Sunday, June 8, 2014

This is not 1970 (Sept 7, 1969)

I'm sure it is difficult for MLB Productions, from time to time, to put together their 'clips' shows for seasons prior to 1980.  While they undoubtedly have more footage in their archives than any of know they have or will ever see, there are large gaps that they must try to fill with newsreel footage, broadcast news highlights and team highlight films.  It is often times disappointing that they will chose color 'film' clips over broadcast footage when putting together these shows but is somewhat understandable.

When they use footage that isn't even from the time period they are showcasing, however, I feel it creates a 'false history'.  That is exactly what happened in an episode of Baseball's Seasons focusing on the 1970 season.

When pointing out the contentious NL East race of 1970, they discussed the Cubs early season collapse and the assencion of the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The problem is, they used footage from a late 1969 game between the two trying to punctuate the Cubs poor play.  More about it with extra footage after the jump.

The first clue that something was amiss was the uniforms the Cubs are wearing.  With the MLB 100th Anniversary patch on their sleeve, it was a dead giveaway this footage was from 1969.  With that in mind, it was time to break down the sequence and what players were involved.

The pitcher on the mound is wearing # 46.  In 1969, the Cubs had two RHP wear that number, Ken Johnson and Archie Reynolds.  Pretty simply, Archie Reynolds did not face the Cubs that season and Ken Johnson faced them once, September 7, 1969.

Just to add a double check to this, the SS for the Cubs that makes the error is Don Kessinger (# 11).  Kessinger made 20 errors that season and he made this exact error on September 7th.

As a background to this game, the September 7th game was the final game of a hellacous home weekend series for the 1969 Cubs.  The Pirates, coming off a 17-10 August would finish the 2nd half of the season 15 games over .500.  The Pirates, in the first two games of the series, would outscore the Cubs 22-6.  The Cubs were facing down a road trip that would put them head-to-head with the 2nd place New York Mets. 

In the final game of this series, the Cubs would push across 2 runs in the bottom of the 8th to take a 1-run lead.  In the top of the 9th, a young Willie Stargell would blast a 2 out homerun (career #163) onto Waveland Sheffield Avenue (as Jack Brickhouse would correct himself) to force extra innings.

In extras, Kessinger would make the error seen in the clip above allowing Matty Alou to score the go ahead run.  Richie Hebner would drive in Stargell for insurance the Cubs would be swept at home before going on their biggest road trip of the season.

The extended clips come from WGN's 'A Look at the 1970 Cubs' preseason highlight program.

As I said before, it surely is a difficult job for MLB Productions to put together these highlight programs.  For lack of having actual footage, it has to be tempting to just insert random clips that fit a 'type' they are looking for.  However, for someone who is watching these programs to learn about baseball history, they will be left either with a false impression of how a team dressed that season, what players were on the roster, etc.  


  1. I don't think the Pirates were wearing those uniforms that late in 1970 either. They changed unis when they changed ballparks, right?

  2. I don't think the Pirates were wearing those uniforms that late in 1970 either. When they moved into their new ballpark, they switched to the ugly new uniforms