent most of his 11-year career with the Senators, he led the American League in stolen bases six times and was a four-time All-Star who retired with a lifetime batting average of .282.
I had only the vaguest notion of Case myself until last week, when I got a note from his son, George Case III, who was touting a DVD featuring When It Was a Game-esque home movie footage that his dad shot during his career:
The DVD has color footage of some of the legendary old American League ballparks — Griffith Stadium, Sportsman’s Park, Briggs Stadium, Comiskey Park, and Municipal Stadium. It also shows the old flannels and various sleeve patches, and also has color footage of FDR throwing out the first ball at Griifith Stadium, approximately 15 future Hall of Famers “in their prime,” spring training in Florida, train travel, pre-game promotions, clubhouse scenes, etc., all accompanied by my dad’s narration.
The original 8mm color footage was silent — my dad added the narration to the footage before he passed away in 1989. I then produced a VHS tape, and two years ago I converted the VHS tape to a DVD format.
George was nice enough to send me a review copy of the DVD, which is called Around the League: 1939-1946, and I’m happy to report that it makes for very nice viewing. It’s rare to see color footage of this period in baseball history, and Case’s avuncular narration is unpolished but charming, making this a worthy addition to any serious baseball video library.
The DVD also features several junctures of particular uni-related interest:
• Case was a speedster, so in 1946 someone arranged for him to run a spring race against Jesse Owens — with Owens wearing a baseball uniform! I’m not familiar with the uniform Owens is wearing there, although I assume it’s a Negro Leagues uni. Anyone..? (This means there were at least two occasions in which Owens donned a baseball uni. In case you’ve forgotten, here’s the other one.)
• The DVD features footage of several pregame promotions designed to increase attendance and boost fan interest during the WWII era. One of these promotions involved a bunch of players and their cleats. Check it out (if you don’t see the video embedded below, refresh your browser screen; if it still doesn’t show up, click here):
I love all those stirrup-clad stocking feet running toward the camera in the first few seconds.
Anyway, even without these uni-related highlights, Around the League is great stuff. It’s a little short (37 minutes) and a little pricey ($36, including shipping), but still worth it. To order a copy, send $36 to George Case III, 350 Ramsey Rd., Yardley, PA 19067. And if you’d like to order a copy in time for Father’s Day, e-mail George directly, pronto, and he’ll make make arrangements with you to ensure that your copy arrives by this weekend.
Collector’s Corner, by Brinke Guthrie
Photo: Probably 1969, Cape Canaveral. I think this was just before Apollo 11.
Here’s our latest batch of eBay goodies:
• I absolutely had one of these MLB magnetic standings boards.
• Do you what baseball had in 1956? It had facts and figures, that’s what.
• And do you know what the NFL had in 1978? It had fun!
• How about this set of 1974 MLB helmet stickers. Quite cool.
• Just another tequila Sunrise…..
• I love this great Astros/Cubbies game program cover. [I’m confused. Is the Astro helping the Cub out of the the cellar? If so, that would mean that the Astro is letting the Cub win — which makes no sense for a Houston program. Maybe the Cub is trying to drag the Astro down into the cellar with him..? Odd. Gotta love the star on the stirrup, though. — PL]
• Okay, so these seller either got the years wrong or else doesn’t know when the NFL/AFL merger was, but the patches he’s selling are still pretty cool.
• And here’s a similar set of MLB patches.
• If you don’t already have a set of NFL curtains from Sears, you really ought to snap these up.
• And our weekly Mets items for Lukas: an old Mr. Met decal from the 1960s and some swell coffee mugs. [That decal is fantastic — never seen that depiction of Mr. Met before. Note that his cap brim is orange, as was always the case in 1960s and ’70s drawings of him. — PL]
And now back to Paul for the rest of today’s content.
Giveaway Reminder: I’m currently giving away an Africa Unity soccer jersey from Puma. Full details here.
Uni Watch News Ticker: New jerseys for the Maple Leafs. Love the stripes, love the old-school shoulder patches — major upgrade. Further info here. … Golfer Robert Garrigus had some seriously wet pants at the U.S. Open tune-up the other day. … I don’t know much about Ajman, which is part of the United Arab Emerites, but I sure do like this air mail stamp of theirs (thanks, Kirsten). … Now that’s an NOB (good spot by Jeremy Brahm). … Most of you are too young to remember this, but ABC used to show a NBA stars playing in a one-on-one tournament during halftime of nationally televised games. I’d forgotten all about it until Richard Stover found some great footage on YouTube. Here’s another one. … Chicagoland reader Jimbo Huening went all-out with the Chi-town gear while attending Sunday’s Sox/Cubs game. “I got at least a dozen comments, almost all positive,” he says. “The only negative comment came from my wife. She felt that going with the blue sannies was a bad move. But I needed something more than just the little bit of blue in the feathers to match the cap. I guess the shoes took care of that, though. Oh well — she didn’t go to the game anyway.” … “My girlfriend has been spending the semester in South Africa watching rugby and now the World Cup (also school I guess),” writes Alex Washburn. “She sent me this picture of the Springboks’ awesome jackets and ties. Apparently they wear them for special events and interviews. Here’s ex-coach Jake White is wearing it here they won the Rugby World Cup in 2007, and here’s current coach Peter de Villiers. Even Nelson Mandela has worn it.” … Just the other day I was asking about baseball teams that used to wear pea coat-style jackets, and now David Brown has come up with this Negro Leagues team portrait of the Harrisburg Giants. Man, look at those jackets! … The United States Army is switching from Velcro to buttons on its pants (big thanks to Jeffrey Ferguson). … Yesterday I mentioned that the Rays should wear this Tampa Tarpons design as a throwback, but Morris Levin was quick to point out that they already did just that in 1999. … New uniforms for the Japanese women’s gymnastics team (thanks, Jeremy). … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Chance Michaels has taken all the various info about the Brewers’ 1970 prototypes and summarized it into this superb post. … Two years ago I wrote this ESPN column about Dave Parker’s various facemask-equipped batting helmets. That piece featured lots of mask photos, but now Jerry Wolper has come up with two that I hadn’t seen before. … Phil took one of the photos from yesterday’s wire service rundown and did a nice colorization job on it. … Clemson third baseman John Hinson tore the seat of his pants while sliding into third on Sunday night. “For the record, he didn’t change his pants and hit a home run in his next at-bat,” says Jeff Fields.