Capital Region Scrapbook: Firemen, cops played ball, held talent show in 1953 benefit

Everyone had a pun as Schenectady firefighters prepared to test city police officers in baseball dur

Everyone had a pun as Schenectady firefighters prepared to test city police officers in baseball during the summer of 1953.

Fans of the firemen could say hook and ladder crews would burn up their municipal brothers with high heat on the pitcher’s mound and hot stuff in the batting box.

Proponents of the police team might have suggested cops would roust the smoke-eaters, lock up their big hitters and prevent them from stealing any bases.

In reality, both teams were trying to arrest cerebral palsy. The fire and police forces’ athletic and theatrical efforts raised funds to help people afflicted with the disease. About 2,500 watched the game at Schenectady Stadium, and saw drama and comedy from the stands.

The game and other attractions had been promoted for weeks.

Laughs came before the game. People might have thought movie stars Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell and Faye Emerson were really on the field, but the “ladies” were really dolled-up members of the Police Department. “There was no resemblance to the real thing,” the Schenectady Gazette reported.

Singing policemen

Patrolmen Frank Mauriello and Nick Mazzacua were no Hope and Crosby, but performed “There’s No Business Like Show Business” and also offered impressions of 1950s musicians Johnny Ray and Vaughn Monroe. Patrolman Eugene Fitzner channeled Charles Laughton. The guys even spoofed “Bride and Groom,” an early television show that featured on-air weddings and gifts for the newlyweds.

The firefighters brought more singers. The department’s glee club sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone” as a tribute to kids suffering from cerebral palsy.

Mayor Archibald C. Wemple also got into the act. Wemple struck out Barbara Csejka, a “mascot” for the police department, before the baseball game started. The firefighters’ “mascot,” Teddy Berbellis, ruined the mayor’s perfect night with a single.

For the main event, singers, dancers and cross-dressers put on their game faces. Harold Ketchum was on the mound for the cops, while Stan Grant took the hill for the firemen. The game was tied at 1 until the last inning, when a fully involved fire department scored two runs to bust the police, 3-1.

The biggest hit came when Arthur Hilliard, treasurer of the baseball game, presented a $5,000 check to Harold Armstrong, general chairman of the cerebral palsy drive.

Categories: Life and Arts

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