Baseball BeatAugust 22, 2008
Foto Friday #8: New York's Cup Runneth Over
By Rich Lederer

As a segue to Bob Timmermann's guest column yesterday on "The World of Catcher's Interference," we bring you Foto Friday #8.

Nope, that's not a gas mask, folks. That's a holy cup, so to speak.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to name the player whose ear it appears as if the cup is growing out of and his two sidekicks. For bonus points, select the correct date, location, and what took place that day. Getting the correct answers may take a bit of digging, but all of these mysteries can be solved (except for the name of the stage "hand" in the background).

Good luck.


Answers (added at 4:30 pm PT): From left to right, the three players in the photo are Hank Bauer, Norm Siebern, and Yogi Berra. The date is June 17, 1956. The location is the visitor's clubhouse in Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Bauer, Siebern, and Berra all hit home runs to lead the Yankees to a 9-4 victory over the Indians.

The caption for the AP Wire Photo read as follows:

"CLEVELAND, JUNE 17--YANKEE SLUGGERS--This trio of hitters accounted for as many home runs today as the New York Yankees downed the Cleveland Indians 8-4 [sic] to make a full sweep of a three-game series. Left, Hank Bauer, whose three-run homer in the seventh; center, Norm Siebern, who came up from Denver and hit his first major league home run; and Yogi Berra. Siebern and Berra connected for two-run homers in the first off Early Wynn, who was charged with the defeat."

My Dad was working the desk at the Long Beach Independent, Press-Telegram back then and kept a copy of the photo, caption, and the following note to editors, entitled "WIREPHOTO ELIMINATION ... Wirephoto CD1 of today, showing New York Yankee players celebrating victory over Cleveland Indians, is eliminated to all points. Picture is of questionable taste because of object in background."

The photo and the note from the AP is what makes this one a classic (and perhaps never published before). Sadly, we almost never see such photos today...oh, not of a cup in the background but just three ballplayers arm-in-arm with smiles as if they had just won the World Series.

The box score, as provided by Retrosheet and, contains a wealth of information, such as the fact that future Hall of Famers Whitey Ford and Early Wynn were the starting pitchers and neither finished two innings with the latter failing to record a single out. Rip Coleman, who pitched the final six innings for the Yankees, was credited with the win.

Mickey Mantle, who went on to win the Triple Crown and MVP, was hitting .382 with a 1.248 OPS as of the date of this game.

There were 41,765 fans in attendance, Cleveland's largest home crowd of the season.


Middle: Don Larsen?

My first take was Bauer-Larsen-Berra after Larsen's perfect game, but that seems too obvious.

It does sort of look like Larsen, and that's definitely Berra on the right, so I'd guess Yankee Stadium, October 8, 1956 on the bonus questions.

Not sure about the fella on the left though...

Could be Larsen's perfect game, but wasn't that at Yankee Stadium? It looks like they're wearing the Yankees' road uniform.

Just a contrarian guess, but I'm saying this was Bauer-Larsen-Berra on October 10, after the Yanks won the series. Berra and Larsen eclipsed postseason records that year, Larsen obviously for his perfect game, but Berra for RBIs in the World Series (his ten was one more than Lou Gehrig's nine in 1928).

Looks like Johnny Kucks, with Bauer and Berra after the Yankees beat the Dodgers in the seventh game of the 1956 World Series. Too lazy to look up the exact date.

And to Frank's comment above, that would reinforce the October 10 possibility.

Seventh game of the 1956 World Series at Ebbets Field would be my guess also. I don't know who the guy in the left is though.

We had eight comments within an hour, then no comments the past hour. That tells me the respondents have either given up or are in want of a clue to keep them going.

The player in the middle is NOT Don Larsen. However, the players on the flanks are Hank Bauer and Yogi Berra.

Nobody has come up with the correct date, location, or event as yet. Hint: the year was indeed 1956.

It could be Charlie Silvera. He made one start at catcher for Yogi on '56, on September 12, so that could be it. The cup would be appropriate to the occasion.

The real question is who is actually holding the cup up behind the guys.

Sivera's start was at KC, so that would agree with the road unis.

Okay, let's try this: the man in the middle is Johnny Kucks, the occasion is his 18th victory, the date is September 3, 1956, the place is Baltimore. Yogi Berra homered twice.

Fooey, strike that. That game was played in New York.

September 16 - Kucks loses the 2nd game of a doubleheader in Cleveland but they are celebrating in the road locker room because they clinched the American League.

It's not Johnny Kucks, although I suppose there is a vague resemblance.,GGLJ:2006-42,GGLJ:en&q=johnny%20kucks&um=1&sa=N&tab=wi

Zero resemblance to Charlie Silvera.

...although the guy starting next to him in the link to the photo below looks familiar. :-)

Given the first line of this post and subsequent clues, I looked at 1956 Yankee road games that had catcher's interference. There were two such games - each with Joe Collins reaching base: June 26 and July 30.

I believe that effort led me to a dead end. But I just wanted to participate.

It's Norm Siebern, Now to figure out what he did.

Okay, so now I'm recalling the opening line about this being a segue from Bob's column yesterday. Presumably that means there is a catcher's interference call somewhere, but the Yanks only reached base twice on CI calls in 1956 in the regular season, once on June 26 against Kansas City and again on July 30 against Cleveland. Both times were eventual victories when the Yanks were leading, so that doesn't seem likely. There also were no CI calls in the World Series that year, and the Yanks had no CI calls against them in 1956. So I'm not sure that angle adds up, or if it does, I'm missing it.

Siebern's first major league game was in 1956, in Cleveland on June 15th. Or it could be June 25th, when he hit two homers at KC. He only hit four all year.

The photo has nothing to do with catcher's interference. I was only referring to the fact that there was a catcher's cup and a certain catcher in that photo. Sorry for misleading those of you who went down this path.

DXMachina is onto something. The man in the middle is, in fact, Norm Siebern.

Now, what is the date, location, and the event (i.e., purpose of the photo)?

Wow, how easily we give up! Another hour has passed and nobody has taken another crack at it.

Here is where we stand...

The three players are known: from left to right, Hank Bauer, Norm Siebern, and Yogi Berra.

The year is also known: 1956.

We just need the actual date, location, and event. The location will be a given once you figure out the date and/or the event.

Final hint: there is a reason why all three players are in this photo; in other words, it is not just a random shot.

On June 17, 1956, those three (Bauer, Siebern, Berra) all got homers in Cleveland.

No idea what that mini-colander is though, nor why it would be related to home runs. So it could be another event, I suppose.

Bingo. Berkowit nailed down the final pieces of the puzzle. As for the "mini-colander," that is a catcher's protective cup and not a container used for draining or straining as the dictionary defines it. In fact, I think it would be fair to say that the cup is meant to keep the catcher from straining in the event of getting his bell rung by a pitched or batted ball during a game.

See the update below the photo for more details.

June 25th? Siebern had two homers vs. the A's.