Since the coronavirus has robbed us of baseball this Spring, I offer this look back as a partial substitute.
Seventy years ago this week, my parents left our home in Oak Ridge, Tenn., dropped my 1-year-older brother and me off at my mom’s parents’ home in Decatur, Ala., and drove south to Florida on their first post-kids vacation.
In addition to seeing the then-popular tourist spots of Weekiwachee Springs and Cypress Gardens, my parents attended seven Major League Baseball Spring Training games in Clearwater, St. Petersburg (Al Lang Field) and Lakeland.
Dad bought programs, kept score and clipped newspaper articles for each game. An avid photographer, he also took movies and still photos of some of the action. Dad developed the still-photo film, printed 8x10s and sent several of them to the teams, which had players sign the prints before mailing them back to Dad. I’ve had his movie digitized.
Joe & Dom DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Stan “The Man” Musial and Yogi Berra were among the many All-Stars and future Hall of Fame players that my parents saw that week.
My mom (a native of Selma, Ala.) was also delighted to meet fellow Alabamian Mel Allen, the Yankees’ famous play-by-play announcer, who was born Melvin Allen Israel in Birmingham.
Here’s a list of the games they saw:
March 21 @St. Petersburg: Yankees 4-2 Boston Braves
March 22 @Clearwater: Tigers 10-8 Phillies
March 23 @Clearwater: Boston Red Sox 12-7 Phillies
March 24 @Lakeland: Tigers 10-6 Yankees
March 26 @St. Petersburg: Cardinals 3-2 Boston Braves
March 27 @St. Petersburg: Cardinals 8-7 Yankees
March 28 @Clearwater: Phillies 21-6 Cardinals
Digitized video of two 1950 Spring Training games & Mel Allen:
Here’s a YouTube link to the baseball portion of the home movie my Dad took that week, which I’ve had digitized: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2x-2-j7xnAI
Based on the score books and news articles that my parents saved, here are the time-coded highlights shown on the video:
1 … (0:37 – 2:30) — Boston Red Sox vs. Philadelphia Phillies (March 23). Boston won, 12-7. Action includes: (1:08) Ted (“Theo.” in the program) Williams at the plate in the 1st inning with a runner at 3rd; he popped out to the 3rd baseman. (1:48) Next up was Bobby Doerr, whose single plates Boston’s first run. #2 is seen ready to hit next. He’s “Babe” Zarilla, who hit two home runs in Boston’s 8-run 9th inning — the second a grand slam that completed Boston’s scoring. (1:55) The second of back-to-back Philadelphia triples — by Eddie Waitkus — drives home Granville Hammer in the Phillies’ 1st inning. Dick Sisler drove in Waitkus, and then scored to give the Phillies a 3-1 lead. (2:18) In the top of the 2nd inning, Dom DiMaggio hit a 3-run homer, driving in Louis Stringer and pitcher Joe Dobson (who had walked).
2 … (3:37 – 7:06) — St. Louis Cardinals vs. New York Yankees (March 27). St. Louis won, 8-7. Action includes: After Chuck Diering walked and Red Schoendient’s doubled him to 3rd base to open the Cardinals’ 1st inning, Stan Musial (5:41) hit a bouncer to 1st base, and Diering is called out on a close play at the plate. (6:08) Joe DiMaggio triples to lead off the Yankees’ 2nd inning. The next batter, Yogi Berra, promptly singles Joe in.
(7:07) Mel Allen, the Yankees’ play-by-play announcer. (Can any lip readers tell me what he’s saying in this silent movie?)
Photos and Autographs:
March 21 game: New York Yankees beat the Boston Braves, 4-2 …
Sam “The Jet” Jethroe (the Braves’ first African-American player) bats against Yankee pitcher Tommy Byrne. Autographs by Yogi Berra (catcher), Hank Bauer (center field) and Byrne … and a closuop of Jethroe’s autograph. (Dad sent a copy of the same photograph to each team for their players’ autographs.)
– – – –
March 26: St. Louis Cardinals beat the Boston Braves, 3-2 …
Stan “The Man” Musial faces Braves pitcher Johnny Sain. Autographs by Bob Elliott (3rd base), Sid Gordon (left field), Sain and Buddy Kerr (SS):
Closeup of Musial’s autograph (on another print of the same photo sent to the Cardinals):
Detroit Tigers’ 1st baseman Dick Kryhoski signed this photo showing him scoring in the 6th inning of Detroit’s 10-6 win over the New York Yankees’ B team. (Charlie Silvera is the Yankees’ catcher.) Kryhoski went 3-for-4 with 4 RBIs that day:
Autograph by Al “Zeke” Zarilla, the Boston Red Sox’ right fielder who hit two home runs in the 9th inning of the Red Sox’ 8-7 comeback win over the Phillies on March 23:
My Dad’s boxscore, showing Zarilla’s monster 9th inning:
And the news story:
Autograph by Vern Stephens, an 8-time All-Star shortstop who played for the Boston Red Sox in 1950:
Autograph by Yankees’ 6-time All-Star pitcher Allie Reynolds:
My mother with fellow Alabamian Mel Allen, the Yankees’ Hall of Fame play-by-play announcer:
Mel Allen’s brother, Larry, who served as a Yankee statistician and booth assistant:
Here are covers to the programs sold in Clearwater & St. Petersburg:
Below are my Dad’s box scores for both teams in St. Louis’ 8-7 March 27 win over New York. (Someday I hope to figure out WordPress’s illogical formating.)
… and the Cardinals:
And the news story:
= = = =
FYI, while today was supposed to be the first day of the 2020 season, in 1950 the season started on April 18. In the 1950 World Series, the Yankees swept the Phillies 1-0, 2-1, 3-2 & 5-2.
PLAY BALL!! (Soon, I hope.)