Monday, November 2, 2009

Programs from the Past: 1949

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The cover of the 1949 Visalia Cubs program features a baseball with an aerial shot of Visalia superimposed on it, which is fairly impressive. The Mouse-Bear has apparently been phased out and replaced with a much tougher-looking cub, albeit one who swings way too hard, doesn't watch the ball, doesn't rotate his hips, and jumps in the air while doing it. It's quite possible that the '49 Visalia team was taking hitting lessons from the cartoon cub, since they finished dead last in the California League with an abysmal 42-98 record.

This edition was also unique in that it doubled as a program and a "civic magazine." Now that's creative branding.

You can view all six (6!) glorious pages of this voluminous "civic magazine" after the jump.

As always, click any image for a larger version.

Page 1

Page 1 features a 1949 Cubs home schedule and a vintage Foster's Freeze ad.

Page 2

Don't miss the Admission Prices listed on the bottom of Page 2.

Page 3

Page 4

The Visalia Ice Company ad reminds us not to take our refrigerators for granted.

Page 5

The "No talking to players" rule is an interesting one, since no rule like it exists any more. We can only speculate as to why it was adopted; the nebulous "This rule was adopted to foster better baseball spirit on the field and to help make baseball a better game to watch" explanation offered here is obviously a smokescreen for something deeper. It was, in all likelihood, an attempt to keep players from being solicited by gamblers to throw or influence games. Gambling in the stands was theoretically illegal but widely practiced and winked at, and most baseball players were poorly paid even at the Major League level; bribes, then, could be very tempting, and baseball was still only 30 years removed from the Black Sox scandal at this point.

Page 6

Page 6 gives us a fascinating (if highly condensed) "History of Visalia" through the first half of the 20th Century, and boasts of Visalia's 11,000 residents and the 51,000 people in the greater surrounding area. It's a reminder that the city has always been one of the smallest markets in professional sports, and even more so in the franchise's early history.

Back Cover

The back cover of the '49 program features the full Opening Day Cubs roster. You'll notice that it includes players from Tulare, Exeter, and Dinuba, so there was some definite local flavor on the squad.

If you're wondering about the acronyms and significance of the "Class" category, "Rookie" is fairly self-explanatory; "LS" stood for "Limited Service," meaning the player has spent five years or less in professional baseball; a "Veteran" was anyone with six years or more of pro time. Many leagues placed minimum quotas on how many Rookies a club needed to have on their roster, and maximum quotas on how many veterans they could employ.

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