Today I traveled to Springfield, Massachusetts, by the way of The Springfield Republican dated March 20, 1966. There I found a small report “Texas Western Tops Kentucky In NCAA”, upsetting Kentucky who had won for the previous four years. However, the significant of this game is noted on the website: “ESPN Classics” with: “Walking toward the red “M” at center court, in their orange uniforms and white Converse All-Stars, are the five starters for Texas Western. They are all black. Until that moment, at the height of the civil-rights era, no major-college team had ever started five blacks in an NCAA championship game. In fact, until Texas Western coach Don Haskins did it earlier that season, no major-college team had ever started five blacks in ANY game. For the first time that night, on the edge of the Mason-Dixon Line, a major American sports championship would be contested by one team that was all-white and another whose starters were entirely black.” As history would tell, and as reported in this newspaper, Texas Western would go on to win.
This newspaper is also from the founding city of basketball as well.
While pairing the concept of superior athleticism with cigarette smoking as an advertising ploy would come across ridiculous in today’s “enlightened” culture, there was a time when this was not the case. In fact, professional athletes promoting cigarettes (see the ad from a NYT, October 1, 1941 shown below) was as common in early-to-mid 1900’s as the same promoting energy and “health” drinks is today. I wonder if our children’s children will look back on today wondering how we could have been (dare I say) duped by such connections. Are health drinks really healthy? Time will likely tell.
Today I traveled to New York City by the means of The New York Times, February 15, 1966. There I found that Wilt Chamberlain, playing for the 76’ers, had scored his 20,884th point to surpassed the record previously set by Bob Pettit.
The front page also has the reporting of “2-SOVIET AUTHORS ARE CONVICTED” with subheads “Court Finds Works Published Abroad Harmed Regime” and “Sinyavsky Is Given 7 Years, Daniel 5 at Hard Labor”. Andrei Sinyavsky and Yuli Daniel were convicted of writing under pseudonym names and sending the books out of Russia for publication. “…The judgment, considered unprecedented in modern Soviet history, called it a criminal act to put into print beliefs and ideas that could be used profitably by ‘enemies of communism’…”
As historian Fred Coleman writes, “Historians now have no difficulty pinpointing the birth of the modern Soviet dissident movement. It began in February 1966 with the trial of Andrei Sinyavsky and Yuli Daniel, two Russian writers who ridiculed the Communist regime in satires smuggled abroad and published under pen names… Little did they realize at the time that they were starting a movement that would help end Communist rule.” [source: Wikipedia]
At Rare Newspapers, the most difficult to answer yet common question our staff is frequently challenged to answer is, “Do you having anything new to offer that’s interesting?” While some newspapers would certainly rise to the top of the heap and make the answer a no-brainer (Lincoln assassination, Declaration of Independence, an Oxford Gazette, a great Stock Market crash report, etc.), these issues are few and far between – and do not come along very often. What about the periods when no “best of the best” has come our way? Selecting great issues is often quite subjective – and ends up being heavily influenced by one’s own interests and knowledge base. This truth makes answering this question nearly impossible. However, just for fun, from time to time we’ll ask the Rare & Early Newspapers’ staff to take turns looking at the issues listed month-to-date to select their choice for the most interesting new item.
I’ll get things started by taking a look at September (to-date), 2015. In my opinion, there are several good issues to choose from: The New York Yankees acquire Joe DiMaggio, the very 1st King Kong advertisement, the announcing of the creation of a Jewish homeland, the execution of the Rosenbergs, and the death of William Randolph Hurst – to name a few. However, as a graduate of Penn State University, my selection of the month is an issue announcing Joe Paterno becoming a starter at Brown University. Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I’m confident my selection may not be the same as yours. You can weigh in on your own thoughts by looking at the first page of our Recent Listings. Enjoy.
Next stop: October, 2015.
“The News” from Cleveland reports in its September 30, 1926 issue comments of the wife of famed boxer Jack Dempsey following his unexpected loss to Gene Tunney in one of the more noted fights in boxing history. In defense of her husband she noted: “…I didn’t marry the heavyweight title – I married Jack Dempsey.” and later: “I have never taken an interest in boxing… Jack didn’t bring the ring into the home… But fighting is Jack’s business. That is the thing he loves to do, and I have no more right to influence him with regard to it…”.
She put into practice the anthem Tammy Wynette would make famous some 42 years later with her song “Stand By Your Man”.
An early 1800’s article of a grudge boxing match in London reports an interesting ending, when the losing boxer’s wife steps forward to challenge the assistant of the winning boxer. The October 25, 1805 issue of the Middlesex Gazette“ (Middletown, CT) states: “…They set to in great style & the wife rallied her opponent handsomely. She fought 14 strait…rounds and so completely disfigured the head of Leveret that he yielded to her superior science in the pugilistic art…The second was by far the best fight, and the delicate lady challenged her husband’s rival on the spot.” Forget the boxer… Don’t mess with his wife.
Cheating in baseball may be as old as the the sport itself, but it was most notably brought to national attention with the infamous “Black Sox” scandal of 1919, when several players of the Chicago White Sox were accused of throwing the World Series that year for financial gain.
As newspaper report from shortly after the end of the Civil War gives evidence that it happened much earlier as well. The “New York Times” issue of Sept. 29, 1865 reports on a game between the Mutuals and Eckford teams, ultimately won by the latter with a score of 23-11. Excellence in play was reported with: “…Some of the fly tips taken by Mills surpassed, anything we ever saw in that line of business, while their pitching came nearer to the Creighton mark in accuracy of delivery than any we have seen since his death…”. But records show that several Mutual players were later charged for accepting money to deliberately toss this game (see this hyperlink for the details). Ironically the summary mentions the poor play of the Mutuals marked by “…over-pitched balls, wild throws, passed balls, and failures to stop them…”. Interesting evidence that all was “not well” with the game.
Although the 1919 World Series remains prominent in sports history, this obscure game from 54 years earlier gives evidence to a a rather lengthy history of cheating in baseball.
Today I traveled to Fairmont, West Virginia, by the means of The Fairmont Times dated April 6, 1915. There I found a front page photo of Jess Willard who had just beaten world boxing champion Jack Johnson in the 26th round by a knock-out. This match held in Havana, Cuba, was the longest heavy-weight title fight of the 20th century. Jack Johnson was quoted “Fought hard enough to whip ten ordinary men.” There were reports that Johnson had thrown the fight, with Willard’s response being “If he was going to throw the fight, I wish he’d done it sooner. It was hotter than hell out there.”
And if news of physical suffering was not enough…
Also on the front page is reporting of the upcoming Suffrage Convention: “Suffrage Convention Plans Complete”, which was to be in held in Fairmont.
This week I traveled to Omaha, Nebraska, via the Omaha Evening Bee of October 8 through 13, 1914 (excluding the 11th which was a Sunday), where I enjoyed the 1914 World Series between the Boston Braves and the Philadelphia Athletics (see below). This series was the first four-game sweep in World Series history, excluding any tie games. The Braves had even abandoned their home field and played at Fenway Park while awaiting construction of their new home field, thus not having any “home field advantage.”
This is a bit of a unique publication as the first page of each issue is printed on pink-colored paper and features the sports news as the major headline event and large illustrations. Further reporting is continued within the regular portion of the newspaper as well.