Among my many claims to fame: I am the only Pittsburgh Pirate fan sentient during the 1960 World Series who will admit he did not see Bill Mazeroski’s bottom of the 9th, Game 7 series clinching home run.
In fact I didn’t see a single minute of the Series, thanks to a boarding school that barred TV watching. And this was a team whose games I never missed on radio or TV – before school started.
Now, the New York Times reports, a kinescope of the entire seventh game has turned up in Bing Crosby’s wine cellar. It will be issued on DVD in December. Guess what my family gets under the tree this year?
The 1960 Pirates were a remarkable assemblage of future Hall of Famers and veterans teetering on the edge of retirement. There are some decent books around on the team, a really good one on Bill Mazeroski and, not surprisingly, a first rate one on Roberto Clemente.
But the team owners were every bit as remarkable. The most notable were Bing Crosby and John W. Galbreath.
Bing Crosby , a minority owner, was probably Hollywood’s most popular star from the mid-30s well into the 50s. His records, radio shows, movies and TV specials were hugely popular.
Crosby was also a fine golfer and maintained a stable of legendarily underperforming thoroughbreds. He also owned a piece of Hollywood Park where he could conveniently watch his horses.
What has always made Crosby remarkable to me is how well he worked with others. I have a CD of five Armed Forces Radio broadcasts Crosby did with Judy Garland from 1941 to 1945. In the early shows, Crosby carries the nervous Garland with grace and gentleness. By 1945, they are two pros who clearly enjoy working together.
It is fitting that this tape turned up in Crosby’s house. It was at Crosby’s insistence that radio networks began taping shows. A perfectionist – as of course anyone who was a professionally relaxed as Crosby would have to be – he hated broadcasting less than spot on performances.
The Pirates majority owner, John W. Galbreath was a real estate developer, investor, civic leader and philanthropist from Columbus, Ohio. Galbreath was also a storied owner of thoroughbreds, including the great European champion, Roberto, named for the Pirates’ Roberto Clemente.
If one imagines a man in every respect different from George Steinbrenner – at least in his public persona – it was John Galbreath. Win or lose, a role model.
1960 was a great year for Irish-Americans: for Crosby, Galbreath, their manager, Danny Murtaugh,… and John F. Kennedy.