Filming Ted's Farewell
Marlin captured the historic moment on his Bell and Howell 16-millimeter Filmo camera, which is now in the collection of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Following a stint in the United States Army during the Korean War, in which he developed his photography skills in the Signal Corps, Marlin returned to Boston and began working with a local television company. He would work in local television until 1962 when he began filming network stories for CBS, spending the next 25 years covering events throughout New England for CBS News.
“I covered the whole northeast. I did a lot of work with the Kennedys. A lot of politics – the presidential primaries in New Hampshire,” Marlin said, noting sporting events were also among his assignments.
“Baseball, hockey, basketball. You name it,” he continued. “Everything from tiddlywinks to horseshoe pitching. A lot of baseball, including All-Star Games and World Series.”
Even with all the events and people Marlin covered during his career, the subject keeps coming back to one individual: The Splendid Splinter.
“I worked with a lot of famous people and ballplayers and whatever, but even all these years later, I’m still asked about the most exciting events that I filmed,” Marlin said. “I flew over the Andrea Doria when it was sinking (off Nantucket), and (Maine Senator Edmund) Muskie (allegedly) crying in New Hampshire (during the 1972 presidential primaries) and Jack Kennedy at Hyannisport, but for sports fans, it’s always, ‘Tell us more about Ted Williams.’”
“The Bell and Howell Filmo was a standard of the industry at that time,” said Marlin, who worked the game for United Press Movietone. “The 100 feet of film in that camera lasted two-and-three-quarters minutes. For local news, we would learn to go out and edit a story right in the camera. We would take it out of the camera, and the TV stations would develop it and play it right on the air.
“It was just about the time we started to cover everything in sound. Once we started filming everything in sound, we used the Filmo just to make cutaway shots of the crowd.”
Marlin described that it was important not to be winding the camera when filming actual events, such as the home run, lest the spring motor expire in the middle of a scene. Using the motor drive guaranteed that one would get key action from beginning to end.
Now his camera resides at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, where it will continue to tell multiple stories, including those of Williams and of the early days of baseball on television.
“I felt I could’ve sold it. There was a good market for it,” Marlin mentioned. “But I just felt that … it had a lot of good history to it. Why I kept it all these years, I don’t know, but I did. I said, ‘One of these days, I’m going to ask if anyone is interested.’”
Reaching out to Museum director of collections Susan Mackay, Marlin soon learned that Cooperstown was interested in the potential donation.
“It was my (lack of) baseball skills that led me into photography. As a ballplayer, I was never going to make it to the Hall of Fame,” he admitted. “But to think that my camera made it – well, that’s a pretty special feeling.”
Matt Rothenberg is the manager of the Giamatti Research Center at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum