Burt Mustin attended the first World Series ever and said Boston's theme song made no sense

"Now can you imagine anything less like the World Series?"


Whether you remember him best as Gus the Fireman on Leave It to Beaver, Jud Fletcher on The Andy Griffith Show or any of the characters that Burt Mustin brought to life in his late-blooming career, it's likely you recognize the veteran character actor by his expressive face.

Famously beginning his career at the age of 67, Mustin appeared on dozens of TV shows from 1951 to 1976, but it was during an interview on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show that he revealed he also made an appearance at one of America's most historic sports event: the first-ever World Series.

This came up when Carson asked Mustin what the first World Series he'd ever attended was and the actor, then in his 90s, nodded and proudly stated, "That was the first World Series, when Boston came to Pittsburgh in 1903.”

In 1903, Mustin was 19 and living in Pittsburgh, the town where he was born. That year, Mustin's hometeam the Pittsburgh Pirates took on Boston's team, then known as the Boston Americans. Even into his 90s, Mustin had a steel memory for how that game went down, mostly because the most fervent baseball fans can tell you: His team did not emerge the winner.

Mustin remembered, "We took the first two games, then they came back to Boston, we split even there, and that made it 3-1 Pittsburgh. Then they came to Pittsburgh and we never won another game."

To make matters worse, Mustin said that beyond the loss, there was one thing that still haunted him from being in the bleachers during this landmark World Series game: the curious theme song Boston chose to represent their team. In the interview, Mustin asked Carson, "Did you ever hear of a song called ‘Tessie’? I don’t suppose so." Then Mustin launched into the song, singing, "Tessie, you make me feel so badly, why don’t you turn around. Tessie, you know I love you madly, my heart is on the ground." That's when Mustin turned to Carson incredulous, "Now can you imagine anything less like the [World Series]?"

His rant about the nonsensical choice almost feels like it could've come up during small talk at Floyd's Barber Shop, "They took it very seriously up in Boston. They sent two or three trainloads worth of fans down there [to Pittsburgh] with a great big brass band, and they had a theme song, and I have always wondered why on earth it was ever chosen because it had nothing to do with baseball, nothing to do with Boston, nothing to do with anything in the World Series."

At one point, he did offer a slight explanation for the odd song choice, though: "The story was that they had played it up there with the band for some of their final games and they thought it was a good theme song."

After his team's loss, Mustin disagreed with that point even more and pointed out that Pittsburgh shared his opinion when it came to playing that tune, "They played that ‘Tessie, Tessie’ thing every inning. And in Pittsburgh for 10 years after that, the song 'Tessie' was outlawed."

We bet Sheriff Andy would've agreed with that decision.

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UTZAAKE 60 months ago
Lucyneenah19701 60 months ago
I don't watch sports, but Burts Mustin is right. The Song Tessie has nothing to do with baseball or Pittsburgh. Since he was s Pittsburgh baseball fan, I can understand why he was upset.
I love his role as Gus the Fireman on Leave it to Beaver!
oldiesfanjohn 60 months ago
Watch Ken Burns Baseball again Pt 2. They were "serenading" Honus Wagner.
Lines like, "Honus, why do you hit so badly?" 3B Tommy Leach said the ditty all drove The Pirates crazy. Surprised Mustin didn't remember that.
Honus was injured & did play badly that whole Series, hit BA around .200.
However Honus more than made up for it in the 1909 WS.
cperrynaples 60 months ago
Mustin has a sentimental attachment for me: He attended Pennsylvania Military College, later to become Widener University. As an alumnus, I can confirm there is a theater named for him!
"Tessie" makes about as much sense as being the Boston RS's theme song as does "Sweet Caroline." There is a Bostonian connection, in that Neil Diamond, {whom I am a fan of,} said the song is about one of the members of the first family of Boston, The Kennedy's. But, obviously, no ties to America's pastime.
This, however, cannot be said about the teams I follow, for they each have their own theme songs that DO fit the teams. This clue will probably, {if you follow baseball at all,} give you the name of one of the teams I follow. One of the songs about them, is played every time they win at home.
"Take Me Out to the Ballpark" ... ? I can tell you where I've heard it. But am guessing it's not a Team you follow.
The correct title is "Take Me Out To The Ball Game." This song, {TMOTTBG,} can also be heard at the same ballpark [as the song I'm thinking about]...during the 7th inning stretch. The one I'm referring to, is ONLY heard at said park when the team wins. It was written by a local musician who has since passed. Nice try and thanks for playing.
This item reminds me of another Carson guest! On one of his last appearences, Jack Benny read the lyrics of his theme song Love In Bloom ["Can it be the breeze that fills the trees..."], after which he asked "Now what the hell does this have to do with me?"
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