Under the Radar

How Bing Crosby Saved Baseball's 'Best Game'

These days, most people remember Bing Crosby as the guy who sang "Little Drummer Boy" with David Bowie in that clip on YouTube. Slightly older folks might remember him as the old man in those '70s orange juice commercials or possibly from those Road movies he made with Bob Hope.

Almost no one thinks of Bing Crosby as one of the entertainment industry's greatest supporters of technical innovation.Crosby was the first vocalist to adapt his singing style for microphones and electrical amplification and recording, almost single-handedly creating our idea of  how vocals are supposed to sound on a record. Later, he was one of the first people to see the potential in and promote the use of the magnetic recording tape that U.S. soliders brought back from Germany after World War II. Virtually every advance in recording for the next 50 years was caused by the trends he started.

Now we learn that Bing's considerable wealth allowed him to indulge in some electronic toys that would have seem like science fiction to most of his contemporaries. Bing kept a kinescope in his house  that allowed him to film live television broadcasts right off the screen.

As part owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Bing couldn't bring himself to watch his team play the Yankees in the 1960 World Series. He decamped to Paris, listened to the games on shortwave radio and had someone record the games off his TV back home.

Bill Maserozki's game-7 walk-off home run decided the Series in what many believe was the best baseball game ever played. Unfortunately, archivists believed there were no surviving copies of the television broadcast.

Except for the copy in Bing's basement, filmed with a hyper-expensive yet primitive version of the modern DVR. The Crosby estate has provided a copy to Major League Baseball and now the MLB Network will broadcast the entire game later this year.

You can read the entire story at the New York Times site. For more on Bing Crosby's amazing career, check out Gary Giddins' book Bing Crosby: The Early Years.

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