Camera Day at classic Shea!

Hello all, been so busy with work lately that I haven’t had much time to write or research, so getting by with ninja strikes of great photos for a short while.

Here’s some photos that I took at Camera Day 1974 (Saturday, August 10) as a young tyke, and finally got around to scanning. Loved these events, getting to see my heroes up close and personal. A little blurry, but hey, I was only 11 and cameras were much less fancy in those days.

Nothing beats good old Shea in its heyday, especially with us Mets fans; the grass was always greener, the sun always brighter. Oh, and not surprisingly, the Reds and Don Gullett bested Tom Terrific and the Amazins, 5-3. Ray Sadecki himself would take the loss by allowing 2 runs in the 8th, but they were unearned due to a Felix Millan error. Ah, the good old days.

 

Ken Boswell, Ray Sadecki

 

Jerry Grote

 

Tug McGraw sporting a beret

 

Jon Matlack

 

Duffy Dyer

 

Ron Hodges and Duffy Dyer

Say Hey, one that got away?

Thomas Wolfe once wrote that “You can’t go home again”, and that was largely true for Willie Mays in 1972. That year, the prodigal son was traded to the New York Mets in May as his career was winding down, back to the city where it all began. Willie would not return to the City By The Bay until July 21-23, 1972.

The crowd certainly missed old Willie, cheering every time he made an appearance, and he didn’t disappoint, hitting a 2-run HR (and the eventual game-winner) in Friday night’s game. But while the fans loved it, the Giants may have taken offense, as shown below.

Willie didn’t start on Sat., but pinch-hit in the 8th with runners on and the game tied, 1-1, and he walked. On Sun., he played the whole game and had 4 plate appearances. The photos below are from an at-bat either on Sat. or Sun., since they were taken during the day, most likely on Sunday, in which a purpose pitch would’ve been a less risky proposition.

A clear message? Or just one that got away? It could be either one, but check out the second photo, where S.F. catcher Doug Rader barely moved his body to corral what would’ve otherwise been a ball way outside. Personally, I think that leaves little doubt as to the intention of the pitch. Of course, back then, it was part of the game, not like today – think of Albert Pujols being drilled in his first at-bat against the Cardinals, whenever that would be. A full-scale riot would ensue, or at least a bench-clearer for the ages.

So even though the fans were still 100% behind him, and Willie still lived only a few miles away, with California “SAY HEY” license plates on his car in the parking lot, between the lines it’s still all in the uniform; and, whether the above pitch was in anger or not, it was pretty clear going forward that that plate at Candlestick Park was no longer…home.

Veeck – as in wrecked?

I’ve already had an earlier post about the crazy genius Bill Veeck in this blog’s youth, and I expect to have a few more. This was probably one of his better promotions, which seemed to get a little crazier as he got older.

Veeck made the Cleveland Indians a quick success after becoming owner of the club in 1946 (first AL black player, Larry Doby, in 1947, and a championship in 1948), but it would be short-lived; after getting divorced in 1949, he had to sell the Tribe to fund the settlement, but wouldn’t stay on the sidelines for long.

Veeck remarried in 1951, and then promptly purchased 80% ownership in the St. Louis Browns. The Browns would be a tough test for the budding marketing whiz, as the Cardinals shared the same park, and were far more popular. His first moves were to hire legendary Cardinals Rogers Hornsby (as manager) and Dizzy Dean (as an announcer), although Veeck fired Hornsby by June.

Thinking of more ideas to get fans into the ballpark, Veeck held a “Drink On The House” Night at Sportsman’s, July 1951. In a press photo below, Veeck is seen himself passing out free brews to the surprised Browns’ faithful. Somehow, I can’t imagine Fred Wilpon coming down the aisle at Citi Field to hand me a free Brooklyn Lager any time soon.

It was actually a good way to get the word out about one of the local beer sponsors, Falstaff, St. Louis’ own. The label below is the same as on the beers above, and below that, a Falstaff beer ad with ol’ Diz.

Either way, it seems to have worked out better than future Veeck promotions, which grew increasingly unusual. Only a month later was the famous Eddie Gaedel game, in which Veeck used the services of a “little person” to go up for an at-bat for the Browns (he walked).

Unfortunately, Veeck’s grandstanding would have little effect, and he himself would be largely responsible for the demise of the St. Louis Browns. When beer giant Anheuser-Busch purchased the Cardinals in 1952, with endless resources, Veeck knew the writing was on the wall, and looked to bidders to move the franchise. Milwaukee was the first choice, but the Boston Braves beat them to it, so the next choice was Baltimore – and Veeck planned on remaining majority owner, but the other owners were not very keen on it, and voted him down, so he sold the team anyway, and the Orioles were born.

Veeck would go on to bring success to the Chicago White Sox (during two tenures), but also more unusual ideas, both good and bad, including introducing the famous exploding scoreboard in Comiskey Park and putting players’ names on their uniforms for the first time, both in 1960, and later the infamous “shorts” uniform from the 1970’s, the beginning of Harry Caray (then White Sox announcer) singing Take Me Out To The Ball Game, and last but not least, Disco Demolition Night in 1979, in which disco records were blown up on the field, and resulted in a near riot and the forfeit of the second game of a doubleheader by the White Sox.

Veeck finally sold the White Sox in 1981 and retired from baseball, passing away in 1986. He is responsible for many of the craziest things that have happened on a baseball field, and I’d have to admit, baseball history would be a lot less interesting without him.

You Gotta Believe (in YouTube)!!

Although my first Mets’ game was in 1971 (Mets won 2-0 over the Phillies), and I saw another game at Shea in 1972, I really didn’t become a die hard Amazins’ fan until the 1973 World Series. I remember seeing them on our small TV and thinking that this would be a great team to root for, being in the Fall Classic every year! I also remember being so bitterly disappointed when they lost the 7th game, and especially hated Wayne Garrett, who unforgivingly made the last out (I was just a kid).

Anyway, for some reason, video of the TV broadcast of this series is among the scarcest in the game, whether the master tapes were lost or damaged, or some other mysterious calamity befell the reels; and except for produced highlight films of the series, have not seen any of the original games as they were broadcast in over 40 years. Until now.

Someone wisely made tapes of Game 3 all those years ago, and has recently uploaded them to YT. First game at Shea, on NBC, with Curt Gowdy, Lindsey Nelson and Tony Kubek. Seaver vs Hunter. Four videos in all, of four different half-innings – the entire 1st, top of the 5th, and some of the top of the 9th. No other videos from the source yet, but more to come, see below.

Retrosheet box score: http://tinyurl.com/8ujxlkn

Top of the first. Gowdy PBP. A’s are scoreless, including striking out Reggie Jackson, and a great placard from the Mets’ old sign man, Karl Ehrhardt.

Bottom of the first, Gowdy PBP, Mets go up early 2-0, including a leadoff HR by Wayne Garrett.
Unfortunately, that was the extent of the Mets scoring for the evening.

Top of the 5th. Gowdy PBP. Tom strikes out the side! In case anyone wonders what all the fuss was about regarding Tom Terrific, watch this.

And THIS is what You Gotta Believe! was all about. Top of the 9th, special bonus with Lindsey doing PBP. Tug (You Gotta Believe!) comes in for Sadecki with 2 on and nobody out in a 2-2 game, and shuts the door, for now (and check out what appears to be a “75” type patch on Yogi and Rube’s jackets in the dugout). Complete with great fan shots and Tug pounding his glove and going manic in the dugout. Wow, memories. This was the 1973 magic I remember well.

Mets lost on an unearned run in the 11th inning off Parker (walk, rare passed ball by Grote, Campaneris single). Too bad, a win here would’ve gone a long way towards a ’73 title, since most of us know they won the next two at Shea to take a 3-2 series lead to Oakland, but lost both out west to lose the series in 7 games. This series came to be known by Mets fans as the “Near Miracle”, and has largely faded into the background of Mets’ lore. But, for me, this is the World Series of my youth.

The original uploader says in YT comments that he has almost this entire game, until it cut off in the 10th inning, and also will be posting video from the 1973 NLCS! Can’t wait. So watch this space!