Fleetwood’s initial foray into the world of sports recordings began with the basketball album Havlicek Stole the Ball chronicling the first eight years of the Celtics dynamic championship run of 11 championships in 13 years.
The success of that Celtics album convinced Fleetwood that there was a market for such a product and their next release, The Impossible Dream, was just that. The recording was originally a radio special put together by radio station WHDH and highlighted the Red Sox incredible season of 1967.
The success of the first two albums convinced Vinnie Giarusso (the then owner of Fleetwood) that he was onto to something big. Fleetwood began developing albums for every team that won a championship over the next several years. In baseball we did a season recount of the 1968 Detroit Tigers world championship. So successful were the first two baseball releases that in 1969 the company produced an album to commemorate the first 100 years of baseball
In 1969 Fleetwood scored a big hit with the release of Miracle Mets. In that particular album, side one was devoted to the telling of the Mets history from their inception in 1962 through the lean years up to 1968. Side two was devoted to their world championship season.
During the 70’s the Fleetwood sports productions were rolling along. Every team that won a championship, in any of the major league sports, was looking to release a highlight record of their own and Fleetwood was the place to go. The Fleetwood name was becoming synonymous with sports recordings.
In just the game of baseball the 1970’s saw the company produce albums on the Baltimore Orioles world championship season of 1970. The Pittsburgh Pirates in 1971, The Oakland Athletics in 1972,The Cincinnati Reds in 1975, the New York Yankees in 1977 and in 1980 an album on the only championship season for the Philadelphia Phillies..
However, the success of sport recordings was not the exclusive property of the winners. Many of Fleetwood’s successful albums of the `70’s involved teams that were the so called bridesmaids. Teams such as the 1970 Cincinnati Reds, the 1973 Mets, the 1975 Red Sox and the 1980 Kansas City Royals all came up short in the run for championship glory but had successful runs in the recording business as their fans were determined to keep that near taste of glory alive with the purchase of the albums that captured the glory of a season which would soon be a memory of a lifetime.
One of the most successful albums in Fleetwood’s distinguished history occurred in 1973 with the closing of Yankee Stadium for two years. The Yankees wanted to give something back to their fans to keep the memory of the glory which had been Yankee Stadium for fifty years alive. They turned to Fleetwood to accomplish the goal and as a result the final game of that baseball season saw every fane entering the game between the Yankees and Tigers receiving a complimentary record. The promotion was so successful that deluged with a demand from fanes who were unable to attend that game for an any number of reasons. Fleetwood responded by including the album in their catalogue and to this day it remains one of the more popular items available. Although it is generally described as a baseball album the Fifty Years of Yankee Stadium is actually a compilation of the notable events that took place in the House that Ruth Built, be it football or the notable visit by Pope Paul the Sixth.
Soon to follow were albums of a biographical nature on the life of Hank Aaron; when he broke the all-time home run record, and Babe Ruth, perhaps the greatest name in athletic history. Fleetwood was paving the way for what we know today as Major League marketing. Now, today, some forty years after it started, Fleetwood is finding a new generation eager to share in the accomplishments of those who make today’s accomplishments meaningful.
Over the years many of the great baseball voices graced the Fleetwood Studio to lend their assistance which made the endeavor all the more successful. Those voices ranged from Ken Coleman, Lindsay Nelson, Ned Martin, Monte Moore, Chuck Thompson, Bob Prince, Bob Murphy and Phil Rizzuto to the Hall of Fame pipes of Marty Brenaman, Ernie Harwell, Curt Gowdy and Harry Kalas.
It’s amazing how a suggestion made at a cocktail party can turn into such an enduring legacy. Yes, that’s how the Fleetwood Sports recordings came into existence when an enterprising small recording company’s owner got caught up in a conversation with Celtics voice, Johnny Most, and with the exchange of a few ideas they gave birth to an industry that started the ball rolling for what you now witness in the various Major League Marketing divisions that grace the athletic landscape.
The CD’s available here are the result of many inquiries over the years asking to replace old and worn albums that had great sentimental value to their owners. The answer was to take the original recordings, digitally re-master them and reproduce the actual cover and liner notes. We hope you continue to enjoy the Fleetwood Sports catalog now on CD.
Fleetwood Sounds LLC