By Todd Miller
So what does a person in the Creative Department do to relieve the mounting tension of creating a bunch of ads and going out for a three hour lunch after tearing the Matt Room apart (leaving rubber cement, rubber cement remover, empty rolls of masking tape and Styrofoam, and reams of paper and maybe an empty wine bottle or two strewn across the floor)?
Well, you go to a Golden Age of Advertising after-work baseball game, that’s what. Ahhhhh, just what is needed. a relaxing game of baseball.
No, wait a second.
Take an enormous quantity of “ego” and add a sport to it and what do you get? Right.…..more of the same. Tension, jealousy, and downright hatred.
So, after a once a week diet of watching these so-called baseball games, I decided it’s time to show my hand and play with the Hoefer, Dietrich, Brown Advertising Baseball Team.
So, there I am, sitting with the team in the bleachers waiting for them to signal me to go into right field or bat. or something.
Now, let me go back a step here. Hoefer is playing BBDO that night.
BBDO had real serious baseball (and advertising) guys on their team. like Copywriter Alex Cichy, and Art Director Bruce Campbell, led by their super serious advisor and Creative Director, Hal Rainey ( who never played because he might do something wrong. and Hal could never admit he was wrong about anything).
The one thing Hal did approve of was winning (his ego would tolerate nothing less).
I used to say, “why doesn’t the team playing BBDO simply leave a six-pack on home plate and just go home?”.
Anyway, Hoefer was playing BBDO that night, and I was waiting for my first turn at bat. Well, I kept asking our esteemed manager about letting me play during every inning.
Finally, after constant pestering, I got a response.
“Admiral Hoefer” (the esteemed reason for the name Hoefer, Dietrich, Brown) “wants us to win the game”.
My response was, “so why can’t I play”.
The team manager (I forget his name) responded by repeating that the “Admiral wants us to beat BBDO”.…..with the unsaid notification that my physique and participation was not called for.
Again, I said the one word I thought might lead to some kind of enlightenment. ”so”.
And then for some unknown reason, about the 8th inning of my constant pestering, I was told to get up there and bat. I was actually being asked to get onto the field and hit the baseball with the bat (even though Hoefer was behind by two runs).
I hunched my shoulders, grabbed the bat and swung my shoulders around like the T.V. “Big Leaguers” did.
But.……as I walked up to the home plate. I saw there was a serious argument at first base.
That’s where I thought Kirk Hinshaw (the art directing baseball player) would be, because he swung a solid one base hit as I was coming to the plate. Turns out the Umpire thought otherwise.
So, Kirk was displaying a serious fit of temper ( with an Art Director on Second and a Writer on Third Base, needless to say, Kirk was not putting up with the Umpire’s Call).
I stood at home plate swinging the bat again and again until the temper tantrums were played out.
Finally, Kirk was declared “safe” and I was officially declared “up at bat” with “bases loaded.
And that’s when I had my turn to face my “Major Leaguer Fantasy” square in the face. Now, here’s the truth of the moment without any flourishes.
The first pitch came in to me at a 100 mile per hour (well, that’s how it seemed). it was
probably less than 40 miles an hour.
And.….….…I swung and I hit a home run with bases loaded.
Simple as that.
The next day a paper of baseball stats hit our office desks. My batting average was listed as 1000.
End of story.
I never played in the Advertising Baseball League again. (Not that I was ever asked).
But, should my grandkid ever want to know what kind of man I was. just tell him I was “batting a thousand”.
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AD Agency Softball
After reading the heroic story above, I sent out this question to our Geezers:
9/26/21, 6:37 PM
Just by chance— HD&B and BBD&O after-work agency ball games. Does anyone happen to have a team photo from those days? (For Geezers’ Gallery.) (A real long shot!) Happy Autumn — Ann Thompson
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On 9/26/21 11:54 PM, Richard Wilson wrote:
Hi Ann and Richard…
I have to chuckle about your request here. I never heard of an after-work baseball team in the early 60’s, when I was working at HDB. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway, I was never interested in sports. But, when I was in grammar school, we didn’t have a choice. I was always chosen last to be on any baseball team. When I would be in out field, guess where all of the balls here hit? This would always mean home runs for the opposing team.
While I was a looser at sports, I was nevertheless the acknowledged best artist. When our 3rd grade class would be making drawings, kids would line up for me to straighten their fence posts and draw their barns using vanishing lines for perfect depth perception. Nobody showed me how to do this, but I could see, and I knew.
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And then I replied:
Ann, here, I will have Richard (Moore) email you later. I relate! Before group sports were forced in school I could out-run all of the kids in our neighborhood and climb higher than any of them. But at bat in junior high school. I would back away from a perfect pitch to show it was dangerous!
In City College figure drawing class the other students would stand behind me just to watch my hands. In our art studio at 901 Broadway (SF), Rex Simmons said I should insure my hands with Lloyds of London! As for the photo, just thought someone would have carried a camera.
Note: I have this photo of the VICOM Associates team where I was working. You will see that I am not in it.
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On Sep 27, 2021, at 1:38 PM, Richard Moore wrote:
Oh Richard, it’s Richard, Your sports story is my sports story. Your art story is my story also with one exception, I was never asked for assistance. I did the usual murals, of course, and during WWII did posters depicting the downfall of our enemies. Richard
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Then: Richard Wilson, wrote again:
Hi you both…
What fun we three had here
with our school sports & art stories.
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I found these BBDO jerseys for sale on line.
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Another response was this from Samm Coombs:
PITCHERS DON’T PITCH.
from a book I published in the early 90s …
Today’s baseball pitchers are, in fact, throwers – that is, delivering the ball overhand (sidearmers being the odd exception).
Pitching is a straight arm underhand delivery, as with horseshoes. And that is how it was from baseball’s beginning in 1845 through 1884.
The original New York Knickerbocker rules of 1845 required that “The ball is pitched and not thrown at the bat.” That rule was amended by the National League in the first year of its existence, in 1876, providing that, “The ball must be delivered to the bat with the arm swinging nearly perpendicular at the side of the body, and the hand in passing forward must pass below the hip.” In 1878 that was rule was changed, requiring the pitcher to deliver the ball “Below the waist.” Then, in 1883 the League once more revised the rule requiring that the ball should “Be delivered below the pitcher’s shoulder.”
The 1878 edict induced pitchers to wear their belts abnormally high to elevate the waist line to the shoulder. It was not until 1884 all bans were removed permitting the “pitcher” to use his own option as to the method of delivering the ball. As a consequence, pitchers soon became throwers!
While the pitched ball was the rule, clubs only carried one pitcher on their staff, as the pitching motion did not take a toll on the arm. For-example, Albert Goodwill Spalding pitched every game the Boston Red Sox played between 1871 and 1874 winning 241 out of 301 and going the distance in all!
Winning or losing in baseball’s early days often had more to do with the quality of the balls than that of the pitcher. Before the aforementioned Spalding introduced the first standardized League Ball (that being the initial product of the fledgling Spalding Sporting Goods Company), each team used handmade balls whose hardness or softness were calculated to exploit the home team’s strengths or the visiting team’s weaknesses, leading the CHICAGO TIMES to bemoan the variation “between a hard, brave, manly, decent ball to play with, and a soft, flabby, cowardly sphere.”
While those balls may have been cowardly, 19th Century ball players were anything but. They fielded without gloves (albeit often catching fly balls in their caps), and during the pre-League days runners could be “burned” –i.e., purposely hit by a thrown ball for a put out.
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9/29/21, 6:24 PM
But I still needed a photo from the BBD&O team – – so I wrote again to Samm:
Hi Samm, It was nice talking with Shirley and I mentioned that I knew that when you were at BBD&O – – there were after-work ball games. Shirley thinks that you have photographs from those games. Todd Miller who was at HD&B in those days wrote of a game between the two agencies. Might you look for photos to send to me? I always try to add visuals. Maybe you have a story of those games, also?
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So Samm sent this Xerox of a BBD&O game photo:
Written under this photo:
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — That awesome instant when a top-riding pitcher is reduced to a whimpering has-been … that adrenalin-charged tick of time when wood meets and masters leather and flings it screaming into obscurity … this magnificent moment was recorded for posterity during a recent outing of the BBDO Sweaty Sox when whip-wristed Samm Coombs (above) popped out.
Catcher was Honig-Cooper agency.
Softball. Bob Biancalana broke his hand and BBDO banished art dept. from the team.
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So I deduce, Softball is “underhanded” so therefore the ball is pitched.