I’ve Got a Secret – Gary Senese

This is a story written by Gary Senese about his experience on I’ve Got a Secret! He was in Little League at the time he was on, and his secret was that he pitched a no-hit game, but the other team won the game. This is more of a behind-the-scenes type thing, but if you are unfamiliar with his secret you can read the complete transcript here:

Gary Senese transcript

Mr. Senese found this site and emailed me asking about where to get his episode. We sort of made a deal that I would encode his episode and send it to him if he would write a short article about his experience. After we did that, he was able to find all the old stuff from the show! I decided to write out the transcript of his secret as well. It all worked out great, because I got the screenshots at the same time I encoded the episode for him.

Gary, thank you so much for sharing your story!

First a disclaimer – The following is an attempt to describe the events as they occurred to the best of my ability. Since 44 years have elapsed (I’m now 57!) I do not claim that my memory is 100% accurate. I have had more than my share of ‘senior’ moments when I can’t remember s–t! I hope this is not one of them but forgive me if I made any mistakes.

*   *   *

The week after I pitched the game it was written up in the local newspapers (New York Post, Daily News, Staten Island Advance). Shortly after that my mother received a Telegram as follows:

      PLEASE CONTACT ME REGARDING YOUR SON GARRY AND THE NO
      HITTER GAME HE PITCHED AND LOST WE WOULD LIKE TO TALK
      TO YOU ABOUT A POSSIBLE APPEARANCE ON THE CBS SHOW
      I’VE GOAT A SECRET CONTACT:

             FRANK ABRAHAMS I’VE GOT A SECRET PLAZA 1-0612

View Scan of this Telegram

We called and they explained how they wanted to have me on the show.

I think it was a week or so later when they called again saying that the Little League authorities had nixed the idea because IGaS was sponsored by Winston and the Little League could not permit the appearance of support for alcohol or tobacco companies. The Little League got involved because IGaS wanted me to wear my uniform on the show. Of course, I was disappointed and I thought that was the end of it. Shortly after that the events were reported in the Kane (PA) Republican newspaper (where my maternal grandparents lived) including the cancellation of the IGaS appearance because “No Little Leaguers are permitted to participate in a show exploiting alcoholic beverages or tobacco.”

More time went by when they called again to say that they had found a way to work around the Little League problems. They asked me to come to the city to a costume department where they fitted me for a baseball uniform. I think it was at this point that they decided to put both myself and the opposing pitcher, Anthony Genovese, on the show together. We were fitted for uniforms and told to be at the studio at 6:30 pm on July 1st.

I recall having a telephone conversation before the air date with someone from the show talking me through what would happen and what to expect. They were very nice to a nervous and excited 12-year-old boy. On the day before the show I received another Telegram:

      THIS CONFIRMS OUR TELEPHONE CONVERSATION TODAY RE YOUR
      APPEARING ON I’VE GOT A SECRET TOMORROW NIGHT JULY 1
      PLEASE BE AT CBS STUDIO #59 256 WEST 47TH STREET NEW
      YORK AT 6:30 PM TOMORROW FOR REHEARSAL. CALL ME
      TOMORROW MORNING AFTER 10:00 TO CONFIRM THIS TIME. WE
      ARE ALL LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING YOU=

             HAZEL OXHOLM I’V GOT A SECRET.=

View Scan of this Telegram

We arrived at the studio about 6 pm – the show was scheduled to air at 9:30 pm. We were given a preprinted WELCOME and told what to expect. The crew treated us very well. We went through a rehearsal of sorts. We were told where to stand behind the curtain before we were called out. We walked out and met the host and the four panelists made believe they were asking questions. They were not the real stars, just stand-ins, so we got a general idea of the flow and how to speak into the microphones. We were also warned strongly NOT to whisper our secret into Garry’s ear at the beginning – just make believe so that the microphones could not pick it up. I suspect the ‘rehearsal’ was also a sort of test for us and if we had totally blown it they could have replaced our segment. Although they said we would have two rehearsals we must have done OK since we only walked through it once.

As air time approached we were kept in an isolated area off to one side back stage. I believe that was to avoid any accidental meetings with the cast. I don’t think we saw any of them except for Garry until they walked out to take their seats. We were introduced to Garry who was polite and friendly but you could tell he was getting ready to go on the air.

The time seemed to fly by and the next thing I knew we were standing behind the curtain and the music was playing and off we went. I was very nervous at first but felt a little more comfortable as the segment began and the questions and jokes started flying. I don’t remember seeing any of the cameras or lights or the small audience. My attention was drawn back and forth between the panelists and Garry.

We got past Bill and Bess OK but when Henry asked Anthony if his pitching record that was part of the secret and Anthony said no we knew we were in trouble. Henry then turned to me and started to ask a similar question that would have been right on target but he was interrupted by Bess and after they joked around Henry’s time expired. Betsy didn’t know much about baseball so we were safe.

At the end of the segment Garry gave us our money (fake) and Winstons (“for our Dads”). At the time I thought that was funny since my parents had divorced 4 years before that and I lived with my Mother who smoked. He also gave me the letter and autographed picture from Harvey Haddix.

After we walked off we were kept back stage for the rest of the show. I remember Monique Van Voren’s segment with Brigitte Bardot’s bikini in a cigarette pack and the Army showing a prototype of one of their first hovercraft. After the show ended the entire cast came backstage and we all mingled. I remember Garry, Bill and Betsy being very nice and friendly while Bess and Henry were polite but a little aloof.

The day after the show they sent us a check for our winnings ($40 each) plus expenses of $15. We were given the option to purchase a recording of the show or a kinescope. We couldn’t afford the cost of the kinescope so we bought the recording. I still have it along with the mementos from Harvey Haddix and the other items you see here. Until I found this site I had never seen the video. It brought back a lot of wonderful memories. Thank You.

Some of these were linked above as well, but here they are again with thumbnails:

Tommy Gun: So the little league let you appear as long as you weren’t wearing your real uniforms? Were those the real team names on your uniforms?

Gary Senese: I think the issue was the use of the Little League seal that all official uniforms had on the arm patch. That was why they needed Little League approval. Once they put us in costume uniforms that legal problem went away. I don’t think they ever mentioned “Little league” either. And yes, Cosmos and Brighton were the names of the teams. My team, Cosmos, was a drive-in restaurant on Hylan Blvd. One of those casual burger, barbecue places.

Tommy Gun: Did you ever see the “sound proof room” that the panel gets sent to in a lot of episodes? I was always wondering what that looked like.

Gary Senese: I don’t recall seeing any soundproof booth. I think they just sent them out the Stage Door which was very close.

Tommy Gun: Was the prize money that Garry gave you on the air real? I was always under the impression that it was fake, so did they write you a check after the show?

Gary Senese: I believe the money Garry handed us was fake. They wrote us a check for the $40 (each) plus travel expenses. Sorry I don’t remember the amount.

Tommy Gun: Small audience? It always looked pretty big to me when they showed shots of the audience.

Gary Senese: It was a very small theater and I would guess there were less than 100 people. I really can’t say for sure but that is my recollection. I think they put everyone together into a cluster and used tight shots to make it appear bigger than it was. I’ve recently toured the SNL (Saturday Night Live) set and it is amazing how small it really is compared to what it looks like on TV.

Tommy Gun: Do you remember how much they were charging for the kinescope?

Gary Senese: Sorry I don’t remember the amount but it was more than we could afford. It may have been something like $25 for the record and $75 for the kinescope.

Tommy Gun: How long did you continue to play baseball?

Gary Senese: After Little League I played baseball in high school (1959-63) and also in the Babe Ruth League (1960-62). I kept at it through American Legion and PAL (Police Athletic Leagues) until work, college & girls got in the way. I played handball & racquetball in the Marines and then I played softball for a few years but eventually switched to golf as my passion. I did coach my two sons in Little League & Babe Ruth League baseball until they switched to Lacrosse & Ice Hockey.

I was OK at baseball but at the Little League level it was size that mattered. The biggest kids who could at least hit a target almost always became pitchers. As I moved up in age groups I moved over to first base, catcher and outfield. My fastball wasn’t fast enough and I couldn’t throw or hit curve balls very well.

One interesting note:
I played high school baseball for New Dorp HS against our cross-island rival Curtis. One of the stars on Curtis was Terry Crowley. I also played with Terry in American Legion and PAL. Terry went on to play for Baltimore (and a few other teams) until he retired (1969-83). I was at Camden Yards the night Cal Ripken broke Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games. They brought out the starting lineup for the first game of the streak in 1981 and there was Terry Crowley.

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