Bing Crosby’s Greatest Gift to Posterity

He was a marvelous singer who produced albums that will be listened to forever, but for any Pirates baseball fan, he gave us something even more valuable: A high-quality film of Game 7 of the 1960 World Series has been discovered in his wine cellar!

Long before free agency, money and steroids ruined professional baseball, there was a great working class team in Pittsburgh known as the Pirates (they are now I believe a double A farm team for the New York Billionaires or the Los Angeles Mercenaries, I forget which). Our beloved Bucs pulled off one of the greatest upsets in baseball history in the 1960 World Series, culminating in one of the best game 7’s in world series history.

By any measure other than winning, the Yankees clobbered the Pirates in 1960. The Yankees hit over .330 as a team. They outscored the Pirates by a two to one margin, but somehow, with the help of a rock strewn Forbes Field (the groundskeeper got a vote for MVP that year from one wag) that ricocheted an easy double play ball into Tony Kubek’s windpipe, and a heroic homer by Hal Smith (which is now forgotten because of Maz’s homer in the next inning), good triumphed over evil.

How about that! (as Mel Allen would have said).

My fellow West Virginian Mazeroski did finally get into the Hall of Fame in 2001. For years voters said one thrilling homer doesn’t mean you get in, forgetting that he was one of the best defensive second basemen in the history of the game. Thankfully, he eventually got his due.

Can’t wait to see Mr. Crosby’s film — thank you Bing!

Author: Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is the Esther Ting Memorial Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University and an Honorary Professor of Psychiatry at Kings College Lonon. His research, teaching and writing have focused on addictive disorders, self-help organizations (e.g., breast cancer support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous), evaluation research methods, and public policy related to health care, mental illness, veterans, drugs, crime and correctional systems. Professor Humphreys' over 300 scholarly articles, monographs and books have been cited over ten thousand times by scientific colleagues. He is a regular contributor to Washington Post and has also written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Monthly, San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian (UK), The Telegraph (UK), Times Higher Education (UK), Crossbow (UK) and other media outlets.

4 thoughts on “Bing Crosby’s Greatest Gift to Posterity”

  1. Matt,

    No, free agency did not ruin baseball. Here's one clue. If you compare the performance of the Yankees in the pre-free agency era with their performance post-free agency you will find the former just as good or better, especially beginning with Ruppert's ownership. Once it became clear that wins were more valuable in New York than in smaller cities, Yankee dominance was inevitable. (Check out the record of the Giants in the early 20th Century).

    Money finds a way. If it's not free agents it's extensive scouting and farm systems, or something else.

  2. "Long before free agency, money and steroids ruined professional baseball,"

    When was this? Openly professional baseball dates to 1869. The Red Stockings of Cincinnati weren't, as is often reported, the first professional team. There were about a dozen that year, and an unknown number had been paying players under the table since about 1865. But the Red Stockings were the first to put together a top team of expensive out-of-towners. They did such a good job that they completely outmatched the competition. Once they had shown the way, other clubs copied them. The result was an arms race, with only the best capitalized clubs in major markets able to compete at the top level, and even they had trouble paying inflated salaries. The earliest version of the reserve was introduced in 1879, but pay rolls still went up, leading to repeated attempts over the years at salary caps and collusion between owners. And throughout this there were perennially good teams and perennially bad ones.

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