Friday, July 15, 2011

Here is One Way to Tell Who is Who in a Team Photo

I came across this great Orioles team photo from 1968:

Everybody seems to be doing a good job of facing back towards home plate except Frank Robinson and Curt Blefary, who we can see looking off to their right towards the 3rd base dugout.

According to the information on the back, the picture was taken in May, 1968.

I like to see that the team and the photographer were having some fun with the shoot. Since this photo is coming from The Sporting News archives, I wonder if it was ever actually published.


Thanks to Commishbob ('59 Topps) and Dan (11th and Washington) for more details behind the photographer and the "Lets Get Behind The Birds" promotion from 1968 that utilized this photo (with a bit of airbrushing) as we discover in this article that appeared in the December 14, 1968 issue of The Sporting News (Thanks Dan!) (click to see a larger version).

Thanks to both of you for the great information behind this interesting photo!

Monday, July 11, 2011

1971 All Star Game Broadcast

As the 2011 All Star Game approaches, I thought it would be fun to take a look back 40 years ago to the broadcast of one of the more memorable All Star Games - the 1971 Midsummer Classic.

The game was broadcast by NBC

The broadcasters were Curt Gowdy and Tony Kubek, along with Lindsey Nelson down on the field

Quite a contrast in terms of sports coats from three years ago!

The game was played in Tiger Stadium, which was decked out for the occasion:

Talk about some amazing lineups. The NL was managed by Hall of Fame manager Sparky Anderson

who had the following Hall of Famers in his starting lineup

On the American League side, Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver

had the following Hall of Famers in his starting lineup:

That's 10 Hall of Famers just in the starting lineup! They were joined by 10 other Hall of Famers on the bench, for a total of 20 (22 if you include the managers).

Earl Weaver and Sparky Anderson wore microphones as they exchanged lineup cards and went over the ground rules with the umpire. You can see the umpires microphone below:

Vida Blue started for the American League

and one of the first batters he faced was Hank Aaron, who received The Gillette Award for being the top vote getter for the All Star Game

Also in the top of the 1st, the eventual 1971 AL MVP faced the eventual 1971 NL MVP Joe Torre

Dock Ellis was the starter for the National League

and really seemed to enjoy wearing his unusual Pirates batting helmet as he was wearing it during the pregame interview as well as his at bat

which in itself is somewhat odd as you would figure with all the talent on the bench and in the bullpen that you would pinch hit for the pitchers spot.

The great thing about this game is that all the scoring was done from Home Runs from 6 different Hall of Famers.

Johnny Bench was the first to homer in the top of the 2nd (with Willie Stargell on 1st)

As you can see in this picture of Bench rounding 3rd, the bases were painted red, white, and blue:

Next came Hank Aaron in the top of the 3rd

This was actually Hank Aaron's first extra base hit in All Star competition.

The AL struck back in the bottom of the 3rd, with Reggie Jackson's famous home run off the light tower on the roof (with Luis Aparicio on 1st)

which was followed later in the inning by Frank Robinson (with Rod Carew on 1st)

In the bottom of the 6th, Harmon Killebrew homered (with Al Kaline on 1st)

with the final HR coming from Roberto Clemente in the top of the 8th

Not only were all the HRs hit by HOFs, even the guys who were on base at the time were all HOFs as well!

Speaking of Hall of Famers, there were also a number of HOFs who appeared in ads during the broadcast.

Whitey Ford was eating Product 19

Tom Seaver and his wife Nancy were filling up the car at Philips 66

Johnny Bench was talking about Gillette razors

and Don Drysdale was talking about a Chrysler promotion to win 2 tickets to the 1971 World Series

Surprisingly, there was only one beer ad during the whole game. It was an ad for Schlitz

One other interesting thing that caught my eye was that Norm Cash did not wear a batting helmet.

When it was all said and done, Brooks Robinson caught the final out

and the American League had finally won a game after 8 consecutive losses.

Unfortunately for the AL, this would be their only victory of the 1970's, as they would lose 11 games in a row and would not win again until 1983.

Watching this game was a treat as this is what an All Star Game should be. 20 future Hall of Famers led by 2 Hall of Fame managers putting on a great show.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Reggie Jackson Morphs from the A's to the Yankees

Up for auction from The Topps Vault is the classic airbrush job done on Reggie Jackson in 1977 to turn him from an Oakland Athletic to a New York Yankee on his Hostess baseball card. Now we can see the full negative that was used:

Looking at the lines that were drawn on the shoulder and across the chest to mark off the portions of the picture to be airbrushed, it looks like the artist must have known how the cards were going to be designed since they didn't bother to paint the entire shoulder, but rather just did a portion of it at an angle which is similar to curved design of the photo on the card:

I think the work that was done for the Hostess card turned out better that what was used for the 1977 Topps card that year:

It looks like the 2 pictures that were used were snapped within a few seconds of each other. I can almost picture the photographer saying "Reggie, look to your right. Good. Now look to your left."

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Fleer Sticker Project Makes It To The White House!

Look who's reading The Fleer Sticker Project, courtesy of a link on Uni Watch (click to enlarge):

Of course I don't have any idea of who on the White House staff might be taking a few minutes to check out the blog (I don't think the President spends his mornings in the Oval Office checking out his favorite blogs), but its pretty cool to see that someone from the "Executive Office of The President USA" is stopping by to take a look.

Even better is the fact that this was a return visit!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

1968 All Star Game Broadcast

As we approach the All Star break next week, I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at a broadcast I recently picked up of the 1968 All Star Game.

The broadcast opens with a view of downtown Houston, and then focuses in on the Astrodome:

we see the classic NBC logo

and the intro to the 1968 All Star Game:

The announcers for the game were Pee Wee Reese, Curt Gowdy, and Sandy Koufax

who got a shout out from the Astrodome scoreboard:

The 1968 All Star Game was obviously the first to be played indoors, but it was also the first to be played at night.

As part of the pregame show, we get a tour of the Astrodome, including a look at some of the Suites:

We then move to the player introductions. The 1968 All Star Game was the first to have team captains, with Mickey Mantle being the AL team captain

and Willie Mays serving as the NL team captain:

NBC had a camera up in the gondola which they put to good use for shots like this of the lineups:

The National Anthem is performed, accompanied by fireworks on the scoreboard

Here is a color photo showing the lineups for the singing of the National Anthem with a full view of the fireworks on the scoreboard:

Then it is time for the lineups for the AL

and the NL

NBC shows off its high tech picture in picture capability with a cut in of Sandy Koufax talking about his old teammate Don Drysdale who is the NL starter

Leading off for the AL is Jim Fregosi, who is wearing the Angles batting helmet with the halo on the top:

Here is another view of the helmet that you don't see pictures of too often:

Fregosi doubles, but is stranded at third as Carew, Yaz, and Howard fail to bring him in. This was the biggest offensive threat the AL could put together all night.

Fortunately this broadcast has commercials, so we get to see the great new 1968 cars like this Dodge:

Going to the bottom of the 1st, we see AL starter Luis Tiant and his insane 1.24 ERA:

1968 was the Year of the Pitcher, and this All Star Game certainly drives that point home, with the almost impossible to believe ERAs that some of these pitchers had at the break as well as the fact that there was almost no offense at all in this game.

Willie Mays led off for the NL with a single, and would ultimately score the game's only run.

Here is the pitch from Tiant - check out Willie's pocket - there is something in there which we will see when he reaches first

After being safe at first, Willie takes off his batting helmet

flips it to the first base coach and reaches in his back pocket

and pulls out

his hat!

Willie didn't wear the batting helmet once he got on base. He also didn't wear his hat under the helmet. He simply would swap the helmet for the hat when he reached base. I had never seen that done before.

They try to pick off Mays, but the throw goes past Killebrew, so Mays goes to 2nd, and then ends up at 3rd after a wild pitch. Curt Flood walks, and then Willie McCovery grounds into a DP which scores Mays.

Unfortunately the cameras pick up the double play, and not Mays scoring the run, so the viewers never actually got to see the only run of the game score. All they could see after the DP was Mays walking off the field at the bottom of this screen shot:

That pretty much takes care of most of the offensive production for the rest of the game after only 1 inning. The NL would get two more runners as far as 3rd, but neither would score.

Even though the scoring was already done for the night, there were still some more interesting things to see, including an ad for Right Guard with who appears to be McLean Stevenson in a pre-MASH appearance:

In the bottom of the 3rd, Harmon Killebrew injures himself by stretching out just a little to far and does a split

that leaves him flat out on the ground with a pulled groin muscle

They have to put him on a stretcher

to carry him off the field

NBC did take advantage of the Astrodome gondola, and provided some great shots of Hank Aaron

and Willie McCovey from a perspective that viewers were not used to seeing

There were also nice shots like this from behind home plate, where we see Juan Marichal with his famously high leg kick pitching to Frank Howard

As some of the commercials remind us, the late 1960's were awesome. Name another time when girls in mini skirts and go-go boots just hung out on top of traffic light poles

or women would dance while a guy was shaving

We also get to see the grounds crew in their "Earthmen" outfits drag the infield

We get to see some younger guys who would be All Star regulars during the 1970's make appearances, like Tom Seaver, who struck out 5 in his two innings.

In the top of the 8th, Mickey Mantle came into the game and received a standing ovation

Its an interesting juxtaposition to see one New York legend at the end of his career facing off against a soon to be New York legend at the start of career. In the shot below, Seaver strikes out Mantle in his final All Star at bat:

In the top of the 9th, we see another 1970's All Star game fixture make his first appearance - Johnny Bench.

We also catch a glimpse of the batting helmet worn by Carl Yastrzemski - he is the only player in the game wearing an ear flap, and the announcers point this out.

Jerry Koosman comes in to get the last out, and heads off the field where the NL players congratulate each other:

The Astrodome Scoreboard goes through the "Home Run Spectacular" sequence

and then we see the final score: NL 1 AL 0

This was the first 1-0 game in All Star history. The AL didn't really have much of a chance going against 4 Hall of Fame pitchers in a row: Drysdale - Marichal - Calrton - Seaver. Oh, and by the way, Bob Gibson was warming up in the 9th if Koosman couldn't get the job done.

Willie Mays was named the MVP given he scored the only run.

Taking a look back at these old All Star Games is really a lot of fun. Its great to see so many Hall of Famers and other big stars from the time in one game. Having the commercials as well really makes it feel like you are back in 1968 watching on a B&W TV.