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Bang the Drum Slowly (1956) - B&W - 52 min

LikeTelevision's classic tv channel proudly presents a terrific episode from the U.S. Steel Hour - Bang the Drum Slowly starring Paul Newman, Albert Salmi, and George Peppard. A great story about a tender hearted pitcher Henry Wiggen (Paul Newman) who does all he can to keep his buddy, third string catcher Bruce Pearson (Albert Salmi) on the team. Bruce is a bit dim and he has less than a year to live.

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Bang the Drum Slowly
Directed by - Daniel Petrie

(1956) - B&W - 52 min
Based on the novel by Mark Harris, this 1956 live TV show was directed by Daniel Petrie. You might remember the 1973 movie of the same name starring Robert DeNiro and Michael Moriarty. Basically - it is like Brian's Song, but baseball, not football is the game. Paul Newman is in his early thirties and George Peppard is 28, created five years before Breakfast at Tiffany's. This is a wonderful episode, but the video quality is pretty weak. Why? because it is 1956 and tv back then was done in Kinescope.

Part one
Intro, B&W - this is live television at its finest. The set opens with Paul Newman who explains that he is a pitcher for the Mammoths, a professional baseball team. He wrote the story you are about to hear (all this is based on a Mark Harris novel). We meet Wiggen's dim witted roomie, Bruce Pearson played by Albert Salmi (make sure you check out Albert Salmi in a cool Bonanza episode, Silent Thunder - with the lovely Stella Stevens as a deaf girl.) We also meet Wiggen's wife who is expecting, and soon learn that Pearson has been diagnosed as terminally ill and given about 6-12 months to live.

starring Paul Newman as ace lefthander Henry Author Wiggen

a very young George Peppard stars as the wacko rookie catcher Piney Woods

Part two
Meanwhile - back at the baseball clubhouse - Wiggen is holding out, looking for better pay and also a guarantee that Pearson will not be released. We get an interesting view of contract negotiations in the days before sports agents. Henry feels he must keep all this a secret because he fears the ruthless manager will dump Bruce as soon as he gets wind of his illness. We also meet Piney Woods - a young hot shot catcher (played by George Peppard, long before the A Team, before Mr. T was even born). Piney is seems is a good catcher - but he is also a total nutcase.

the team in the dugout - pretty amazing for live television

Part three
Well it seems Wiggen can't keep a secret forever. Will the owners let Bruce go? What will the others players do? A great ending - please don't be afraid to shed a tear. Make sure you check out this great performance by Paul Newman, long before he ever considered making spaghetti sauce or salad dressing.

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Bang the Drum Slowly
Directed by - Daniel Petrie

Starring - Paul Newman as Henry Wiggin, Albert Salmi as Bruce Pearson, George Peppard as Piney Woods, Rudy Bond as the Manager

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Albert Salmi as the terminally ill catcher Bruce Pearson

Rudy Bond as the tough guy manager of the Mammoths

Henry Wiggen with his wife - who is expecting a baby

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George Peppard comes in on an old school 1950 chopper

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