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

Thursday, June 9, 2016

OTR Baseball Episode 9: Abbott and Costello's Who's on First

Recently, the National Baseball Hall of Fame shared a great feature on the most famous skit involving baseball.  Well, it might be the most famous skit for any sport.  Maybe even the most famous skit ever!  I am talking about Abbott and Costello's Who's on First.  So even though it has been a while, I want to get back on my Old Time Radio and baseball series and what a wonder show I have to share.

Somerset Patriots 3, Sugar Land Skeeters 1 (Bridgewater Township (Somerset County), New Jersey - Saturday August 9, 2014)
Who's on First?
Somerset Patriots 3, Sugar Land Skeeters 1 (Atlantic League)
(Bridgewater Township (Somerset County), New Jersey - Saturday August 9, 2014)

As a kid growing up, Sunday morning at 11:30 on WPIX (Channel 11 in NYC) was a special time.  Every Sunday, they showed an Abbott and Costello movie.  These were always 90 minutes - and always hilarious.  I just loved watching these movies and made it a regular ritual.  So I have long been a huge fan of these two comedy greats.  And naturally, I am a huge fan of Who's on First.  

On April 17, 1947, the Abbott and Costello Show (which was running on NBC and sponsored by Camel cigarettes - the one doctor's recommend.  The show opens when Lou Costello receives a telegram from Joe Dimaggio.  He was begging Costello to suit up for the New York Yankees since he was not feeling great.  Though Dimaggio would win the MVP that year for the World Champion Yankees, he felt he needed an all-star to be in the lineup for him.  

The script featured the quick witty banter between the two featured players.  The program ends with "Who's on First".  It is one of a few that you can find via old time radio (and one of two that I will feature in this series).  But what is great is that they have great fun early on with other ballplayer names including Bob Feller and Enos Slaughter (two great Hall of Famers).  Its lots of fun, I hope to listen to Abbott try to explain how Cleveland can have only on "Feller" pitching for the Indians.  Abbott and Costello were joined by Skinnay Ennis (who sings "Linda) and Marilyn Maxwell (who sings "New Orleans" and acts in one of the skits).  

I hope you enjoy this great episode.

Old Time Radio Baseball Series and Other Links