Monday, November 10, 2014

Black and white and read all over

Back in June I received a varied and wonderful package from Eric and in it were a few old Baseball Digests. I've pulled out those magazines because I have a reading holiday coming up (any vacation is the only chance I get to actually read magazines and books anymore), and I want to absorb these magazines from my childhood as well as those way, way before that.

When I showed those magazines the first time, I announced that they had given me an idea for a post and that you would see it in the future. I normally never announce that kind of thing unless the idea is really good and that I'm pretty sure I won't forget it.

Well, guess what? I forgot it. And I didn't write it down either.

So all I'm left with is showing the innards of this here Baseball Digest from September, 1955.

This is what I'll be reading in a few weeks. So let's have a sneak peek:

There are very few pictures in a Baseball Digest from the 1950s, and, of course, the few that exist are in black and white.

This photo of Al Kaline is on the inside front cover. He apparently was praised for having the perfect swing, and Baseball Digest documents the reasons on the facing page. Baseball Digest was always cool when I was reading it in the late '70s and this proves that it really was ALWAYS cool.

Here is the table of contents for that particular issue. I'm sure that "Catalogue of Bachelors!" jumped out at you. Me, too.

Here is the cover story. Articles in Baseball Digest back then did not include pictures. BD was never known for photography anyway, but the only photos in this 98-page periodical are on the front and back covers and on the inside covers.

I will give you a moment to come up with your joke regarding the name of the person who wrote this article.

This article is actually a sarcastic shot at old-timers who said today's players (in this case players from the 1950s) aren't as tough as players decades before. I guess if he was writing that story today, he would be taking a jab at me because I've been known to say that. (I'll continue to say it as long as the Posey rule exists and no one can pitch more than six innings at a time).

OK, ladies, here is what you wanted in 1955, apparently: a list of all of the bachelors playing major league baseball. With eye color and ancestry.

I can't imagine this appearing in a publication today, although I'm sure a list is online somewhere. I also can't imagine anyone calling a woman "honey chile".

To give readers' eyes a rest from all of the type, Baseball Digest plugged cartoons into articles, whether they had anything to do with the article's topic or not. I like it.

I guess purposely poor grammar was a "thing" then. Baseball Digest had a much more flip style than the Digests I remember reading.

If Casey Stengel was managing in the 1980s, that quote would mean something entirely different. I have no idea what he meant in 1955.

Lefty O'Doul should see how often players strike out now. They're even more nonchalant about it, too.

This is the article that I am most interested in reading. Jackie Robinson apparently was receiving unwarranted criticism even late in his career.

Carl Hubbell says it's because they focus most of their energy on pitching. Yeah, I read ahead.

Statistics were a staple of Baseball Digest even back then. This is a rundown of how every pitcher did against each opponent. I'm sure that was not available anywhere else back then, so this is pretty cool, and you can see it's a point of pride for Baseball Digest.

The inside back cover and one of the few ads in the publication. Don't forget to include a few dollars for your friends.

When I was reading sports magazines growing up, Baseball Digest wasn't as exciting as Sports Illustrated or the Sporting News. But it had a couple of things going for it. First, it was all about baseball and only baseball. Second, it didn't not sacrifice content for pictures or ads. The articles and the stats were the star of the show, and that is something to be admired to this very day.

For those of you who are wondering where the cards are in this post, I do have one for you. I found it between the pages of this magazine:

It's a Sportscaster card of Johnny Bench. I loved these as a kid. I don't know if Eric placed it there or if it was put there by someone else when he picked up the magazine. But it was a nice discovery today.

Anyway, I can't wait to go down memory lane reading those Baseball Digests from 1978 and 1979. And I'm looking forward to reading the ones from the '50s that I have, too.

I probably should be preserving them in plastic or some other such nonsense.

Sorry, these are meant to be read.


  1. I love reading old baseball mags.

  2. I've still got a few from when I was a subscriber back in the late 70s and early 80s myself. They are a lot of fun to go back and read. I still like the trivia from those.

  3. My aunt recently sent me a pile of oldbaseball mags and books that my late uncle had kept. The old baseball Digests are just terrific. Love those stats.

  4. I like how Ted Williams is listed as Welsh-French, conveniently forgetting his Mexican born mother.

  5. Wow, Jackie Robinson described by some as a "showboat"? I'd love to see more of that article.

    I love the "Rare as a guy who doesn't love George Gobel" comment in the back issues advertisement. I only remember George Gobel from his appearances on Hollywood Squares, and I'd be willing to bet that most of your readers have never even heard of him.