Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Baseball in "A New Kind of Love"

In September of 1963, Paramount Pictures released “A New Kind of Love,” a film starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. It was the couple’s fifth movie together, and while I’m a fan of both Newman and Woodward, the movie is pretty bad. I strongly urge you not to waste a good two hours of your day watching it, but I’m hoping you’ll take a few minutes to read this blog post about a small sequence from the film.

So why did I watch the movie? Because my friend Mark Armour mentioned on Facebook that ...
there is an extensive scene at Dodger Stadium with game (Dodgers vs Giants) action. Newman is with a date, and they leave early on to head back to his hotel, where Newman continues to watch (supposedly) the same game. Then we see black-and-white TV footage, still Giants and Dodgers. Eventually Newman and his date decide to get down to heavy necking, and he puts down his score book (did I mention he's been keeping score the whole time) and you see eight innings worth of score book from the Giants side.
Mark suggested I take a look, so I took a look.

The sequence occurs early in the film and is comprised of a dozen distinct shots related to baseball. In brief, the two-minute scene establishes Steve Sherman (played by Paul Newman) as a playboy journalist who lets a knockout blonde (played by actress Valerie Varda) get in the way of his covering a baseball game. This helps set the movie’s (minimal) plot into motion as Sherman is nearly fired from his job at the newspaper (I forgot to tell you that the blonde is the newspaper publisher’s wife!) ... and thus he goes to Paris where he meets Samantha Blake (played by Joanne Woodward) ... which doesn’t make a lot of sense, but neither does the rest of the movie.

Take a look at the sequence and pay special attention to the Newman narration. Believe it or not, it turns out that what he says is actually relevant.

Here’s a list of the 12 baseball scenes and the times they are found in the clip above:

A) 00:00-00:08 - Overhead shot of Dodger Stadium
B) 00:09-00:17 – Game action
C) 00:18-00:30 – Press box
D) 00:31-00:35 - Game action
E) 00:36-00:45 – Press box
F) 00:46-00:48 - Game action
G) 00:49-00:54 – Press box
H) 00:55-01:46 – Hotel room
I) 01:47-01:48 – Television
J) 01:49-01:58 – Hotel room
K) 01:59-02:01 – Television
L) 02:02-02:12 – Scorecard and hotel room


Here we have a dizzying helicopter shot of Dodger Stadium:

There’s really not much to say about the shot, though it does a fine job of setting the scene. Newman’s voice-over refers to the park as “Chavez Ravine,” a common name for the stadium during the years that the park served as the home of both the Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels.


This shot clearly shows action from a game at Dodger Stadium:

Though the quality of the film makes it a bit difficult to see, a close examination of the first-base-line auxiliary scoreboard (just above the blue arrow) reveals a great deal of information.

  • The teams are the GIANTS and DODGERS.
  • The Giants (at bat) have 5 runs, 8 hits, and 0 errors, while the Dodgers (in the field) have 0 runs, 2 hits, and 1 error.
  • It is the sixth inning, #30 is at bat, and there are two outs.
With runners on first and third, we see a right-handed Dodgers pitcher delivering a side-arm pitch to a right-handed Giants batter. The batter hits a ground ball to the second baseman, who touches second base for the force out. It is obviously the third out of the inning as the players begin to trot off the field.

Scene C

After the final out, the camera zooms in on the press box, where we see Newman and Varda. Interestingly, the scene merited mention in the news soon after it was shot, as it placed a woman in the press box, a most definite “no-no” at the time. As reported in the Pittsburgh Press on February 10, 1963:

Scene D

Back to the field, take a look at scene D.

Here, the first-base-line auxiliary scoreboard reveals:

  • The team names are (again) GIANTS and DODGERS.
  • The Dodgers (at bat) have 1 runs, 2 hits, and 0 errors, while the Giants (in the field) have 0 runs, 0 hits, and 0 error.
  • It is the second inning, #8 is at bat, the count is 2-and-2, and there is one out.
With a runner on first base, the right-handed Giants pitcher delivers a pitch to a left-handed Dodgers batter. We see the ball grounded to the second baseman, who fires toward second base (off screen) for the (presumed) force out. A return throw to try to complete the double play is made to the right-handed first baseman, but the batter-runner is safe at first. Additionally, as the pitcher turns to watch the play, we see he is wearing uniform #33.

Now we can make some progress ...

In 1962 and 1963, the only player to wear #33 for the Giants was pitcher Jack Sanford:

Looking at Jack Sanford’s pitching logs for the Giants during 1962 and 1963, there are just four dates when he pitched in a day game at Dodger Stadium: July 28, September 3, and October 2, 1962; and August 31, 1963. But in the 1963 game, the left-handed fielding Willie McCovey played first base for San Francisco, so we can eliminate that game as a possibility.

Of the three games in 1962, only the October 2 game provides a match of what we see in scene D.

In the bottom of the second inning that day, with Los Angeles trailing 1-0, one out, and the Dodgers’ Frank Howard leading off first base, teammate Johnny Roseboro hit a grounder to San Francisco’s Chuck Hiller. The Giants second baseman scooped up the ball and threw to shortstop Jose Pagan to retire Howard. The return throw to San Francisco’s right-handed first baseman Orlando Cepeda failed to nab Roseboro at first. The play matches perfectly with what we see in scene D.

Additionally, the October 2, 1962, game is the only one that provides a perfect match for Scene B. In the top of the sixth inning, the Giants scored four runs to stretch their lead over the Dodgers to 5-0. With two outs, McCovey on first and Willie Mays on third, Dodgers sidearm reliever Ed Roebuck delivered to San Francisco batter Cepeda, who grounded to Dodgers second baseman Jim Gilliam to end the inning.

Scene E

We’ve made great progress dating scenes B and D. In Scene E, Newman and his date are also making great progress.

Scene F

In Scene F, the Dodgers are in the field with a Giants runner on first base. The auxiliary scoreboard shows one out in the second inning and the score 0-0. The San Francisco batter (#23) hits safely as the runner heads toward second. The pitcher for the Dodgers wears #53.

This scenario matches the situation in the top of the second inning of the October 2 game. With one out and Orlando Cepeda the runner on first, San Francisco’s Felipe Alou (#23) hit a double to right field off Dodgers pitcher Don Drysdale (#53).

Scene G

Newman and Varda have left Dodger Stadium in order to continue their action in ...

Scene H

Here the pair are in a hotel room, with Newman now watching the game on the television. According to Newman’s voice-over, the game was in the eighth inning. Check out the vintage remote control ... and, at bottom right, a score card. As the right side of the scorecard is visible, it should be showing the play-by-play for the home team Dodgers. Seven diamonds are completely filled in, representing runs scored in the first inning (1), third inning (3), fourth inning (1), fifth inning (1), and seventh inning (1). But this doesn’t match the scoring from the October 2 game. It is simply a made up scenario for the movie prop.

As the lovers settle down together on the couch, we cut to ...

Scene I

The game is shown on the television, as a left-handed batter for the Giants awaits a pitch.

Scene J

Back to the action in the hotel room, Newman gets to first base and is no doubt heading for extra bases.

Scene K

Here we return to the television shot. The batter from Scene I swings away and heads to first. As he does, we see that he wears uniform #5. That’s San Francisco’s Tom Haller and the only plate appearance in which the Giants catcher hit a fair ball on October 2 was in the top of the fourth, when he hit a fly ball out to left.

But are we certain this is the same game as those identified in previous scenes? To confirm that this is indeed the case, take a look at a comparison of the scene on television with the shots we already confirmed as dating from October 2.

The various unique markings on the field (small patches of dirt, smudges in chalk lines, patterns in the grass) all match perfectly. Clearly the shots were taken on the same day at the same location.

It should be noted that after Haller connects, the broadcaster makes the call “There she goes. Going, going ... it’s a home run over the right field fence.” That call (and every other one from our sequence) is, as one might expect, a complete fabrication. In fact, throughout these final scenes, the broadcast calls mainly serve as double-entendres, echoing the action both on the field and on the couch.

While the various game-action shots are shown out of order (B - top of the sixth; D - bottom of the second; F - top of the second; H and J - top of the fourth), each and every one of the shots is from the Giants-Dodgers game of October 2, 1962. What is wonderful about this fact is that this wasn’t any old ball game. In fact, in the voiceover at the beginning of Scene B, as Newman talks about Dodger Stadium, he states that “Today, they’re fighting for the World Series here.” That wasn’t simple rhetoric. It was actually the truth.

Two days earlier, Los Angeles and San Francisco finished the regular season with identical 101-61 records, forcing a three-game playoff to determine which club would get a chance to play the Yankees in the 1962 World Series. The first game took place at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park on October 1, with the Giants destroying the Dodgers, 8-0.

The next game, our October 2 contest, took place at Dodger Stadium. With their backs against the wall and staring at a 5-0 deficit heading into the bottom of the sixth, the Dodgers scored seven runs to take a two-run lead. The Giants scored a pair of runs in the top of the eighth to knot the score at seven runs apiece, but in the bottom of the ninth, the Dodgers scored a walk-off victory on Ron Fairly’s bases-loaded, one-out sacrifice fly.

At the end of our two-minute sequence, the broadcaster exclaims “Boy, oh boy! If you left this game early, you’ve certainly missed a lot of action.” The joke being, of course, that while Newman did indeed leave the game early, he didn’t miss out on the “action.”

By the way, in the third and final game of the playoff, the Giants topped the Dodgers with their own comeback, scoring four runs in the top of the ninth to earn an exciting 4-2 victory and the National League pennant.

Scene L

In the final baseball-related scene of the sequence, we see a close-up of Newman’s scorecard. At first glance the card stands out as unusual, as it is devoid of the many advertisements found on those purchased by fans at the park. But Newman’s character would have picked up his scorecard in the press box, where the cards are traditionally printed without ads.

A close examination of the card shows that it is part of a program, as parts of a few advertisements are found peaking out underneath the scorecard. It turns out that the ads match perfectly with the pair found at the bottom of the left page of the scorecard that came as part of the Dodger Stadium program in 1962. Here’s the scorecard found in a program from Opening Day, April 10, 1962:

The ad at bottom left was for Alemite CD2 (a motor oil additive), while the one at bottom right was for Irv White Buick located at 3rd and La Brea, about six miles west of the ballpark.

Newman’s character has penciled in the lineup for the visiting Giants: Kuenn, Haller, Mays, Cepeda, Hiller, M. Alou, McCovey, F. Alou, and Sanford. Not only is this batting order not consistent with the one used by the Giants in the October 2 game, but it was never used by the Giants. McCovey batting seventh? Are you kidding? Additionally, the Giants’ play-by-play as entered in the scorecard is (like that of the Dodgers) completely fictional.

Close examination of the pre-printed portion of the press box scorecard, however, reveals that it the card itself was almost assuredly real. Though the image is blurry, the names listed below the scoring grid are of members of the St. Louis Cardinals!

Top to bottom, left to right, they are:

  • Manager: Johnny Keane.
  • Coaches: Gene Oliver, Carl Sawatski, Jim Schaffer. Pitchers: Harvey Branch, Ernie Broglio, Bob Duliba, Don Ferrarese, Bob Gibson, Larry Jackson, Lindy McDaniel, Bob Shantz, Curt Simmons, Ray Washburn.
  • Catchers: Gene Oliver, Carl Sawatski, Jim Schaffer.
  • Infielders: Ken Boyer, Julio Gotay, Julian Javier, Dal Maxvill, Red Schoendienst, Bill White, Fred Whitfield.
  • Outfielders: Bob Burda, Curt Flood, Charlie James, Gary Kolb, Stan Musial, Mike Shannon, Bobby Gene Smith.
The only year the Cardinals featured this specific group of players was 1962. In fact, given that the Cardinals traded pitcher Paul Toth to the Cubs on September 1st for southpaw Harvey Branch (seen listed with the Cardinals on the scorecard above), and the ’62 Cardinals visited Dodger Stadium for just one series after that date, we are able to determine that the pre-printed scorecard must have come from that final trio of games: September 28, 29, or 30, 1962. In other words, it came from the series played just prior to the Dodgers-Giants playoffs!

“A New Kind of Love” featured some great footage from the classic 1962 regular-season playoffs between the Giants and the Dodgers, and captured some exciting action between Paul Newman and Valeria Varda. So what if it was a dud of a movie? It made for some interesting baseball research.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Jack Morris and Other Decade Wins Leaders

What pitcher totaled the most wins in the major leagues during the decade of the 1980s? The answer is Jack Morris with 162 victories during that 10-year span.

But, of course you already knew that, right? After all, that factoid has been brought up time and again, most especially ever since Jack Morris became a Hall of Fame candidate back in 2000. That’s because every other pitcher who notched the most wins over a decade and who is eligible for Hall of Fame consideration already has a bronze plaque hanging in the Cooperstown shrine. With today’s Hall of Fame election announcement, Morris is no longer the exception to this rule.

Jack Morris

Here is the list of pitchers with most major league wins in each decade. I’ve brought the list up to date, through the current, incomplete decade of the 2010s.

1870s: Al Spalding (233 wins)
1880s: Tim Keefe (291 wins)
1890s: Kid Nichols (297 wins)
1900s: Christy Mathewson (236 wins)
1910s: Walter Johnson (265 wins)
1920s: Burleigh Grimes (190 wins)
1930s: Lefty Grove (199 wins)
1940s: Hal Newhouser (170 wins)
1950s: Warren Spahn (202 wins)
1960s: Juan Marichal (191 wins)
1970s: Jim Palmer (186 wins)
1980s: Jack Morris (162 wins)
1990s: Greg Maddux (176 wins)
2000s: Andy Pettitte (148 wins)
2010s: Max Scherzer (132 wins)

Note that Al Spalding’s 233 wins during the 1870s covers a nine-year, rather than 10-year, span, because big league baseball began in 1871, the first season of the National Association. Also note that Andy Pettitte, the wins leader over the decade of the 2000s, is not yet eligible to be considered for election to the Hall of Fame, and Max Scherzer is still an active pitcher.

I am not going to argue about the statistical significance of the win. Its merits and shortcomings have been debated for decades. It is, no doubt, a flawed statistic, but that is not the point of this blog post.

Furthermore, there is an inherent unfairness in considering only those spans of 10 straight seasons that happen to start with years ending with the number “0.” Why is it worth celebrating a pitcher who earned the most big league victories from 1970 through 1979 (Jim Palmer), but it is not worth taking a look at a pitcher who posted the most wins from 1971 through 1980 (Steve Carlton)?

To take a broader view of “Decade Wins Leaders” (DWLs), I decided to compile a list of the winningest major league pitchers over every 10-year span in major league history, not just those spans that happen to neatly coincide with an easily named decade like “the 1910s” or the “1920s.”

Of course, one might also argue that a 10-year span is a rather arbitrary length of time. Why not look at pitchers with the most wins over seven straight seasons? Or a span of a dozen years? Sounds good to me, though I’ll leave that exercise for other researchers to tackle.

As you might imagine, many pitchers led in total victories over more than just one 10-year span. For example, not only was Al Spalding the DWL from 1871 through 1880, but he also was the DWL over the very next 10-year span: 1872 through 1881. Rather than naming the DWL for every 10-year span, I’ve kept the list to a reasonable length by just including the starting and ending spans for each pitcher’s run. I have also included the number of consecutive 10-year spans, which helps reveal the string of dominance by each pitcher on the list.

Span(s)as DWLs
No. of spans
1871-80 through 1872-81
Al Spalding
1873-82 through 1875-84
Tommy Bond
Will White
Jim McCormick
1878-87 through 1879-90
Pud Galvin
1880-89 through 1882-91
Tim Keefe
1883-92 through 1887-96
John Clarkson
1888-97 through 1891-1900
Kid Nichols
1892-1901 through 1898-1907
Cy Young
Joe McGinnity
1900-09 through 1906-15
Christy Mathewson
1907-16 through 1913-22
Walter Johnson
1914-23 through 1915-24
Grover C. Alexander
1916-25 through 1917-26
Stan Coveleski
1918-27 through 1922-31
Burleigh Grimes
1923-32 through 1930-39
Lefty Grove
1931-40 through 1933-42
Carl Hubbell
Paul Derringer
1935-44 through 1938-47
Bucky Walters
1939-48 through 1944-53
Hal Newhouser
1945-54 through 1946-55
Warren Spahn
Bob Lemon
1948-57 through 1956-65
Warren Spahn
1957-66 through 1959-68
Don Drysdale
1960-69 through 1962-71
Juan Marichal
1963-72 through 1964-73
Bob Gibson
1965-74 through 1966-75
Gaylord Perry
Fergie Jenkins
Tom Seaver
1969-78 through 1970-79
Jim Palmer
1971-80 through 1976-85
Steve Carlton
Ron Guidry
1978-87 through 1983-92
Jack Morris
1984-93 through 1986-95
Roger Clemens
1987-96 through 1996-2005
Greg Maddux
Randy Johnson
1998-2007 through 1999-2008
Greg Maddux
Andy Pettitte
CC Sabathia
2002-11 through 2003-12
Roy Halladay
2004-13 through 2005-14
CC Sabathia
2006-15 through 2008-17
Justin Verlander

Now that Jack Morris has been elected to the Hall of Fame, when we look at the list of DWLs over every 10-year span in major league history, Tommy Bond, Will White, Jim McCormick, Paul Derringer, Bucky Walters, Ron Guidry, and Roger Clemens are the only eligible Hall of Fame candidates who are not enshrined in Cooperstown.

Tommy Bond

Will White

Jim McCormick

Paul Derringer

Bucky Walters

Ron Guidry

Roger Clemens

A few final notes:

  • Andy Pettitte was a DWL just once, but it happened to be 2000-2009, so he appears on the first list presented at the top of this blog posting.
  • For ten years running, Greg Maddux could boast of being the winningest pitcher over the previous 10 seasons, a remarkable feat that remains unmatched in major league history. Maddux’s streak would have been 13 straight years, but it was interrupted by Randy Johnson’s DWL for the years from 1997 through 2006.
  • Will White, the DWL for the 10-year span from 1876 through 1885, is not in the Hall of Fame, but his older brother, James “Deacon” White, is.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Dear Santa Claus ...

On December 13, 1887, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch lamented that ...

an Eastern magazine is making some very ugly flings at that dear old saint of Christmastide, Santa Claus. ... The magazine in question says it is not good to bring children up in a belief in Santa Claus [and] therefore dear old Santa Claus must be banished. ... The Post-Dispatch thinks not. The Post-Dispatch has written to Santa Claus about the matter and he has written back. His letter is as follows:

The paper urged all “the little folk” to write to Santa Claus care of the Post-Dispatch, and for many days afterwards they published those letters. One such letter appeared in the December 17 issue of the newspaper:

There’s little doubt that the Hogg brothers, seven-year-old Andy and six-year-old Willie, were fans of the American Association St. Louis Browns. Just months earlier, the club had captured its third straight American Association pennant and the boys lived just three miles south of Sportsman’s Park.

But Willie Hogg was much more than just a fan. He was quite an accomplished baseball player. In fact, Willie eventually became a major league pitcher, tossing for the New York Yankees from 1905 through 1908. Fittingly, the very boy who had asked Santa for “base ball pictures” in 1887 posed for this photograph as a rookie major leaguer in 1905:

But on December 8, 1909, nearly 21 years after the Hogg brothers wrote to Santa Claus, the baseball world was shocked by the news of Willie’s death, the 28-year-old succumbing to the ravages of Bright’s disease.