Saturday, July 13, 2019

The Freakin' Weekend (1973)

Football is drawing near! Not only was George Allen on the cover of Sports Illustrated a couple of weeks ago (I guess I forgot that George Allen coached the Washington Redskins to the only undefeated season in NFL history and Super Bowl VII victory a few months ago), but this week's July 16, Billie Jean King-wins-Wimbledon issue features a gorgeous Vitalis ad for a season-tickets contest.

You know I'm entering that bad boy! Let's not get ahead of ourselves, however. It is still July, and 1973 me wants to cram in some summer reading before I totally turn myself over to NFL73.

You know I'm entering that bad boy! It'll be exciting to see if I hear back from Wells Fargo or Amazon or Alibaba or whoever today owns Vitalis and the Sports Illustrated Book Club.

That's three straight paragraphs opening with exclamations, so I think it's high time to gear down this #freakinweekend mix tape a notch with some slow-hand love for sleepy, just-after-the-All-Star-break baseball. When we last checked in on MLB73, Oakland had just taken over first place in the American League West. Well, the Swingin' A's now are cruisin', as shown in the Friday morning, July 13, division standings:

A's 50-39
Royals 49-43, 2.5 games back
Angels 45-41, 3.5
Twins 45-41, 3.5
White Sox 45-42, 4
Rangers 30-56, 18.5

In fact, I'm feeling comfortable enough about the defendin' champs to check in on the rest of the league:

AL East
Yankees 50-41
Red Sox 46-39, 1
Orioles 44-38, 1.5
Tigers 46-42, 2.5
Brewers 43-44, 5
Indians 31-58, 18

NL East
Cubs 50-38
Cardinals 44-42, 5
Expos 41-43, 7
Pirates 40-44, 8
Phillies 39-48, 10.5
Mets 36-47, 11.5

NL West
Dodgers 56-34
Reds 49-39, 6
Giants 50-40, 6
Astros 49-44, 8.5
Braves 41-50, 15.5
Padres 31-57, 24

Back to Billie Jean King for a moment ... I guess I had never checked, and I grew up just sort of believing that Charles Schulz had created the Marcie character amid the 1973 Bobby Riggs hysteria. Not true. It goes back a good bit before then.

A couple of years ago, 1971 me was surprised to discover Marcie in the newspaper strips, before Billie Jean King had really exploded into the culture and onto the covers of PeopleTIME and even Sports Illustrated.

Indeed, the character had first appeared in 1968 as a camp acquaintance of Peppermint Patty's named "Clara," who then reappeared as Marcie in July 1971. Now all of that happened amid plenty of Billie Jean King Wimbledon and U.S. Open winning, of which huge-tennis-guy Schulz was certainly aware. The character is said to have been modeled after a roommate of Schulz's cousin, on whom Peppermint Patty was based, so, maybe there's not the equivalent, direct line of sight from Martin Luther King's assassination to the appearance of Franklin. Still, it seems pretty clear to me that Marcie's look at least was influenced by King; Peppermint Patty even once talked about Marcie's "Billie Jean King glasses," and Schulz unabashedly was a fan. That's pretty neat.

Bobby Riggs is one of the stories on the July 13, 1973, 60 Minutes, incidentally.

Is all of this Marcie/Billie Jean King deal covered in that great Charles Schulz biography? I'll bet it is, and I've forgotten reading it. This is going to turn out to be another of those deals where, like, I have the same original observation about Tiger Woods's anxieties, except I have it about three Masters tournaments in a row.

Which, in conclusion, reminds me: The British Open!