Sunday, June 12, 2016

OTR Baseball Episode 10: The Story of Baseball from Cavalcade of America

Every year on June 12th, I am reminded of a special meaning it has for me and for baseball fans all over the world.  Its Cooperstown Day!  On June 12, 1939, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum opened its doors for the first time to celebrate the centennial of the "birth" of America's National Pastime.  To celebrate this day, I am going to once again feature an episode of the Cavalcade of America for my series on Old Time Radio and baseball.  I won't be the last time we learn history courtesy of DuPont, but a very appropriate way to celebrate the 77th anniversary of the opening of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Around and About - Hall of Fame Weekend (July 26, 2008)

The Otesaga Hotel, Cooperstown, New York - Hall of Fame Weekend 2008

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.

This episode was written to showcase vignettes in the 100 year history of baseball.  While they made reference to a small ball from Egypt in the British Museum dating thousands of years, the origin of the game was exactly as the Mills Commission determined in 1907.  The episode opens with a reenactment of what the first game of baseball, as invented by Abner Doubleday and played in Cooperstown might have been like.  Town ball had many problems - you needed many players, it was not safe, and there were too many rules.  Abner Doubleday's game took care of those problems and the rest is history.  Well, not really.  The game evolved over the years and was not invented by any one person in any year.  Still, it is great to hear what might have been discussed in the small New York village in 1839.

The tour of baseball only begins with Abner Doubleday's "invention" of the game.  It follows him into the Civil War and expands across the country in the few years after Appomattox.  The show features the birth of the National League through the efforts of William Hulbert and the problems associated with gambling during the early years of professional baseball.  A very similar topic was featured on the Cavalcade (and earlier on my blog) a few years later.  Among the baseball greats featured include Christy Mathewson, John McGraw, Babe Ruth, and Connie Mack.  These men were elected in 1936 and 1937, during the first classes that were elected before the Hall opened in 1939.

The show also featured baseball expressions in everyday life and other elements of the National Pastime.  And since it is from DuPont, it ends with a story about how they are fixing problems with not enough nitrogen in the soil with their agricultural products.  Truly.... "Better Things for Better Living...Through Chemistry."


Cavalcade of America's Baseball (April 24, 1939)

Old Time Radio Baseball Series and Other Links

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