Lenny Green takes his pregame cuts
It all looks so carefree and unburdened. A sunny, 1960’s summer day at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota. From analyzing data from blurred scoreboard images, I’ve deduced this is the game the 1963 Twins played against Chicago White Sox on June 20, 1963, albeit without complete certainty. It was not uncommon to wait days for film developing, up to and beyond a week for rolls to arrive back from a photo lab in the Twin Cities back then; thus, pictures taken in late month may not have been developed until after the first of July, in this instance.
Everybody was ready for a foul ball.
Usually, close up inspection of the board helps pinpoint the exact day, time of day, year, who was on the mound – but these images have the appearance of pregame warm-ups, what with the lack of game data on the board operated by Charlie Wilcox. The visiting team name is blurry at best, but the characters suggest “CHICAGO” to my eye. Have a go at it yourself, if you wish!
Note the unpadded expanse of outfield fence!
Plus, there was no shade - the second deck
was finally constructed during the 1965 season.
I said it was “carefree.” As if they lived in a big, TV sitcom world of Deputy Fifes, Dick Van Dykes and Jethro Bodines. We know better. The day of this game was almost exactly 5 months before President Kennedy's assassination. Buddhist monks were immolating themselves that summer in the streets of Saigon to protest government raids on their pagodas, in the effort to crackdown on communist infiltrators in unstable South Vietnam. Also bedeviling them was the constant threat of Chairman Khrushchev and the Russian Bear, and...the unsettling arrival of yet another cheesy Elvis movie in theatres that fall (Fun In Acapulco). The horror!
Crewcuts, curls and Twins caps!
I look at the people and wonder about their lives. So many families, and Dad’s with their kids! They came, and plunked down their hard-earned cash – nobody used credit cards then - to purchase tickets the day of the game. They paid $1.50 for those outfield bleacher seats (rich guys $3 for those lower, main mezzanine seats), when the median household income per year was $5,807. They raptly watched even the warm-ups, with only the organ fills, Bob Casey’s announcements, and the impossible fielding antics of Vic Power around first base to occupy them. That they were enriched and enjoyed a day at the ballpark without the broadcasting of pop music over the PA is enviable to me. The between-inning announcements and video board hype (hysteria) in today's ballparks severely distract from the game's simple essence, in my humble opinion.
Dailey had that one magical year - '63
On this game day, the fans saw Harmon Killebrew and Earl Battey hit roundtrippers. Ace Twins closer Bill Dailey relieved Jim Kaat in the sixth after the latter couldn’t get past the first five batters in the frame . Yes, the guys in the 'pen certainly had to earn their money the hard way! Dailey shut down the Sox the rest of the way, giving up only 2 hits over the next four innings, along with four strikeouts. He would come into ballgames that year riding in a convertible, to the tune of “Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey? (Louis Armstrong, You Tube video below).” That was considered a spectacle 49 years ago.
All things considered, I wouldn't mind time-traveling back to that day, to enjoy a Schweigert hot dog and a Schmidt tall one in the cheap seats!
1962 game program ad
“I wrote this speech thinking this was going to be it. It’s not it. You guys went and screwed up my whole speech. We’ve got to come back here on Tuesday and drink some more beer.” – Kent Hrbek, in what was supposed to be his “goodbye to the Metrodome” speech, Oct. 4, 2009, before the famous Game No. 163 versus the Detroit Tigers.