Old Timers’ Day, 1977


That was a historic year in American baseball as Yankees and Dodgers met at the World Series for the first time since 1963, but a more momentous event has occurred a few months earlier. On July 16th, 1977, Duke Snider, Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays, and Mickey Mantle made an appearance together at Old Timer’s day during All-Star Game weekend at Shea Stadium.

As the quartet walked away from the Center Field, an iconic photo was made; the jersey numbers — 4, 5, 24, 7 — were sufficient to convey that this was the group who had staggering 1,964 homeruns among them. A few years later, Terry Cashman, that Balladeer of Baseball, recalled this iconic photo to write his famous song, “Talkin’ Baseball” (itself later immortalized by The Simpsons)

Cashman wrote the song during a bitter baseball strike, harkening back to a different America. That sunnier era for him was 1957, when New York had three great teams in the city — and three of the greatest center fielders in history. That was, according to Gallup, also the happiest year in American history, right amidst the Ike prosperity. Soon Edsel would disastrously debut, Sputnik went up — twin ignominies for American science and industry. That same year, the Giants and the Dodgers moved away to San Francisco and Los Angeles respectively.

Try as he might, Cashman couldn’t find a rhyme for DiMaggio’s name; the star was left out of the song and airbrushed from the record’s picture sleeve (below) — something that had disappointed both the singer and the player. Cashman later wrote, “Cooperstown, The Town Where Baseball Lives” where diMaggio featured prominently as an apology.

[I have no idea who the original photographer is. Any help?]


Roseanne Barr

“The fat lady sang. Actually, she screeched. Then she scratched her crotch and spat,” wrote Sports Illustrated. In 1990, comedian Roseanne Barr was booed by fans at San Diego Padres-Cincinnati Reds game at Jack Murphy Stadium. She later claimed that she was initially having trouble hearing herself over the public-address system, so her solution was to plug her ears with her fingers and sing as loudly as possible.

Her rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” was not well-received, but her behavior following the song impounded her faux pas. Barr mimicked the often-seen actions of baseball players by spitting and grabbing her crotch as if adjusting a protective cup. Barr’s husband, Tom Arnold, later made a ceremonial pitch, but Barr got more boos as she waved to the crowd and left with him.

Barr had been encouraged by baseball officials to “bring humor to the song”, but the routine offended many, including the players on the field. The popular sit-com comedian was public enemy number one. President George H.W. Bush called it “disgusting” and “a disgrace”. Barr never apologized, and remained defiant. In her 1994 book, “My Lives”, she wrote “I think I did great and people wanted more” and “I’m not Anne Frank, gotta hide out because the PC police are gonna find me and kill me. I’m an American, and that is my song, too. What you gotta be – Pavarotti (who sometimes lip-syncs, by the way), or Liza or Barbra to sing the national anthem?”