Jackson: Shots fired but not heard ’round the world

From SABR member Frank Jackson at The Hardball Times on October 7, 2014:

Recently, I encountered a picture that lingered in my memory long after I had turned the page in the book. I found myself thinking about the picture a lot and occasionally retrieved the book for another look. Little by little, I figured out why the picture had fascinated me so.

The picture in question shows the costumed cast members of High Noon watching the first game of the 1951 World Series during a break on the set in Hollywood. The upstart medium of television was a threat to Hollywood in those days, but as the picture clearly showed, the goggle box did have its uses.

The people in the photo embody a wealth of pop cultural relevance. They include Lon Chaney Jr., not the talent his father was, but an actor who did carve out a distinctive niche for himself as the Wolfman, a member in good standing of Universal’s horror hall of fame; Grace Kelly, whose well-chronicled storybook life had progressed from Philadelphia socialite to Hollywood movie star to Monaco royalty and Thomas Mitchell, the veteran character actor who, among numerous memorable roles, played Scarlett O’Hara’s father in Gone With the Wind and Uncle Billy in It’s a Wonderful Life. Last but hardly least, we have the laconic, iconic, Montana-born Gary Cooper. He was the archetypal screen cowboy dating back to the silent era, yet he had played Lou Gehrig in Pride of the Yankees less than a decade earlier. Was he a long-distance Yankee fan? There were a lot of them out there in those days.

The 1951 NL playoff games from Oct. 1-3 were the first games televised coast to coast, so the subsequent World Series was the first one seen nationwide, though television had not yet penetrated every household. Major league ball was the province of the northeast quadrant of the country, but if viewers in flyover country didn’t know better, from what they saw the first 10 days of October, they might have deduced that it was strictly a New York phenomenon.

Of course, with three of the 16 major league teams (in other words, 18.75 percent) making their home in the media capital of New York, it is not a surprise that New York would have a head start on garnering headlines.

Read the full article here: http://www.hardballtimes.com/shots-fired-but-not-heard-round-the-world/

Originally published: October 7, 2014. Last Updated: October 7, 2014.