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Second-hand news.

The Internet does not love me and does not want me to function like a regular human being.

In addition to the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (discussed at more length in my previous post), I have discovered that there’s a Boston TV News Digital Library. Loads and loads of archival news footage from my city of choice, spanning decades.

I could spend a day watching nothing but clips about the 1974 busing crisis. That would be an interesting deep dive into a complex historical moment, and an education besides.

But there’s other stuff too. Such as:

Duke Ellington and his orchestra playing a festival in August 1970. This is not the finest extant film of Duke, and it runs less than a minute-and-a-half. But it puts you in the front row to watch Duke Ellington and his orchestra play “Take The A Train” — and they ain’t makin’ any more footage of that.

(While we’re on the jazz-royalty beat, you might also enjoy this 1982 interview with Count Basie.)

A few months after Duke’s gig, there’s footage of the October 1970 announcement of Humberto Cardinal Medeiros as the new Archbishop of Boston. Medeiros leads his legendary predecessor, Richard Cardinal Cushing, out by the arm. Cushing, who would be dead of cancer less than a month later, spends the entire media availability chewing on invisible pain.

On a lighter note, we have some April 1976 footage of Commonwealth Avenue, intended to accompany a story about trolleys and buses.

This aligns with my interests because it shows the stretch of Comm. Ave. so familiar from my BU days. (The specific hi-fi shops and pizza shops had turned over by the 1990s, but the buildings are recognizable.) It’s also droll because you get to hear the interactions of the news crew while they’re filming the B-roll — and in particular, a timeless blast of frustration on the driver’s part. (“Aw, c’mon, ya dumb fuck, you’ve got a green light!”)

It’s enough to make you wonder what’s really on the soundtrack when you see those background shots on the 6 o’ clock news … well, for those who still watch the 6 o’clock news, anyway.

Diana Ross rehearses at the old Boston Music Hall, early 1977, wearing one of those sorta-homemade T-shirts that says “Boston Loves Diana Ross.” I know damn little in actual truth about Diana Ross — it’s all surface image, like the Supremes in the floor-length gowns doing the stylized hand gestures — so any one-on-one exposure of Miss Ross to a camera is an education.

From the same period — early 1977 — some Registry of Motor Vehicles film of Massachusetts drivers being issued the new green-on-white license plates.

Circa 2000, I did a story for my suburban daily newspaper about the fact that Mass. had moved on to a new plate design but had never quite gotten around to phasing these out completely. The story included an interview with Michael Dukakis, who was enjoyably piss-and-vinegar about his successors’ failure to clamp down. (Yes, I called Michael Dukakis to talk about green-and-white license plates. Those were different times.)

Fast-forward to 2021 … and those drivers who still have legible green-on-whites are still allowed to use them.

From March 1978, we have brief B-roll related to a “disco fight“! Apparently some sailors on shore leave went to a disco on Lansdowne Street — near Fenway Park — and got into a brawl with non-military booty-shakers. I was on Lansdowne Street earlier this summer and that building looks familiar, though it’s not green any more, and I couldn’t tell you what’s there now. Now, if they hadn’t insisted on tearing down Scollay Square, they wouldn’t have had this problem…

Speaking of Fenway Park, there are a couple of blasts of sports footage, including silent film of an April 1972 game between the Red Sox and the Cleveland Indians.

The Red Sox pitcher’s corkscrew windup marks him as the beloved Luis Tiant, just beginning his big comeback season. El Tiante, close to washing out of the big leagues, went 15-6 with a league-best 1.91 ERA in 1972 and would pitch in Boston through the end of the 1978 season. Apparently he lost this game, though.

“Bomb at the John Hancock Building,” December 1973, offers its own slice of the past: I find it works well if you mentally overdub Kojak-style tense instrumental music over the footage. The mystery package, thankfully, is not explosive in nature. (I think this is the Old John Hancock Building — steady blue, clear view — not the Hancock Tower, which was still in construction in 1973 and having well-publicized problems with its windowpanes.)

Fritz Mondale at Boston College commencement, 1979.I’m delighted to be in Boston again … *tap tap tap* … is this thing working?” Ah, Fritz, inspirational as always.

(Hey, I’m gonna have to see if this archive has any John Anderson in it. Aw, hells yes, it does.)

An obituary for Arthur Fiedler, also 1979. Like Duke Ellington, they aren’t making any more footage of Arthur Fiedler wandering around the Hatch Shell. He seems like the sort of civic institution whose memory is worth preserving, and it’s nice to know there’s film of him circulating online, talking firsthand about what he did and why he did it. (“You do the best you can, always. I’ll do the best I can.”)

“Silent footage of a junkyard in the rain,” July 1976. It is as advertised. Need it be anything else?

Grand Bostonians 1977: Mayor Kevin White, most noted in pop culture for enabling James Brown and the Rolling Stones to play the Gahden, honors seven venerable Bostonians for their social contributions. Leverett Saltonstall and Henry Cabot Lodge are included. To White’s credit, so too is African-American community leader Melnea Cass.

This clip begins with the words, “Emerson once said that ‘the measure or test of a civilization…” and you can just inject that city-on-a-hill transcendentalist big-idea stuff directly into my veins.

November 1980: A computer show invades Boston’s Hynes Convention Center. Pretty sure I’ve seen this film before. But sharing anyway because nostalgia for the early days of computing is also core to my experience.

The Boston Astros: Apparently in 1974 there was a pro soccer team called the Boston Astros that played games on Boston University’s field. I can’t get this footage to play, so it’s quite possible that they never existed and the whole thing is one big shuck. Posting it anyway, just in case it works tomorrow.

There’s more. Much more. I’ll stop there. It’s Sunday night and a workin’ man needs to wind down at some point. I’ll just have to come back…

“We will continue programming from our studio in Corvallis.”

A quick dispatch from a rabbit hole I would gladly spend my entire day down — the American Archive of Public Broadcasting website.

It appears, from my token exploration, to be a massive cache of public TV and radio programs going back to the 1950s. It’s a giant, giant pile of sobersided, thought-provoking, low-budget, often horribly dated content. Which is to say, it presses all kinds of great buttons for me.

The delights include, but are by no means limited to:

A 1977 episode of The McNeil/Lehrer Report devoted to the increasing popularity of soccer in America, including berserk claymation; great faded footage of both NASL games and youth soccer; and Shep Messing, because he was the closest thing to a handsome American-bred, American-known soccer star, so of course Shep Messing.

A 1972 debate over whether professional athletes should be allowed at the Olympics, hosted by (of all people) a remarkably young Michael Dukakis. (The Duke, at that point in time, was in private legal practice, having completed an eight-year stint in the Massachusetts House of Representatives but not yet having gotten himself elected governor of the state.)

Four episodes of the notoriously bizarre late-’60s WGBH show What’s Happening, Mr. Silver? One of them ends with a figure riding laps around the studio on a motorcycle while dancers frug to the sound of “Hold On, I’m Comin’.” Another features host Silver, his producer, and a WGBH official discussing offensive material in the previous week’s episode and discussing whether the show should continue. And a third is the previous week’s offensive episode.

A 1974 episode of a show called Woman, produced by Buffalo’s WNED, that discusses marriages in which both partners work. The participants are Bennington College president Gail Parker and her husband, Bennington College vice-president Tom Parker. (The discussion is made vastly more enjoyable if you know the backstory of the Parkers’ reign at Bennington; if you don’t, it is easily enough Googled.)

A radio announcement made in October 1961, during intermission of a Boston Symphony Orchestra concert, regarding a disastrous fire earlier that day at WGBH’s television studio in Cambridge.

Going back even further, the first FM broadcast on Wisconsin Public Radio, from March 1947.

The unedited sounds of a night outdoors near Carlsbad, New Mexico, summer 1979. (If I understand correctly, there are eight of these.)

Also from 1979, audio from the annual Vermont Public Radio fundraising marathon. From the program description: “The marathon includes calls to donate from the hosts, recorded music, an interview about the synclavier, and the last half hour is a fuzzy program about food preservation.” Go ahead, try to convince me you’re doing something more interesting or worthwhile than listening to that right now.

KQED in San Francisco’s award-winning 1980 production Broken Arrow: Can A Nuclear Weapons Accident Happen Here?, which is maybe circa-1980 speculative news reporting filtered down to its purest essence.

A 1977 Missouri public radio show about numerology. This episode is about 3, which, as we all know, is the magic number.

Flaky kids’ TV from the Seventies. (There’s gotta be much more than this but I haven’t found it yet.)

A 1967 edition of a show called Spectrum titled “The Jet Train is Here.

A 1976 edition of Pantechnicon, “a nightly magazine on the arts, entertainment, and new ideas,” featuring Ravi Shankar.

Numerous editions of New Jersey Nightly News from the end of the ’70s.

An audio-only recording of station IDs and technical difficulty announcements from Corvallis, Oregon, from the 1960s and ’70s — including one that notes the loss of the audio feed (an announcement that would, in theory, be completely useless; I wonder how many times they used it.)

I’d much rather watch and listen to this stuff (and dig up more like it) than write about it; I think I’ve served enough examples to indicate the sort of funk I’m finding.

Hello, goodbye.

Those of you who remember my touchy-feely essay about dropping my older kid off for his freshman year at college might be interested to know that I did the drop-off again yesterday … and it went so smoothly I didn’t even go up to the kid’s room.

We pulled over curbside for the two-minute drill, and by some miracle, all the crap in the car fit into the rolling hamper. I didn’t need to go park in the garage and bring up anything else.

So I left him to his own devices to wheel his grossly overloaded hamper (a bin laden, you could call it) up to his room. I didn’t have to be there for any further steps in the process, and I wasn’t; he can put his own gear on his own closet shelf.

I dunno. Sentiment aside, maybe I should have parked and gone up just to case out the place, in an I’m-paying-room-and-board, what-am-I-getting sort of mindset. But I didn’t.

The lad (you’ll know him by his hair) waves a quick goodbye as he gets rolling. You’ll also note that he’s wearing his winter coat.

Meanwhile, there will be a cross-country trip for a college visit with the younger son in a month or so. There’s a chance that his eventual college dropoff will have a long plane ride in front of it. Sure, why not. He has never been the sort to choose the convenient or easy option, anyway.

I have two American Top 40 countdowns open right now and can’t make myself listen to, or write about, either of ’em. Maybe some other time.

Off to the faces.

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I was going to weigh in on the news this past week that Major League Baseball is moving its baseball card license away from Topps and to a different company, Fanatics, in a few years, ending a 70-year connection between MLB and Topps.

Instead, I think I’ll just go straight to writing about the faces and stories of my latest box of cards, which arrived in the middle of last week.

(OK, I’ll say a few things. I’m not that sentimental about MLB’s split with Topps, because nothing lasts forever, and Topps has not been so amazingly wonderful and fault-free that they couldn’t be improved upon. I hope Fanatics makes a reasonably priced, gimmick-free product that is easily accessible — or at least a reasonably priced, gimmick-free, accessible base set that can then be accented by whatever goofball novelty stuff they feel like coughing up. As a one-or-two-pack-a-year guy, my opinion doesn’t matter that much anyway.)

Anyhow, we’ll open the box. Off to the faces!

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I was good friends for a while in high school with a girl who had a thing for Alexander Mogilny, the Russian-born scoring star for the not-quite-hometown Buffalo Sabres.

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I dunno, he musta been cute or something.

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Might as well get all the Russkies out of the way early. In 1992, the California Angels signed three Russian players for a rousing $1,500 bonus apiece. None of them got within 5,000 miles of the major leagues, but Topps put them on an entertaining card in 1993 — a definite time capsule from those early post-Cold War years. (It looks at a quick glance like they may have been painted into their Angels uniforms, but I might just be cynical.)

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In the Seventies, they called this man “Disco Dan.” But in this fuzzy, frill-free 1982 Fleer card, it looks like he’s struggling just to get his bat on the ball. After the love has gone, how can you carry on?

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Why did I spend a dime on a card of a convicted murderer who died in his prison cell?

Because I suspect the Patriots, the NFL, and their sundry partners in business would love for me to forget that Aaron Hernandez ever existed … that a human being so sadly flawed could get so far in their enterprise, and have so many serious problems ignored or forgiven, simply because he had a soft pair of hands and a quick pair of feet.

They would like me to forget the sins of the past, along with the assaults and batteries to come next week, and the long-term brain trauma and crippling injuries suffered by players, and simply be awed by the pregame military flyovers and the expensive commercials and the incessant hyped-up bark of the announcers.

Fuck them, every one.

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Maybe it’s the look on Caleb Joseph’s face. Or maybe it’s the knowledge that the Baltimore Orioles have (sadly) been a rudderless ship for a long, long time. But I can’t look at this card without thinking that Mr. Joseph has just done something really, really ill-advised — like thrown wildly on a pickoff attempt — and is just in this very instant realizing his mistake.

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Not every card collector is out to pile up a stack of Mickey Mantles. A lot of us have weird quirks we look for. I haven’t made a formal fetish of it yet, but I decided a while ago that I liked cards in which cars or other vehicles sneak into the background, and maybe someday I’ll pursue them more formally.

(Why cars? I think because you don’t usually see a car in the confines of a major-league stadium, so a photo with a car or cars in it must be taken at some offbeat location like a spring-training field. And that adds a certain funk right from the get-go.)

This excellent ’82 Fleer card is a stalwart example of the genre. Mr. Jorgensen looks like he could be taking grounders at a community-college field, and for all I know, he is. Extra points for that groovy windbreaker-under-jersey look. If Fanatics can get some windbreaker-under-jersey pix, they’ll rule OK.

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I’ve written about my fondness for Topps Heritage, which are modern sets that reuse designs from many years ago. This set (issued, I believe, in 2002) nicely mimics the look of the 1953 Topps set, which used painting-style illustrations for the players.

I adore the painting treatment here of Bill Ortega, a Havana-born outfielder who appeared in five games for the 2001 Cardinals and was not heard from again at the major-league level. It’s not strictly photorealistic — it’s sort of on the near edge of photorealistic — and he’s not smiling; he seems to be aware ahead of time that this is just going to be one stop along the path.

Bill Ortega looks a little bit like he’s thinking that no one can hurt him any more than he’s already been hurt, while wishing in his heart that were actually true.

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Also from the category of wary-looking athletes, former Montreal Canadiens goalie Andre Racicot earned the legendary and derisive nickname “Red Light” — by some sources, after he gave up three goals on six shots over 13 minutes in his NHL debut. (For the non-hockey fans in the crowd — hi, Mom! — a red “goal light” is lit behind a goalie every time a goal is scored.)

He never quite lived it down. But he did get his name on Lord Stanley’s Cup as a member of the 1993 Canadiens, which is not something every player accomplishes.

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I have a commissioner card, and I’ve seen those Fifties Topps cards with the National and American League presidents, but I haven’t seen too many cards showing owners.

Wikipedia describes Bruce McNall as “a former Thoroughbred racehorse owner, sports executive, and convicted felon,” and that about sums it up.

(He owned the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League at the time this card was produced. I wonder if they ran cards of all the other owners, or if McNall was special?)

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For someone who swore off the NFL, I dropped a lot of football cards into my cart this time around. CFL cards are always welcome, especially when …

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… they feature such a funkadelic color scheme on the back (randomly intermingled green and yellow on black!)

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Many years ago, when I worked summers on the custodial staff at a nursing home, I dealt with some real characters. One of them was a painter — I think he sometimes did other maintenance tasks, but by and large he painted stuff that needed painting, and this seemed to largely sustain him. Oddly for a painter, he wore predominantly white clothing, and kept it fairly clean.

My memory of him — I think his name was Mark — is positively tinted by his absurdist approach to life. He apparently had decided to cruise through this relatively menial job on a cushion of humor … a glint of the eye, a curve at the corner of the mouth, and great comic timing.

The Resistance took many forms among the workers at the Home. Some of them, like two brothers who were both ex-military, were a little harsher and coarser than I sometimes liked. They’d brined in the ol’ fuck-the-Army a little too deeply.

Mark, in contrast, seasoned his I-don’t-care-what-happens-here with a dose of almost childish playfulness. Like the time we were talking football, and he decided to mention to our co-worker Tim that the Patriots had some guy named Tim Goad.

“Tim Goad. Tim …. Goad,” he said, then paused for effect. “Tim, are you a goad?”

Written words do not do his style justice; it was sort of reductio ad absurdum, en fuego.

And every time I see my new Tim Goad card I will recall it fondly.

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Still trying to capture my old painter-buddy’s elan vital. I am reminded of a long-ago exchange that supposedly took place between a film director and the young Robert Mitchum:

Director: “Hey, Mitchum, you remind me of a pay toilet. You know why that is?”

Mitchum, bemused: “Naww. Why is that?”

Director: “Because you don’t give a shit for nothin’.”

The people who ran the cutting machines for Fleer in ’82 didn’t let the grind bother them too much either, based on this Reid Nichols card. As a look at the top border shows, it is grossly, almost drunkenly miscut. Made it off the factory floor and into a package, though, and somebody got paid at the end of the week.

 

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One of my favorite subgenres of the sports-scrub category is the local guy who makes good with his local team … then finds no market whatsoever for his talents elsewhere, as if he were only able to competently catch bombs or hit fastballs within 20 miles of his birthplace.

I exaggerate somewhat in the case of Naaman Roosevelt, but some of the ingredients are there. He grew up in Buffalo and attended the football powerhouse that is the University of Buffalo, before making the Bills for two or three years as (I believe) an undrafted free agent, catching 25 passes.

He didn’t make it into an NFL game for anyone else … but he did go north of the border and become a regular contributor to the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL. So he’s big in Buffalo and Regina. Which is better than some people manage.

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I don’t remember what year these cards are (early ’90s sometime) and none of these guys made the major leagues (one of them played seven games at Rookie level and was done.) I just really love the guys in front of the bare trees. They look so cold.

They stand in the lifeless place of reckoning, and don their best game faces.

They might be wearing stone-washed jeans.

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There’s a small subgroup of Red Sox players with a minor distinction that comes up now and again: They share a last name with a town or city in Massachusetts. Garry Hancock is one. So are Fred Lynn, Tim Wakefield, Joe Hudson, and Bill Lee.

Sadly, the Sox never got around to signing Daryl Boston back in the Eighties. And earlier this year, they ditched an infielder named C.J. Chatham. It makes one wonder sometimes just where their priorities are.

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Also on the New England tip, we have Claude “Skip” Lockwood, born in the Boston neighborhood of Roslindale; educated in the suburb of Norwood, Mass.; educated at various times at MIT and Emerson College of Boston; and resident of Cos Cob, Connecticut, at the dawn of the 1981 season. I can practically taste the cod cakes in Skip’s kitchen and see the blocky old Volvo in Skip’s driveway.

Sad to say, this is what they call a career-capper: Skip had already thrown his last major-league pitch when this card appeared. It’s still great.

(The ’81 Topps set is the first one I have clear memories of collecting, and as a result, it is indisputably the finest and most visionary design Topps ever rolled out. I will brook no dispute.)

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Punter cards are pretty great. Maybe I should make a point of collecting them.

The punter gives the lie to most of the NFL’s shtick. He is usually lanky, pale, and incapable of tackling the blow-up Tigger on his front lawn, and yet he makes an NFL salary and enjoys a place among all the bruisers.

Long may he run. (Something tells me the NFL would love to replace punters with automatons, painted to resemble Coors Light cans. Tell me I’m wrong.)

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Placekickers are pretty great too, especially when they look like drowned rats.

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People like to make fun of the prevailing design trends of the 1970s, but I’ll argue that there was a period, maybe around 1992-1994, that was just about as bad — ugly and cliched, but lacking the fun.

Look at album covers from that period and you’ll agree. Look at sports cards like this 1993 League Leaders jobbie and you’ll agree twice. (What did they lead their leagues in? Interceptions, I believe.)

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An NFL team in light creamsicle orange, with a winking pirate as a mascot? I doubt that would fly very far nowadays. Reason enough to pick up any old Tampa Bay Buccaneers stuff you come across. At least one of these guys, John Lynch, turned out to be pretty good.

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Just today I saw somebody on Twitter express the opinion that “gum is gross.” It’s not something I think I’ve heard before, or not in a long time, and it made me think.

Gum? Gross? I guess it could be. I dunno – I’ve been putting it in my mouth (and sometimes my stomach) for 40-plus years without thinking much about it. Have I been doing it wrong? A big life error? Yeesh. I might not sleep tonight, thinking about this.

Worked fine for Jeff Jones, though.

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Rest well, Joe Delaney.

Annuals.

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A question born from the previous entry: Is there anyone, when confronted with a shelf of high school yearbooks, who will pull down one significantly more recent than his or her era?

When my brother and I dropped into our hometown library the other week, he opted for the oldest yearbook on the shelf (1975). I chose the one from my freshman year, as I didn’t buy one for myself that year and am thus less familiar with the contents.

Left to my own devices, I tend to opt for the ’70s as well. The Fifties and Sixties just seem so gray and well-behaved and conformist. The ’80s … well, I might reach for one from around 1982 or so, but by and large I saw the ’80s firsthand and don’t need to go back.

But it would never occur to me to reach for 2003, or 2012, or 2018. I wonder why that is? I’m a lot less familiar with teen culture from those years (despite having had a teenager in the house for at least one of those years.) I could certainly see new things and learn new stuff if I took a couple minutes with that generation of students.

But it didn’t cross my mind the other day — and, even if I hadn’t had yearbooks with personal connections on the shelf, it wouldn’t have crossed my mind.

I wonder if others think the same way.

 

I never meant nothin’, I was just my father’s son.

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The inevitable thematic music.

Just back from a week off visiting the folks in the Finger Lakes. There will be more to say about this at a later point, but not quite yet.

As part of this visit, my brother and I went back to the town where we grew up for the first time in several years, and probably the last for a while. We visited our one close friend who still lives there, and we drove around and saw some sights.

We went to see Village Green, the tract-neighborhood where we lived for about 15 years or so, including the first 13 years of my life. It was remarkable how small everything seemed — the houses, the streets. The front yard where we used to run for hours now looks like it could be spanned in a dozen ambitious steps.

I’m fairly sure I’ve been back to that neighborhood before as an adult, but I never had this impression this strongly before. So small.

IMG_9153Favorite childhood climbing tree: Still present and, from the looks of it, still climbable. The yard in front was a frequent Nerf/two-hand touch football field.

The condition of the houses in Village Green has also declined since we lived there. A few more unmowed lawns; a few more sun-faded coats of paint; a few more places where primer has been applied but has not been chased by a topcoat.

There’s another large tract a bike-ride away, Penfield Gardens, where the houses are a little bit bigger and fancier, and they’ve been kept up every bit as well as they were thirty years ago. Perhaps Village Green is now a destination for the less affluent, or a place where you live until you can swing Penfield Gardens.

(The housing stock in town seems firmly divided into two camps — 1960s split-levels, and 2000s McMansions — and I imagine the truly loaded go straight to the McMansions. We eventually moved out of Village Green as well, but we didn’t go to Penfield Gardens. My folks wanted a place that wasn’t cut from the same design template as all the houses around it, and they found one.)

We dropped past a local park that hosted both our childhood sledding hill and a high-school cross-country course. The hill we sledded down again and again as kids, and ran up again and again as high-school runners, didn’t look any too large either. I dunno — it seemed like work back then.

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The Man didn’t post any sledding rules when we were kids, and we grew up just fine, more or less. No headfirst sledding? No ramps? No walking back up the middle of the hill? The 21st century can go screw itself sometimes.

We went to our high school, which gives the exact opposite impression: It has been extensively remodeled and expanded and is significantly bigger than it was when we left it, with a surrounding ring of athletic facilities that sprawl like the suburbs of Los Angeles.

We saw the track and field leaderboard that hangs near the new all-weather track. (Or, at least, the track is “new” in that it’s been added since we left, replacing the old cinder relic we ran on. It might not be “new” at this point to people who live in town.)

My brother was crestfallen to learn that the final school record he held, in the 4×400-meter relay, was broken in 2019; he no longer has a spot on the board.

Four or five of our compatriots from the 1980s and 1990s are still represented, so our day must not have completely faded into sepia yet. But, they could go at any time. It only takes one kid with good legs and a work ethic to write new history, and that kid could be breaking in his/her first pair of shoes for his/her first season as I type this.

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Our school changed its mascot from Chiefs to Patriots many years ago. Apparently some people still grumble about it but I am firmly in favor. The granite sign that used to greet visitors at the entrance to the school, a gift from the Class of 1985, now sits in a garden in front of the football stadium.

We had some time to kill so we went past our old elementary and middle schools, which are conjoined.

The middle school — which now hosts three grades instead of two — is greatly expanded. The elementary school looks more like its old self, with the addition of some extra parking and some nicer playground equipment. The Natureland woods area behind the elementary school is still there. Some of the interior trees have been cleared, but at least it’s not fifty new houses.

We ducked into the town library and looked at the yearbooks — some from our generation, some from older. I looked myself up, and some other people besides. No pictures, sorry.

We also ended up walking through the town’s main cemetery. This is perhaps not as weird as it sounds, as there was a period when we walked through it every day to get to and from the high school; we were not strangers to the place.

A fence now separates the high school, library, and fields from the cemetery. For a while the fence-block was total. At some point they put in a door, acknowledging that some visitors might make the transit discreetly.

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My brother and I spent rather more time than we expected finding the obelisk of town paterfamilias Daniel Penfield, so you get a photo as proof of the quest.

We walked a loop through the cemetery, and near the end we found the grave of my brother’s former piano teacher and her husband, both friends of my parents.

We would sometimes go to their house for Christmas parties, and the husband’s fondness for making batches of pizza fritta rubbed off, I think, on my brother, who went through a teenage phase where he made this Italian snack fairly frequently. They were both good people, and I can still hear the wife’s distinctive laugh at the edge of my memory. They have both been gone longer than I thought.

I am reminded that friend networks protect against everything from dementia to depression to suicide … and that, unlike my parents, I have never really had one, or not since my college friends scattered and I chose to fall out of touch with them. I negotiated my kids’ entire childhood without building the kinds of contacts who would invite me to go watch football games on a Sunday or come over for a Christmas party.

I have probably done it wrong (“it” being social life), but my choices and behavior reflect my personality and preferences, and there is no changing that.

On our way out we also passed the grave of a young man, six months younger than I and one grade behind me in high school.

I remembered his name but had not thought of him in years, and had to pull out my phone and visit Newspapers dot com to refresh myself on the circumstances of his passing. About two-and-a-half years after his high school graduation — time spent attending community college and playing lacrosse — he went into a dodgy part of the city to buy marijuana and was shot dead.

His grave features a sizable photo-etching of him in his high school lacrosse uniform, stick in hand, eternally eighteen. He looks out into a world where, as soon as next year, the state of New York will enter the business of selling legal marijuana.

I wonder whether my insular, relatively affluent, high-achieving hometown will open its arms to pot shops — indeed, whether it will be required to. This debate was not even remotely on the radar screen back in the beer-party days.

Oh, yes, my brother and I made one other stop. He wanted once more to dig into that most Rochesterian of dishes, the garbage plate.

The original purveyor and trademark owner, Nick Tahou’s, is closed, but you can get “rubbish plates” or similar combos in dining places all over the city. At Bill Gray’s restaurant in the Panorama Plaza area of Penfield, we (yeah, I helped him out) ordered a cheeseburger Great Plate. Two patties, macaroni salad, home fries, hot sauce, and a token bun.

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This might actually have done more than my deficient social network to hasten my death. But, yes, it was good, and well worth eating.

And today I am in Massachusetts, home.

Late show.

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I have dreamed, several times, of watching a mysterious UHF station (remember those?) that shows cryptic and disturbing horror movies after hours.

In the dreams, I am drawn to the station by its appealing, crackly low-budget funk, and perhaps also in hopes of finding out who’s sending out the broadcasts. And so I keep watching even though I know I’m not going to like whatever comes on next. (Last night’s featured presentations, at least, were relatively mild.)

The parallels to my use of Twitter (I go for baseball cards and radio surveys, but get a faceful of the social and natural apocalypse) seem inescapable.

Arms.

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News item: The Hudson Sun and Marlborough Enterprise, two Massachusetts weekly newspapers with roots going back well over a century, have been closed down by their owner.

It was 1997, maybe 1998, and my college newspaper buddies were all out in the workplace getting their careers under way.

One of them, a sports journalist by choice, had landed as the sports editor of the weekly papers in Hudson and Marlborough, and possibly other papers as well. He was overworked and underpaid, and he enjoyed it, in the manner of young journalists everywhere.

My friend couldn’t cover every sports event in the two towns, nor could he afford to hire stringers to do it. So, for some sports, he relied on submissions from parents.

Pop Warner football was one of those sports. My friend had an arrangement with a father of one of the players, who would bring in handwritten accounts of the games. A scanning program would turn the guy’s handwriting into computer text. My friend would review the text for flagged errors — you know how Microsoft Word underlines possible misspellings and grammar flubs — and then lay it out for print.

(Why the dad couldn’t type the stuff remains a mystery to me. It would have saved a whole bunch of trouble. Anyway.)

One week the scanner made a mistake. It misread the loops and curves of the word “arms” for another word entirely — a real word, so Microsoft Word didn’t underline or flag it. My friend, who was used to looking for flagged errors, didn’t notice it either.

And so it was that a kickoff landed in “the waiting anus” of a schoolboy football player, rather than “the waiting arms.”

Yes, in print.

My friend was mortified, and probably convinced that the sportswriting career he’d dreamed of for most of his life was done.

I remember he had to sit through a tongue-lashing from a middle-to-senior editor type, which struck me as kind of a jerk move at the time. In retrospect, I guess you can’t make an error like that and not get a lecture from somebody … but at the time it seemed surplus to requirements, as one only had to talk to my friend for about 10 seconds to know how seriously he took the whole thing.

The Waiting Anus Incident did not end my friend’s journalism career. He stayed at it. The following week, he started reading every word of the scanned copy. Almost 25 years later, he’s still in the business, working as a regional editor overseeing the sports coverage of a group of daily papers.

And the weekly papers where he made his big gaffe? Those seemingly eternal bastions of the community, chronicling the ups and downs of local life, sheltering generations of young journalists in their turn? Gone.

Not sure if there’s a moral to the story, except maybe that we should not be judged based on the worst day we ever have.

Brothers, sisters, and Johnson.

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What’s new?

Well, sometime in the next month or so there’s gonna be another dime-a-card mail day. Some real mutts in this one. I look forward to introducing them to you.

Inspired by Caitlin Flanagan’s piece in The Atlantic, I am doing my absolute damnedest to stay off Twitter. How’s it going so far? I’ve cut down quite a bit, but not all the way.

Last night I discovered that the Internet Archive hosts a collection of programs and news footage collected by the University of Baltimore and it’s a gold mine of ’60s and ’70s aesthetics. Fun to page through. There’s a regional accent there, too, that I’m not too familiar with and can’t yet capture in words, but it’s there.

Among the most noteworthy of these programs is a 1979 show that brings together the Doobie Brothers, the Pointer Sisters, Earth Wind & Fire, Richard Pryor, and … Raymond J. Johnson Jr., who sort of acts out his novelty single “Dancin’ Johnson” while the Pointer Sisters sing backup for him. It’s about as bad as it sounds. (Not everything in the archive is a Baltimore production; this must surely have been a network special that somehow landed in the collection.)

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It’s worth noting also that the complete programs (as opposed to the collections of news footage) often have inexplicable and incomplete snippets of other shows at the end. The Doobies-Pointer Sisters-Ray J. show, for instance, closes with about 30 seconds of a local current-affairs program called “The Bottom Line,” whose jazzy theme song will stick with me until I figure out what it is, and a couple random seconds of the game show “Name That Tune.” Who was making these tapes?

Another one of the news-film compilations includes a minute or so of Baltimore Blast indoor soccer and now I have a yen to watch Eighties indoor soccer. Wonder if any is on YouTube?

On the personal front, I managed to run 10 miles last weekend for the first time in a while, and once I get off this machine I’m going to try to do it again.

Last weekend I went to a library booksale for the first time in what seemed like forever and it was a tremendous pleasure. Lots of books on folding tables in a school gym — and, remarkably, a few of ’em weren’t the Twilight series. My most noteworthy purchase was History: America’s Greatest Hits on used CD for $1. So many hooks; you know them all. I have wondered for quite a while if their albums hide any similar mellow-gold classics that didn’t get released as singles, and I am freshly resolved to look into it.

The surprise pick-hit of History so far is “Woman Tonight,” which I wasn’t as familiar with when I bought the CD, since it wasn’t as big a hit as most of the other songs.

It’s usually a bad move when a pop band gets clever and tries to play games with the downbeat, but I like it here. The one, in places, is harder to nail down than the Baltimore accent:

Last night we ate Indian takeout to celebrate my younger son’s good fourth-quarter grades, and that was great as always. And Tropical Storm Elsa, while a soaker, was limited in other impacts, so I am home this weekend relaxing (and doing chores) (and, eventually, running) instead of having to work.

And that is massively appreciated.

Bored on the Fourth of July.

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People seem to like it when I live-blog stuff. So I’m going to choose a seasonally appropriate game from the Internet Archive’s collection of baseball broadcasts: July 4, 1965, Yankees vs. Red Sox at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox were two years away from glory and the Yanks were two years removed from it, so I expect this game to be pretty boring. But, hey, I’ve listened to American Top 40 shows from 1980, so not much scares me.

(I am not looking up the game results in advance, but if you want to, you can do so here.)

Here goes ….

# # # # #

No pregame show on this recording, alas; it starts with New York’s Bobby Richardson stepping into the batter’s box. The opposing pitchers are Boston’s Bill Monbouquette (6-9) and New York’s Jim Bouton (4-7 and possibly feeling the elbow pain that eventually pushed him to rely on the knuckleball).

Apparently Richardson led off the previous day’s game with a homer over the Green Monster in left field. He starts this one by settling for a single high off the wall. Tony Kubek is next, hitting .204, and he singles into center field. Three pitches, two hits. This is shaping up poorly.

The Yanks announcer, who I should recognize but don’t, says they scored 13 runs in the first game of the series and six yesterday. Tom Tresh flies to Felix Mantilla, who I always thought was a shortstop, but who the Sox had in center field this afternoon. (Quick check of Baseball-Reference: In 10 big-league seasons Mantilla played 326 games at second base, 180 at shortstop, 156 in the outfield, and 143 at third base. Go know.)

Elston Howard next, hitting .215, but with two homers in the past two days. The announcer runs through the Boston defensive alignment — and waitaminnit, Yaz isn’t in it. The announcer specifies that Boston outfielders Lenny Green and Gary Geiger are out injured but doesn’t explain where Yastrzemski is. Hmmm.

Billy Herman, the Sox manager, is playing regular first baseman Lee Thomas in left field and regular second baseman Mantilla in center. This really sounds like it’s gonna be a long game. Howard flies to Mantilla in center, who’s doing pretty well for a guy out of position.

Joe Pepitone (.267) draws a chorus of boos, then lines a double down the right-field line to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead. Hector Lopez (.234) up next. The Yanks will head to Detroit after the game for five games in four days. “A beautiful day, July 4, 1965,” the announcer intones, and I can almost feel it for a second …. and then Lopez grounds one through a hole for two more runs.

Roger Repoz next at .273 and the Red Sox bullpen is starting to stir. Monbo gets the first two pitches over for strikes, as he did on Lopez. Will he ever get the third out? Yes, swing and a miss, strike three.

Damn – no between-innings commercials! I was looking forward to hearing some vintage paeans to cool crisp Ballantine Beer.  Chuck Schilling leads off for Boston. The announcer mentions that Philadelphia’s Frank Thomas and Richie Allen brawled the other day; history has come down firmly on Allen’s side in that one. Schilling slices one down the right-field line that Lopez catches. 21-year-old Dalton Jones comes up; the announcer mentions the Sox are also playing two 20-year-olds, Tony Horton and Tony Conigliaro. Jones lines one at Lopez; two out.

Horton next; the announcer mentions his “chubby cheeks.” In the social media age, Horton will achieve YouTube infamy thanks to a 1970 clip of him batting against these same Yankees, in which he whiffs not once but twice against reliever Steve Hamilton’s eephus pitch, the “Folly Floater.” That, and other personal difficulties, are in the future at this point; in the 1965 here-and-now, Horton laces a single off the big green wall.

Mantilla is hitting next; he has a .324 average and is starting the upcoming All-Star Game at second base for the American League. He has 12 homers and 58 RBIs, leading the American League in the latter category. I couldn’t have told you that before I started listening. Definitely one of those guys you wouldn’t have guessed made an ASG (Scott Cooper might have been his Boston equivalent 20 years later.) Mantilla walks and Lee Thomas follows. Thomas loops a double between Repoz and Tresh in left-center and it’s 3-2 Yankees. Is this gonna be one of those five-hour Yankee-Red Sox specials like we get now?

The legendary Tony C, with 15 HRs and 36 ribbies, up next. Red Barber jumps in for a moment to say basically nothing about the Green Monster. Apparently there was a big story in Sports Illustrated a few weeks before about the Monster; wonder what it said that people didn’t already know. (Remember when SI was the biggest show in the national sports media business?) Hal “Porky” Reniff throwing in the Yankee pen. Tony C takes an unabashed swing and miss at a loopy curve and the side is retired.

Hey, a commercial! One of those jazzy numbers with a man and a woman trading lines about a cigarette that has “a real taste / that’s really there!” Turns out to be Camel. We pause for station identification, and it turns out we’re listening to WOKO Radio, Albany, New York. (There are a slew of Sixties Mets and Yankees games on the Internet Archive that were taped off their respective Albany radio outlets. A tip of the gin and tonic to the forward-looking dude or dame who made tape all those years ago and then kept it.)

Clete Boyer leads off by slapping a grounder between first and second for a base hit, running his hitting streak to 11 games. Bouton next hitting .107. How much you wanna bet he bunts? Whaddya know, he does — and successfully, too, on the first pitch.

Red Barber ducks in again with a holiday trivia question: How many places in the US is the flag flown 24 hours a day, and how many by custom and how many by law? This seems at first glance like the kind of weasel-question with little ultimate worth — the kind that doesn’t take into account lots of practicalities, like your neighbor who always flies it and will fly it until he keels over — but anyway.

Richardson grounds into a 5-3-6 double play — Jones fields his grounder and throws him out at first, and Horton fires back across the diamond to Sox shortstop Ed Bressoud covering third to get the lead runner trying to advance. Don’t hear those every day.

Red clarifies that the question does not apply to naval ships at sea; he says no. Boy, this question sounds dicier by the minute. Bressoud whacks a line drive between third and shortstop for a single. The announcer mentions the impending arrival of a shortstop hopeful named Rico Petrocelli. Wonder what happened to him?

Catcher Bob Tillman up next and the Red Sox have been “reeling and stumbling.” Tillman grounds to first and they get the force at second but not the double play. Monbo next hitting .094. Of course he tries to bunt, but unlike Bouton, he fouls it back. See, not everyone could lay down a perfect bunt in the old days. Monbo gets one down on the next pitch. Schilling grounds to Kubek; his throw to first is too late but Pepitone fires home to retire Tillman trying to sneak across with the run. The ol’ 6-3-2 putout.

Red is back. He explains that he was visiting Mount Suribachi on a USO tour and wondered where the US flag flies 24 hours a day. During a recent trip to Baltimore, he adds, he learned that the flag flies 24 hours a day at Fort McHenry and also at the “Flag House” where the first flag was (allegedly) made. He goes on to say that the flag flies at the Iwo Jima Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery; over Congress; over the USS Arizona memorial at Pearl Harbor; a dormitory at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, that was used as a hospital during the Civil War; the town square in Taos, New Mexico; and at the war memorial in Worcester (he pronounces it “WOO-ster”), Massachusetts. In some of these places it’s a law; in others a custom. This is both a more interesting answer than I expected, and still totally unfulfilling — it smacks of casual research, and there’s gotta be more places than that.

Top of the third, Yanks 3-2, and I think the mystery announcer is Jerry Coleman. Kubek starts the third with still another single to right. Six hits off Monbouquette already. Coleman tells us Monbo is throwing more breaking balls than usual today. Tresh flies to Tony C in right, Howard strikes out, Pepitone … well, the audio falls into a pit at this point, but Pepi flies somewhere in the outfield and the Sox escape unscathed.

Red Barber takes over, pointing out that “no lead is safe.” He becomes difficult to understand — sounds like the leadoff hitter made an out — but I’m dedicated to my readers and I stay with it. The second out is a fly to right. Red mentions that the Yankees can reach .500 if they win that day, if I understand him correctly. If the Yanks win in Detroit and Minnesota, they’re back in it, he says. (They won’t.) Third out a routine fly to right.

Red mentions at the top of the fourth that the next portion of the game will be sponsored by Ballantine Beer. This game is really falling into a quagmire of mush; Red is difficult to understand. Red bemoans that the issue of The Sporting News he just got is already out of date because the teams have been moving around so much since it was published.

I realize that I don’t think I’ve heard anyone explain where Mickey Mantle is and why he’s not playing. Perhaps it fell into the mush.

Fourth inning and Thomas leads off with a double and Tony C follows with a home run that lights up the ballpark and gives the Sox a 4-3 lead. The roar for the local boy is rousing and full-throated; Red says the Sox fans are “in a sanguinary mood.” Johnny Keane yanks Bouton for Hal Reniff.

Barber and Coleman remind the Yankee faithful back in Albany that no lead is safe in Fenway Park and the Yanks can still rally. Coleman explains that the Monster has a screen on top to protect the city street and the stores that sit just on the other side of it. As it happens I was just on that street (Lansdowne Street) yesterday to drink IPA at a microbrewery. Small world.

Red rattles off a lengthy list of the newspaper reporters who travel with the Yankees. Makes one wonder how many New York reporters will be at Fenway for the next Sox-Yanks series. Maybe one-quarter as many as in 1965?

“In all the major league towns, if you had to pick one for summer weather, this would be it,” Red enthuses. The last two days in the Boston area it has been rainy and has struggled to get past 60 degrees. So be it; the old climate normal does not apply, anyway. Monbo walks and Schilling singles in the bottom of the fourth (we’re still in the damn bottom of the fourth, BTW.)

Jones “almost cuts the third-base coach’s head off” with a foul liner. (The third-base coach is Billy Gardner, who, spared, goes on to unsuccessfully manage the Minnesota Twins in the days of my childhood, fifteen-plus years later.) Jones strikes out to end the fourth.

Red, who I am warming to even as I struggle to understand him, tells us that major-league players, managers and coaches care little about averages. Instead they want to know who’s hot right now — who hit yesterday, who’s hitting today. Interesting enough insight. He then welcomes the listeners who are listening on car radios, coming in from the back yard, or coming in off the beach, to catch up with the Yanks. Stylish touch. Red also teases a column by Joe Durso in that day’s New York Times about the Yankees’ Pedro Ramos and his “Cuban palmball,” freighting every word with a gentle touch of something; perhaps Ramos was accused of loading up. Plus ca change.

Yanks go one-two-three in the top of the fifth – now an official ballgame. Red hands over to Joe Garagiola in the bottom half. (Rather a remarkable group of announcers worked for the Yanks in those days.) Garagiola discusses the Cuban palmball further, and it is indeed a rumored spitball. Sox go in order in the bottom of the fifth.

Garagiola teases Old-Timers Day at the Stadium on July 31, including Guy Lombardo and his orchestra. I think my grandpa went to one or two of those Old-Timers Days back in the day, as he left the programs behind. Garagiola teases that the Yankees ticket office is open tomorrow, and suggests the audience stop by to pick up their ducats. No Ticketmaster then. Musta been nice.

Yay! In the top of the sixth the audio perks up again. Let’s see if the game does also. Gil Blanco begins to throw for the Yankees; he appeared in only 17 games that season and only 28 lifetime. Wonder if he makes it in? Pepitone singles. Monbouquette, remarkably, is still in there battling for the Sox. A 5-4-3 double play squashes the Yanks’ hopes in the sixth.

Another commercial and it’s so tooth-achingly Sixties, with swinging horns and orchestra and a female narrator who bursts out singing. You can practically see her satin dress. It’s one of those Winston commercials; they taste good like a cigarette should. No thanks, ma’am, I like my lungs like they are.

Tony C leads off the sixth to a round of hearty cheers. A local boy, he was, and crazy gifted. He tries to bunt on strike one, based on God knows what absurd logic, then strikes out. There’s a whimsical downward lilt, an existential everyman musing, to the end of Garagiola’s sentences when he says things like, “Seems like every time there’s a called strike they want a new ball.” This is not entirely the style of the rah-rah storyteller I thought he was.

Reniff gets another K; Tillman bounces a double into the right-field stands; and Monbo, allowed to bat, strikes out also. Pinch-hit for your starter? Nah, he’s only given you six innings of work.

(The next portion of this game will be brought to you by your Atlantic dealer. As in gas. I think that was Amoco in my childhood. I could be wrong.)

Top seven. Still 4-3 Sox. Garagiola still talking up the Stadium ticket office. Plenty of parking and lots of good games to choose from. Washington will be in town after the All-Star Game! Yup, the ’65 Senators sure were Murderers’ Row. Repoz drives one to the fence in the center-field triangle but it’s caught by noted center fielder Felix Mantilla for the out. Boyer doubles into the gap in left-center.

Wheels are turnin’: Bob Tiefenauer is throwing for New York (oh, he’s a knuckleballer – please let him come in and wreak havoc!); Dick Radatz is up in the Sox pen as well; and pinch-hitter Ray Barker is coming up to hit for Reniff. God, this Yankees team was ordinary. Barker flies to Mantilla in center, who gets a bad break on the ball but recovers for the out. Richardson strikes out to end the seventh. 

Another jazzy-cute man-woman vocal duet: “Atlantic keeps your car on the go.” Atlantic gas makes your weekend extra magic, or something like that. Take a bow, Don Draper.

Yay again! Tiefenauer comes in in the bottom of the seventh. He pitched for three teams in 1965 and made 10 appearances with the Yankees; he was 35 at the time. He didn’t pitch a substantial big-league season until he was 32. Gotta love guys like that.

Garagiola hands over to Phil Rizzuto — how many famous announcers did the Yankees have under contract that year? I’m not the biggest Scooter fan but what the hell, I’ve come this far.

Rizzuto says this is Tiefenauer’s ninth appearance with the Yanks so his time there must have been running short. Scooter gives the attendance –17,291 — which seems to me to be pretty poor for a beautiful Fourth of July. Of course, the ’65 Red Sox didn’t give anybody a lot of reason to come out to the yard.

Rizzuto mentions that the Yanks are outhitting the Sox 9-8. Home plate umpire John Rice gets hit by two fouls by two hitters, one off the mask, one off the leg. Ouch. Horton doubles off Tiefenauer to tie the hit count at nine apiece. Ramos gets up in the Yankee pen; Rizzuto does not further expound on his palmball. Mantilla singles to left off the elderly knuckleballer. Horton beats the throw to the plate and the Sox are up 5-3. Maybe this explains why Tiefenauer headed out of the Big Apple not too long after. Pepitone leans into the dugout to snare a foul pop fly from Thomas to end the inning. Six more outs for the Sox. Can they hold it?

Monbo gets one out in the eighth, then gives up his tenth hit, a single to Tresh. I wonder how many starters in 2021 will give up ten hits in a game. Radatz up again in the Sox pen, Howard at the plate. He misses a home run by inches to deep left-center, setting Rizzuto off at full honk — but Tresh, somehow, fails to advance past second, apparently because he assumed it was a homer and took his time.

Mound visit! Radatz comes in to replace Monbouquette, who has only given up eleven hits. It sounds like the fans are booing but it’s tough to tell. His ERA is 5.56 – having an off-year, Rizzuto says, which must be why people are booing him before he’s even thrown a pitch. Radatz’s first pitch brushes Pepitone back; a pitch later Pepitone pops up to second base for the out. The sun is setting through my basement windows and it looks really nice. I could almost convince myself it’s 85 degrees outside rather than 55.

Lopez laces a ball directly at Lee Thomas in left field, who catches it. Yastrzemski who? Sox stave off a threat and hold a 5-3 lead going into the bottom of the eighth. Another jazzy Winston ad with male and female singers duetting. Were all ads following that cutesy formula in 1965?

Ross Moschitto goes out to play right field. He appeared in 96 games as a 20-year-old rookie that year but had only 27 at-bats — one of the weirder lines you’ll see. (Most of his appearances came as a late-inning defensive sub or a pinch-runner, if memory serves.) He made 14 more appearances in 1967 and then was done. Tiefenauer still on the mound. Line drive to right field – I’ve forgotten who’s even hitting — and “MOSCHITTO MAKES A BEAUTIFUL PLAY,” Rizzuto enthuses. A running one-handed catch low to the ground, apparently, and Moschitto ran almost to first base on the way in. Good job, rook.

Tillman pokes a base hit to center, right over second base. Radatz hits for himself, again to a chorus of boos, his very good years of the recent past apparently forgotten. Radatz watches a knuckler for strike three. We head to the ninth.

Radatz “is firing those little BBs up to the plate,” Scooter says as he faces his first hitter. He switches from sidearm to overhand and gets the third strike. Boyer up now and flies to left for the second out. Jake Gibbs, best remembered as the Yankee catcher Thurman Munson metaphorically pushed aside, comes up to bat for Tiefenauer. Radatz gets him on a high fastball too to clinch the 5-3 win for Boston.

Boy, that was boring as hell. Happy Fourth of July!