Monday, January 16, 2017

Criss Cross

Well, it's happened again. I just finished watching the 1949 movie "Criss Cross," starring Burt Lancaster, Yvonne De Carlo, and Dan Duryea (who had a small role in "The Pride of the Yankees," but that's another story), and darned if there isn't some baseball in the background.

For those who aren't aware, I've blogged about finding baseball in movies that basically have nothing to do with baseball a number of times. Feel free to read more:
In "Criss Cross," the first appearance of baseball occurs about half an hour into the film, when Steve Thompson (played by Lancaster) and Anna Dundee (played by De Carlo) meet in a drug store. As the two talk, one can see a cigarette advertisement in the background above and behind De Carlo (and through the haze of Lancaster's own cigarette). Here's a screen capture:

The ad is for Chesterfield Cigarettes, and features a slogan they copyrighted in April of 1948: "The Baseball Man's Cigarette." Here's what the actual ad looks like:

The captions for the six baseball men on the ad read as follows (clockwise from bottom left):
  • Bucky Harris, Manager of World's Champion New York Yankees
  • Boston Braves' Bob Elliott, Voted Most Valuable Player in the National League
  • Ted Williams, Boston Red Sox
  • Stan Musial, St. Louis Cardinals
  • Champion N.Y. Yankees' Joe DiMaggio, Voted Most Valuable Player in the American League
  • Ewell Blackwell, Cincinnati Reds
The movie was shot during the 1948 season, so these were great stars for Chesterfield to use. There's the manager of the Yankees, who won the 1947 World Series, as well as both MVPs from the season. Ted Williams and Stan Musial were perennial all-stars, so they were perfect choices to pitch the cigarettes. And while many of today's fans may not have heard of the final player, Ewell Blackwell was the brightest pitching star of 1947.

There was no Cy Young Award at the time, but had there been, Blackwell would have easily captured the 1947 version. Nicknamed "The Whip," the 6'6" sidearmer posted a mark of 22-8 with a 2.47 ERA for an otherwise forgettable Cincinnati Reds club that won just 77 games that season. Blackwell never did approach that kind of success again, as shoulder problems plagued him for the rest of his career. But in 1947, Blackwell was the tops.

Note, that the ad in the movie was slightly altered from the seen one above in two main ways:
  • the bottom portion, which features the famous "Always Buy Chesterfield" slogan, has been cropped out;
  • the pack of Chesterfield cigarettes in the center of the ad has been obscured by three packs of  cigarettes affixed to the front.
These alterations were clearly made so as to hide the manufacturer's name, both at the bottom of the advertisement and on the image of the cigarette pack at center. Here I've superimposed the color ad on the screen capture to highlight the similarities and alterations:

The ad shows up again at the end of the scene, this time over Lancaster's shoulder, as he and De Carlo talk near the entrance to the drug store

The ad is altered in the same fashion as the previous one. In fact, it may very well be the exact same prop, moved to a new location. Again, I've superimposed the color ad on the screen capture:

I consider this a major find, not because the baseball advertisement is significant in any way, but because I somehow managed to take my eyes off the incredibly gorgeous Yvonne De Carlo in order to stumble across the ad in the first place.

The very next scene in the movie also features some hidden baseball. This time, Lancaster is back at his mother's home, preparing to go out on a date. He talks with his mother and just as he is about to leave we see a framed photograph on the wall near his door. Here are two screen shots showing the photo:

And here are two details from the above shots:

The images are quite blurry, but I believe they both show a picture of a ballplayer (at right) posing with another person. Alas, I have been unable to make any headway in identifying this photo. Any ideas?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Baseball, Valentine's Day, and Music

Is there anything more romantic on Valentine's Day than a baseball love song? Well, perhaps. But work with me on this one. Here is a selection of just a few of the many amorous baseball ditties that have been written over the years.

Tally One for Me (1877)

The sheet music for "Tally One for Me," an 1877 polka that sold for 40 cents, features an absolutely gorgeous view of a nineteenth century ball game. Since the publisher (F.W. Helmick) and the lithographer (Monsch & Company) were both based in Cincinnati, it may be possible that the ballpark depicted in the cover art is Cincinnati's Avenue Grounds, home of the National League Reds from 1876 to 1879. If so, this would be remarkable, as I am unaware of any known images of that short-lived major league ballpark.

Here's the song's final verse and chorus:

I soon will stop my "balling,"
For my heart is led astray.
'Twas stolen by a nice young girl,
By her exquisite play.
And after we are married,
why, I hope you'll come to see.
The "tally" I have made for life,
And mark it down for me, oh!

For when I take the bat in hand
My style is sure and free ...
Just put your money on my side,
And tally one for me.

Base-Ball Game of Love (1909)

What more need be said? Here's the first verse and chorus.

When first I gaz’d into your eyes,
Your image made a home run to my heart,
I tried to tag the feeling
Which into my heart was stealing,
But it had too great a start.
I thought ‘twas just a base hit that you made,
And you’d be caught in stealing second base,
But you went the whole way ‘round
And very soon I found
There was going to be a real live pennant race.

I was on first and you on second,
Cupid held the third base down,
He coax’d me to lead off and catch you,
But you saw me start I found;
And as we two reach’d third together,
Cupid gave us such a shove,
That we both slid for the home plate,
In our baseball game of love.

Come on Play Ball with Me Dearie (1909)

Written by the same songwriting team that penned "By the Light of the Silvery Moon," Gus Edwards and Edward Madden's "Come On Play Ball with Me" was featured in "Ziegfeld's Follies of 1909." However, according to the Internet Broadway Database, the 1909 Broadway review actually featured a different baseball song, "Let's Get the Umpire's Goat," by the husband-and-wife duo of Jack Norworth and Nora Bayes. (You'll remember Jack Norworth as the lyricist for "Take Me Out to the Ball Game.") It is likely that part way through the show's eight-week run, "Come on Play Ball" was added and the Norworth./Bayes tune dropped. Here's the song's chorus:

Come on play ball with me dear
I'll "catch" whatever you "throw,"
I know lots of places where we can "run bases"
If you'll only wait for me after the show,

We won't "run home" till you're weary
You'll like my "curves," never fear;
My heart is on fire,
When Cupid's umpire,
Come on, come on, play ball with me, dear.

Base-Ball (1914)

This simple sheet music cover pretty much sums up the theme of baseball and love. Written by Eugene Martin, the tune features this first verse and chorus:

When he runs I have a feeling that makes me glad.
Oh, when the ball goes sailing through the air.
It's joy for me for I know he will out run it there,
It was this booster in the grand stand so near,
that lead him home tho' the ball was near
The race was between it and my little dear.
Now you know how my heart felt
when it looked like it would beat him there.

How you take my eye
How I love I love to be your never never good
But now I'm going to try, I am going to try
It's true as I am looking in to your little eye to never lose no never
No greater game I can play than base ball for you.

You're Hitting a Thousand in the Game of Love (1915)

With a name like Ernest R. Ball, is it any surprise that the longtime songwriter penned a baseball song? While he may be better known for "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling," Ball teamed up with lyricists Bill Cahalin and J. Kiern to write "You're Hitting a Thousand in the Game of Love." Here's the chorus:

You're hitting a thousand in the game of love,
You've made a "clean steal" of my heart,
With you on the team what a cinch it would seem
To play the game square from the start;
From your eyes to your lips to my heart
You've made a "triple play,"
If you say you will sign,
It''s a "home run" for mine,
For you're hitting a thousand today.

Latins Know How (1940)

Irving Berlin wrote this tune playing off the stereotype of Latin Americans as great lovers. The song's only connection to baseball is that the chorus rather bizarrely claims "Latins, they don't play baseball." Huh?
Alas, I was unable to track down the sheet music for this one, but here are some of the lyrics:
In a magazine I read
Where a certain author said
That Latins are lousy lovers
And it's a lie
A libelous lie
And who, tell me, who should know better than I?

Latins, they don't play baseball
They're not so good with a rake or a plow
They're not experts at making money
But when it comes to making love
A Latin knows how.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Two Panoramic Photographs of Babe Ruth and the New York Yankees

On September 19, 1920, in a special screening at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Babe Ruth made his major film debut in a silent film titled "Headin' Home." But Ruth and his Yankees teammates were unable to attend, as they were nearing the end of an extended road trip to the western cities of the American League: Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, and St. Louis.

On September 22, 1920, Babe Ruth and the Yankees played an exhibition game against the Indianapolis Indians of the minor league American Association at Indy's Washington Park. A fantastic panoramic photograph taken prior to the game can be found at the Indiana Historical Society's Digital Image Collections web site:

Indiana Historical Society

Panoramic Photographs

Today, most smart phones are equipped to take panoramic photographs. But in the past, photographers employed special cameras to create these dramatic images.

The Bretzman Photograph Studio run by Charles Bretzman (the first official photographer of the Indy 500) took the above photo of the Yankees and Indians using a Cirkut panoramic camera, the most common such camera of its day. You can learn more about the camera at The City of Vancouver Archives Blog.

In the case of the above image, the photographer placed the camera and its tripod on the ballfield and arranged the ballplayers in an arc in front of the grandstand such that each individual was the same distance from the camera's focal plane. In other words, while it appears that the players were standing in a (somewhat) straight line, each was actually positioned on the arc of a circle, with the camera at the circle's center.

After loading the camera with film and winding the gears, the photographer aimed the camera toward the left side of the player lineup and started the mechanism. Unlike the traditional method of taking a photograph where a shutter opens and closes in a split second, the aperture of a panoramic camera remains open and the camera "pans" across the scene. Meanwhile, the film inside the camera moves in perfect synchronization with the rotating camera. By this method, the panorama is captured on film, with the left side of the photo taken many seconds before the right side.

One of the humorous tricks one can play with a panoramic camera is known as the "Pizza Run." In the case of our photo above, the individual at far left (Yankees coach Charley O'Leary) decided to perform this photographic joke. When the photographer first started the camera in motion, the players on the left side of the scene remained motionless, because any movement would cause the subject to appear blurry. However, once the camera rotated such that the players on the left side were no longer in the field of view, they could relax. But O'Leary did not. Instead, he quickly ran out into the field, around the camera and back into line at the far right side of the group, before the camera had rotated around to the end of the lineup. Thus, O'Leary appears in the photo twice: on the left and the right of the group photo:

Interested readers may enjoy seeing a short video showing the "Pizza Run" in action at the Library of Congress's web site. And the story of another interesting baseball panoramic photo is related in one of my earlier blog postings: "Nix Flicks Sticks in Box for Sox in Rox."

The Great and Only Babe Ruth

According to an article in the Indianapolis News the day of the Yankees-Indians exhibition game, special bleachers were erected in order to accommodate the expected crowd of some 15,000 fans, each eager to see the "great and only Babe Ruth."

Indianapolis News, September 21, 1920

Ruth entered the exhibition contest having already clouted 49 home runs, 20 more than his previous season's big league record of 29 homers. The Bambino ultimately ended the 1920 campaign with 54 round-trippers, the second of three straight years in which he would set a new home run mark.

Besides his outstanding home run total, Ruth was posting other outrageous stats. For example, two days prior to the Indianapolis game, Babe had scored his 148th run of the season, eclipsing Ty Cobb's 20th century record of 147 runs, set in 1911. Ruth went on to notch 158 runs that year, a total that has since been surpassed just four times: twice by Ruth and twice by his future teammate, Lou Gehrig.

The New York Yankees and Indianapolis Indians

Take a close look at the Yankees uniforms. Most are adorned with black armbands on the left sleeve. The club had donned the memorial markings ever since the tragic death of Cleveland shortstop Ray Chapman, who had been beaned in a game against the Yankees on August 16 and passed away the following morning. At least seven other big league clubs also honored the memory of the beloved player in the same fashion: Cleveland, Boston, and Detroit in the American League, and Cincinnati, Brooklyn, Chicago, and New York in the National League.

The individuals in the long line in front of the grandstand included Yankees (left to right) Charley O'Leary, Rip Collins, Hank Thormahlen, Chick Fewster, unidentified, unidentified, unidentified, Bob Ferguson, Joe Lucey, Aaron Ward, Lefty O'Doul, unidentified, Sammy Vick, Fred Homann, Ernie Shore, Wally Pipp, Babe Ruth, unidentified; Indianapolis Indians (left to right) Butch Henline, Pug Cavet, Sam Covington, Jack Hendricks, Johnny Jones, Ralph Shinners, Dick Gosett, Jimmy Smith, Duke Reilley, Wally Rehg, Jesse Petty, Hank Schreiber, Dutch Stryker, unidentified, Clint Rogge(?), Art Kores, Dutch Zwilling, and unidentified; and, at the far right, as noted, a second appearance of Yankees coach Charley O'Leary.

Another Panoramic Photograph

Now take a look at another photo from the collection at the Indiana Historical Society's Digital Image Collections web site:

The minimal description of the picture reads as follows: "Washington Park Baseball Field, Indianapolis, Indiana, Circa 1920." But careful research now shows that this is a second photograph of the late-September Yankees-Indians exhibition game. Note that the on-deck batter is wearing a black armband on his left sleeve, just like those worn by the Yankees in the first panoramic photo:

And the right fielder is wearing the same uniform worn by the Indianapolis players in the first panoramic photo:

To further confirm that both photos were taken at the same event, one can even match up fans in both images. For example, below are details from both photographs, highlighting particular fans in the front row just to the left of the third base dugout.

A Fire and St. Mary's Band

Let's briefly flash back to the beginning of the 1919 season, when Babe Ruth was still a member of the Boston Red Sox. On Opening Day in New York, Ruth homered (of course), scoring twice, and driving in three runs as the visiting Red Sox routed the Yankees, 10-0. The following day, a fire broke out at St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys, the school that Ruth attended as a youth in Baltimore. The story of the fire was detailed in the July 1919 issue of the "Quarterly of the National Fire Protection Association":

Story of Fire.
During the day of April 24, 1919, a tinner had been at work on the east end of the tower building repairing a portion of the roof and cornice. In order to accomplish this work, it was necessary to expose a goodly portion of the roof sheathing. A high wind blew over the charcoal pot which the workman was using and scattered the burning coals over the exposed roof surface. The tinner claims to have collected all of the coals placed them in the fire pot and left the roof about 3.30 p.m., bringing the charcoal pot and his overalls, which had been burned, with him.

Some of the scholars discovered the fire about 4.30 p.m. in the vicinity of the roof referred to above. The private fire brigade, consisting of the scholars and their instructors, was immediately called into action and the various standpipes throughout the buildings placed in service. After fighting the blaze for about twenty minutes, it was discovered that the water supplies were extremely low and that no headway was being made. A telephone call was sent to the Violetville Volunteer Fire Department, and at practically the same time an outsider turned in a fire alarm through the Baltimore City fire-box in the vicinity. Upon the arrival of the Chief on the third alarm, the entire roof of the central portion was burning. A strong west wind, reported as blowing thirty miles per hour, carried the fire to the extreme east end of the building. The large amount of water being used from hydrants Nos. 1 and 2 made it impossible to secure a hose stream which would reach higher than the second story. Two hose lines of 2000 feet each were then connected at hydrant No. 3 and hydrant No. 5, each being supplemented by a fire department steamer. Due to the great distance, it was necessary to pump this water, and also owing to the fact that these hydrants were considerably below the level of the fire, these streams were of little value. Finally two good hose streams were secured by running a fire department steamer down a 15-foot bank and pumping water from a stream crossing Wilkens Avenue, about 2200 feet east of hydrant No. 2. This steamer pumped the water to a second steamer about 1000 feet away, which in turn relayed the water to the hose being used in an effort to get the fire under control and save the adjoining property.

Loss of Life.

About 8.00 p.m. the floor of the west section of the main building collapsed and buried about forty firemen. Thirty-six of these men were injured, the majority of them receiving broken arms and legs. Two fire department lieutenants were killed.

Property Loss.
The entire group of buildings of ordinary construction are practically a total loss, while the chapel of fire-resistive construction is damaged by smoke and water. While some statuary and paintings were removed from various buildings which were damaged, the contents are also practically a total loss.
The next year, in early September of 1920, Ruth had St. Mary's School Band travel with the Yankees for the final weeks of the season in an effort to raise money to rebuild the school's destroyed buildings. For the extended road trip, the musical entourage was known as the "Babe Ruth Band." In the second panoramic photo, we see the boys of the band sitting in foul territory, just to the left of the first base dugout, each wearing a navy outfit and a white sailor's cap:

Compare their outfits to those seen in this photograph of Ruth and the band taken at Philadelphia's Shibe Park just a few days later, as the Yankees played their final series of the season:

Getty Images #71989167

The Ball Game

In the game at Indianapolis, Ruth played first base (as he generally did in exhibition contests), collected three hits (no homers), and stole a base. The game itself began as a lop-sided affair, with the Yankees holding a seemingly comfortable 6-1 lead after seven innings. But then things got interesting. Here's the scoop as retold in the Indianapolis News the following day:

Incidentally the Indians beat the Yanks, 7 to 6 by making a Garrison finish. When the eighth inning opened, the score was 6 to 1 in favor of the Yanks. Three singles and a double mixed in with a couple of poor throws gave the Indians three more runs in the eighth at the expense of [Yankees starter Bob] Ferguson. [Rip] Collins was sent to the mound in the ninth and the Indians made three runs after two men were out. [Sam] Covington walked and [Wally] Rehg, [Dutch] Zwilling and [Butch] Henline singled in a row.
We n know that the second panoramic photograph is of the September 22, 1920, exhibition between Indianapolis and New York Now. Happily, that panoramic has one more gem to reveal. Leading off of second base is the unmistakable figure of our great and only Babe Ruth:

As would be the case with most every exhibition game in which Ruth ever took part, the game was secondary to the appearance of the Bambino. The final sentence of the Indianapolis News article truly sums up the Ruthian phenomenon: "The crowd was there to see Ruth and he gave the fans a real outing." Indeed.