Radio ephemera for opening day

In honor of the start of the Red Sox season I’ve found an odd, wonderful entry to NPR’s Lost & Found sound series.

Gregory Whitehead’s “Two Twitching Fingers”

Gregory Whitehead’s maternal grandfather, Alexander Shannon, worked for Western Union as a telegraph operator. His job included sending out the baseball news from Fenway Park, often disappointing to his wife Helene, an avid Red Sox fan, during the lean years of the 1930s and 40s.

He concludes looking at a 1953 photograph of his grandfather, who he says reminds him of a character from Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, which had its world premier the same year:

It’s almost as if Grandfather Al has been cast as the character Gogo, who says towards the end of the play, ‘I can’t go on like this.’ And his sidekick, Didi, who I figure must have been a Red Sox fan, replies, ‘That’s what you think.’

The photo above shows telegraph operators at work in Shibe Park, Philadelphia  in 1913

Red Sox Make a Comeback

In 1932, the Boston Red Sox hit an all-time low, losing 111 games and attracting only 180,000 spectators for the entire season.

But, the next year, Tom Yawkey bought the team and threw himself wholeheartedly into managing the ball club.

Ted Williams signed onto  his roster in 1939. In 1940, Fenway Park set a new record for attendance, breaking the standard set in 1909.

Above and right: Ted Williams signs a contract under the eye of Tom Yawkee, LIFE Magazine.

Just 52 Days Until Spring Training

The New York Public Library just pointed fans to an online album of thousands of beautiful, free archival images published as part of the  library’s NewNYPL initiative, to help it stay up with the digital times.

A few Boston-related images have snuck into the collection. Among them, this image of Philadelphia infielder Arthur Irwin tagging Tommy McCarthy of the Boston Reds as he slides into base.McCarthy joined the Boston Reds in 1884, finishing with a dismal .212 batting average, but went on to play for the Boston Beaneaters and Brooklyn Bridegrooms (so-named because several of its players had just gotten married). There’s just no beating the names back then.  McCarthy’s performance improved over his career, and he was finally inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1946, but baseball statistician Bill James has called him the worst player to be admitted.