Graham Paige had soft spot for national pastime
I knew about the record. It was a 78-rpm shellac pressing from the 1920s. Just the thing for a record and old-car collector. But I did not fully comprehend its place in history until reading Vol. 46, No. 1, of The Supercharger, Graham Owners Club, 4888 Sunnyhill Lane, Redding, California 96002-3511 (Dale Robbins, editor); www.grahamownersclub.com.
The single-page article seemed simple enough. A player was running to first base in a baseball game, his vintage team shirt emblazoned with “GRAHAM PAIGE.” Yes, that car company was into baseball. Said writer Michael Keller, a notable author on the subject of Graham-Paige, “When the Graham brothers first entered the business realm as a team, they understood that one of their most important assets at Graham Glass was their loyal and skilled work force. Contrary to the common wisdom of the day, the Grahams treated their laborers with respect and a good bit of paternalism.”
The record was called “The Graham-Paige March” and was aimed at stirring the actions of company workers, especially sales staff.
The article proves the company used various means to gain the feeling of teamwork among its body of employees.“When the expertise of the brothers brought them to the Motor City, they sponsored a sanctioned gun club, bowling teams and additional baseball teams.” Even company picnics were held at a resort area nearly 30 miles from the Dearborn factory, Michael noted.
The idea of ball teams was to instill “a spirit of chivalry” among workers, so to say. Thus, Graham-Paige Motors Corp. “created the Graham-Paige Legion…of ambitious, enthusiastic, and dedicated salesmen” who met regularly to talk business and socialize as their sales skills advanced.
The photo that accompanied Keller’s article did not clearly identify the location of the ballgame, so the writer asked his national club to share ideas and clues, hoping it had not been converted into a parking lot by now. But even if it had, perhaps memories of it now linger in the minds of club members.
All this struck a note with this reviewer. What if there were some automotive ball team members around your neck of the woods? I mean, guys from right before or after World War II who played on any brands of teams? Would those fellows tell interesting tales at your club meeting? Maybe even have photos — great publicity photos in uniform — including players posing with new cars from way back? Might be powder and wadding for your club’s editor to stuff in the old cannon of your club magazine and launch to the members.