October 5, 2014


Watch rare footage of the Senators beating the Giants in the 1924 World Series (Dan Steinberg, October 2, 2014, Washington Post)

[W]hen archivists from the Library's Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation watched the reel, they found nearly four minutes of footage from that 1924 World Series, footage that somehow had remained in nearly perfect condition for 90 years. Bucky Harris hitting a home run, Walter Johnson pitching four innings of scoreless relief, Muddy Ruel scoring the winning run, fans storming Griffith Stadium's field: It was all there, and it was all glorious.

"You've got to understand: Nitrate film, sometimes it looks great, sometimes it doesn't. We never know what we're going to get," said Mike Mashon, the head of the Library's moving image section. "The fact that it looks so great is a miracle. It's just a miracle."

The back story is just as miraculous. The mother of one of Mashon's Packard Campus colleagues was recently named the executor of an estate left behind by an older neighbor outside of Worcester, Mass. While preparing the house for sale, her family found these eight reels of film -- "in the rafters of the detached and not climate-controlled garage, a space we archivists would not normally recommend for long term storage of motion picture film." Mashon wrote in an e-mail.

That it was nitrate film made the process even more fraught with peril: Such film is flammable and degrades quickly, so archivists had faint hopes for the find. A friend at the Harvard Film Archive retrieved the reels and used a hazmat shipper to send the film to the Packard Campus in Culpeper; "they were in astonishingly good shape," Mashon wrote.

Sure, the atheletes are bigger and fitter, but the game's very much the same.
Posted by at October 5, 2014 10:31 AM

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