Author Archives: B.P.

Incredible Film Footage Of Yankee Stadium On Opening Day 1931 With Sound!

The Sights & Sounds Of Yankee Stadium 1931 – Yankees vs. Red Sox

What follows is a rare and amazing 14 minutes of film.

Yankee Stadium on opening day April 14, 1931. Yankees versus the Red Sox. Happenings before and during the game.

What makes it so unusual is that the film crew was experimenting with syncing the sound to the action. So there are microphones recording what was being said or the resonant sounds of baseball. The players don’t quite know what to say when asked to speak. The natural sounds of the ballpark are just so different from today.

Batting practice with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Mayor Jimmy Walker throws out the first ball. An IRT train passes and stops beyond the left field bleachers. Everyone in the stands is well dressed as you’d expect. Large signs remind everyone that “Betting is prohibited.”

The lack of technology is pure pleasure. The advertising is on billboards same as now, but no ads or deafening music being blasted from speakers.  Your visual senses are not assaulted by a jumbotron. Fans look at the field, no distractions.

No P.A. system. A guy with a megaphone comes out and announces each team’s battery – a term rarely used today – for pitcher and catcher.

Then there is not only a patriotic marching band entertaining fans, but all the players from both teams march along with the band.

The game itself is great to see, but the things you notice while the game is going on seem so foreign to a modern viewing audience. Continue reading

More Maude Fealy (And Her Actress Mother, Margaret Fealy)

Maude Fealy “The Most Beautiful Woman In the World” In An Atypical Pose

One of the most read stories we have done was about Maude Fealy the stage star and film actress who had a career that spanned the first half of the 20th century.

Given the lack of fact based information available on the internet about Fealy we’ve provided another short page devoted to this forgotten star.

This unusual photograph entitled The Coiffure no. 3 captures Maude Fealy in a very flattering pose.

The Coiffure no. 3 was taken by Rudolf Eickemeyer. If there were other photographs from this sitting indicated by the fact that this is called number three, I have not come across any of them.

In 1903 the Figaro Illustre of Paris held a contest and offered a prize for the woman who represented the “perfect type of beautiful womanhood.” Photographer Burr McIntosh submitted a photograph he had taken of Maude Fealy. A committee of experts pored over 30,000 entries and decided Maude Fealy was the most beautiful woman in the world.  Burr McIntosh won the prize for submitting the photo. Fealy wound up with the accolades.

Besides being a famous photographer, Burr McIntosh was the publisher of a popular magazine  in the early part of the 20th century, mostly featuring theatrical stars. In February 1904 Maude Fealy graced the Valentine Number of The Burr McIntosh Monthly. The illustration above was drawn by Clark Hobart in 1903.

When we first wrote about Maude Fealy there was uncertainty as to her exact date and year of birth. That has yet to be resolved, though we can now narrow Maude’s birth year to prior to 1884. Maude’s papers housed in the Denver Public Library give a likely birth date of March 3, 1881.

Through diligent research we have established two previous unknown facts regarding Maude’s domineering actress-mother Margaret: the date of her marriage and divorce to Maude’s father. Continue reading

Alexander Hamilton, The Grange & A Dubious Story Of 13 Trees

Alexander Hamilton’s Final New York Home, The Grange & The Mythical Legend Of Its 13 Trees

With A Description Of Hamilton’s Grange In 1872

Alexander Hamilton’s home, The Grange as it appeared in 1872. print: Appleton’s Journal

In New York City where “preservation” can be a dirty word, an impediment standing in the way of “progress,” it is miraculous that Alexander Hamilton’s home, The Grange, still exists.

Ron Chernow’s biography of Hamilton and the subsequent smash musical Hamilton by Lin Manuel Miranda, spurred an awareness and appreciation to a long dead founding father. Alexander Hamilton has been firmly reestablished in the pantheon of great Americans.

1867 New York City Atlas showing original location of Alexander Hamilton’s home The Grange

Alexander Hamilton’s original property of about 30 acres once stretched from about Tenth (Amsterdam) Avenue to St. Nicholas Avenue and from 138th to 145th Street. Hamilton’s Grange built between 1801 and 1802, had been threatened with demolition many times over its 200 plus year existence. The Grange was moved from its original location, not once, but twice.

As described in an 1872 Appleton’s article (reprinted at the end of our story), the author takes note that the house had survived late into the 19th century and should continue well into the 20th century.

“(The Grange) is constructed in the most substantial manner, and is good for a century yet, if the exigencies of city improvement do not demand its destruction.”

Those exigencies did arise a few years later. Hamilton’s home was first moved a couple of blocks south and a half block east in 1889. Real estate development had the Grange in the path of the street grid, laid out in 1811,  which had slowly but steadily worked its way north to upper Manhattan.

Thirteen “Union” Trees Planted By Hamilton print: Appleton’s Journal

After the move the Grange remained safe for the time being, but there was the matter of its famous group of trees, supposedly planted by Alexander Hamilton. The story was recounted by the Appleton’s article:

“A grove of thirteen stately gum-trees on the lawn in front of the mansion, which were planted by General Hamilton in token of the union and perpetuity of the thirteen original States of the republic. The beautiful star-like leaf of this tree rendered it peculiarly appropriate for the purpose.”

By March 1892 the Amos Cotting estate which now owned the parcel of land where the trees stood at Amsterdam Avenue and Convent Avenue between 142nd and 143rd Streets was set to be auctioned off. Destruction of the trees seemed imminent.

Wealthy businessman Orlando B. Potter bought the tracts of land where the trees stood for $140,500 and vowed to preserve the grove.

There was only one problem which seems to have escaped most historians notice, even up to this day – the trees were probably not planted by Alexander Hamilton. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #88 – 14th Street & 6th Ave. c. 1905

The 14th Street Store of Henry Siegel – 14th St. & 6th Ave c. 1905

    

These two photographs were taken by the Detroit Photographic Co. on the same day, likely minutes apart. They show Henry Siegel’s 14th Street Store (1904-1914) and the Sixth Avenue Elevated Railroad looking towards the southeast corner of Sixth Avenue and 14th Street.

There is much to see, especially when zooming in on the details by clicking to enlarge the photos.

Besides the orientation of landscape versus portrait there are slight but noticeable differences in the two photos.

In the first photo at the 14th Street elevated station the northbound passengers wait for the next train and all sorts of advertising can be seen along the station walls.

On top of the southbound station, a man is painting the roof with two cans of paint, one in front of him, the other behind him. In the other photo the painter is not in frame, but both cans of paint are near one another.

    

On the fourth floor of the store, two women appear to be watching the photographer as he set up to take his picture. The window openings are in the exact same position as the other photo, but the women are gone. Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #68 – Jayne Mansfield As A Brunette

So What Did Jayne Mansfield Look Like As Brunette?

Along with Marilyn Monroe, Jean Harlow and Brigitte Bardot, Jayne Mansfield (1933-1967) is one of the Hollywood stars who usually has the word “blonde” inserted before the word bombshell.

Mansfield’s hair was dyed blonde for the majority of her film career, which may leave you wondering what did she look like with dark hair?

Here is the answer.

Jayne dyed her hair dark for her role in the 1960 film The Challenge (re-titled in the U.S as It Takes A Thief.)

While the photo above is not Jayne Mansfield’s natural hair color, it is a startling contrast to the thousands of published photos of her as a blonde.

In the early 1950s Jayne studied acting at Southern Methodist University. She recalled in a1957 interview, “I was a brunette then.  And covered up. Men whistled at me. But that’s all. I decided my body was an asset and I’d use it.” Continue reading

10 Modern Era Single Season Pitching Records That Will Never Be Broken

Ten Post-1901 Pitching Records That Will Never Be Broken

Jack Chesbro with the Boston Red Sox in 1909.

They say, “never say never.”

Records are meant to be broken.

But there are some pitching records that will probably never be broken and others that certainly will never be broken. We’re looking at records from the modern era only – post 1901.

Here they are:

10. Johnny Vander Meer 2 consecutive complete game no-hitters (1938)

Johnny Vander Meer had the good fortune to be the only pitcher to ever throw back to back no-hitters on June 11 and June 15, 1938 for the Cincinnati Reds.

It is now rare for a pitcher to throw a shutout, or even a complete game. In an era of relief specialization, analytics and match-ups, no-hitter’s are becoming a thing of the past. As of May 2018 there have been 297 no-hitters thrown in the past 117 years. 10 of those no-hitters were a team effort, thrown by two or more pitchers in the game. In 2015 there were seven no-hitters thrown. In 2016 and 2017 a total of just two no-hitters were thrown.

The notion that anyone will ever again throw two no-hitters in a row is a longshot. Three no-hitters in a row? No way.

9. Rube Marquard 19 consecutive wins (1912)

New York Giants starting pitcher Rube Marquard strung together 19 straight wins to begin the 1912 season. Long winning streaks by starting pitchers are uncommon nowadays. They’re yanked from games earlier than ever and no longer control the outcome in close games because they’ve hit their pitch count limits.  Can a modern day pitcher win 20 games in a row? If it were to happen, it would be a miracle.

8. Roy Face .947 Winning Percentage (1959)

How do you get a .947 winning percentage? You lose only one game and win 18. Pirates pitcher Roy Face achieved that lofty winning percentage all in relief. Face did not start one game. It is conceivable a pitcher could have a better winning percentage. It is also conceivable we will one day have world peace.

7. Nolan Ryan 383 strikeouts (1973)

Nolan Ryan was a strikeout machine. In 27 big league seasons Ryan mowed down 5,714 hitters primarily using his blazing speed.  If a pitcher struck out more than 383 batters in a season as Ryan did for the 1973 California Angels, it would mean striking out an average of about 1.5 batters per inning based on a 256 inning season.

In 2017 only ten pitchers threw 200 or more innings. Boston’s Chris Sale led all major leaguers with only 214.1 innings pitched.  Sale also struck out a stupendous 308 batters.

Since starting pitchers are pitching less innings than ever before, it seems highly improbable that any pitcher will ever strike out more than 383 batters in a season.

6. Ed Walsh 467 innings pitched (1908)

Talking about innings thrown this number is just insane, but White Sox Hall-of Famer Ed Walsh threw 467 innings in 1908. You read that right four hundred sixty seven. It’s probably a good thing they did not have pitch counts in 1908. This record is definitely safe.

5. Jack Chesbro 51 games started (1904)

This is one of three single season pitching records that Jack Chesbro of the New York Highlanders set in 1904 and will never be broken.

Pitchers don’t even start 35 games in a season anymore. With six man rotations coming into existence, it seems likely that we’re heading towards pitchers starting no more than 30 games per season. The last pitcher to come close to breaking Chesbro’s record was Chicago White Sox knuckleballer Wilbur Wood who started 49 games in 1972. Continue reading

The Empire State Building Opened On This Day – 1931

The Empire State Building Opens May 1, 1931

You probably won’t recognize this building unfortunately, though it is certainly New York’s most famous landmark. Every sightseer who has studied it up close will know it’s the Empire State Building. credit: Acme 9/7/51

There are not many 87-year-olds that look this good.

The remarkable Empire State Building may no longer be the tallest building in the world or New York City for that matter, but it still is one of the most iconic and beautiful.

The Empire State Building opened May 1, 1931. Dedicating the Empire State Building, President Herbert Hoover pressed a symbolic button in the White House that put on all the lights in the building.  (A worker in New York actually turned on the lights.)

Continue reading

Bob Feller Throws His 12th Career One-Hitter

Bob Feller’s Twelfth One-Hitter Sets A Record – May 1 1955

Cleveland, May 1 – 12th One-Hitter – Bobby Feller spells out “12” with baseballs today after winning his 12th one-hit game. Feller who held the major league record for single hitters even before today, came within eight outs of posting his fourth no-hitter as the Cleveland Indians beat Boston 2-0. credit: AP wirephoto

There will always be the proverbial argument of who was the fastest pitcher in baseball history. Had the modern radar gun technology been around 70 years ago, there is no doubt that Bob Feller would have been credited as the hardest thrower of his generation.

Roger Peckinpaugh (1891-1977) who was a player and managed from the dead ball era through the modern era and saw everyone from Walter Johnson to Nolan Ryan. Peckinpaugh reminisced in Donald Honig’s The Man in the Dugout (1977, Follett) about flame throwing pitchers.

“I never batted against Addie Joss, but I did against Smokey Joe Wood, Walter Johnson, and Lefty Grove, and I managed Bob Feller in his heyday. Who was the fastest? That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? I would say Walter Johnson. Now Bobby was fast all right, but he had that great big curveball to go along with it.”  Continue reading

Searching Here In Allentown- At The Book & Paper Show With Postcards, Antique Advertising & A Real Black Bear

Things You Will Find At The Allentown Book & Paper Show

On a cloudless Saturday at eight forty in the morning, a line of about 200 eager men and women snaked its way around Agricultural Hall at the Allentown Fairgrounds in Allentown, PA.

They were anxiously awaiting the April 21 opening of the two day Allentown Book and Paper Show, an all encompassing smorgasbord of anything and everything collectible that has a relationship to paper.

On  the show floor a few minutes before 9:00 am,, show promoter Sean Klutinoty announced to the 170 dealers over the public address system, that the anxious crowd would soon be admitted. This was the cue for the dealers to return to their tables. They had set up their stalls the day before but quite a few dealers were scurrying about making some last minute purchases from one  another.

Searching through hundreds of thousands of postcards

At nine sharp, customers started filing in. Like bees who fly precise routes to pollinate flowers, the mad dash began for people to get to their favorite dealer. For those who do not have a special dealer to go to, there is a rush to visit each booth methodically row by row.

Each patron is searching for something particular and they ask dealers if they possess whatever special item they seek, before the competition, real or imagined, swoops in and beats them to it.

Another aisle of postcard row

If it made of paper and you cannot find it in Allentown that is the exception.

Unlike a book show where you have books and some ephemera, at a paper show there is literally no limit on what antiquity or modern collectible you may find. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #87 – East 69th Street 1931

69th Street Looking East From First Avenue – 1931

This is an ordinary view of an ordinary street, East 69th Street taken on April 4, 1931 from the northeast corner of First Avenue. But even though it is ordinary, there is a lot to notice.

Still under construction at the end of 69th Street and York Avenue are the art deco inspired buildings of New York Hospital-Cornell Medical College. The hospital began construction in 1929 and was opened in September 1932. What had previously been the site of the Central Brewing Company and some row houses, became the home of buildings that housed New York Hospital, Cornell University Medical College, New York Hospital School of Nursing, and the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic.

On the right side of 69th street is the Roman Catholic Church of St. Catherine of Siena. The church had been located there since 1897 and was soon to be demolished. The congregation moved to a new building on East 68th Street in 1932.

Even with the paucity of pedestrians and traffic on 69th Street, there is activity near the church. Continue reading