Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Television sets...and Jackie Robinson

This is about television sets, in 1950--and one of baseball's greatest players, Jackie Robinson, of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

I remember, during childhood (the 1960s), that it was not uncommon to read or hear that baseball players (in my case, players for the Red Sox) had "regular" jobs during the off-season. The game, years ago, was very different,  in economic terms.

I have a souvenir program, from the first game of the 1967 World Series--played at Fenway Park, between the Red Sox and the Cardinals. (It is the sole World Series game I've attended.)  Part of the souvenir program was devoted to the players' biographies--which included this detail about Red Sox star Carl Yastrzemski: that, during this period,  he worked as an "off-season printing salesman."

Recently, in an e-mail newsletter, The New Yorker presented a group of stories from its archives. One of the pieces--a brief article from January of 1950--concerned Jackie Robinson. In 1947, of course, Robinson had made history--by breaking the Major League's barrier against African-American players, when he was hired by Dodgers executive Branch Rickey to play for the team.  In November of 1949, less than two months before the New Yorker article appeared, Robinson had been named the National League's Most Valuable Player, for the 1949 season.

The article in The New Yorker was about the off-season, part-time job Robinson had at the time:  he sold televisions, in a Queens appliance store. 

Television, at this time, was still in its relative infancy--but television sets were selling quickly. At the start of 1947, a few months before Robinson's debut as a Major League player, there were just 16,000 television sets in the country.  A year later, there were 190,000.  By the start of 1949, there were approximately one million sets in use--and by the beginning of 1950, at the time of the New Yorker article, there were some four million (in 9% of American homes). Sales, during 1950, were brisk. By January of 1951, there would be more than ten million sets in use (in nearly 24% of American homes).

Lastly, here is a piece about the subject of ballplayers and off-season jobs, from the website of The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. It is by Lenny DiFranza, the Hall of Fame's assistant curator of new media.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Peter Falk biography

Listened, last night, to my friend Morgan White, Jr., on the overnight show on Boston's WBZ Radio. Morgan has his own show every Saturday night on WBZ (The Morgan Show, 10 to midnight, Eastern time), and he hosts the station's weekend overnight program (Fridays and Saturdays) every third week.

Last night, he conducted an enjoyable and informative interview with the authors of a book, published earlier this year, about the actor Peter Falk.  I hope to read the book--Beyond Columbo: The Life and Times of Peter Falk--sometime soon.