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Play Ball! Screening Offers Glimpses of Past Baseball Heroes

Mays, Mantle, Mathewson and Ruth are featured during Block Cinema program

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June 6, 2013 | by Judy Moore
Block Cinema will screen “Rare Baseball Films: The Newsreels” at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 14, at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art.

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Newsreel footage of the Chicago White Sox and the Dodgers in the 1959 World Series and of the Cubs playing the Yankees in the 1932 World Series are among more than two dozen film clips that are part of a special June Block Cinema screening on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus.

The clips will be featured during “Rare Baseball Films: The Newsreels,” at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 14, at the University’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at 40 Arts Circle Drive. It is the ninth consecutive year that the Block has presented vintage footage.

The two-hour program will include commentary organized and hosted by David Filipi, director of film/video at Ohio State University’s Wexner Center for the Arts. Filipi will introduce each selection of newsreel clips, which he culled from a selection of footage from the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Special thanks goes to Todd Wiener and Steven Hill of the UCLA Film & Television Archive for their assistance with this year’s program.

During his Block appearance, Filipi will also screen raw footage from 1939 of Joe DiMaggio in the off-season. “It shows DiMaggio playing baseball in a sandlot with kids and his dad’s market in the background. It also shows him playing bocce ball,” Filipi said.

Before TV became a fixture in people’s homes, newsreels were shown prior to every feature film in neighborhood movie theaters and were one of the few ways for sports fans to see players from around the world in action.

Baseball fans will have an opportunity to view clips from the Negro and Japanese leagues and watch 1907 footage of Giants great Christy Mathewson and footage from 1925 of Babe Ruth in off-season training.   

The June 14 program highlights include: 

  • A preview of the 1929 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Philadelphia Athletics.
  • U.S. President Herbert Hoover throwing out the first pitch on opening day in April 1930.
  • A crowd of 70,000 fans gathered to see Japan’s baseball stars compete in a longtime college rivalry in 1933.
  • Republican presidential candidate Alf Landon listening to a radio broadcast of the 1936 World Series game between the New York Yankees and New York Giants.    
  • A 1949 Joe DiMaggio Day celebration.
  • A 1956 clip of Mickey Mantle.
  • New York Yankees outfielder Roger Maris missing Babe Ruth’s mark by one home run during a Sept. 1961 game.

Admission is $6 for the general public; and $4 for Block Museum members, Northwestern University faculty, staff and students with valid WildCARD ID, students from other schools with valid college or university ID and seniors 65 years and older.

For more information, visit the Block Cinema website.