Thursday, September 23, 2010

Crosby's Unexpected Gift to Baseball Fans

It’s a surprise to see Bing Crosby, pop culture’s most important forgotten man, on the homepage of the New York Times online, but there he was on Thursday night, a beautiful black & white picture from 1947.

The subject: baseball. A complete video of Game 7 from the 1960 World Series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Yankees——"the best game ever"——was found in his wine cellar last year by an archivist going through his video collection for potential DVD releases. MLB Network has now struck a deal with Crosby Enterprises for the game to be broadcast with interviews and wrap-arounds with Bob Costas.

Crosby had a passion for the technical side of his trade—microphones and magnetic tape sound recording equipment. The story is oft told that a guy named Jack Mulligan, a U.S. Army Signal Corps engineer during World War II, discovered the advancements the Germans had made in high-fidelity recorded sound and brought them to Hollywood. He got a meeting with Crosby, who immediately saw the practical and commercial value of the technology, and he invested in both the tape technology and the machines to replay it. Crosby preferred the relaxed atmosphere of a recording studio to the that of a live radio session. With recording he could control the final product. He could also produce shows ahead of airdates, and so could go fishing and hunting more often.

One of Crosby’s other passions was baseball, which he exercised by his coownership of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The two passions came together when his superstition about the World Series lead him to leave the country, lest he bring them bad karma, and simply listen to the game on the radio in Paris. But he knew he would want to see it once it was over, and so he had it recorded.

Like the MLB’s archivist said in the article, it’s an amazing time capsule. The snippet on the MLB website shows the game in its purest, black and white best. No high production values, no virtual advertising on back field walls, just great athletes, like Roberto Clemente, Mickey Mantle, and Bill Mazeroski playing the game at the highest level.

And best thing about it, the Yankees lost.

Update: The online comments on the article are just great. So many memories for so many people. And the passion of the fans comes across strongly. Here's my favorite:

"As for Maz's homer for the ages, that ranks with my first kiss, my first time behind the wheel of a car and watching the birth of my first child for all time thrills."
Martskers, memphis

5 comments:

Publicist Bing Crosby Enterprises said...

Lots of goodies coming from Bing's basement..last year's 7-CD box set from Mosaic of never-before-available music...and an entire crop of newly remastered tunes...www.BingCrosby.com - it's all there (including our news about the game!)

M.A.Peel said...

All good to know. Thanks for stopping by, Bing Enterprises.

scribbler50 said...

Thanks for this, M.A., like a lot!

Being a native of Pittsburgh and remembering Maz's home run like it was yesterday, this really (forgive me) "hits home". I look forward to seeing the replay.

M.A.Peel said...

Scribe, had no idea you were from Pittsburgh. This discovery must be very special for you!

scribbler50 said...

It is and thank you!