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Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Stan Isaacs, former Newsday sports columnist, dead at 83

RIP, Stan Isaacs. The Columnists will never be the same…

Stan Isaacs took pride in being known for something he had taken. He swiped the Brooklyn Dodgers 1955 world championship pennant from Los Angeles and brought it back to what he considered its home. For generations of readers and colleagues at Newsday, though, he is known for what he gave: a whole new way to view and appreciate sports and reporting.

Isaacs, once one of a group of industry-changing young reporters known as Chipmunks and later a pioneer as a columnist writing about televised sports, died in his sleep at home in Haverford, Pa., Tuesday night, his daughter Ellen said. He was 83.

In his final column for Newsday in 1992, Isaacs wrote that he subscribed to Joseph Pulitzer’s ideal that newspapers should “inform and enlighten.” That would explain his famous question to Yankees pitcher Ralph Terry, who said his wife listened to a World Series game while feeding her baby: “Breast or bottle?”

“He saw humor in things, lightness in things that very few guys did. A lot of us at Newsday learned to do that from him,” said Steve Jacobson, a fellow Chipmunk in the 1960s and then a longtime Newsday columnist.

Repoz Posted: April 03, 2013 at 09:47 PM | 35 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Rob_Wood Posted: April 03, 2013 at 10:30 PM (#4403845)
I remember him from The Hockey News back in the day. He was a very entertaining writer. RIP
   2. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: April 03, 2013 at 10:56 PM (#4403870)
as TFA says, one of the original chipmunks
   3. valuearbitrageur Posted: April 03, 2013 at 10:58 PM (#4403873)
Sounds like a great guy and should be a hero alone for swiping the Dodgers pennant. But I don't get the breast or bottle humor, and it seems pretty rude.
   4. Howie Menckel Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:13 PM (#4403880)

RIP to a well-known guy in the NY-area market.

It is a testimony to how times have changed that someone covering sports for a living would be proud to recall stealing an object like that.

In 2013, it would be "fanboi" - and rightly so.

But times were different, and that's how it was then. I realize it must seem bizarre to younger members of the profession...

   5. Steve Treder Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:14 PM (#4403881)
Hats off to a great Chipmunk. One of the best.
   6. Morty Causa Posted: April 03, 2013 at 11:20 PM (#4403885)
Did he get away with it--swiping the pennant, I mean?
   7. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: April 04, 2013 at 10:41 AM (#4404115)
Did he get away with it--swiping the pennant, I mean?


He got away with it until Tuesday.
   8. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 04, 2013 at 10:54 AM (#4404129)
RIP, but Lord A-Friday is the Brooklyn Dodger thing overblown.

As is, for that matter, the whole "special bond between team and place" thing. These are commercial enterprises whose primary ambition is to line their pockets with the money of the denizens of the places in which they operate. 'Tis so with the Boston Red Sox, 'twas so with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

   9. Morty Causa Posted: April 04, 2013 at 11:45 AM (#4404186)
He got away with it until Tuesday.


I guess payback isn't a #####.
   10. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 04, 2013 at 12:37 PM (#4404240)
RIP, but Lord A-Friday is the Brooklyn Dodger thing overblown.

100th anniversaries do have way of making people remember.

As is, for that matter, the whole "special bond between team and place" thing. These are commercial enterprises whose primary ambition is to line their pockets with the money of the denizens of the places in which they operate. 'Tis so with the Boston Red Sox, 'twas so with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Gee, we never knew that before, but that doesn't diminish the attachment that fans from the non-beancounting segment of the population often have for their teams, even the ones that abandoned their cities. You can be as cynical as you want about the O'Malleys and the Modells, but that doesn't mean you can't look back with fondness at the teams they put on the field.
   11. GregD Posted: April 04, 2013 at 12:42 PM (#4404247)
Plus Brooklyn is 1) a very large place with 2) an enormous population of former residents who now live elsewhere but who feel nostalgia for the Brooklyn of their youth and 3) a prideful/insecure chip on their shoulder. So you have a place with a very strong sense of identity and millions and millions of former residents who feel nostalgic about their invented Brooklyn. no surprise that baseball is one of the many ways they reflect on that.
   12. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 04, 2013 at 12:54 PM (#4404262)
Here's the question: Would the Brooklyn of today trade Junior's for the Dodgers?
   13. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 04, 2013 at 01:07 PM (#4404279)
100th anniversaries do have way of making people remember.

It's the 100th anniversary of Ebbets Field, a stadium in which major league baseball hasn't been played for 56 years. It's not the 100th anniversary of the Dodgers.

This year's the 45th anniversary of the Spirits of St. Louis. Where's their celebration?

Plus Brooklyn is 1) a very large place with 2) an enormous population of former residents who now live elsewhere but who feel nostalgia for the Brooklyn of their youth

Who spent that youth avoiding Ebbets Field, thus precipitating the move of the Dodgers out of Brooklyn.
   14. Mike Webber Posted: April 04, 2013 at 01:15 PM (#4404284)
This year's the 45th anniversary of the Spirits of St. Louis. Where's their celebration?

At Bob Costas' house this this 4th of July, with a BBQ. I already RSVPed, maybe you just weren't on the guest list SugarBear.
   15. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 04, 2013 at 01:21 PM (#4404295)
Looks like the Brooklyn Dodgers sold out roughly half their home World Series games in the 50s. Neither Game 7 they hosted -- 1952 and 1956 -- was a sellout. Game 6 in 1952, with the Brooklyns having the chance to clinch the world championship, was 6,000 fans shy of a sellout.

Please. Enough.
   16. Morty Causa Posted: April 04, 2013 at 01:29 PM (#4404305)
Robert Moses may have had something to do with the Dodgers' move.
   17. DA Baracus Posted: April 04, 2013 at 01:38 PM (#4404314)
For generations of readers and colleagues at Newsday, though, he is known for what he gave: a whole new way to view and appreciate sports and reporting.


Through embracing interstate theft?
   18. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 04, 2013 at 03:05 PM (#4404418)
It's the 100th anniversary of Ebbets Field, a stadium in which major league baseball hasn't been played for 56 years. It's not the 100th anniversary of the Dodgers.

Any more exclusive information you want to pass on that nobody other than you knows?

Looks like the Brooklyn Dodgers sold out roughly half their home World Series games in the 50s. Neither Game 7 they hosted -- 1952 and 1956 -- was a sellout. Game 6 in 1952, with the Brooklyns having the chance to clinch the world championship, was 6,000 fans shy of a sellout.

The seating capacity for Ebbets Field in the 50's was listed in the Baseball Guides at 31,902. The Dodgers exceeded that attendance in every World Series game but one in that decade, the aforementioned game 6 in 1952, due to a confusion about the number of available seats and not due to lack of demand.

But I'm sure you'll keep dragging up some new point to demonstrate how much you don't care about a team you don't care about. Point taken.
   19. DA Baracus Posted: April 04, 2013 at 03:16 PM (#4404452)
nevermind
   20. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: April 04, 2013 at 03:19 PM (#4404461)
This year's the 45th anniversary of the Spirits of St. Louis. Where's their celebration?

At Bob Costas' house this this 4th of July, with a BBQ. I already RSVPed, maybe you just weren't on the guest list SugarBear.


Apparently I'm not, either, but I'm hoping my autographed photos of Marvin Barnes & Gus Gerard will suffice to gain me admission.
   21. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 04, 2013 at 03:20 PM (#4404464)
Real capacity looks more like around 36,000 judging by the high end total at 50s World Series games. The 31,902 number doesn't really make sense, even though it might have been the nominal "official" capacity. Even if there were some standing room seats, they weren't consistently filled for WS games, at least in the 50s.

EDIT: Response was to something neverminded.

DOUBLE EDIT: Looks like Andy said the same thing, so response stands. You knew there would be something coming regarding "confusion" or the schools being open too long during the day, or the weather report calling for showers. I guess no one in the history of Brooklyn baseball ever went to a game without a ticket only to find that there weren't any left.
   22. DA Baracus Posted: April 04, 2013 at 03:22 PM (#4404472)
I said the same thing Andy did. Just respond to him.
   23. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 04, 2013 at 03:27 PM (#4404479)
But I'm sure you'll keep dragging up some new point to demonstrate how much you don't care about a team you don't care about. Point taken.

I do care about them. But I'm realistic enough to realize that the number of people who do, Brooklynites and otherwise, is vastly overrated. It's the same story as with the Red Sox. New York and Boston are populated with the types of people who like to babble about baseball and baseball teams, and a departed team is even more romantic so they babble even more about that. Since the outlets in which they babble have great reach, and since New York and New England have a massive population, the point of view of the babblers is almost always dramatically outsized in comparision with reality. There is no better example, and there will likely never be a better example of this straightforward truth than the Brooklyn Dodgers.
   24. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 04, 2013 at 03:33 PM (#4404492)
Game 6 in 1952 wasn't even sold out based on the "official" capacity.

Let that sink in: the game in which the Brooklyn Dodgers had the chance to win their first ever world championship did not sell out, even with the added boost of the visiting team being from less than 15 miles away.

Yes, Andy and Doris Kearns Goodwin -- there has never been a stronger, more organic bond betweeen team and place than the Brooklyn Dodgers and it's impossible to imagine that there ever will be.
   25. Morty Causa Posted: April 04, 2013 at 03:35 PM (#4404498)
23:

Why can't that be said of the Giants?
   26. Morty Causa Posted: April 04, 2013 at 03:42 PM (#4404516)
The Brooklyn Dodgers kept winning and kept having disappointing attendance in the '50s is the usual story given by the pro-move forces.
   27. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 04, 2013 at 03:43 PM (#4404520)
Why can't that be said of the Giants?

That's an interesting question. The Giants apparently weren't the team of as many babblers, but "paradoxically," (*) the actual ties between the franchise and New York are far stronger than the Dodgers', as evidenced by among other things the fact that the franchise has brought each of the 2010 and 2012 World Series trophies back to its fans in Manhattan and affirmatively adopted New York as its ancestral home.

As noted here -- a more meaningful and cooler tradition than anything Larry King and Doris Kearns Goodwin have been bleating about lo these decades. (In case there's something wrong with the link, among the highlights is Brian Sabean, during the trophy celebration in 2012 saying, "We're bringing it back! Tell everyone in New York to get ready, because we're coming with it.")

(*) The quotes signifying: "Not really."
   28. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 04, 2013 at 05:56 PM (#4404739)
Real capacity looks more like around 36,000 judging by the high end total at 50s World Series games. The 31,902 number doesn't really make sense, even though it might have been the nominal "official" capacity. Even if there were some standing room seats, they weren't consistently filled for WS games, at least in the 50s.

The seating capacity of Ebbets Field was indeed 31,902, and yes, there was a much-discussed ticket availability mixup for that 1952 game 6, which was the only non-sellout of any World Series game in Ebbets Field in the 50's. Every other crowd they had exceeded capacity.

And if you want to include standing room in your capacity, then by that standard only Milwaukee, the White Sox and the LA Dodgers ever apparently sold out their home games during that decade. The Yankees had attendance that varied by as much as 12,000, with one of the lowest crowds (9,000 below the seating capacity) for the 7th game of the 1957 Series. Since there were very few season ticket holders in those years, the logistics of selling and distributing tickets on short notice weren't quite as easy as they are today.

But I'm sure you'll keep dragging up some new point to demonstrate how much you don't care about a team you don't care about. Point taken.

I do care about them. But I'm realistic enough to realize that the number of people who do, Brooklynites and otherwise, is vastly overrated. It's the same story as with the Red Sox. New York and Boston are populated with the types of people who like to babble about baseball and baseball teams, and a departed team is even more romantic so they babble even more about that. Since the outlets in which they babble have great reach, and since New York and New England have a massive population, the point of view of the babblers is almost always dramatically outsized in comparision with reality. There is no better example, and there will likely never be a better example of this straightforward truth than the Brooklyn Dodgers.


Well, obviously those two teams, plus the Yankees and Cubs, are vastly overrepresented in the literary world. How surprising, given the location of the major publishing houses, given the fact that baseball's integration began in Brooklyn, and given the fact that New York and Boston hosted 61 World Series games between them between 1946 and 1957, with 39 games in 6 of those Series being between the Yankees and the Dodgers. WTF else was there to write about in those days, the "Po' White Trash" Browns and the perennial last place Pirates?

There's no question that you could easily make a case that the Dodgers weren't supported to the extent back then that they are written about in hindsight today, but that's also true of many other teams. As I've mentioned before, the lowest regular season attendance (325,000) for any team that won the World Series was the 1934 Cardinals, a team that may well be the subject of as many books as any given Yankee or Dodger team. Perhaps you can make that overpublicized team into your next little deflationary crusade, though I wouldn't talk it up too loudly among the ghosts of Leo and Ducky Wucky, because their skin is likely to be a lot pricklier than the skin of Gil Hodges or Pee Wee Reese.

Bottom line is that old time great and colorful teams from big cities will always be written about and talked about until the last of their fans drop dead. Their attendance figures at the time often don't always reflect the current sentimental attachment due to many circumstances peculiar to the situation, but so what?
   29. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 04, 2013 at 06:43 PM (#4404800)
The seating capacity of Ebbets Field was indeed 31,902, and yes, there was a much-discussed ticket availability mixup for that 1952 game 6, which was the only non-sellout of any World Series game in Ebbets Field in the 50's. Every other crowd they had exceeded capacity.

What was this mixup? A Google search indicates that the Dodgers sold World Series tickets game-by-game rather than the typical block of 4, but the mind searches in vain for how this would lead to crowds of over 34,000 and 33,000 for Games 1, 2, and 7, but only 30,037 for Game 6. (The New York Times on October 7 and October 8 makes no mention of any foul-up, not that it necessarily would.)

Since there were very few season ticket holders in those years, the logistics of selling and distributing tickets on short notice weren't quite as easy as they are today.

But that has the advantage of more closely equating actual demand, tickets bought, and butts in the seats then than now.

For your theory to make sense, the concept of fans going to the game hoping to get tickets and being turned away at the gate because there weren't any left, would have to be eliminated as a possbiility. We all know such things happen all the time, then and now. If there were 34,000 seats available at Ebbets Field, regardless of whether one or three thousand of them were not part of the "official" capacity count, they would have been filled if 34,000 people wanted to use them. Unwinding that fundamental truth requires an extremely high standard of proof, which has not been proffered here.
   30. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: April 04, 2013 at 07:10 PM (#4404821)
Brooklyn Dodger Attendance:
1940 : 1st of 8
1941 : 1st of 8
1942 : 1st of 8
1943 : 1st of 8
1944 : 3rd of 8
1945 : 1st of 8
1946 : 1st of 8
1947 : 1st of 8
1948 : 4th of 8
1949 : 1st of 8
1950 : 2nd of 8
1951 : 1st of 8
1952 : 1st of 8
1953 : 2nd of 8
1954 : 4th of 8
1955 : 2nd of 8
1956 : 2nd of 8
1957 : 5th of 8

They were in contention pretty much every year except 1944
Their best raw attendance was 1946-49

Their 1957 attendance was basically the same as 1952, but what was good for first in 1952 was not close in 1957, basically they were not drawing any more fans...

The Giants were 1st or 2nd in league attendance every year from 1901 to 1925, they were 1st every year from 1933-37, they then tended to be 2nd or 3rd until 1955 when they fell to 6th, then dead last in 1956 and 1957.

In case you are wondering, the 1962 Mets drew better than the 1957 Giants but not as well as the 1957 Dodgers
   31. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: April 04, 2013 at 07:20 PM (#4404830)
What was really odd was Milwaukee, the Braves moved to Milwaukee in 1953, and went from dead last in attendance to 1st- by a HUGE margin, and stayed 1st for 6 straight years, but after 1957 began losing fans very year, until they were dead last in 1965- BUT those were all good years, the Braves were over .500 every single year, 88-74 and 86-76 their last 2 years.

In Milwaukee the Braves drew 2 million plus 4 times, they didn't do that in Atlanta until 1983 and 1991.
   32. Steve Treder Posted: April 04, 2013 at 08:03 PM (#4404855)
after 1957 began losing fans very year, until they were dead last in 1965- BUT those were all good years, the Braves were over .500 every single year, 88-74 and 86-76 their last 2 years.

As soon as the early 1960s, Braves' ownership began openly talking about moving to Atlanta, and by 1963 it was essentially a done deal, the only thing the Braves were waiting for was the new Atlanta stadium to be completed. Milwaukee fans were understandably bitter and largely boycotted the Braves (and one of them, a certain young Mr. Selig, then went ahead and did something more about it).
   33. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 04, 2013 at 09:26 PM (#4404907)
What was this mixup? A Google search indicates that the Dodgers sold World Series tickets game-by-game rather than the typical block of 4, but the mind searches in vain for how this would lead to crowds of over 34,000 and 33,000 for Games 1, 2, and 7, but only 30,037 for Game 6. (The New York Times on October 7 and October 8 makes no mention of any foul-up, not that it necessarily would.)

The Sporting News ran an item on the "disappointing" crowd in its October 15th issue. The basic story was that speculators had bought up tickets in large blocs in anticipation of the historic clinching, and that many fans thought they had no chance of getting in, and rather than even bothering to show up at the park, simply decided to watch the game on TV. Since attendance was measured by turnstile count, the missing fans didn't mean that the tickets weren't actually sold, only that they wouldn't show up in the posted attendance figure. And in any case, World Series games had widely varying attendance in the 50's, and the difference between the biggest and smallest crowds in Brooklyn was nowhere near as much as it was in Yankee Stadium or the Polo Grounds, the only two other parks where a World Series wasn't a first time event. One non-sellout out of 20 games between 1947 and 1956 is hardly indicative of any widespread lack of fan interest, or of any particular indictment of Brooklyn fans.

The truth is that with the exception of the new franchises and the suddenly contending White Sox, Phillies and Reds, all teams suffered from falling attendance from 1946/49 through 1952/57. The Indians fell from 2.6M in 1948 to 722,000 in 1957. The Tigers dropped from 1.95M in 1950 to 1.05M in 1956. The Yanks peaked at 2.37M in 1948 and then fell to 1.5M by 1957. The Cubs went from 1.36M to 670,000 between 1947 and 1957. Before the Braves' move to Milwaukee in 1953 boosted the overall NL attendance, the league total had plummeted 39% in five years. Live attendance was in a freefall during the period in question, and the Dodgers were just one of many teams feeling the effect.

BTW it also didn't help that all three New York teams amazingly decided to televise all their home games and none of their road games, a policy which in a nutshell kind of summarizes baseball's insane approach to marketing in those years. Meanwhile, the NFL adopted the opposite policy of televising all road games while blacking out the home games. Hard as it may be to believe, the NFL attendance rose by leaps and bounds every year.

   34. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 04, 2013 at 10:46 PM (#4404954)
. . . The basic story was that speculators had bought up tickets in large blocs in anticipation of the historic clinching, and that many fans thought they had no chance of getting in, and rather than even bothering to show up at the park, simply decided to watch the game on TV

Or radio in many instances, since only about a third of American households had TV in 1952.
   35. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 04, 2013 at 11:34 PM (#4404967)
since only about a third of American households had TV in 1952.

But about 99% of the bars in New York City had them, which is the more relevant statistic here. No bar without a TV by that point had any hope of remaining in business, and their featured attractions were ball games and boxing matches.

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