Above are two examples of what people in the sports memorabilia trade call "phantoms" -- items for events involving teams that somehow didn't make it. As you might guess, these are rarities and valued highly in the collectible world.
The item at left is a program from what would have been the 1951 World Series between the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers...only the Dodgers never got there. They were two outs away from winning the National League pennant, thus salvaging a season in which they blew a 13 1/2-game lead in mid-August and being forced into a best-of-three playoff -- but Bobby Thomson's three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth gave their archrivals, the New York Giants, a 5-4 win at the Polo Grounds in Manhattan. Thomson's homer, labeled "the shot heard 'round the world," is still regarded as one of the great moments in baseball history. (I knew Thomson when both he and I lived in New Jersey some years back; now in his 80s, he's a modest, genuine guy who had a substantial career in the majors beyond that one moment.)
At right is something that brings chills to virtually any Philadelphian. It's a program from what would have been the Phillies in the 1964 World Series (the blank flag was to have been filled in with the logo of the American League champion). However, the Phils blew a 6 1/2-game lead with 10 games to go and lost the pennant to St. Louis. The franchise finally won its first World Series in 1980, but that hasn't erased fans' nightmares of how the '64 season ended.
We bring this up because we have an example of a Carole Lombard "phantom" that's now up for auction at eBay...and unless the bidding goes way up, it'll be substantially cheaper than either of those programs. (The Dodger phantom goes for $2,500.) This is a photo promoting a film Lombard never appeared in.
This Paramount still, issued in 1932, was promoting an upcoming release called "Hot Saturday." It came out that October...but Lombard wasn't in it. Instead, the role went to Nancy Carroll, who as recently as two years before had been one of the studio's top female stars -- but by now, her appeal was wearing thin and in many corners she was deemed yesterday's news.
So with a Carroll instead of a Carole, "Hot Saturday" was filmed -- and here, "hot" doesn't necessarily refer to the temperature, as the wording on the poster makes clear:
This pre-Code drama about small-town innuendo and reputation co-stars Cary Grant in one of his earliest lead roles (he's sort of a charming cad) and Randolph Scott (seen with Carroll below). It's a bit racy at times, which is why it initally was rarely seen on TV once vintage film packages were sold to the small screen, despite Grant's fame.
Lombard biographer Larry Swindell stated that while she often was rebellious towards Paramount's film choices for her at this stage of her career, she figured "Hot Saturday" wouldn't affect her status on the lot one way or the other. So why didn't she make this movie? You can thank director Wesley Ruggles.
A good friend and tennis companion of Carole's, Ruggles had been handed directorial reins to a project that needed a female lead after Miriam Hopkins had balked over billing. Ruggles suggested Lombard tell Paramount she had no interest in "Hot Saturday"...but not to let on she was interested in Ruggles' film. The studio, perhaps weary of battling Carole, acceded to her request -- leaving Lombard available for Ruggles' film, which turned out to be...
By the way, if you're interested in bidding on that eBay publicity still shown above, go to http://cgi.ebay.com/Vintage-Carole-Lombard-32-SENSUAL-BEAUTY-Port-SUPERB_W0QQitemZ170211309757QQihZ007QQcategoryZ18824QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem. As of this writing, the top bid is $28, and bidding continues through Wednesday.