Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Now batting: Babe Ruth

With today being the All-Star Game, I thought I'd share with you a remarkable video.  Early Movietone News footage.  These were actual sights and sounds from a Yankees-Red Sox game in April of 1931.  Step into the Wayback Machine to a time where there was no walk-up music, all the men wore hats, and Ruth & Gehrig were in their prime.

UPDATE: From my friend David Halberstam. The 1968 All Star Game - 50 years ago played in primetime did a 25.8 vs. last year's 2017- did a 5.5 -

That's a 79% drop in the Mid-Summer Classic ratings in 50 Years

32 comments :

ODJennings said...

Whenever I see old footage like that I'm reminded of an interview someone did with a Titanic survivor who lived near Fenway Park. She said that even in Boston's Summer heat she had to close her windows during the games, because every time someone got a hit the roar of the crowd sounded exactly like the noise the passengers made as the Titanic slipped under the water.

VP81955 said...

Fascinating stuff. To fill in the details, the Yankees won the season opener 6-3 before an estimated 70,000 at the Stadium (including Mayor Walker). While six future Hall of Famers were in the Yanks' lineup that day (including battery mates Red Ruffing and Bill Dickey), New York would finish 94-59, a distant second to the powerful Philadelphia A's, who would win their third straight AL pennant. The Bosox? Sixth out of eight at 62-90, par for the course for the team in those days.

Oh, and the shadows as early as the third inning? The game started at 3 p.m. in those days before night games.

OrangeTom said...

Intrigued by the flag pole. Is it in the field of play, deep centerfield perhaps? Seems like a bit of a hazard

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

This is the April 14th Opening Day game at Yankee Stadium
Yankees won 6-3
https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYA/NYA193104140.shtml
Babe hit a HR in the 7th

Things to notice:
Batters STAY in the BOX!
Pitchers get the ball and throw it within a few seconds.
Red Ruffing (HOF pitcher) goes all 9 innings despite giving up 8 hits and 3 runs.
Time of game: 1:55!!!
Average 2018 RedSox/Yank Game is now 3:30

KLAC Guy said...

Thanks for this, Ken. So much to absorb! The pitcher's wind up. The way the batters swung by dropping their hands and swinging. The people smoking in the stands. The expanse of center field at the old Yankee Stadium. The tiny fielder's gloves, etc, etc! I've already watched it twice and will probably watch it many more times. Priceless!

Peter said...

Ken, check out a great video tweet by Arnold Schwarzenegger in which he ridicules Trump as a Putin fanboy and says that he almost expected him to ask for his autograph. "What's the matter with you?"

https://twitter.com/Schwarzenegger/status/1018990073700708355

Schwarzenegger is Austrian and he's more of an American patriot than Trump.

Mike Barer said...

Wow,hi tech for that era.

Y. Knott said...

Interesting, particularly the pre-game material. Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig are announced with their first and last names, but apparently Combs and Lazzeri are famous enough that only last names are needed!

VincentS said...

As Geoffrey Holder used to say, "Maaaaaaahvelous!" Jimmy Walker sure looked shifty. Thanks, Ken.

estiv said...

Interesting to see the group of African-American men sitting beside whites in public in 1931. Guess NYC was a little more integrated then than you'd think. No way that would've happened at a Senators' game just a couple of hundred miles away.

Tom said...

Cool. Of course, in 1931 there were also no MLB night games, no television and most importantly no black players.

blinky said...

One explanation that makes sense to me is that at some point in the 70s or 80s Baseball started to emphasize local teams over national teams to the extent that if your local team isn't in the World Series you don't care. Football on the other hand has made it about the game. SO even if the Cincinnati Bengals played the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Super Bowl it would still be an event.

Ben Crease said...

Congrats on finding something even duller than live baseball.

blinky said...

To beat a dead horse...
It is pretty hard to watch a baseball game and see 20% to %30 of the balls and strikes called incorrectly. The idea of the catcher framing the pitch to show that it went where it was supposed to go instead of calling a strike a strike. Or that each Umpire has their own strike zone. We live is a precise tech world and that quaint practice is maddening to me. Football, basketball and even tennis have high tech solutions to human error in calls.

Anonymous said...

Blinky got it right about the emphasis on the locals and not the game of baseball. Likewise Bumble Bee Pendant about the length of games. My memory of childhood is that Dodger games started at 8:00 and were done between 10:15 and 10:30. No mas.

The All-Star Game ratings are a shame because baseball is one of the few sports where the all-star concept works. Quarterbacks are nothing without a good line; receivers need accurate passers. Basketball stars need screens and passes to stand-out. Baseball requires little teamwork. Some but not much. It's the aggregate of individual performances that decides who wins or loses. That lack of required teamwork makes the summer game work and the Pro Bowl a joke.

-30-

Anonymous said...


http://otrrlibrary.org/OTRRLib/Library%20Files/B%20Series/Baseball%20Broadcasts/

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/footage-of-scandalous-1919-world-series-saved-by-yukon-permafrost-1.2635519

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJNbO1Mbl2w

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mPHqbJXDQI

http://otrrlibrary.org/OTRRLib/Library%20Files/B%20Series/Bob%20Elson%20Interviews/

http://otrrlibrary.org/OTRRLib/Library%20Files/B%20Series/Bob%20Elson%20On%20The%2020th%20Century%20Limited/

Jeff Maxwell said...

Very cool footage. When men were men (in cool hats) and players were men with no gloves.

What a rich time for baseball. Ruth and Gehrig make me think of William Bendix and Gary Cooper.

I really like those double-breasted suits. Looked like a stadium filled with Al Capones.

kent said...

That's a great take on why baseball is different. Only Al Capone in The Untouchables said it any better.

Anonymous said...

Above, I posted links to some otrr and Youtube baseball/announcer clips and audio.

Just as I can wishful-think seeing a dot-sized Ring Lardner in the 1919 World series throngs,
I can more reliably report seeing The Toastmaster General George Jessel in the crowd ("How are You!"
he says to the unresponsive Mayor) starting at the 5:44 point of the Movietone Yankees Red Sox footage.

Jessel knew Walker
https://ia800307.us.archive.org/BookReader/BookReaderImages.php?zip=/22/items/jimmiewalkerstor00gribrich/jimmiewalkerstor00gribrich_jp2.zip&file=jimmiewalkerstor00gribrich_jp2/jimmiewalkerstor00gribrich_0136.jp2&scale=1&rotate=0

and he was in NYC on Broadway at the time, so who knows?
https://bklyn.newspapers.com/image/57365524/?terms=%22george%2Bjessel%2BApril

Georgie even played himself in the Jimmy Walker biopic
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beau_James

VP81955 said...

This looks to be footage Movietone News had for a 1931 newsreel and then discarded, employing bits and pieces for use elsewhere (e.g., images of fans in several sections of the ballpark).

VP81955 said...

It would be an event, given that both are AFC teams.

Fox and ESPN prefer established franchises from big markets for thir Saturday and Sunday broadcasts -- Yanks, Mets, Bosox, Cards, Dodgers, Angels, Cubs (but not Chisox). Mike Trout's a great ballplayer, but is barely recognized beyond Anaheim. Would he be more visible if he possessed an exuberant, Bryce Harper-style personality? I sense if he played at Chavez Ravine and wore blue, things would be considerably different.

Dr Loser said...

@Ben Crease:
I imagine you're no fun at parties.

Ken: Thanks very much for that. It was nice to see the guys, back in an era when there were no media coaches and they all looked awkward on camera.

One thing I did notice ... back then, of course, equipment and editing came at a premium cost. I'm thinking particularly about watching the Babe swing from an angle roughly on the first base side, and orthogonal to the plate: I couldn't tell whether that high pitch was a fastball, or what. Even Minor League games have better camera coverage these days.

Got me to thinking ... it's the sports equivalent of watching a single-cam sitcom, as opposed to a multi-cam. It's all we've got to remember them by, but somehow it's deeply unsatisfying.

Janet Ybarra said...

The guy sitting in the White House may be many things but he is no patriot. Unless perhaps a Russian patriot.

Janet Ybarra said...

Been Crease, you know what they say: if you can't say something nice....

Peter said...

Haha! The accusations of treason have clearly frightened Trump. He's now claiming he misspoke and that he actually intended to say he does believe Russia interfered in the election! Satire is dead.

Janet Ybarra said...

Ken, you dig up some really great stuff. And the fact that Halberstam--one of the great journalists and historians--was your friend just goes to show what a Renaissance man you are.

This is baseball the way it was meant to be. Just goes to show that just because we become more high-tech doesn't mean that we don't leave something important in the past. Or maybe I'm just a girl born out of her time.

How a true baseball fan could watch that and not be mesmerized is beyond me.

kent said...

Whenever you were born, you sound like my kind of girl.

Eric J said...

Like OrangeTom, I was intrigued by the flag pole. (I skim the baseball parts of Ken's posts). Specifically, the flag which appeared to be at half mast. So far even google has failed to reveal why that would be so on April 14, 1931.

Liggie said...

I think the NFL should try an 8-on-8 format for the Pro Bowl. Hockey has success with the 3-on-3 format, and 8-man football is common in rural areas where there aren't enough students for the full 11-man side.

A baseball Friday Question. To avoid marathon games, the minor league just started a new extra-inning rule, where the team at bat places a runner at second base (usually the guy who made the last out the prior inning). Do you think this would work for the majors?

Jim said...

Flags were flown at half staff due to the death of Speaker of the House Nicholas Longworth of Ohio that occurred suddenly a couple of days earlier.

Buttermilk Sky said...

Jim, when FDR delivered his "date which will live in infamy" speech to Congress, he wore a black armband. I only recently learned this had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor -- his mother Sara Delano had died on September 7, 1941. (I happened to remember it because Speaker Longworth was married to Alice Roosevelt, Theodore's daughter.)

Ken, your post made it sound like you were in recent communication with the great David Halberstam, which was kind of eerie. Like Ring Lardner, Don Marquis and Charlie Pierce, he combined sportswriting with brilliance on other topics.

Anonymous said...

Buttermilk Sky....

Don Marquis was a humorist and a dramatist but not so much a sportsa-tist.
Maybe you meant Damon Runyon?