Here’s another rare piece of baseball nostalgia from the Rare Sportsfilms archives especially for Brooklyn Dodger fans! The only two remaining shows of the beloved “Happy Felton’s Knothole Gang”, broadcast live from Ebbets Field, Brooklyn on WOR-TV before every Dodger home game in the 1950’s, can now be seen on DVD, thanks to Rare Sportsfilms, Inc! Baseball fans who grew up in Brooklyn will wax nostalgic at this warm look at Americana, 1950’s-style, as Happy and his side-kick Bucky Walsh, along with Jackie Robinson, Billy Cox and Pee Wee Reese are seen again as they were almost 60 years ago!
On Saturday afternoon August 7, 1954 (Reds in town), the show, presented by the ten leading Brooklyn and Queens mutual savings banks, features three outfielders from Oakland B’Nairith Little League. Peter Miscatto of Junior High 74 and Windsor Shopping, Mike Brucker of the Linden Maid Yankees and Richard “Dixie” Dix of B’Nairith all gather to compete. Brucker’s coach is former major leaguer Cy Block (with Cubs 1942-1946) who is now a life insurance underwriter for Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company. Jackie Robinson meets the youths and then throws grounders and popups to the boys individually while they are instructed to cover a base, charge the ball, etc. This all takes place in the RF corner of Ebbet Field in front of a huge outfield fence sign which advertises the Happy Felton Show and identifies the sponsors. During this time, Glady’s Gooding’s organ playing can distinctly be heard in the background! After the youngsters each take their turns with Robinson, each is given a free glove and new Louisville Slugger! Robinson selects Richard Dix as the outstanding boy of the three and he is invited to return the following day. Bill Dietrich of Jamaica Savings Bank also presents each boy with a new savings account. Then Happy introduces last night’s winner, Bobby DiMichael of Pelham Little League and escorts him to home plate to meet with Billy Cox. There, Bobby asks Cox how to break in a new glove, to demonstrate the two types of bunts and to analyze his swing. Then he gets to go with Billy Cox to the first base dugout and meet with some of the Dodger players.
On Tuesday evening June 26, 1956, the contestants are three shortstops from St. Bernadette's Little League in Brooklyn. Each youngster gives his name, school and names his father or LL manager. Last night's winner, Ronald Ferrari, of Union City LL is also re-introduced and congratulated.
On this night, Mr. Fred Gretsch of the Gretsch Musical Instrument Company, a VP and Trustee of the Lincoln Savings Bank, presides in an official capacity representing the sponsor. Gretsch names several of the outstanding school bands in the area, and Jackie Robinson is welcomed. As always, the boys each introduce themselves to Robinson and ask him a baseball question. This time, Robbie tells who gives the sign on a pitchout, who can score on the infield fly rule and how to get a good jump on the pitcher. While Robinson decides whose performance was the best and selects the evening's winner, Fred Gretsch, representing Lincoln Savings Bank, awards each contestant with a passbook savings account. Then Robinson announces the winner for the evening - Louie Manarino from P.S. 186 in Brooklyn, and gives him an autographed ball! All three contestants retreat to the stands for the evening's ballgame, while Happy Felton and last night's winner Ronald Ferrari walk towards home plate near the Dodger dugout. Ronald selects Pee Wee Reese from whom to ask questions and get playing tips. Reese gives his opinions on the best bunter he ever saw, best way to sac bunt and bunt for a hit and how to hit the ball to right field. After Happy Felton closes the show for the evening, you'll see a couple of commercials for Vaseline Hair Tonic and Flying "A" Ethyl Gasoline.
Now you can get your own copy of this rare and nostalgic 50-minute piece of baseball TV Americana by sending $29.95 plus $4.00 shipping to:
(Illinois residents MUST add $2.00 state sales tax)
"RARE SPORTSFILMS N"
1126 Tennyson Lane
Naperville, IL 60540