Bing Crosby’s Wine Cellar Treasure

Entertainer Bing Crosby loved baseball to such an extent that he bought a share of the Pittsburgh Pirates professional ball club, which he held until his death in 1977. Mr. Crosby took in games in person when his schedule permitted, and by television otherwise… except in 1960, when the Pirates clinched the World Series title by downing the New York Yankees, 10-9 in a final game. He followed that one in Paris, by radio, afraid that his presence stateside would jinx the team.

“We were in this beautiful apartment, listening on shortwave, and when it got close Bing opened a bottle of Scotch and was tapping it against the mantel,” recalls Mr. Crosby’s wife, Kathryn, in The New York Times. “When [Pirates second baseman Bill] Mazeroski hit the [game-winning] home run, he tapped it hard; the Scotch flew into the fireplace and started a conflagration. I was screaming and [our friend and host] Nonie said, ‘It’s very nice to celebrate things, but couldn’t we be more restrained?’ ”

That particular baseball game is widely considered one of the best ever played. “It was such a unique game to begin with,” said Pirates shortstop Dick Groat. “It was back and forth, back and forth. It was unbelievable.” In addition to unbelievable, that game was also widely considered lost: NBC, which had broadcast it originally, hadn’t archived its footage. Most game footage was erased or recorded over during the 70s. The end of that unique World Series survived only in memory and in recorded radio commentary.

Except in Bing Crosby’s wine cellar, where silver canisters containing tape of the game were recently discovered. Mr. Crosby, having exiled himself to Paris for the duration of the match, had engaged a film company to record it for him. The recording is five reels in length, the only known film record of that game.


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