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?]


Marilyn Monroe

picture_1_2Matthew Zimmermann’s above photo was the most iconic image of the event, but several versions of the scene existed, including those by Elliot Erwitt and Gary Winogrand.

September 9, 1954. During a publicity shot for The Seven Year Itch, Marilyn Monroe stepped onto a New York subway grille. Like that of Botticelli’s Venus rising from the ocean, Marilyn’s pose is both virginal and seductive. The undulating skirt, floating around the figure, emphasizes the dual seduction of movie star and spectator: Marilyn is seduced by the camera, and in the same moment, the photographer and spectators are seduced by her beauty.

In the actual movie, Monroe’s dress didn’t fly up quite as high; the scene, with Tom Ewell admiring his dream girl’s pleasure at a blast of air through the subway grate (below), was originally shot near Grand Central Terminal, then reshot on a soundstage.

Designed by the 20th Century Fox costume designer, William Travilla, the dress is a prop as well as a symbol. Light as butterfly’s wings, it expresses a lightness of being that was tragically absent in the drama of her personal life. The above scene infuriated her husband, Joe DiMaggio, who felt it was exhibitionist, who promptly divorced Monroe. Only moderately successful in Hollywood, Monroe later married playwright Arthur Miller, her third husband. After many personal crises, her suicide in 1962 was nonetheless unexpected and shocking. It contributed to the mythic status that has surrounded her ever since.

After her death, the dress was retained by Travilla. When Travilla died in 1990, his partner Bill Sarris decided to sell the dress for Alzheimer charities, and the dress was valued at $3,000,000.