Lost World Series classic found in Bing Crosby's wine cellar
It is regarded as one of the greatest baseball games ever played, but one that was lost to history.
The decider of the 1960 World Series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Yankees ended with Bill Mazeroski's electrifying home run which won the game 10-9 and clinched the series for the Pirates.
It was believed that a grainy 40-second clip was all that survived of the match as television networks erased the tape, as was routine up until the 1970s.
But a pristine copy of the entire two-and-a-half hour broadcast has been discovered, four decades on, in Bing Crosby's wine cellar.
The entertainer, who died in 1977, was a baseball devotee and co-owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The World Series victory should have been his proudest moment, but he was not there to see it. Crosby was so superstitious that he refused to watch and went on holiday to Paris instead.
"I can't stay in the country. I'll jinx everybody," he told his wife, Kathryn.
However, Crosby took the precaution of hiring a company to record the game by kinescope, a precursor to the videotape, giving himself the luxury of being able to watch the game afterwards in the knowledge that his team had won.
The five-reel, 16mm film was then stored in the cool surroundings of his cellar, which doubled as a vault. It is the only known complete copy of the game and was discovered by Robert Bader, vice president of marketing and production for Bing Crosby Enterprises, who stumbled across it while looking for footage of old television shows in the Crosby home in Hillsborough, California.
"I had to be the only person to have seen it in 50 years. It was just pure luck. It's a time capsule," Bader said.
Crosby's widow, Kathryn, recalled the day of the game, 13 October 1960. The couple were staying with their friends, Charles and Nonie de Limur, in Paris and Crosby followed the action via a radio broadcast.
"We were in this beautiful apartment, listening on shortwave, and when it got close Bing opened a bottle of Scotch and was tapping it against the mantel," she told the New York Times. "When Mazeroski hit the home run, he tapped it hard; the Scotch flew into the fireplace and started a conflagration. I was screaming and Nonie said, 'It's very nice to celebrate things, but couldn't we be more restrained?'"
The singer's refusal to watch the game may seem extreme, but superstition and baseball go hand in hand.
The Boston Red Sox have long laboured under the 'Curse of the Bambino', said to have begun after the team sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees in the 1919-20 season. They suffered a dip in fortunes which only ended in 2004, when they finally won the World Series.
Crosby's black and white film has been transferred to DVD and is available for DVD release.
The footage demonstrates how much things have changed in 50 years. The broadcast has no instant replays, no analysis and no reports in the dugout, and the game features a hand-operated scoreboard.
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