Monday, March 16, 2009

It Was 40 Years Ago...A Look Back at the Seattle Pilots as reported by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

I was going to wait to write this post on the 40th anniversary of the printing of this newspaper (April 11), but given the news that tomorrow is the last day that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is publishing their newspaper, I thought maybe it would be appropriate to celebrate its 40th anniversary a few weeks early.

As you may have heard, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is publishing their last newspaper on Tuesday March 17 and is moving to an entirely digital format. Its hard to imagine a world without newspapers, but as more and more people get their news from digital sources, it seems like we will continue to see other papers make decisions like this to remain in business.

From the first time I saw a picture of this paper, I knew I had to have a copy. I've always been interested in the history of the Pilots, and given the paper has all the American League logos in full color on the front page, I wasn't going to be happy until I had a copy for myself.

The section shown above was actually part of the edition that had a similar design on the front page of the main paper:

The souvenir edition is a fascinating look at the start of this franchise. In addition to information on how to get to the stadium, short bios on some of the players, and a lot of advertisers welcoming the Pilots and wishing them good luck, there are a few great articles which I found very interesting.

The first article is about the design of the Pilots uniform, and discusses the issues the team ran into with the American League regarding the rules of uniform design (click on each picture to see an enlarged version to read the text):

I really liked the insight that the original cap design had the "scrambled eggs" on the brim out much closer to the edge of the cap but the decision was made to move them further away from the edge so that players wouldn't get them dirty when adjusting their cap.

Its also a nice touch how they decided to place the ad with the classic turn of the century uniform on the same page with the "modern" Pilots uniforms.

The other article I thought was interesting was regarding the Seattle Stadium at the Seattle Center, which we later knew as the Kingdome:

Reading this article made me think how time flies by so quickly. Since this article was published, the stadium broke ground in 1972, opened in 1976 as the home to a second Seattle expansion baseball team (as well as an expansion football team), was vacated, and torn down 9 years ago.

The domed stadium was in some ways partially responsible for the team moving to Milwaukee. One of the conditions of Seattle getting the team was that the city would begin construction of a domed stadium before Dec 31, 1970. If this condition was not met, MLB reserved the right to move the team.

During this time the team ran into a number of issues with the city and almost no progress was made on the domed stadium in 1969 . This was one of MLB's main concerns during the AL Winter Meetings in late 1969 which opened the door to the possiblity of moving the team. By the end of 1969 a site for the stadium had not even been decided upon, so it was clear there was no way construction would begin by the end of 1970. This ultimately gave MLB the right to have the franchise sold to Bud Selig and moved to Milwaukee where they became the Brewers in 1970.

The Pilots never got to see their new stadium, but instead only got to play in Sicks Stadium:

Finally, to wrap things up, here is an ad from the paper showing one of the souvenirs you could buy at Sicks Stadium (as well as Sportsland):

As this newspaper shows us, nothing lasts forever. The Pilots only lasted 1 year, the domed stadium that was going to be "one of the finest" lasted less than 25 years, and now a paper that started in 1863 is publishing its last newspaper tomorrow.

While I think technology is great and I get much of my news from the internet, the fact that we are losing a number of our newspapers saddens me. Reading old newspapers (even if they are just a PDF file or on microfilm) gives the reader a sense of the times a particular article was written.

Looking back through this newspaper with the various ads and articles transported me back to 1969. If I were to read just the text of these articles through an online archive, while I would get the same information out of the article, I wouldn't get the same experience of seeing the article in the context of the other items that were part of that day's news.


night owl said...

The disappearance of newspapers is no great news for the internet. A lot of internet news comes from newspapers (google news, etc). The loss of newspapers means the loss of journalism. And that benefits no one.

deal said...

Great article - I have always liked expansion teams and defunct teams. And of course the Pilots were the "Ball Four" team which adds to their mystique.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic post.

Anonymous said...

Those Pilots uniform drawing guys look like Joe Swanson from "Family Guy".

Mike said...

Anybody know why they ended up building the Kingdome in SoDo instead of Seattle Center, as originally stated in the article?