September 24, 2010
Bing Crosby gave us the greatest Christmas album of all time, an early version of videotape and an unlikely but memorable sing-along with David Bowie.
Now, 33 years after his death, the iconic singer and actor is still helping define the key moments of the 20th century.
As first reported by the New York Times, an entire copy of NBC's television broadcast of Game 7 of the 1960 World Series was recently found in a wine cellar at Crosby's old home near San Francisco.
That game — which will celebrate its 50th anniversary on Oct. 13 — is one of the greatest in World Series history and ends with Bill Mazeroski's dramatic walk-off homer to give the Pittsburgh Pirates a 10-9 victory and a World Series win over the New York Yankees dynasty.
Like many other games of that era, it was assumed that no complete copy existed and that our visual playback capabilities were limited to highlights contained on newsreels. Crosby's copy is a huge find because not only does it contain every out, the film reels were also in great condition. They've already been transferred to a DVD and the game will be shown during a special on MLB Network this December.
[Rewind find: Star athlete's bike surfaces at garage sale]
So how did Crosby come into possession of the game? As the story goes, Crosby was a part-owner of the Pirates at the time — that's him with Honus Wagner above — and he was nervous that he'd jinx the team if he watched Game 7 in person.
So he flew to Paris to listen to the game on the radio (he said he couldn't even be in the country) while some of his employees filmed a television set with a kinescope. When he returned to the United States, Crosby was able to relive the glory at Forbes Field (while also mastering the art of time shifting about a few decades before everyone else).
After Crosby viewed the 2-hour-36-minute game, probably in a screening room in the house, the films took their place in the vault, said Robert Bader, vice president for marketing and production for Bing Crosby Enterprises.
They remained there undisturbed until December, when Bader was culling videotapes of Crosby's TV specials for a DVD release -- part of the estate's goal of resurrecting his body of work.
He spotted two reels lying horizontally in gray canisters labeled "1960 World Series." They were stacked close to the ceiling with home movies and sports instructional films. An hour or so later, he found three others on other shelves. Intrigued, he screened the 16-millimeter film on a projector. It was Game 7, called by the Yankees' Mel Allen and the Pirates' Bob Prince -- the complete NBC broadcast. The film had not degraded. [...]
"I had to be the only person to have seen it in 50 years," Bader said. "It was just pure luck."
Major League Baseball says this game was high on its wish list of lost games, so it's nice to see such a serendipitous find making headlines, and it'll be a nice winter treat to watch that in a few months when there's no baseball being played.
Also nice? A rare positive headline for the downtrodden Pirates franchise.
Leave it to Father O'Malley to provide for us all.
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