Stardust Memories

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


BIG on samples and happy hour buffets, periodically declares he's giving up on cheese (might as well call him "anti-American" i know), LOVES his wife (remember, "wife" spelled backwards is "efiw"), is certain his son is destined to be known as "Enzo the Great," appreciates his "parents" more each day (in-laws included), still dislikes cats, greatest fear is mediocrity, has resigned himself to blatant self-promotion (hey! i amuse me), defies popularity by defining himself, and wants (would like) you to pay him lots (market-value) of money for his work.

lorenzo@lorenzodom.com

....more on "Papa" Lorenzo

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Stardust Memories:

The Essential Guide to American Adult Pop-Culture
of the Age of Innocence,
1946-64

Sports & Recreation

Introduction

Focus on Baseball

Baseballís Hall of Fame

Focus on the New York Yankees

Basketball

Billiards

Boxing

Bowling

Bullfighting

Chess

Gambling

Golf

Tennis

Dancing

Introduction

Recreation during the 1950s tended to be family oriented. Families bowled together, went to ball-games together and watched the latest prize-fight on television together with Momís home-cooked meal or latest Swanson & Sons TV dinner on their individual tin trays in front of them. It was a time when dads would play baseball or chess with their sons, weaning them on the basic principles of competition, so that they could apply what they learned to the corporate world.

Sports watching was especially popular at this time because the television networks were in their nascent states and had just started to broadcast on a regular basis and therefore needed programming. Sports needed no scripts, actors, directors or stage. All that was needed was a cameraman and a broadcaster to interpret the subtleties of the game for the home or bar bound audience.

Unlike today, athletes had a relatively clean image, untainted by greedy salary mongering, corporate product pushing, drug addiction scandals, or regular unruly behavior. Like everyone else, athletes were highly concerned about their public image and therefore behaved and groomed accordingly.

In 1954 Americans spent $13 billion on recreational activities and $224 million on spectator sports.The Most Popular Activities:

BaseballBasketballBilliardsBowling BoxingBullfightingCanastaCar RacingCheckersChessFishingFootballGamblingGolf Greyhound RacingHorse racingHuntingPokerRoller DerbiesTable TennisTennisWrestling

Stardust Fact: The "Jumping" Jack LaLanne Show premiered on TV in 1951

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Focus on Baseball

1950

Americans consume 750 millions pounds of hotdogs

The UN reports that half of the world's 800 million children are undernourished.

Americaís so-called national pastime, probably enjoyed its apogee of popularity during the 1950ís. It was the hey-day of "hot-dogs, baseball and apple-pie," when baseball proved to be a clean-cut pristine sport where the players proved to be role models for the growing boys of the day.

1950, the major leagues sign a $6 million TV contract for World Series rights, with benefits to go to the pension fund.

Baseball became so popular that in 1953 their appeared new sexual jargon which adopted the sport's lexicon, including "first base" and "home run."

Baseballís Golden Age began with Babe Ruth and ended with Mickey Mantle, both New York Yankees, the Bronx Bombers, the greatest team of the time if not all of the sportís history.

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Inductees to Baseballís Hall of Fame who played during the 1950s

Henry Aaron (1954-76)

Ernest Banks (1953-71)

Lawrence (Yoggi) Berra (1946-65)

Roy Campanella (1948-57)

Roberto Clemente (1955-72)

Joseph DiMaggio (1936-51)

Bobby Doerr (1937-51)

Albert Kaline (1953-74)

George Kell (1943-57)

Harmon Killebrew (1954-75)

Ralph Kiner (1946-55)

Mickey Mantle (1951-68)

Edwin Matthews (1952-68)

Willie Mays (1951-73)

Stanley Musial (1941-63)

Harold (Pee Wee) Reese (1940-58)

Brooks Robinson (1955-77)

Frank Robinson (1956-76)

Jackie Robinson (1947-56)

Red Schoendienst (1945-63)

Enos Slaughter (1938-59)

Edwin (Duke) Snider (1947-64)

Theodore Williams (1939-60)

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Focus on the New York Yankees

The New York Yankees were originally the Baltimore Orioles until they were moved to New York by Frank Farrell and Bill Devery in 1903. Originally called the Highlanders, they were renamed the Yankees in 1913. In 1920 new owners made a historical decision by purchasing from the Boston Red Sox, George Herman "Babe" Ruth's contract. Ruth helped his new team win their first American League pennant in 1921 and their first World Series two years later. With Ruth in the lead, the Yankees went on to win five more pennants in the same decade and three more World Series in 1927, 1928 and 1932. Even though Babe would retire in 1935, he would remain revered into the early 1950s, being voted one of the most revered personalities by teenagers in 1951? He would also be inducted into the Hall of Fame having claimed the record for most bases on balls (2,056), homeruns (714), and runs scored (2,174), records which very few have surpassed till this day. Ruth's unprecedented performance proved so popular that he is attributed with the primary impetus for the team building their own stadium, which was attended by 75,000 fans on opening day, april 23, 1923, with nearly 25,000 others being turned away. And so it was that Yankee Stadium became known as "the house that Ruth built" and Babe became widely known as "the greatest player of baseball history."

At the beginning of another spectacular decade for the Yanks, the man who led them through their first series of championships, Babe Ruth, passed away on August 16, 1948. The era before his death was led by Joe DiMaggio, who helped the team win seven pennants and six World Series between 1936 and 1943. Yet, the Yankees were not through winning and once again beginning in 1949, under the auspices of Coach Casey Stengel and with the talent of Mickey Mantle, Yoggi Berra, Phil Rizzuto, and Whitey Ford, the team won the World Series every year until 1954, and between 1954 and 1964 won four World Series and nine pennants.

Honorable mention must go to the Yankee's brothers to the South, the Brooklyn Dodgers, who until 1945 were widely known for their comical style of playing and their eccentric fans who supported them. Yet, in that historical year, all the frivolous fanfare became serious with the singing of Jackie Robinson to their minor league affiliate. Robinson joined the team in 1947, becoming the first black player in the major leagues with incredible perseverence withstood the tolling racism, inspiring his fellow teammates to prove their worth as he valliantly showed. For the next decade until 1957 when Robinson retired and the team moved to Los Angeles (accompanied by the New York Giants, which moved to San Francisco), the Dodgers won six National League pennants, but only one World Series in 1955, because every other time they faced probably the greatest team of all baseball history, the New York Yankees.

Americaís so-called national pastime, probably enjoyed its apogee of popularity during the 1950ís. A clean-cut pristine sport where the players proved to be role models for the growing boys of the day.

J. Robinson was the 1949 NL batting champion with a .342 batting average and wins the NL MVP award

Joe Dimagio, Mickey Mantle, the Brooklyn Dodgers, Jackie Robinson, Sandy Koufax, Yogi Berra

1946, In 1946 Jackie Robinson became the first black player in professional, playing for a Brooklyn farm team.

 

1947, Jackie Robinson becomes the first black major league player and wins the Rookie of the Year Award.

1948, Babe Ruth dies

1950-Sugar Ray Robinson loses his middleweight championship status on a TKO.

1950- Phil Rizzuto of the New York Yankees wins the AL MVP Award.

A 1950 Life survey listed Jo DiMaggio and Babe Ruth as two of the most popular teen idols.

Willie Mays (NY Giants?)

1951- Willie Mays of the NY Giants is the league rookie of the year.

1951- Mickey Mantle debuts for the Yankees. Joe DiMaggio retires with a .325 lifetime BA and 361 home runs.

1951- Roy Campanella of the Brooklyn Dodgers takes NL MVP award and Yogi Berra takes the AL league MVP (NY Yankees)

1951- "The shot heard round the world"- Bobby Thompson's home run (NY Giants)

Willie Mays (1951-1973) 3,283 Hits; 2,062 Runs Scored (5); 660 Home Runs (3)

Henry Aaron (1954-1976) 3,771 Hits (3) ; 2,174 Runs Scored (2); 755 Home Runs (1)

Sandy Koufax

Phil Rizzuto, Roger Maris, Whitey Ford (Yanks) Casey Stengel (coach)

1954, Willie Mays, NY Giants, wins theNL MVP and Yogi Berra wins the AL MVP

1955, Roy Campanella (Brooklyn) NL MVP, Yogi Berra (NY) AL MVP

1956 Don Newcombe NL MVP (Brooklyn); Mickey Mantle AL MVP (NY)

1957 H. Aaron - 1957 NL MVP; M. Mantle 1957 AL MVP

1962 Mickey Mantle wins AL MVP

1963 Sandy Koufax (NL LA) pitches a second no hitter, wins the Cy Young award, and the NL MVP

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Basketball

focus on Boston Celtics which won 1957-1969 Championships (except 1967)

1946- The NBL is formed, starting with 11 teams.

1948 The Harlem Globetrotters beat the NBL champs 61-59.

 

Billiards

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Boxing

Jake LaMotta, born July 10 and feautred in the film Raging Bull.

Marciano.

Rocky Graziano

Joe Lewis

Sugar Ray Robinson

Refer to Body & Soul, 1947. Rod Serlingís Requim for a Heavyweight.

1949, Jake La Mota wins the middleweight title after knocking-out Marcel Cerdan, who soon after died in a plane crash upon returning for a rematch. Joe Louis retires.

1951-Sugar Ray Robinson, welterweight champion beats middleweight champ Jake LaMotta to take both titles.

 

History of World Heavyweight Championship Fights

(Title deciding bouts)

Date Winner Loser

June 22, 1937 Joe Louis Jim Braddock

June 22, 1949 Ezzard Charles Joe Walcott

Sept. 27, 1950 Ezzard Charles Joe Louis

July 18, 1951 Joe Walcott Ezzard Charles

Sept. 23, 1952 Rocky Marciano Joe Walcott

Nov. 30, 1956 Floyd Patterson* Archie Moore

June 26, 1959 Ingemar Johansson Floyd Patterson

June 20, 1960 Floyd Patterson Ingemar Johansson

Sept. 25, 1962 Sonny Liston Floyd Patterson

Feb. 25, 1964 Cassius Clay** Sonny Liston

*Also took a gold medal for middeweight boxing in the 1952 Summer Olympics

**Also took a gold medal for light heavyweight boxing in the 1960 Summer Olympics

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Bowling

In 1954, There were an estimated 2,500,000 bowlers.

Although the sport has been around more than a century, bowling, which was originally known as nine-pins, until it was made illegal in the late 1800s in New York because of gambling associated with it, so that it was ingeniously converted into a ten-pin game to avoid breaking the law, in turn changing the pin pattern from a diamond to a a triangle, did not become a professional sport until 1959, when the American Bowling Congress held its first Championship tournament, even though the Congress had been formed in 1895. The following year the Professional Bowlers Association also had its first National Bowling Championship tournament.

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Bullfighting

Mario Cabre

From Barcelona, he was also a playwright, poet, novelist, actor, and longtime lover of Ava Gardner.

Juan Belmonte

According to John Steinbeck, Belmonte was "the greatest bullfighter of all."

Luis Miguel Dominguin

had an affair with then Frank Sinatra's wife, Ava Gardner?

Manolete

Biggest rival of Dominguin

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Chess

Gambling

Horseracing

Greyhound Racing

Casinos

 

"I'm voting for NIXON...NO PIE IN THE SKY!

Remember it's YOUR money Jack will play Poker with.

~ Pro-Nixon campaign button, 1959

 

"Poker is called the national card game of the United States, and has been so called for a hundred years, yet its growth in popularity has never been so rapid as in recent years, when new millions have discovered its appeal to ladies as well as to men, and its suitablity to casual play in homes as well as well as to serious play in clubs. Nearly every American either understands Poker, or wants to; and part of the charm of the game is that it is so easy to learn and to play enjoyably."

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Golf

"Some of us worship in churches, some in synagogues, some on golf courses."

~Adlai Stevenson, 1952

Martin and Lewis movie. The Caddy. Bingís favorite pasttime. The RCA album "Como Swings" features Perry Como swinging a golf club. There is a picture of Nat King Cole holding a club.

"If you're a "golf widow," then here's a gift for your man that will remind him of you-Gold-plated Golf Tees

~ Barton's of Ridgewood, 1950

During the Fifties golf was not only a popular sport, it was a divider between the rich, white and privileged, and the poor, black or minority populations. Among the former group who indulged in this pasttime were President Eisenhower, Dean Martin, Perry Como, Bing Crosby (who died the night after a round in Spain) and JFK. The average American salary was $2,992 a year, and therefore few could afford the clubs, the fees and cost of membership if necessary.

One the top stars in the sport, Ben Hogan, was seriously injured at the height of his career in a car accident in 1949, but made an incredible comeback the following year to win the US Open in 1950 and 1951. In 1953, Hogan went on to win the Masters, US Open and the British Open.

1955 Over 3.8 million people play golf on approximately 5,000 courses.

1958 Arnold Palmer appears on the PGA

1960 Jack Nicklaus, 20, is second to Arnold Palmer in the U.S. Open.

1962 Jack Nicklaus beats Arnold Palmer in the US Open

 

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Tennis

Pancho Gonzales wins the US Tennis Open.

Dancing

Capitol Records. Cha-Cha Mambos. Arthur Murray and Billy May's Rico Mambo Orchestra.

The album offered a FREE dance lessons certificate.

"'Quick-slow-quick' is a rhythmic pattern familiar to the multitudes of people everywhere who are dancing the mambo. Its really phenomenal popularity and uniquely complex steps are guaranteeing it a permanent place in the ballroom dance repertoire. For even passive people and timid ones are excited about the mambo's rhythms, its movement, and the wonderfully thrilling musical arrangements in which it has been heard."

Albums in the Arthur Murray Series included: Swing Fox Trots, Tangos, Rhumbas, Sambas, Mambos, Fox Trots, Modern Waltzes and Waltzes.

New Faces of 195....

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Copyright © 1997
Fresh Ink Company & Lorenzo D. Dominguez
All Rights Reserved.
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