Thursday, 13 March 2008

Hello, Newspapers? It's Dewey Again

today’s fanfare
Commercial Play-By-Play gets the ‘Out’ Sign

By Eric Whitehead
[Vancouver Province, Sat., Jan. 31, 1953]
It’s not that we’re getting all Dewey-eyed over this guy Soriano—it’s just that it’s hard to keep the new baseball GM out of print for much longer than a seventh-inning stretch.
Even with Art Chapman’s rollicking Canucks performing their current breathless feats of derring-do, that chilled refugee from summertime—baseball—is already scrapping for the limelight. And all because of a colorful, quotable flood of Soriano-tions that come streaming steadily out on Little Mountain.
Already firmly installed in the local Press Box Ratings Bureau as a Young Man with Idea, Soriano’s most recently promised “sweeping change” will raise him several fast notches in the esteem of that humble, indispensable citizen: Joe Phan.
“There,” says he, “will be no more of those annoying commercial “plugs” over the public address system. The fans come out to the park to watch baseball. They don’t pay for the dubious privilege of listening to subtle or unsubtle pitches from hucksters.
Just Baseball—No Shopper’s Guide
“Don’t misunderstand me,” he qualifies carefully, “I intend no disrespect to the advertisers. It’s just I think that this mode of advertising is out of place in a ballpark, and that it cheapens the game.”
Amen, Dewey. Double Amen. And the echoes will roll in from all sides.
Imagine! No more, as a breathless climax to a thrilling rally, will we be informed that “…the record played tonight are supplied by and can be purchased at Pilkington’s Platter Palace, 395 Bebop St. …”
Or be assailed with the palpitating insider information that “…for scoring the winning run in tonight’s game, ’Sockeye’ Salmon will receive two full course dinner at Dinty’s De Luxe Diner, corner Gourmet and Gulp…”
As Soriano says, no disrespect to the advertisers who have in the past paid for this type of enforced public relations, but it just doesn’t belong.
Time Out For Digs
Out the park and over the outfield wall, too, will go that other quaint institution, The Most Popular Player Award; said award usually being in the form of a two-pants suit, accompanied by suitable commercial recognition.
For one thing, it’s Soriano’s theory that the average ballplayer, if he saves, can afford his own two-pants suits.
For another thing, his quote, “This sort of thing causes nothing but trouble on a ball club.”
By “this sort of thing” Dewey is not of course referring to the two-pants suit, but to the MPP competition.
“It can’t help but create jealousies on a ball club—particularly among players’ wives. I know. I’ve seen it happen time and time again. It can knock club morale and team harmony for a loop.”
Correction. For two loops.
We’ve seen it, too. Seen how human nature rises to the occasion and the lads get cute little digs in at each other. For instance, when a player who is announced as the current leader of the “poll” starts out of the dugout toward the plate and some laddie quips: “Okay, people’s choice, you’re the All-American boy…let’s see you hit this one.”
That incidentally is a quote from the Capilano bench, year 1952.
A Little Sly Electioneering
That bit about the players’ wives is also very true. Every player is the white-haired boy in the eyes of little wifie. And understandably, said wifie figures she knows more about who’s who on first better than does the over-privileged pollsters in the grandstand. It’s precious easy to needle this kind of family affection.
And don’t think the players themselves don’t take this “popular” business to heart.
“On other clubs,” says Soriano, “I’ve seen players hang around after the game to collect discarded programs, fill in the vote coupons and stuff them in the ballot box.”
On the ’52 Vancouver club, the fans’ popularity choice of catcher John Ritchie [sic] did somewhat less than good for team morale. It just so happened that Ritchie, long on batting talent, was considerably short on the old college try. It irked some of the lads who were giving 100 percent to see Ritchie, who wasn’t, getting the fans’ accolade.
One by one, or is it two by two, the freshman GM is rooting out the evils.

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