Films on Friday: Baseball when the Eagle Landed


I just love my Fresno Grizzlies Parker In Space bobblehead!

Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of the landing of Apollo 11 on the moon. What was the baseball world doing on that day and how did they mark the historic event? According to SABR member, J.G. Preston, while much of the nation was at home watching the moon landing on TV, about 200,000 baseball fans attended baseball games, many with portable radios in hand. At 4:17 pm Eastern, the Eagle touched down on the moon. This is what happened at several stadiums around the same time:

  • Anaheim (v. Oakland): With the A’s Rick Monday at bat, the game was halted in the 2nd inning and the words “We have landed on the moon” were displayed on the scoreboard.
  • Atlanta (v. San Diego): The game was stopped in the 7th inning so a “silent prayer” could be said by the crowd and then the organist played “God Bless America.”
  • Boston (v. Baltimore): The 7th inning had just ended and an announcement was made over the PA system; the crowd cheered for nearly a minute and the organist played “something dramatic to fit the occasion.”
  • Chicago (v. Kansas City): Walt Williams had just singled for the White Sox in the 7th inning when the exploding scoreboard, which had been synched to salute the exact moment of the moon landing, did its thing. An announcement was made that the astronauts had landed on the moon and the players in the White Sox dugout bowed their heads in prayer.
  • Cleveland (v. Detroit): The first game of a double header had just ended, so the players listened to the broadcast in the clubhouse between games.
  • Montreal (v. Mets): Additional time was taken between the two games of a double header so the live broadcast of the landing could be played over the PA system.
  • New York (v. Washington): With Washington’s Jack Aker at bat in the 8th inning, an announcement was made that the astronauts had landed safely; the crowd cheered, the message “They’re on the moon” appeared on the scoreboard, and “America the Beautiful” was played over the PA system. (See video below.)
  • Philadelphia (v. Cubs): At the end of the first half of the 3rd inning in game 2 of a double header, the PA announcer informed the crowd that the U.S. had landed a man on the moon. The players lined up on the baselines, there was a moment of silence, and then “God Bless America” was played over the loudspeakers.
  • San Francisco (v. Los Angeles): With the bases loaded in the first inning, there was an announcement about the landing over the PA system, a moment of silence, and the crowd cheered.
  • Seattle (v. Minnesota): During the pregame ceremonies, an announcement was made of the landing; the fans cheered and sang “America the Beautiful.”

Here’s how the event unfolded at Yankee Stadium:

This clip is taken from a documentary, presumably “In the Shadow of the Moon,” though cited as “Shadows on the Moon,” in the clip above.

Happy Friday!

~ baseballrebecca


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