A great many of us geezers can remember when Sunday afternoon baseball was two games for the price of one at Crosley Field In Cincinnati, Briggs/Tiger Stadium in Detroit, Yankee Stadium in New York City, and other venues across the expanse of major league baseball as it was known then.
When the newspaper printed the standings and the games of the day, it was not unusual to see a line like this one: “Detroit (Lary 15-6 and Bunning 15-8) at New York (Ford 17-4 and Stafford 9-6), 2, 1:30 p.m.” (In Knoxville, the Smokies might play a doubleheader, with one nine-inning game, and a seven-inning second game.)
The doubleheader went the way of the high buckle shoe, the afternoon newspaper, and the 1:30 p.m. kickoff in college football. Sad… but true.
The Sunday afternoon doubleheader in baseball, not to be confused with the twi-night doubleheader (two games in one evening), is a rarity now.
Early in their tenure in Atlanta, the Braves played what some observers called a “Cole Porter,” a day game followed by a night game (“Night and Day, You Are the One,” Porter wrote), with a separate admission charge for each game. That is also a rarity, except in Boston where they play two, with separate admission, on Patriots Day.
The Sporting News always called the first game the “lidlifter” and the second game the “nightcap,” not to be confused with the generic adult beverage of the same name. That’s from the olden days when that publication had a box score of every game, complete with game summary.
Ernie Banks always said “Lets Play Two,” even when there wasn’t a doubleheader scheduled. Former Detroit Catcher Bill Freehan once wrote how noisy it was when the Tigers played two for a promotion called “Bat Day,” where every kid under 12 got a free replica with a reserved seat ticket. Knowing the Detroit fandom and their desire to be a part of the game, it’s a miracle many of the bats stayed in the stands.
Here’s a “Tennessee” connection. The Vols were part of an ersatz “Cole Porter” in Birmingham, Nov. 9, 1968, when Alabama and LSU squared off in the rain in the afternoon, and Tennessee and Auburn played that night. That was the night the Tennessee band had to shelve their halftime show because of the field conditions. Dr W J Julian was not pleased.
There used to be an exhibition doubleheader of pro football at Cleveland way back when, when the Browns would play in one game, and two other teams would play in the nightcap.
These are but a few examples of the “good old days” really being that good.
Thursday, May 19, 2016