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.