Sunday, April 24, 2016

OTR Baseball Episode 7: Damon Runyon Theater's Baseball Hattie

For this episode of my Old Time Radio and baseball series, I thought I would feature a radio adaptation of a great Damon Runyon story.  Today's offering is Baseball Hattie from the great series  Damon Runyon Theater.  This first broadcast on June 26, 1949 as far as we can tell.   It was broadcast over many different stations, but not as a network program.   Mayfair Transcription Company was run by movie star Alan Ladd, who's Box 13 is one of my favorite series.

Somerset Patriots 3, Sugar Land Skeeters 1 (Bridgewater Township (Somerset County), New Jersey - Saturday August 9, 2014)

Somerset Patriots 3, Sugar Land Skeeters 1 - Atlantic League Baseball

(Bridgewater Township (Somerset County), New Jersey - Saturday August 9, 2014)

The Damon Runyon Theater is a great series and takes you right into the world of Damon Runyon. Damon Runyon captures a romanticized version the charming lives of New York's gamblers and other rougher characters like Harry The Horse and Broadway. The show starred John Brown as Broadway, who serves as the central figure and narrator of the stories. If you like Guys and Dolls, you will love these great dramatizations for radio.

Baseball Hattie is the story about the Polo Grounds and the New York Giants of old.  Baseball Hattie is a huge fan and was a regular at all the Giants home games at the Polo Grounds and quite a few on the road.  She might have been the inspiration for Bull Durham's Annie Savoy (played by Susan Sarandon).  Hattie was in fact on the road in Philadelphia when the crowds were furious at the Giants after a game won by the New Yorkers.  Hattie rescued their great young pitcher Haystack Duggeler from the crowds.  Haystack was a left-hander who was leading the Giants in just about every category.  He might have been the best left-hander anyone had seen.  His name came from where he was discovered - pitching in Missouri.

What starts as a rescue from the crowds in Philly turns into a romance and then a marriage.  And what could be better for Hattie?  What could go wrong?  Give you a hint - it's gambling.  And while the story does not have the ending that you expect, it is one years and years in the making.  These are fun stories to hear and certainly take you back in more ways than one. I hope you enjoy this treat from Damon Runyon.

Baseball Hattie (June 26, 1949)

Old Time Radio Baseball Series and Other Links

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

5th Annual Kresge Library Services Food Drive (University of Michigan - April 13th through June 10th)

Kresge Library Food Drive 2016

5th Annual Kresge Library Services Food Drive
Wednesday April 13 through Friday June 10, 2016

Please join Kresge Library Services of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business as we embark on our 5th springtime food drive for Washtenaw County food banks.  We are looking to collect non-perishable food donations that will be distributed to local food banks in June. We are undertaking this food drive now for two big reasons:
  • While many organizations coordinate food drives around the holidays, hunger is a year round problem.  Food drives during the spring and summer are less common, but are critical for food banks’ ability to help families in need.
  • At Ross, nearly 40% of our students graduate every year after Winter Term and many leave Ann Arbor.  A food drive is a great way to lighten your load as you head out with your degree in hand, while helping less fortunate people in Michigan.

Starting on Wednesday April 13th through Friday June 10th, the Kresge Library Services will be collecting non-perishable food items and other personal products for Washtenaw Area food banks (Saline Area Social Services and the Hope Clinic in Ypsilanti).  

The best part of this program is that we can assist local food banks at a time when donations are at their lowest.  During our food drives since 2011, we collected over 50 boxes of food each year for Washtenaw County Food Banks thanks to the generosity of the Ross Community.

Here are the specs:

Dates: Wednesday April 13 through Friday June 10, 2016
Location: Drop-off boxes in the Ross Modular Offices (or MOtown - right across from the front of Ross).  The boxes will be at the Kresge Library Services Reference Desk (right when you enter to Modulars).
Times: The Modulars Offices are open Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm.

Per the guidelines established by many food banks, we ask you to make sure that the donated items are:
• Non-perishable food products
• Contained in factory-sealed containers
• Currently not expired products
• Not in glass containers (most food banks avoid these as they can break in transit)

Food Items in great need include:
• Tuna Fish or other canned fish or meat
• Beef Stew, Meat Soups
• Hearty Soups
• Canned Spaghetti or Pasta
• Chili
• Beans (kidney, pinto, green, yellow, refried or black beans)
• Baby Food or Formula
• Ensure or other nutritional supplement drinks
• Rice
• Dry Beans
• Noodles, Macaroni
• Powdered Milk
• Pancake or Baking Mixes
• Cereal/Oatmeal
• Granola Bars
• Peanut Butter
• Jelly (in plastic jars)

Many Food Banks also collect unopened personal products including:
• Diapers
• Toothpaste
• Toothbrushes
• Soap
• Shampoo
• Disposable Razors
• Travel sized personal products are also very useful

If you would rather make a donation to these organizations, that would also be wonderful:

If you have any questions or special requests, please contact Corey Seeman at or 734-764-9969.  

Thank you in advance for supporting this great cause and helping those in our area who are less fortunate.  

Monday, April 11, 2016

OTR Baseball Episode 6: The Baseball Uniform Shortage from Our Miss Brooks

I am going to keep going with my Old Time Radio and baseball series by looking at one of the many historical works that were created.  With baseball really being the National Pastime in the 40s and 50s, it was a natural topic for the numerous historical series that were heard over the airwaves.  I am heading back to the comedies with one of my favorites, Our Miss Brooks starting Eve Arden.

Windy City ThunderBolts 2, Florence Freedom 1 (Florence, Kentucky - Thursday August 9, 2012)

Windy City ThunderBolts  vs. Florence Freedom - Frontier League Baseball
(Florence, Kentucky - August 9, 2012)

From 1948 through 1957, Eve Arden played the lovelorn English teacher at Madison High, Connie Brooks.  This series is one of the very best comedies that we have from Old Time Radio days.  Arden leads an all-star cast in this well written series on CBS Radio that actually holds up well, even today. Between never having enough money, job responsibilities that seem to change from week to week, a cat that is a character all to herself and a love interest who is more fixated on frogs than women...Eve Arden's Connie Brooks always maintains her grace and charm.  The show also featured Jeff Chandler as Mr. Philip Boynton (Connie's long suffering love interest), Jane Morgan as Mrs. Margaret Davis (Connie's landlord), Gale Gordon as Mr. Osgood Conklin (Madison High School's principal, and Richard Crenna as Walter Denton (a student at Madison High).  This is the third straight featured episode featuring Gale Gordon.

The show also was on television starting on October 3rd, 1952.  Through TV and Radio, she became one of the most famous teachers of her day!  From her obituary in the Los Angeles Times in 1990, they wrote:

But it was as Connie Brooks, the wisecracking English teacher in mid-America's mythical Madison High where she constantly engaged in hilarious battles with her stuffy principal, that she became a Friday night favorite.
She was offered the role of the classroom humanist with the smart mouth and warm heart after being heard as radio's Miss Brooks for four years. 
There she had developed a following of hundreds of teachers across American and had even been offered teaching jobs in real schools.  Miss Arden (making $200,000 a year at the time) did not accept, but she did begin speaking at PTA meetings.

So now that you know about this great series, lets jump into the episode.  "The Baseball Uniform Shortage," aired on March 26, 1950 over the CBS Network.

The show opens as most do, with Connie Brooks talking with her landlady Mrs. Davis.  They are talking about Madison High School's upcoming opening day and how excited Miss Brooks was to go.  The reason why, well that has less to do with baseball and more to do with who she was going to go with, Mr. Philip Boynton.  But as what happens to all the best laid plans on this show , things go awry.

With Opening Day just one day away, Connie realizes that she needs a new dress to wear to the game.- but she has no money to shop.  Mrs. Davis let's her know that there is a blue and gold dress at the pawn shop - and since those re the school colors, what could be more perfect.  But she is not the only one with clothing problems.  Turns out that the school's baseball uniforms were not ordered because of money problems at he school.  There is a solution, but it will involve a number of visits back to the pawn shop to get this team on the field.

During the mad dash to fund the baseball team, they consider selling the statue of the Madison High School's athletic department founder, one Yodar Kritch.  But as they say his name over and over, it does come across like Yoda...

I will definitely feature more comedies this summer.  Hope you enjoy this one.

The Baseball Uniform Shortage (March 26, 1950)

Old Time Radio Baseball Series and Other Links

Sunday, April 3, 2016

OTR Baseball Episode 5: The Red Stockings from Cavalcade of America

I am going to keep going with my Old Time Radio and baseball series by looking at one of the many historical works that were created.  With baseball really being the National Pastime in the 40s and 50s, it was a natural topic for the numerous historical series that were heard over the airwaves.  One of the most prominent was Cavalcade of America, sponsored by DuPont.  This is where we go for the 5th episode of my Old Time Radio series of baseball - all the way to Rockford, Illinois.

Rockford Cubbies vs. West Michigan Whitecaps (Rockford, Illinois - July 16, 1995)

Rockford Cubbies vs. West Michigan Whitecaps - Midwest League Baseball

(Rockford, Illinois - July 16, 1995)

The Cavalcade of America is a great series sponsored by DuPont.  The purpose of the program has been one of great study and I am definitely glad that I have a few episodes to talk about it.  The long-running show ran from 1935 to 1953 and then had a second life on television.  Starting first on the CBS Network, it moved to NBC in 1939.  This 30 minute program provided a great platform to showcase some of the lesser known incidents and people who made the country great.  Not only was this series a great source of historical dramas, there were numerous fictional stories brought in as well.  From the Internet Archive page (see link below),  "The company's motto, 'Maker of better things for better living through chemistry,' was read at the beginning of each program, and the dramas emphasized humanitarian progress, particularly improvements in the lives of women, often through technological innovation."  The series also sought out to bring attention to the contributions of businesses in the growth of America.  And today's baseball.

On August 25, 1947,  the Cavalcade presented the story of Albert Spalding in a historical drama called "The Red Stockings."  This is one of a few baseball themed episodes that were heard on the Cavalcade program over its many year run.  The story starred actor John Hodiak as Spalding with a great supporting cast including Jane Morgan, Gale Gordon (who we heard as the Mayor in Fibber McGee and Molly) and one of my favorites, Gerald Mohr.  The story was written by Lucy Kennedy and directed by Jack Zoller.

The story starts in Rockford, Illinois in 1867.  The well known Washington Nationals were slated to tour the Midwestern States and they were challenged by the Rockford club (also called the Forest City Baseball Club).  There was a great deal of confidence in Rockford, because they had a secret weapon - pitcher Al Spalding.  Rockford was baseball crazy and that was all they seemed to be able to talk about.   In the story (and in reality), the Rockford club scored a big win (made even better because Chicago lost to the same team during the trip.  (Check out this great history and account of the game from SABR).

The thing about these games was that everyone playing was an amateur.  Spalding would leave Rockford for Chicago, but get a job as a warehouse worker in Chicago to generate an income while he played for the Chicago White Stockings.  But Spalding would notice something odd....players not giving their all.  Turns out that what he was witnessing was the 'evil' influence of gamblers and the amateurs who were easy marks.  As the game turned from one where the gamblers could influence to one where they were paid like professionals, the specter of shady games would disappear.   While we know this is not how it really played out, it is a really nice dramatization of one of the leading figures in the early years of baseball.

August 25, 1947 "The Red Stockings"

Old Time Radio Baseball Series and Other Links