A Day to Remember at Ballantine

by Gene Germaine


How many Ballantine employees remember?

In the late fifties and early sixties, Ballantine sponsored an interdepartmental softball league, consisting of "A" and "B" divisions, with six teams in each division.

I played third base for the Engineering Dept. However at times we would team up with the Personnel Dept. due to the lack of players in either department.

If my memory serves me correctly, our biggest nemesis was the Trailer Drivers team. However, I believe it was in the late fifties, we won first place in either our division or both divisions. Now normally, at the end of the season the company would hold the Softball banquet in the company cafeteria, complete with a great meal, professional entertainment and followed by the presentation of the trophies to the winning teams. This year for some particular reason, someone in the Ballantine hierarchy decided to have the trophies presented during our annual family excursion to Yankee stadium and prior to the start of the ball game.

When we arrived at the stadium we were escorted down to the Yankee dugout where we watched the players on the field go through a practice session. Now a number of us had brought along a baseball and when when the players returned to the dugout we passed them around, I obtained autographs from the following players, Whitey Ford, Bobby Richardson, Ryan Doran, Jim Coates, Gil Mc Dougal, Casey Stengal and Phil Rizzuto.

Prior to the startup of the game, we lined-up on the third base line. When Mel Allen, standing at home plate, announced your name over the stadium speaker system, you stepped up any received your trophy and a handshake from Casey Stengal.

In retrospect, when Mel Allen spoke over the stadium speaker system, his voice would resonate or echo throughout the stadium. Also when looking up at the grandstand, the fans were partially obscured by a haze. This was apparently due to the lack of air movement and the fact that a good number of people smoked in those days.

Incidentally these proceedings in their entirety were viewed on television.

All in all, an unforgettable day.


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