Baseball Revives, Updates Commercials Starring Frawley, Bogart
NEW YORK (AP) _ Major league baseball dusted off commercials made for use in movie theaters in the early 1950s featuring actors Humphrey Bogart and William Frawley for its promotional spots during this fall’s playoff telecasts.
The original commercials in which Frawley and Bogart encouraged people to attend baseball games were made at a time when the game’s executives feared the newly emerging medium of television would hurt gate receipts, said Geoff Belinfante, senior vice president of Major League Baseball Productions Inc.
Belinfante said staffer Mike Kostel discovered the black-and-white footage in a private collection while working on another project.
Another staffer, Rick Reed, wove color clips of recent baseball action around the vintage tape of Bogart and Frawley to create two 30-second commercials that have appeared this past week on television broadcasts of the league championship games. The spots are also scheduled to appear during broadcasts of World Series games starting Saturday.
Bogart, who died in 1957, described why he liked baseball in his commercial. ″You know, you take your worries to the park and you leave them there,″ he says.
Shots of fans at the game punctuate Bogart’s observations: ″You yell like crazy for your guys - good for your lungs″ and ″A hot dog at the game beats roast beef at the Ritz.″
″Let’s all go out to the ball game as often as we can next season,″ Bogart says as he leans over a coffee table holding a baseball. ″For my dough, that’s living.″
In the Frawley spot, the heavy-set actor is seen on the telephone trying to talk his way out of a promise to meet Ethel, his television wife in the ″I Love Lucy″ series.
″But Ethel, oh wait a minute, honey bunch,″ he stammers. ″Yeah, I know I was going to see you downtown but I was going to meet Rickey.″
″All right, I might as well tell you the truth,″ he sighs. ″I’m going to the ball game.″
But Frawley brightens up as he hears her reply. ″You want to go, too. Oh boy,″ he says.
He concludes his pitch by saying, ″It’s a game for the whole family so let’s all forget our worries and have fun at the ball game whenever we can get to one. What do you say? Let’s go.″ Frawley died in 1966.
Belinfante said he was amazed at how well the message in the old commercials stood up more than three decades after they were made.
Baseball is not the only enterprise to resurrect black-and-white footage to make its commercial messages stand out. Frito-Lay Inc., for instance, used clips last year from the old series ″Leave it to Beaver,″ ″Dragnet″ and ″Mr. Ed″ for commercials for Tostitos.
Major league baseball survived the perceived threat from television in the 1950s and appears to be as popular as ever with fans.
The baseball commissioner’s office said 1986 attendance at regular season games rose 1.4 percent to a record 47.5 million this past season, breaking the previous mark of 46.8 million set a year earlier.