Thursday, March 22, 2007

Hits, Runs, and an "Airer"

In 1962, the Pioneer Drive-In staff pitched a promotion for the upcoming baseball movie "Safe at Home", with Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris: 5000 local Little Leaguers would sell tickets to the show ($1 per adult, 35 cents per kid) and each receive a percentage of the sale plus an autographed 8x10 from the stars of the film. A tandem promotion involved kids sending postcards to Bill Riley, who would draw winning cards on his TV show--the winners received baseballs autographed by Yankee ballplayers. The feature film itself premiered on June 6 that year.
Left to right: Chester Ruby, Saydel Little League; Ray Webb, manager of the Pioneer Drive-In; Joe Jacobs and his wife, of the local Columbia office; and owner Richard Davis.
Above: May 12, 1962 opening of the "Safe At Home" promotion, at Grandview Little League Ballpark. Note the makeshift ticket boxoffice at the back. At that time, the Pioneer was owned by Richard Davis, and managed by Ray Webb. (And that term "airer"? Just a slightly more modern version of the industry name for a drive-in--they also had been called "ozoners", perhaps a holdover from the days of pre-drive-in open-air theaters such as the Ozone on East 6th and the Airdome on the site of the Hotel Fort Des Moines.)

These photos come from the now-defunct BoxOffice magazine, this particular issue from the collection of John McElwee, used with his kind permission. Check out his own amazing movie site at Greenbriar Movie Theatre.

Any little leaguers out in our readership who took part?


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