FanPost

Audio Sleuthing Pat Pieper


In the last couple of days, many of us on BCB have marveled not only at the quality, but at the very existence of videotape from the 1965 Channel 9 broadcast of Jim Maloney's 10-inning no-hitter at Wrigley Field. Threads here and elsewhere inevitably have produced comment and speculation about the possible existence of other pre-1966 MLB game action on color video. Fragments very likely exist somewhere, perhaps in the vaults of WGN-TV.

It is well-known that 'GN installed its first Ampex videorecorder early in 1960. When Don Cardwell no-hit St. Louis on 5/15/60, Channel 9 used video from this game several times in the weeks that followed not only in sports features, but also in station promos. As with the Maloney game, the final two innings of Cardwell's gem were preserved, and currently may be seen on YouTube. Like its original 1960 broadcast, the Cardwell game recording is in glorious black and white.

But even as early as 1961, Channel 9 may have been producing color broadcasts, including Cubs and Sox games. Almost all of these recordings on 2" tape were erased soon after the original broadcasts. However, for many years we have seen this WGN Tenth Inning interview with Jack Brickhouse and Branch Rickey included in various video packages related to 'GN and the Cubs: http://wgntv.com/2013/04/15/branch-rickey-i-deserve-no-credit-for-jackie-robinson/

Note that as the tape begins, three voices can be heard: Brickhouse, Rickey and, in the background, legendary Cubs PA announcer Pat Pieper, perhaps reading Game Two lineups between games of a doubleheader. Rickey's voice is loud enough to drown-out most of Pat's words, but early in this recording he clearly says: "Number 27, Leon...Wagner."

When I first noticed Pieper in the background today, I thought dating this interview would be easy. Leon Wagner's last appearance as a National League ballplayer was as a member of the Cardinals on 5/15/1960. This was Daddy Wags' only season with the Cards, so I quickly assumed this interview was recorded between games on 5/15/60, maybe with Channel 9 testing some brand new color equipment.

Unfortunately, Wagner's number with the Cards was "22", and the next number Pieper speaks on the PA in this recording sounds like "19", a number not used by the Cards during their 5/13-5/15/60 series at Wrigley. Moving along to Plan B, I figured this recording may have been made on 7/30/1962, right before the 1962 All-Star Game at WF, a game in which Wagner, then playing for the Angels, would be named MVP. Wagner's number indeed was "27" in 1962, but he was followed in that day's AL starting lineup by Number 11, Looie Aparicio.

So, in the words Vinnie B., I'm so confused. We know 'GN did extensive video recording by May 1960. We also know that Branch Rickey died in October 1965. Any BCB'er who can isolate or decipher Pat Pieper's words in this recording to pinpoint the date of the interview wins a chance to call WGN-TV and ask the vault keeper to release more of this great video.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of SB Nation or Al Yellon, managing editor (unless it's a FanPost posted by Al). FanPost opinions are valued expressions of opinion by passionate and knowledgeable baseball fans.

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