Tag Archives: Radio

Ralph Branca’s Least Favorite Record

Ralph Branca Probably Never Played This LP Record

Ralph Branca, the Brooklyn Dodgers hurler who gave up the 1951 home run known as the “Shot Heard Round The World” died at the age of 90 on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 in Rye Brook, NY.

After giving up the home run, Branca was unjustly made a poster boy for failure. A three time All-Star, Branca was a very good pitcher and had won 75 games by the age of 25. An injury in 1953 cut short his promising career.

giants-win-pennant-lp-front-cover

The Giants Win The Pennant! 1952 Chesterfield cigarettes limited edition LP record

The home run that Bobby Thomson of the Giants hit off Branca to win the third and deciding playoff game, was very likely a pitch that Thomson knew was coming.

The Giants had been stealing signs from opposing teams catchers and relaying them to their hitters with a telescope and a buzzer system at home games at the Polo Grounds during the season. It was confirmed years later that the Giants had tipped batters during the playoff game as well. Thomson though never admitted to having been tipped to what the pitch would be that won the game.

When Thomson hit his home run, Giants announcer Russ Hodges Continue reading

Man Eats Light Bulbs (And Other Delicacies) – 1939

Harold B. Funston Demonstrates An Unusual Talent For Tolerating Pain

Harold B Funston eats light bulbs 1939

New York City– Harold B. Funston, accounting machine mechanic of Columbus, Ohio brought to New York for an appearance on a radio program, eats glass from a light bulb in a demonstration of his unique hobby — that of emulating the mysteries of the East Indian Fakirs. Credit line (Acme) 2/21/39

The radio program mentioned above was a CBS show, “Dave Elman’s Hobby Lobby.” In rehearsals, Funston amazed Elman, Radio Guide reporter Martin Lewis and the studio audience by chewing up and swallowing six razor blades, which he downed with a glass of water.  He then proceeded to eat some light bulbs.

Funston puts red hot soldering iron on tongue 1939 watermarkedFilm footage exists of Funston eating razor blades; putting fire in his mouth; and laying on a bed of spiked nails as another man sits on him. He also extinguishes a lit cigarette with his tongue.

Here is another image (unfortunately watermarked) of Funston applying a red hot soldering iron to his tongue.

According to a genealogy web site Harold Funston was born in 1900 or 1905 and died in January 1950, not surprisingly, in a magic trick gone wrong. No details are provided.

Five Things You Didn’t Know About Ralph Kiner

Ralph Kiner, Mets Longtime Announcer And Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famer Dies At 91

Ralph Kiner (r) holds several bats while watching the Braves young slugger Eddie Mathews (l) before a game - 1953

Ralph Kiner (r) holds several bats while watching the Braves young slugger Eddie Mathews (l) before a game – 1953

For many New Yorker’s who grew up watching or listening to baseball, a part of their childhood ended today February 6 2014, with the death of Pirates slugger and Mets broadcaster Ralph Kiner.

Ralph Kiner had a brief, yet great playing career followed by a long TV and radio career where he had been with the Mets broadcast team since their inaugural season in 1962.

Besides announcing Mets games, many baseball fans enjoyed watching Kiner through the Mets post-game TV show Kiner’s Korner.

The obituary writers will surely cover Kiner’s career thoroughly, but here are five things you might not have known about Ralph Kiner:

Ralph Kiner slides safely past Phillies catcher Andy Seminick at Shibe Park May 7, 1949

Ralph Kiner slides safely past Phillies catcher Andy Seminick at Shibe Park May 7, 1949

1. In the 1940’s Chicago Cubs scout Dutch Ruether found two bright prospects he wanted to bring to the Cubs. He got Ralph Kiner and Ewell Blackwell to agree to be signed for what he thought were bargain price bonuses. The Cubs didn’t sign Kiner saying it was too much money. The cost? $3,000!  Blackwell wanted only $750 and the Cubs passed on him too!

2. Ralph Kiner came up with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1946 and had one of the most extraordinary starts to a career, leading the National League in home runs for seven consecutive years.

3. In 1947 Ralph Kiner became just the fifth player in the history of baseball to hit 50 or more home runs in a year.

4. In his short career which spanned only ten years (1946-1955) Kiner hit 369 career home runs and walked 1,011 times, but struck out only 749 times.

5. According to Pirate teammate Joe Garagiola, Kiner was one of the great practical jokers in baseball. Kiner’s frequent victim was Pirates trainer Doc Jorgensen. One day Kiner removed all of the bottles and bandages out of Jorgensen’s medical kit. Later during a game when a player got spiked, Jorgensen ran out to the field and opened his bag to treat the player, and found that it was filled with sandwiches courtesy of Ralph Kiner.

Jerry Coleman Baseball Legend Dies At 89

Ballplayer, Broadcaster, World War II and Korean War Combat Hero, Jerry Coleman Passes Away

Jerry Coleman Phil Rizutto 1949

Vaudeville Tactics

New York: Jerry Coleman, second baseman for the Yanks does a nip-up like a vaudevillian to get the ball down to first after putting out Bobby Dillinger of the Browns in the first inning of the game at Yankee Stadium on August 6. The throw was not fast enough to get to first before George Elder who had grounded out to Bobby Brown at third. Yankees won, 9-8. That’s Phil Rizzuto, Yankees shortstop lurking in the background. Credit: (ACME) 8-6-49

Jerry Coleman died at Scripps Hospital in San Diego, CA January 5, 2014 of complications from head injuries he suffered in a fall last month.

In his major league baseball career he hit only 16 home runs and batted just .263, but the slick fielding Jerry Coleman was a beloved baseball legend by fans on both coasts.

Coleman played his entire career for the New York Yankees from 1949 -1957. He appeared in six World Series, was the MVP of the 1950 World Series and appeared in one All Star game.

After his playing career ended Coleman worked in the Yankees front office. In 1960 he became an announcer, first with CBS television on the Game of the Week, then in 1963 he rejoined the Yankees and stayed with their broadcast team for the next seven years. Continue reading

The Death of New York Rock Radio

WRXP-FM (101.9) Becomes All News WEMP-FM

Commercial FM album rock radio is dead. Period.

That slow death began when WPLJ-FM flipped to CHR in 1983. It has been in a steady decline since then. The WRXP-FM flip to all news in August confirms that no station programmer can succeed in New York in the capturing of a dedicated rock listening audience large enough to satisfy the bosses.  These behemoth, chain radio station owners care about three things and they are: ad dollars, ratings and demographics.

The remaining rock commercial stations in the tri-state area: WAXQ-FM (NYC Classic Rock) , WBAB-FM (Long Island Rock) and WDHA-FM (Dover, NJ Rock) play the same rotation of old songs, with few new artists mixed in, so how is that going to attract new listeners? Satellite radio (narrowcasting), ipods and streams have hastened that death.

But the real underlying reason is, is that kids are not being introduced to rock n’ roll for the most part, except through the few parents who know how important it is to explore music with their children. Otherwise they will listen to the junk that all their friends listen to. Rock n’ roll has lost a generation of listeners that I fear cannot be recovered. The few young people who do listen to rock, are the exception.

Baseball Theme Songs

When Baseball Teams Had Their Own Unique Songs

Dodge Dart radioWhen my Dad and I would drive places at night in the 1970’s, my father would put on the Baltimore radio station, WBAL-AM to hear the Orioles games. At night the radio signals were stronger and you could pick up most of the bigger radio station’s broadcasts within a 400 mile range, so he would listen. I vividly remember the upbeat song that used to be played to start the O’s broadcast. I searched the internet and have had no luck finding “Orioles Baseball” which is what I believe the title was. But I have collected a number of baseball theme songs and thought I would share them.

For every baseball fan who can remember…

(click on link to hear the mp3 of the song)

Yankees Theme Song

In the 1970’s when I was listening to the radio, before the start of every ball game, the New York Yankees would have their theme played. The Yankees announcers, Phil Rizutto, Frank Messer and Bill White would eventually talk over the song and it would fade out. At the end of the game they would play the theme again. The Yankees still play a truncated version of the song at the beginning and conclusion of games on the radio, but they rarely play this version with the lyrics.

Mets Theme Song

Musically well constructed and simply the best song ever written for a team with its catchy lyrics. The “Meet The Mets” song still holds up nearly 50 years after the Mets introduction to New York. This version is the original version. (ed note: strangely enough I wrote this article on June 30 and originally scheduled it to be posted on July 5. I moved it up to July 3 after seeing that the writer of the Mets theme song Ruth Roberts passed away Friday, July 1 at age 84.)

Cubs Theme Song

If you grew up in Chicago you may remember “Hey, Hey Holy Mackarel” which was the Chicago Cubs song.

White Sox Theme Song

Now, if you were a Chicago White Sox fan, the song dear to your heart would be “Let’s Go, Go, Go White Sox.”

Tigers Theme Song

In the late 1960’s this is what the Detroit Tigers were playing – “Go Get ‘Um Tigers.” Continue reading