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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Pitchman: How Tom Emanski changed the sport of baseball — and then disappeared

This checks out.

Teaching the Mechanics of the Major League Swing, featuring Houston Astros slugger Glenn Davis alongside a teenaged Eddie Taubensee, was released on VHS in the fall of 1986 and instantly became a hit. Newspaper articles about what Emanski — by then a New York Yankees associate scout (or “bird dog”), later poached by the Pittsburgh Pirates — was doing at Baseball World became more frequent. The Atlanta Braves even sent one of their struggling prospects, the highly touted Brad Komminsk, for instruction. Braves general manager Bobby Cox said one of his scouts was “fascinated” by Emanski’s video analysis.

But Emanski was still an inside story, and he was determined to see his baseball philosophies gain larger currency in the sport. “Something clicked,” Taubensee says. “He was always like, ‘Man, why can’t anyone else figure this out? Nobody is teaching this kind of stuff.’”...

Emanski flew to Chicago and picked up McGriff, who was in town to play the Cubs, and then drove him to a Little League diamond near Wrigley Field. McGriff donned that blue Baseball World cap that has become so iconic, looked into the camera, and professed that he “was so impressed with the instructional videos by Coach Emanski that I’ve given them my full endorsement.”

For baseball fans of a certain age, these words will live forever.

McGriff, who would not comment for this story, seems to have tired, over the years, of his long-lasting association with the immortal commercial. But as his career was winding to a close, ESPN declared the 60-second spot as the No. 1 athlete commercial of all time.

“Y’all,” a giddy McGriff told the network, “are making Tom Emanski a very rich man.”


 

 

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