August 08, 2007


I was watching Sportscenter this morning with Salad Boy. We had awakened to the fact that Barry Bonds had surpassed Hank Aaron's home run record.

Salad Boy was greatly dismayed. Me? I'm just so over it all and glad that the discussion will be cleaned from the national media table. I couldn't really care any less.

Which, you know, is markedly different from the last time I went through this. To me, there was no bigger star than Hank Aaron when I was between 8 and 9 and digging baseball in a big way.

So I went back into the Saladsmithsonian files and pulled out a magazine I'd saved since 1973.


Back then, we rooted for the Atlanta Braves as the hometown team, since there was no baseball team located south of Georgia permanently. This was before the games were shown in St. Pete on WTCG (the precursor to WTBS and TBS). Whatever they showed on NBC's Game of the Week is what we got. And the Braves, though abysmal as a team, were the default "local" choice.

During those years, baseball was king for me. Football wouldn't grab me by the eyeballs until 1976, when the Buccaneers finally showed up. In the early 1970s, guys like Sal Bando, Reggie Jackson, Carl Yastrzemski were my sports heroes. I remember doing a book report on Lou Brock. I wanted to be a catcher like Johnny Bench. I played Little League with wood bats made by the same people who made them for the Boston Red Sox. Tug McGraw came to my Cub Scout pack meeting one time and threw heaters to a kid in the school cafeteria while wearing a polyester powder blue leisure suit. I got Pete Rose's autograph during spring training one year at a spring game at Al Lank Field in downtown St. Pete and thought I'd scored big. I still have it to this day.

Baseball was big.

So when this article showed up in Newsweek with Aaron about 14 shy of breaking Babe Ruth's record of 714 home runs, I devoured it. Charlie Bishop, a friend of the family who lived on the third floor of my grandmother's hotel, gave it to me when he saw how fascinated I was. (That's his address label on the cover.)

Going back and re-reading it, a few passages stand out, especially when compared to today's antipathy for Bonds' achievement.

First is this anecdote, which, because it includes Yogi Berra, offers endless amounts of authenticity:


Then there's this gem. Contrasted with Bonds' succeed-at-all-costs and "F**k you" attitude, the difference between Aaron and him is stark:


I can't say that Barry Bonds will ever be a role model for anyone. I also can't say that he was much of one before he started taking steroids, either. He was always a monumental a-hole, if "Game of Shadows" is any indication.

Thoroughly depressed by reading about how the record had shifted from a good man's hands to a bad man's, I went in search of other indicators in the magazine that life had changed for the better since 1973.


Uh, dudes, there's nothing cool about what you're wearing.

And the fact you're in a pseudo classroom setting is creeping me out.


Billie Jean. Interesting.

Way too much wicker in that photo, though.

Looks like her apartment got Pier 1 Imports poisoning.

What's the ad copy say?


Oh, yeah. Husband. Right. Forgot about him.


So they used a baseball pitcher to illustrate a TV in a football stadium without an obvious electrical source. Makes sense.

Back then, a color TV like this was a big deal. Today, you'd be on Welfare if you had a TV like this.

Then there was this winner:


Just a couple in love, having drinks and sitting in the well of an industrial tire swing.

The drink of choice?


Why the Machete? Because making a tall glass of Smirnoff Uzis just didn't sound romantic enough.

You can also make this with O.J., but then it becomes The Slasher.

Staying with the drinking theme ...


Ah. A sign of the times.

It's comforting to know we solved our geopolitical fossil fuels issue decades ago when it first reared its ugly head.

Speaking of which, the gas crisis was a recurring theme throughout the ads in the magazine.


Among the highlights here:


Just three guys standing around having a warm and friendly chat as a an attendant puts gas into this 25 mpg machine.

I think this is the same photo composition they used for Dockers ads in the 1980s.

Dig the crazy ad copy in this one:


I love when they design things with people in mind. Especially when people will be inside them as they hurtle down the road at 80 mph without seatbelts on.


Beat THAT, Lee Iococca!


Ooooh, tape deck. Fancy.

Looks just like the one that ate a copy of "Back in Black"' in 1981 in the dash of my 1976 Buick Skylark.

Posted by Jeff at August 8, 2007 11:53 PM | TrackBack
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