Video Vault: “Happy Felton’s Knothole Gang”

By Editorial Staff
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The St. Louis Cardinals and Brooklyn Dodgers represented the National League seven times during the 1940s. The Redbirds and the Bums were the elite clubs of the decade and it made for an intense and special rivalry. In 1946, the teams finished the season tied for the pennant. St. Louis defeated Brooklyn in a three-game playoff series.

Hall of Famers Stan Musial, Red Schoendienst, and Enos Slaughter took on the likes of Pee Wee Reese, Carl “The Reading Rifle” Furillo, and later on Duke Snider and Jackie Robinson. The star power and tradition of the organizations made for some epic battles during the heart of baseball’s golden age.

The rivalry was especially appreciated by Harvey Utech, a Cardinals fan who grew up in Dodger country, who I recently profiled on the site. Utech was enthusiastic and open throughout the process, making for a great experience. It also made me curious about the Cardinals-Dodgers rivalry and an old show called “Happy Felton’s Knothole Gang.”

Utech remembered going over to neighborhood friends’ houses on Saturdays to watch the show when TV first came on the scene in the early 1950s.

The website tvparty.com provides this account of the show’s history:

"Another popular show on WOR Ch. 9 was “Happy Felton’s Knothole Gang”, a sports show that helped young baseball players improve their baseball playing skills. (This show was not “Joe DiMaggio’s Dugout”, which was seen Saturday afternoons on WNBT TV Ch. 4 and in national syndication during the early 1950’s, where Mr. DiMaggio and the members of his dugout would try to improve the baseball playing techniques by watching top ball players on film.)Happy Felton (a former vauldville, stage and radio comic actor and musical entertainer) & the members of NYC’s most successful little league teams would see professional players ultilize their ball playing techniques live on the fields of the Brooklyn Giants, Brooklyn Dodgers and N.Y. Yankees Stadiums.After seeing their heroes play on the fields, thekids were given the chance to play against themselves on the fields and earn the chance to win scholarships for their schools and toy prizes. Plus tickets to upcoming baseball games.“Happy Felton’s Knothole Gang” was seen weekday afternoons and on Saturday afternoons on WOR Ch. 9 from Friday, April 21, 1950 until station execs finally closed up Happy Felton’s knothole in the ball parks for good on Saturday, August 24, 1957."

Though it was a Brooklyn Dodgers pre-game show that only ran in the New York area, it’s a fun slice of history. What were young Cards fans watching during this time period?

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