icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle


The Major League Baseball season is barely 10 days old and already there have been many memorable events. During the first weekend of the new season Orioles righthander JASON HAMMEL flirted with a no-hitter in his first start with his new team and so did Mets southpaw JONATHON NIESE in his first start since the club extended his contract another five years at a hefty multi-million dollar salary.

Though the Detroit Tigers look loaded with the addition of first baseman PRINCE FIELDER as the cleanup hitter to follow perennial All-Star MIGUEL CABRERA in the batting order, the first two great starts of reigning AL MVP-Cy Young award winner JUSTIN VERLANDER have resulted in a No Decision and a heart-breaking loss on Wed April 11 when after one-hitting the Tampa Rays for eight innings he allowed four in the 9th to lose 4-2.

And after taking a series at home from the Tampa Bay Rays, the Tigers went into Chicago and lost the first two games to the White Sox under new skipper ROBIN VENTURA the former Chisox third baseman. Picked for the lower regions of the AL Central it would be nice to see Chicago to give Detroit a run for its money in 2012.

Of course, it is much much too early to make any judgment on the 2012 season but it looks like the playoff participants of 2011 will be strong again in the AL: Texas, Detroit, and Tampa Bay, and in the NL the World Champion Cardinals will be fearsome again despite the retirement of manager TONY LARUSSA and the departure of ALBERT PUJOLS to the California Angels.

The Yankees’ home opener on Friday the 13th was a coming-out party for former LA Dodger HIROKI KURODA who stifled the struggling Angels on five hits over 8 innings-plus in an easy 5-0 victory. Retired catcher JORGE POSADA threw out the first ball to his father a Cuban exile who taught the game to his son in his new home of Puerto Rico. Among the admirable hard-line old-school principles Jorge Sr. taught his son was never to use batting gloves.

After being swept in three close exciting games in Tampa Bay, the Yankees resorted to their familiar form of playing Harlem Globetrotters to the Baltimore Orioles’s Washington Generals. They swept the Birds, winning the last two in extra innings.

As someone who lived in Baltimore in the 1970s and saw a team and an organization that was the envy of baseball and the pride of the region, it is beyond painful to watch their continuing fall from grace.

“Tomorrow is your best friend” is a baseball adage I first heard from BOBBY VALENTINE that usually motivates players to forget the past and play well in the present. But there is no solace to being a Baltimore fan these days. They remain the Woerioles and will be so until the day in the distant future when there is new ownership and a plan to truly build from the ground up.

As long as they hover near or over .500 for the first months of the season, 2012 will not be an embarrassment. That is the most positive thing I can say in assessing my team. And two straight wins in Toronto after the sweep by the Yankees gives a glimmer of hope that .500 or better in the early going is possible.

You see, I do remain a devoted Joaquin Andujarist when it comes to baseball. “The only word you need to understand baseball is youneverknow,” once saith the philosopher-pitcher. So April doesn’t have to be the cruelest month after all.

Fortunately, I remain a lover of the game in its many dimensions on and off the field. So let me conclude my first post of the new season with notice of a couple of events that tie music to baseball.

**On Friday morning April 27 I will be talking on “Jane Jarvis: The Mets’ One and Only Organist.” Jane lived 94 eventful years and her life ran the gamut from child prodigy in Indiana to music director on many radio stations to organist for both the Milwaukee Braves and Mets and internationally known jazz pianist. Jane loved to state the connection between jazz and baseball as the two most unique American cultural creations.

The talk will be at 9AM on the second day of Hofstra University’s three-day conference on “The 50th Anniversary of the New York Mets.” The location is the Mack Student Center at Hofstra University at the Hempstead campus in Long Island. Many former Mets will be speaking during the conference including ED CHARLES, BUD HARRELSON and ED KRANEPOOL. RUSTY STAUB will be the dinner speaker on Friday night. For further info, see www.hofstra.edu/mets

**On Monday April 2 I heard a fascinating presentation in words and music called “Take Me Out To The Ballgame: The Story of Katie Casey And Our National Pastime.” It was presented in the Bruno Walter Auditorium at the New York Public Library’s Performing Arts branch in Lincoln Center.

The project is the brainchild of GEORGE BOZIWICK the chief music archivist at the library, a musicologist, and a woodwind player who played a mean harmonica with his RED SKIES MUSIC ENSEMBLE on a rendition of George M. Cohan’s “Take Your Girl to the Ball Game.” Cohan’s song was copyrighted only a week after the Albert von Tilzer/Jack Norworth classic tune but it didn’t survive the test of time. Nor did Ring Lardner’s “Gee, It’s A Wonderful Game.”

Boziwick has unearthed fascinating material on the origins of Katie Casey the “baseball mad” woman in Norworth’s verse who insists on making her beau take her out to the ballgame not a show. It seems that the lyricist’s girl friend when he wrote the song was TRIXIE FRIGANZA, an actress born Delia O’Callahan. Trixie was also an active suffragette and Boziwick argues convincingly that the verse was intended as a homage to the desire of women activists to be not confined to the home but to be out “with the crowd”.

A marvelous twist to this story is that by the time “Take Me Out” was copyrighted, Norworth had fallen in love with Broadway musical star NORA BAYES. She insisted that her name be on all the sheet music and that the composer Albert von Tilzer fade from the scene. Later in 1908 Norworth and Bayes would have another hit on their hands, “Shine On Harvest Moon”.

That’s all for now. Just remember – Take it easy but take it!
Post a comment