Tag Archives: 1970s

Thurman Munson And Billy Martin Argue A Call

Thurman Munson Is Out And Billy Martin Does Not Agree

Thurman Munson Billy Martin argue call July 21 1978

There was no instant replay back when this scene occurred on July 21, 1978 as Billy Martin pleads his case in vain to umpire Durwood Merrill. Believe it or not, they are arguing that Munson should have been called safe when he attempted to steal home.

The Yankees were playing the Minnesota Twins at Metropolitan Stadium, a place very familiar to Yankees manager Billy Martin and the theft of home. When Martin managed the Twins in 1969 he taught Rod Carew how to swipe home and Carew ended up with a record seven steals of home.

It was not a big deal that Munson was called out in this instance, as the Yankees won the game 4-0.

Banning Cars On City Streets In Manhattan – Not A New Idea

Fifth Avenue – Sans Cars 1970

The Story Of Mayor John Lindsay’s Pedestrian Malls

Top photo shows 5th Ave. on a typical day. Bottom photo shows 5th Ave. on July 11, 1970

Top photo shows 5th Ave. on a typical day. Bottom shows 5th Ave. on July 11, 1970 as traffic was cleared

While many environmental and safety groups bandy about various schemes for making streets safer for pedestrians by removing or limiting cars from city streets, the idea is older than you might think.

During his tenure as mayor of New York City from 1966-1973, John Lindsay always favored pedestrians.

Lindsay’s initial ban of cars took place in May of 1969. Lindsay and the city closed a small area of Nassau Street in downtown Manhattan as part of a temporary 90 day experiment during lunch hour from 11 A.M. to 2 P.M..

After 90 days Lindsay declared the “experimental” closure permanent.

The next year on April 22, 1970 the city closed some streets for the first Earth Day.

It’s one thing to shut down a narrow street in the financial district or some larger streets for a special occasion like Earth Day, it’s quite another to ban cars in the heart of New York’s shopping district.

Lindsay’s bigger plans came to fruition, also as an experiment, 44 years ago on Saturday, July 11, 1970. Lindsay closed vehicular traffic from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., on a fifteen block stretch on Fifth Avenue from 42nd through 57th Streets.

The day before the experiment Mayor Lindsay said, “New Yorker’s should enjoy the most beautiful and exciting street when it becomes a pedestrian mall.”

This would also be different because the merchants along Fifth Avenue were not enamored with the idea. It was the first concerted effort by city officials to see the impact of a traffic closure on a major New York City street and observe the effects on noise, air quality and more importantly, quality of life. Continue reading

Scorecard! Who Needs A Scorecard?

The Death Of The Scorecard At The Ballgame

Scorecard vendor at the Polo Grounds 1949 - photo William C. Greene

Scorecard vendor at the Polo Grounds 1949 – photo William C. Greene

Recently I went to a baseball game at that imitation ballpark in the Bronx they call Yankee Stadium. After being gently frisked at the admission gates and going through the turnstiles, the thing that did not greet me was what you see above: a vendor selling scorecards.

You could buy a scorecard, but not for 10 cents as it was at the Polo Grounds in 1949. The archaic idea of a scorecard costs $10 at Yankee Stadium and is available at the souvenir shops spread throughout Yankee Mall Stadium. The scorecard is buried in some glossy souvenir publication which I did not purchase, nor did anyone else.

When I used to attend a lot of games in the 1970’s and 80’s buying a scorecard was a no-brainer. From anywhere from a reasonable 25 cents in the early 1970’s to two dollars in the late 80’s, filling out that scorecard and having a program was a nice memento of a game I went to. There is a certain enjoyment derived from scorekeeping and having a permanent record of a game you are attending.

I just dug this program of my closet from a game I went to on Thursday evening September 6, 1973. The Yankees came back in the bottom of the eighth inning after trailing 6-5 on a three run home run from Mike Hegan to beat the Milwaukee Brewers 8-6. Bobby Murcer and Roy White also homered for the Yanks. The time of the game was 2:22.

In my childish way I merely recorded outs as fly outs, ground outs or line outs without denoting the fielders who made the play. As you can see my scorekeeping leaves a lot to be desired, but for a little kid I think I did a pretty good job. Eventually I learned to score correctly.

For 30 cents they packed a lot into 28 pages. Continue reading

The Stress of Hank Aaron Breaking Babe Ruth’s All-Time Home Run Record

Before Breaking Ruth’s Record, Hank Aaron Had So Many Death Threats, He Had A Security Team Appointed To Protect Him

Willie Mays (l) and Hank Aaron at Shea Stadium June 3, 1972 – the two true #1 and #3 career home run leaders

Forty years ago today, on April 8, 1974, Hank Aaron, under incredible duress, hit his 715th career home run, breaking Babe Ruth’s record.

Aaron finished his career in 1976 with 755 home runs and is now second all-time on the career home run list to Barry Bonds. In my mind and many others, Aaron is still the legitimate home run champion due to Bonds strange physical transformation in which his body became gargantuan and slugged more and more home runs as he aged.

What Aaron had to endure with the constant death threats and pressure is poignantly told in an excellent article by USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale which is reproduced below.

Hank Aaron has the letters tucked away in his attic, preserved these last 40 years. He’s not ready to let them go.

He almost has them memorized by now, but still he carefully opens them up and reads every word, as if he wants to feel the pain.

“You are (not) going to break this record established by the great Babe Ruth if I can help it,” one of them reads. “Whites are far more superior than jungle bunnies. My gun is watching your every black move.” Continue reading

Orioles In Spring Training – 1972

Mark “Dutch” Weems, Ralph “Mickey” Scott and Wayne Garland

Mark Weems Ralph Scott Wayne Garland March 1972

They were supposed to be the Baltimore Orioles pitchers of the future. Of the three Orioles pitchers seen here at spring training in March 1972, only one would have success in the major leagues.

Mark “Dutch” Weems (left) never made it to the majors and was out of organized ball in 1973 at the age of 22 after posting a 24-19 record in five minor league seasons. Ralph “Mickey” Scott (center – throwing) bounced round the majors from 1972 -1977 appearing in 133 games and compiling a 8-7 record. He passed away at the age of 64 in 2011.

The star of this group was Wayne Garland (right), the Orioles the fifth overall pick in the first round of the 1969 (June secondary) amateur baseball draft.

The Orioles took a chance by drafting Garland who had declined previous chances to play. The Pittsburgh Pirates chose Garland in the fifth round of the 1968 amateur draft but he did not sign with them. The St. Louis Cardinals then made him the first overall pick in the (January secondary) 1969 draft, but once again Garland did not sign.

Wayne Garland had six nondescript seasons in the minors and majors until 1976 when he went 20-7 with a 2.67 ERA for the Orioles. He was paid $23,000 that season and became a free agent in the off season.

It was the beginning of the free agency era in baseball and Garland became one of the highest paid players in the majors when he signed with the Cleveland Indians for $2.3 million for 10 years.

At the time I thought it was bizarre to give any player a ten year contract. As Ira Berkow of New York Times pointed out, “Many baseball people wondered how the Indians could pay so much for a player with only one good major league season. They are still wondering.” Continue reading

Mets In Spring Training – 1970

Tom Seaver Instructs Duffy Dyer, Ken Boswell And Cleon Jones -March 1970

Dyer Boswell Seaver Jones March 1970

The World Champion Miracle Mets of 1969 were looking forward to 1970. During spring training in March 1970, Tom Seaver has some instructions for Duffy Dyer, Ken Boswell and Cleon Jones.

The Mets would have a disappointing season going just 83-79 and finishing in third place in the National League Eastern division.

Vintage 1978 Yankees Schedule Including Ticket Prices And Other Surprises

A Nostalgic Look At The 1978 Yankees Schedule Handout

Yankee Schedule 78 Seating

click to enlarge

I attended about 25 games in 1978 at Yankee Stadium. I was a young lad with a minimal allowance. So how could I afford it? Mostly I would buy general admission tickets. The cost, $2.50.

When I would splurge, about six times a year, I could buy a box seat for $6.50. Anywhere in the stadium. Field box, mezzanine, upper box, it didn’t matter, they were all available.

The Yankees drew over 50,000 fans 13 times during the year. Seven of the large crowd games were against the Red Sox. The average home attendance for the season was only 28,838.

I pulled this tri-fold schedule from my collection. The ticket prices are displayed below: Box Seats $6.50; Reserved Seats $5.00; General Admission $2.50 and Bleacher Seats $1.50.

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

There are several other things to notice here. First the schedule itself. Continue reading

Remembering Bobby Murcer And A Good Day At The Plate

Bobby Murcer: 40 Years Ago Today, April 11, 1973

Baseball Murcer vs Indians 4 11 73

Bobby Murcer vs. Cleveland Indians April 11, 1973

On this date, Wednesday, April 11, 1973, the New York Yankees were at home against the Cleveland Indians and playing their fifth game of the year. They had lost their first four.

Bobby Murcer batting clean-up went 3 for 4 with a double and two singles and scored two runs in a Yankee 4-0 victory.

It is sometimes hard to believe that decades have passed on events that seem like they occurred only a few years ago.

Growing up in the Bronx, my two favorite Yankees were Ron Blomberg and Bobby Murcer. It was a little easier to root for Murcer because he was in the line-up a lot more than the oft-injured Blomberg.

Murcer was probably the best position player on those late 1960’s, early 1970’s Yankee teams which were generally not very good.  Until Thurman Munson, Lou Pinella, Chris Chambliss, Graig Nettles and others joined the Yankees, the team had few bright spots.

Because of their shared Oklahoma heritage and other vague similarities, some fans were expecting (unfairly) for Murcer to be the next incarnation of Mickey Mantle and carry the team to the playoffs.

No player should have that burden placed upon him. Murcer had solid season after solid season, but he knew that he was never going to be the next Mickey Mantle.

Bobby Murcer was traded in a shocking blockbuster deal after the 1974 season and missed out on being a member of the Yankee world championship teams of 1977 and 1978. He returned to the Yankees in 1979 and did get into a World Series in a losing effort against the Dodgers in 1981. Bobby Murcer retired after 1983 and became a Yankee TV and radio announcer. Beloved by many fans and players in baseball, Murcer contracted a brain tumor and died of cancer at the age of 62 in 2008.

Some interesting notes concerning this April 11 game –

It was a day game. Why play night games in New York in early April? So the temperature can drop an additional 25 degrees and fans and players can freeze? MLB and the teams didn’t try and maximize attendance figures by playing in conditions not conducive to baseball (see current November World Series as an example).

The attendance was 5,059. (Which is the rationale that now most weekday games are scheduled as night games.)

The game was completed in two hours and 29 minutes.

Mel Stottlemyre pitched a complete game two hit shutout, striking out six but walking eight.

Indians starter Gaylord Perry also went the distance. Perry ended up with 19 wins and 19 losses in 1973 and pitched 29 complete games. That is four more complete games than the top five (Verlander, Dickey, Hernandez, Peavy and Harrison) complete game leaders combined for in 2012.

All three of Bobby Murcer’s hits were to left field. Murcer generally could not stand hitting against Gaylord Perry and constantly complained publicly that Perry was cheating by loading-up the ball. For his career Murcer batted .232 against Perry.

SCTV – The Funniest TV Show Of The Late 70’s / Early 80’s

John Candy and Cast Lampooning Leave It To Beaver

SCTV cast 1982 clockwise from top left; John Candy, Eugene Levy, Martin Short, Andrea Martin and Dave Thomas

SCTV cast 1982 clockwise from top left; John Candy, Eugene Levy, Martin Short, Andrea Martin and Dave Thomas

Canada’s SCTV (Second City Television) was one of the most brilliant comedy sketch shows ever created. The ensemble cast featured John Candy, Robin Duke, Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy,  Andrea Martin, Rick Moranis, Catherine O’Hara, Harold Ramis, Tony Rosato, Martin Short and Dave Thomas.

Airing weekly on late night television from 1976 -1984, the show never achieved critical mass appeal but had a strong cult following.

Having been off the air for nearly 30 years most people under the age of 35 have never seen or heard of SCTV. That’s a shame. Because even though there are some obscure references to celebrities, shows and movies of the past, the comedy holds up pretty well today.

Here is a sample of one of the funnier sketches from 1977, a take-off of the stereotypical 1950’s All-American family TV show Leave It To Beaver, with John Candy playing “The Beaver” in Leave It To Beaver 25th Anniversary Party.

For those who want to experience SCTV, seasons 4 & 5 which aired on NBC are available on DVD. A best-of DVD featuring episodes from seasons 2 and 3 is available as well. The remaining episodes and seasons have yet to be released.

SCTV is not for everyone. If you like Monty Python’s Flying Circus and The Marx Brothers – I’ll bet you ‘ll like SCTV. As the lead commenter on this youtube video says “There are 2 types of people in the world. People who understand and appreciate SCTV’s humor, and those who are utterly stupid morons.”

UPDATE  4/19/13 – Actor Frank Bank who portrayed Lumpy Rutherford on Leave It To Beaver did just pass away at the age of 71 on April 13, 2013, not as Catherine O’Hara says on the SCTV video, “Lumpy died 7 years ago when he jumped in front of that train.”

Yankees And Orioles Pennant Race – Just Like The Old Days

Are The Orioles A Bunch of Supermen?

The Baltimore Orioles played like Supermen from 1969-1971 winning 109, 108 and 101 games respectively. They won the American League Eastern division crown five times from 1969-1974.

The 2012 Baltimore Orioles have battled the Yankees for the division lead far longer than many baseball experts have expected.

This Baltimore – New York rivalry had cooled off during the last 15 years, but has finally re-ignited under Orioles manager Buck Showalter’s gritty team. In the early to mid 1970’s the Yankees and the Orioles were contending with one another year after year. The Orioles were always coming out on top, until 1976 when the Yankees finally broke their twelve year pennant dry spell and went on to the World Series, only to be swept by the Cincinnati Reds.

In this September 10, 1970 news photograph, Yankees outfielder Curt Blefary confronted not one Orioles Superman, but four.

The text of this AP news photograph reads:

A few months ago, when the New York Yankees were getting close to the Baltimore Orioles, former Oriole Curt Blefary said Baltimore could be caught because “they don’t have bid red S’s under their shirts.” Prior to tonight’s game, the Orioles, now leading by 10 games, showed Blefary  (center) that they are indeed some kind of Supermen. Exposing their shirts are Frank Robinson, Paul Blair, Brooks Robinson and Dave Johnson.

The Yankees ended up 93-69 finishing second in the American League Eastern Division to the Orioles who went 108-54.  They then swept the Twins 3-0 for the AL Championship and won the 1970 World Series 4-1 over the Cincinnati Reds.

We’ll see if the 2012 Orioles have any Supermen this year as the season winds down.