Sandomir: 1917 World Series footage discovered in Canadian archive

From Richard Sandomir at the New York Times on October 29, 2014:

The filmmaker Bill Morrison is making a habit of locating nearly century-old baseball footage.

Last January, he found newsreels from the 1919 World Series, which is known mainly for the banishment of eight Chicago White Sox players for conspiring to fix it.

Five months after that discovery — and the publicity that came after it was publicly screened — Morrison was back at the Library and Archives Canada in Gatineau, Quebec, where he learned that its archive held newsreels from the 1917 World Series, won by the White Sox in six games over the New York Giants.

“It seemed almost karmic that I should find the winners after publicizing the cheaters,” Morrison said Tuesday during a telephone interview.

Morrison, a White Sox fan, hoped his team would meet the Giants in this year’s World Series. With a 73-89 record, it finished far out of the running. But the Giants, who long ago moved from the Polo Grounds to San Francisco, made it as a wild card and were leading the Kansas City Royals by three games to two entering Tuesday night’s Game 6.

The original archive that both World Series newsreels came from is a unique source, even by the standards of long-lost sports film found in canisters hidden in boxes in attics, wine cellars and garages.

They came from Dawson City, a small town in Canada’s Yukon Territory, south of the Arctic Circle. “Films would come up there and it was too expensive to send them back,” Morrison said. “Everyone understood they were nitrate and were dangerous; some got thrown in the river, some got burned, and some ended up in the local library.”

The hundreds of features, newsreels and short subjects that survived were buried in a local pool in 1929 as part of the landfill for a hockey rink. The Yukon News reported in 2013 that in subsequent years, bits of film would rise up through the ice. Finally, in 1978, the trove of films from the time before talkies was unearthed when the land was needed to build a recreation center.

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Originally published: October 29, 2014. Last Updated: October 29, 2014.