For the Senior Hill campers one of the highlights every summer were super cool field trips to sporting events of national prominence close to Saginaw. These included Phillies games at the old Connie Mack Stadium and the new Vet in Philly, Orioles games at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, NFL football games and practices in Hershey, and an international Track and Field Meet at Franklin Field Philadelphia. These provided cherished memories for the campers and counselors who got to see and occasionally meet stars and heroes of the era.
In the summer of 1959 the Hill traveled to Franklin Field in Philadelphia to see the second iteration of the USA-USSR International Track and Field Meet. This nationally televised two-day event, drawing over 54,000 fans, was an early attempt to thaw the chilly relations of the Cold War Era through sports.
But it was not without controversy-in the 10,000 meters they witnessed American Bob Soth appear to finish second catching and passing an exhausted Russian runner who had led almost all the way. After a protest by the Russians it was determined, though no replay was available, that Soth had somehow been lapped by another Russian runner and not finished second.
One byproduct of the trip was that the campers got captivated by the unique walking style displayed in the speed walking races and were trying it on Upper Field when they got home. Steve Goozh, being gifted and talented, got it down perfectly and became the talk of the camp.
More significantly Mickey Rothstein, one of our more creative Hill counselors, was inspired by the experience and used it to springboard the creation of the Saginaw Invitational Track Meet which became a staple at Saginaw for the next couple of decades. The Invitational was a Hill and Acropolis team event that included all the bells and whistles they saw that day-hurdles, discus, javelin, sprints, speed walking, relays…..even a Pentathlon and Decathlon. A Saginaw tradition found it’s roots in this trip.
Click to see what the Hill saw at the 1959 USA-USSR Meet
In 1961 the Hillmen traveled to Memorial Stadium on July 17th to see a double header between the Yankees and the Orioles and caught a piece of history. This was the year Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle were in hot pursuit of Babe Ruth’s iconic record of 60 homers in 154 games (circa 1927).
On an evening with intermittent rain, they were part of a crowd of over 44,000 who saw Whitey Ford shut out the O’s in the opener 4 to 0 in a complete game gem. Mantle hit a homer to move to 33 just two behind Maris at 35 homers in the chase of Ruth.
In the nightcap the Yankees were hot. Maris hit a monster shot to right for his 36th homer in the first inning followed by homers by Clete Boyer in the third and Mantle in the fourth to lead 4 to 1. But in the top of the fifth the skies opened up with rain, thunder , and lightening in biblical proportion and after an hour the umpires called the game a rain out.
Barry Greene, possibly understanding that the Yankee homers being washed away might affect the Babe Ruth chase by the end of the year, was livid with the umpires unreasonable decision as the guys headed for the buses.
History tells that Maris got to 59 homers in 154 games on September 20th in a return match up with the Orioles, one shy of Ruth’s record. But as you can read in the article below he would have ended up at 59 in 154 games even if the shot the Hillmen had witnessed that night had stood up through the rains. The dreaded asterisk on Maris’s accomplishment of 61 homers in 1961 remains.
The annual camp trip to the Hershey Amusement Park and Chocolate Factory got a real shot in the arm in 1965. Through the generosity of Jerry Wolman, the new owner of the Philadelphia Eagles and father Senior Hill camper Alan Wolman, it was arranged that the Hillmen on the trip could go to an Eagles-Redskins exhibition game while they were in Hershey. This was obviously a huge deal since a large portion of the campers and staff came from the D.C. and Philly area so it was a real opportunity to see and support their hometown heroes in a rivalry game.
If you want a nostalgic charge, flip through the attached link to the game program. At just 50 cents it included articles about the young Sonny Jurgenson, bios on the Eagles stars, and appearances of the lovely Morrill sisters-Joyce and Sue-bracketing the rosters of each team. The Single Game Ticket Application inside the back cover shows you could have attended every game, home and away (including the pre-season), for a total of $107.
These sports excursions every summer were definitely a big time experience for us….now those were the days my friend!
August 7, 1965