As the son of the legendary creator of “Candid Camera,” Peter Funt is the keeper of literally thousands of historic moments.
But because his father, Allen Funt, was such a huge baseball fan, Peter’s favorite topic just might be the National Pastime. And during a trip to Cooperstown on Wednesday with his son, Peter Funt reveled in the history that comes to life every day at the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Funt, 63, helped his father sustain the “Candid Camera” franchise after Allen Funt created it – first as a radio program called “Candid Microphone” – in the late 1940s. “Candid Camera,” a prototype reality television series which used hidden cameras and microphones to capture subjects in surrealistic moments, ran on CBS from 1960-67 and then in syndication from 1974-79, with Allen Funt as the host.
Peter joined Allen in 1987 and hosted versions of the show from 1998-2004. During all of those years, the Funts never tired of using baseball as a subject on their show.
“I grew up in Westchester County, N.Y., in Croton-on-Hudson, and I loved the Yankees, just like my father,” Peter Funt said. “So we always loved to have baseball players on the show.
“We did a show in 1960 where Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra were caddies on a golf course, offering unwanted advice on the first tee. It’s unbelievable, but no one recognized them dressed as caddies – even after Mickey took a club and belted a drive 300 yards down the middle of the fairway.”
Later, in 2001, Peter Funt revisited the baseball theme on the show when Yankees manager Joe Torre allowed Funt to pose as a Commissioner’s office representative concerned about the number of times players were spitting during games.
“Jorge Posada was so concerned, but then we revealed the cameras and he was so happy,” Funt said.
Today, Funt, who lives in Pebble Beach, Calif., writes a syndicated newspaper column – and continues to inject baseball into his work wherever possible. His love of the game – he is now a Giants fan – led him to travel to the Northeast this week after picking up his son Danny from Georgetown University.
After stopping to see several minor league games, Peter and Danny made their first visit to Cooperstown.
“I don’t know how I grew up a baseball fan and never made it to Cooperstown before today,” Peter Funt said. “But I’m sold now. After seeing all the history here, I’m a walking advertisement for this place.”
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.