Culture

Baseball Was So Much Better When You Could Dose Team Mascots with LSD

The best souvenier program illustration ever, explained

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As pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training this week, a nation of a baseball writers and enthusiasts are performing their annual excavation of the sport's bountiful quantities of grade-Z level cultural detritus. It is probable, however, that none will top this cover of a 1966 Astros souvenier program:

All baseball mascots must be dosed! |||

For the non-baseball fans among you, the guy in the rocking chair represents a rather leery-looking member of the Houston Astros, who is helping a little bear cub (the mascot of the Chicago Cubs) drink from a milk bottle labeled "LSD." Because 1966, right?

Maybe not. Over at SB Nation's Bleed Cubbie Blue, writer Al Yellon notes that there's an asterisk after "LSD"; and that in small print below under the Astro's baseball it says "* Leo S. Durocher," who was then the manager of the Cubs. The program was for the June 10-12 Cubs-Astros series. In his previous visit to the new Astrodome, Durocher (one of Nick Gillespie's favorite baseball miscreants) had slammed the space-age facility after his team got swept, calling it a "$45 million stadium with a 10-cent infield," deriding its revolutionary Astro-turf as "nylon," and referring to the Astros as a "bush organization" (he wasn't talking about the political dynasty in Houston, so far as we know). So it stands to reason that the cover was a deliberate tweak to Durocher's ample schnozz.

It's a convincing explanation, and Yellin marshals plenty of other historical evidence. BUT:

Now, Durocher's middle initial wasn't "S" -- his middle name was "Ernest." It does appear that it could have been a drug reference, which seems very odd in that buttoned-down era. Some have speculated it was for "Lake Shore Drive" in Chicago -- but no one in Chicago referred to Lake Shore Drive as "LSD" in 1966. That didn't happen until the 1970s. 

You can never trust artists, is what I would add. That, and sports mascots are just like acid, minus the fun (and trails).

Link via Baseball Think Factory.