My nephew and I were spending an evening making Coke bets on old games shows and we came across a classic episode of the Match Game. Really though, aren't all episodes of the Match Game classics? I digress.
Match Game was a hilariously typical game show of the 1970's which featured two contestants attempting to match silly answers with the panel of six celebrities. Even as a kid, I sensed that this show was a bit different. Looking at it now, one only can guess what went on back stage.
We clicked over to the Game Show Network, just as the Match Game's host Gene Rayburn announced the next contestant, Al Ferrara. Ferrara stated that he was a piano salesman, but it also came out that he had played pro baseball.
In fact, Ferrara was an outfielder for parts of eight seasons, mostly for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He hit .259 with 358 hits in his career.
On this episode, Ferrara went hitless. In fact, his opponent, the reigning champ Marlena Cruz, also went hitless. They went to a tie-breaking round and Ferrara again came up empty. Cruz connected on one to retain her title. Like all losing contestants on the show, Ferrara sat forlornly as the stage spun him back into who knows where. If Al ever reads this, please contact me with any updates.
I am not sure if Marlena won the big match on this show. I know she won at least one big match ($5000) and one mid-match ($2500) over the two shows, but I am not sure which was which. Marlena was quite cute and funny. Of course, now she would have to be about 60. If Marlena ever reads this, please email me an update on yourself.
Anyway, Ferrara went away with some unknown consolation prizes. He eventually went into business for himself, starting Major League Construction, which he ran for over 30 years. In retirement, he has gone back to the Dodgers in their Community Relations department. There is a great bio on Ferrara at The Baseball Biography Project by SABR.
So the moral of this story is you can learn stuff, even from an odd game show of the 70's. Now, if I can learn whatever happened to Marlena Cruz, the story would be complete!