Saturday, June 11, 2016

These Sponsors Were For The Birds

THIS GAME IS BROUGHT TO YOU by booze, beer, broads, clothes, cars and hot dogs.

It's mid-summer at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium, 1966. The Orioles are hosting Harmon Killebrew and the American League pennant-defending Minnesota Twins. Clutching the stub from your $2.90 box seat ticket, you plunk down 20 cents for a program and settle in to watch the birds battle the champs.

The reigning AL Most Valuable Player, Zoilo Versalles, digs in at plate. O's hurler Dave McNally peers in for the sign... and you open that 28-page guide to the day's action.

Resolute bird
"Join the real beer drinkers here at the Orioles games! Drink American Beer -- 1st Choice of Real Beer Drinkers!" declares an ad on the inside cover. Not wanting to be caught out with the fake beer drinkers, for 40 cents you buy one. Besides, American is brewed right there in Baltimore.

Paging past the thumbnail bio of outfielder Frank Robinson, your eyes alight on an ad, featuring that year's Buick lineup: Riviera, Electra 225, Wildcat, LeSabre, Skylark and Special. The Rambler Marlin on page 7 looks pretty neat too.

You glance back at Robinson, who entered the day's action batting .319 (en route to his second MVP award), then ahead to the overly formal roster listing Manager Henry A. Bauer and his charges, including young pitcher James A. Palmer, first baseman John W. Powell and, across the diamond, third baseman Brooks C. Robinson.

Baltimore's own
At the program's center, the scorecard is ringed by ads for Liggett & Myers' cigarette brands L&M, Chesterfield and Lark, the Holiday Inn downtown and Schenley whiskey.

Strategically placed below the Schenley item: "NOTICE -- It is illegal for a minor to buy or drink beer in this stadium," or to lie about their age to get it, signed Baltimore Baseball Club Inc.

Meanwhile... Frank Robinson lofts a fly ball to centerfielder Ted Uhlaender. Luis Aparicio tags up and trots home from third. The Orioles lead the Twins, 1-0, after three innings.
Such prices!
Stomach rumbling, you page past the two-page spread for Goetze's hot dogs and right to concession stand price list. A regular red hot costs 30 cents, for a dime more you can have a jumbo. A knish can be had for a quarter. For 15 cents more, it can all be washed away with a Seven-Up or a Meadow Gold ice cream bar.

John W. Powell crushes a home run off Jim Perry and the Orioles lead 2-1...

(Powell, better known as Boog, was a cornerstone on an Orioles powerhouse that was only now coming into its own. With Hank Bauer at the helm, they'd dethrone the Minnesotans and capture the AL flag, the franchise's first title of any kind since 1944, when it was based in St. Louis and known as the Browns. The Orioles would go on to sweep the defending World Champion Dodgers in that year's world series.

The '66 team's exploits would be eclipsed the next year by an epic battle between the St. Louis Cardinals of Bob Gibson and Lou Brock and the Boston Red Sox of Carl Yastrzemski, a seven-game Cardinals/Tigers battle in 1968 and by Earl Weaver-led Orioles that won three pennants and a World Series between 1969 and 1971. But all of this is still in the future for you, the fan, watching this July 3 contest.)

"You don't have to be rich to deal with Ritchie..."
.... Perry takes his counterpart McNally deep, tying the game a 2.


Post-game
Day game. July. Baltimore. Sure would like a hat. A wool one costs $2, twill can be had for a buck less and with the dollar saved, you can buy a felt pennant.

...bottom of the eighth... Brooks Robinson belts a solo shot off Twins reliever Pete Cimino, extending the Orioles lead to 4-2... Stu Miller, who relieved McNally after the seventh inning, looks to lock it down in the ninth...

What to do what to do? No work tomorrow, it's the fourth of July. Still desert hot outside. Perhaps a trip to The Oasis...

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