Monday, February 16, 2009


I stumbled across this gem on YouTube and it is worth a look.

It is the locker room celebration after the 1977 World Series. And it is kind of startling to watch when you compare it to the carefully choreographed for TV post game celebrations that go on now. Perhaps it is appropriate that the team that inspired The Bronx is Burning have a chaotic celebration.

I may be a Red Sox fan, but I know a good celebration when I see one!

Let's take a closer look

0:00 - Bill White interviews Billy Martin. First of all, ABC needs to bring back those yellow blazers. Secondly it is a shame that the Yankees won in 1977 and not 1976. In 1976 NBC had Phil Rizzuto in the booth and it would have been amazing to hear Scooter call a Yankees World Series title with ZERO objectivity.

0:18 - White poses the "Nobel Peace Prize" question. When you think about it, John Turturro doesn't really look like Billy Martin at all... but he got his affectations and mannerisms down to a T.

0:33 - How about next year? Well the Yankees would turn around and do it again in 1978... just without Billy. Don't worry... Billy would be back in 1979... and 1983... and 1985... and 1988.

0:41 - Yes Red Sox fans, that is Mike Torrez being hugged. He got the last out in the 1977 series and as a Red Sox pitcher would cough up the Bucky Dent homer. Some Sox fans believe he was a double agent in that 1978 playoff.

0:58 - More people pass in front of the camera and more cops surround the interview. Isn't there a TV production assistant waving people out of the shot?

1:01 - I guess not! The first appearance of the William Howard Taft looking guy with the plastic helmet. There is no way he was an employee of the Yankees, the NYPD nor ABC. For all we know he jumped onto the field and somehow made it into the locker room.

1:03 - The cops wisk away the yahoo in the plastic hat. Hey, Lenny Briscoe. Thanks for the help, but could you keep the people from walking IN FRONT of the interview?

1:15 - Lou Piniella celebrates. Sadly we don't see Billy's face as he actually compliments Reggie Jackson. You don't cut away when the impossible happens!

1:22 - Billy is let go to go and drink. Never a good idea.

1:25 - A crazed Yankee comes in to spray Bill White and his amazing yellow blazer with champagne.

1:26 - It turns out that Yankee isn't a player but former Yankee great Elston Howard. Possibly revenge for the 1964 World Series. (White was on the winning Cardinals team. Howard was on the losing Yankees team.)

1:27 - The field is chaos. According to one of his monologues, one of the people on the field is a young Artie Lange and his father. It's a good thing all of those police officers are in the locker room and not on the field making arrests!

1:30 - We still hear the sound of Elston Howard spraying Bill White. I wonder why they cut away. White calls for Yogi Berra... no doubt Yogi will bring some dignity to the proceedings.

1:41 - It took long enough to cut back to Bill White and Yogi Berra that I wonder if there is some sort of rule against showing champagne sprayed.

1:42 - Billy didn't get that far. He's actually closer to the camera now than he was during his interview.

1:43 - Yogi is loving this. As a player and a coach, this was his 12th World Series clinching celebration. He would have one more... 1978.

1:48 - Holy Cow! A FILM camera. Now they don't even use tapes, but someone is shooting 16mm film! (Sorry, the film school grad came out there.)

1:50 - The second appearance of the William Howard Taft looking guy with the plastic helmet. He made it past the Andy Sipowicz looking cop to regain his close up.

1:58 - You've got to give the guy in the plastic helmet some credit... he knows where to stand. Essentially if you had to describe this frame, he's be the focal point. I think he is actually in focus! He's laughing like he's good buddies with Yogi and Bill White.

2:00 - The guy in the plastic hat has a glance and a smile with the Bruno Kirby looking cop on frame right. I wonder if he is in the Steinbrenner family. Mitch Steinbrenner.

2:08 - The William Howard Taft looking guy in the plastic helmet is now cheering on an off screen Thurman Munson to douse Yogi Berra with champagne on National TV. I am convinced he won the strangest "Make A Wish" foundation award ever.

2:10 - The William Howard Taft looking guy in the plastic helmet removes his helmet and asks Thurman Munson to spray him with champagne. I am convinced he will never wash his hair again.

2:11 - More people in front of the camera. There was less confusion in front of a TV camera when Hinckley shot Reagan.

2:17 - It's a wonderful blind leading the blind live TV moment. Bill White can't see because he has champagne in his eyes. Meanwhile the viewers can't see because we are literally looking through arm pits and elbows to see the interview subject. Basically they have achieved radio.

2:24 - Now it is just getting strange. A guy rises from the floor in what looks like an Orioles hat. Was he trampled? Was he washing the floor? Is there a trap door he climbed up from?

2:47 - Munson, knowing the "Do you still want to be traded?" question is coming up, pours beer on Bill White's mike. Today parents groups would be fretting over what kind of message this sends to our youth. In 1977, it was kind of funny.

2:51 - Bill White asks Munson if he wants to go back to Cleveland. It's a strange question when you think about it because he never actually ever played for Cleveland. Nor did he live in Cleveland. His family was in Canton. But we know what he meant... he wanted to be traded to an Ohio team... preferably one that did not employ Johnny Bench at the time.

2:53 - Munson basically dodges the question. Actually there was no basically about it. He avoids it, "I'm trying to be happy."

3:00 - Munson says "I'm going to play baseball somewhere." I need to tread carefully here as a Red Sox fan. One thing I've learned when you deal with Yankees fans is you do NOT f--- with Thurman Munson. And I am not going to do that. I do think that had he lived past the 1979 season, he would have eventually left for Cleveland. Lest we forget the reason he was taking the flying lessons was to get to Ohio quicker.

3:05 - Is that Napoleon Dynamite over Bill White's shoulder, screen right?

3:09 - THIS is why they now build a little stage in the clubhouse during the celebration. Poor Bill White has to pull Reggie Jackson in from the crowd... which at this point looks looks less orderly than than Tokyo with Godzilla approaching.

3:11 - It is officially a scrum. Bill White even gives a "Hey!" to someone crowding him. Seriously, is Bill White all alone at this point? Aren't there... I don't know... producers from ABC Sports who can give the former All Star first baseman a 2 foot perimeter?

3:14 - Bill White pulls Reggie into the shot like he was pulling a castaway onto a lifeboat.

3:21 - This is basically a shot of one of Reggie Jackson's eyes. At this point I am convinced the ABC camera man has the single worst vantage point of anyone in the locker room. For all I know the William Howard Taft looking guy in the plastic helmet is closer to the World Series MVP than the cameras for ABC.

3:22 - Holy Cow! That Napoleon Dynamite guy is back... AND IT'S DAN SHAUGHNESSY!!! Man, this is when he was youthful and painfully awkward... as opposed to older and painfully awkward.

3:36 - Shaughnessy is basically resting his head on Reggie's shoulder.

3:48 - Shaughnessy can't believe how damn boring Reggie's response is as he gives Bill White a history lesson. White seems like he is about to say "I know those players, Reggie. I was on All Star teams with them!"


4:00 - Reggie says "I can say I know there is a God in Heaven." I never can understand that leap in logic. He smacks three homers off of three different pitchers and somehow that confirms there is a Deity watching over us? What does that say to Burt Hooton, Elias Sosa and Charlie Hough? Either it makes them doubt there is a God in Heaven or they now know that God in Heaven hates their guts.

4:09 - "I'm not important." Humble Reggie is hilarious!

4:12 - The camera man zooms back. I am convinced that isn't for our benefit. I am sure the director in the ABC truck is screaming at the camera man through his headset to "Get a better shot." By zooming back, he's showing the director of what he's dealing with.

4:17 - Now zoomed all the way back, we see the camera man has basically put his tripod in Shea Stadium and zoomed in. What were they thinking setting up that far away?

4:19 - This shot is entering "Lee Harvey Oswald Prisoner Transfer" territory.

4:38 - What a novel idea! They cut to a different camera... one that was within 300 yards of the subject.

4:50 - Bill White informs Reggie that he is the series MVP. Today this announcement is done with a staged ceremony in front of a car. In 1977, the camera work resembles a Jason Bourne movie.

4:52 - Reggie tells Bill that he has a sister who needs the car awarded to the World Series MVP. I hope that admission didn't get her into tax trouble.

5:00 - Reggie disappears into the crowd... never to be seen again.

5:01 - Bill White apologizes for the free for all in front of the camera. I can only imagine what the director in the truck is screaming into his earpiece.

5:06 - Commissioner Kuhn comes in with the trophy. Someone could seriously lose their eye on that thing. In fact you could lose 26 eyes on that trophy!

5:15 - Again, in today's World Series celebration the network makes sure the owner, GM, President and manager are on the stage with the Commissioner and Jeanne Zelasko. Here poor Bowie Kuhn is standing there with a trophy and nobody to give it to. Maybe he can just give it to Bill White... or maybe Dan Shaughnessy.

5:23 - Poor Bill White has to adlib while Steinbrenner, Billy Martin and Gabe Paul trudge through what looks like the streets of Pamplona. "That's a beee-youtiful trophy there" is the best that he can do. It's actually kind of an ugly trophy, but what else is White going to say?

5:27 - Poor Bowie Kuhn has to return the adlib patter. He tells us that is goes to the Champion of the World. Thanks for clearing that up. I thought it went to "Best Penmanship."

5:31 - Bill says "There's a guy right behind you that maybe we can talk to." The subtext of that statement is wonderful. "Thanks for trying to play along Commissioner Kuhn, but there is someone in this sea of humanity that might actually have something interesting to say!"

5:36 - Mike Torrez is dragged into the shot. These are his last moments as a New York Yankee but as Red Sox fans will remember, won't be the last time he contributes to a Yankees World Championship.

6:00 - Bill White's assumption that Mike Torrez has something interesting to say is painfully wrong.

6:26 - Enter King George.

6:32 - They all wait for Billy Martin... who is probably getting 'faced with Art Fowler.

6:43 - George says the tough year is "worth it all." That thing on top of his head is positively Donald Trump-esque.

6:48 - Bill White keeps looking off camera for Billy Martin... clearly hoping for some decent TV to happen when he arrives. Maybe Steinbrenner will fire him right then and there.

6:52 - George asks for Billy. It might be the only time he ever does so for a positive reason.

6:54 - Everyone is calling for Billy Martin. No doubt the William Howard Taft looking guy with the plastic helmet is one of the guys calling for Billy.

6:57 - Bill White, realizing that at least five seconds of network television air time has been killed by waiting for Billy Martin says "somebody has taken Billy Martin from us." Probably not the best wording from Bill, but he has clearly drawn the short straw with this locker room assignment.

7:02 - Elston Howard strikes again with the champagne.

7:10 - Bill White says "Billy gets a lot of flack" while pointing at Steinbrenner. I wonder if George wanted to fire White at that moment.

7:41 - George reluctantly takes a swig of champagne. Funny, Elston Howard won't pour any bubbly over George!

7:47 - Steinbrenner says Happy Birthday to a very small man. No doubt that man was fired by November.

7:53 - Bill White asks what George wants to do with the club. George claims "I'm not going to touch it!" A month later he would sign Rich Gossage to essentially replace Cy Young winner Sparky Lyle.

8:07 - Mercifully Bill White throws it back to the booth. People are walking on the Yankee Stadium grass at this point. It resembles the Sheep Meadow in Central Park. I wouldn't be surprised to see someone having a picnic in center field.

8:20 - The great Keith Jackson informs us there is a rule from the Commissioner that we can not go into the losing team's locker room. That's a shame because a camera man could probably actually get a half way decent shot in there.

8:39 - Back from a commercial break and there is still a sea of humanity on the field, I wonder at what point do the people on the field think "Alright, let's go home." And I also wonder how many fans needed to be on the field before the cops all thought "F--- this, I'm going into the Yankees locker room."

8:42 - Bill White interviews Don Sutton, who somehow has wandered into the Yankees locker room. The strange thing in this shot is there is an African American man named "White" and a white guy with a bigger Afro than the African American man. Go figure.

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