Dr. Anthony Fauci has deservedly become a voice of sanity and hope in these increasingly nervous times. The former Upper East Side Regis Prep School point guard is also a great baseball fan who has switched to rooting for the world champion Washington Nationals after growing up as a Yankees fan.
Yet when he recently told James Wagner of the New York Times that in the 1950s "everybody in Brooklyn was either a Dodger or a Yankee fan," I reacted with horror: "Have you never heard of New York Giant fans, dear doctor?"
As I post on Willie Mays' 89th birthday on May 6th, let me remind him that there was a third team in NYC with a history that predated either Yankee pinstripes and Dodger blue. And Willie Mays more than deserved to be in the same company as Mickey and the Duke. Alvin Dark could hold his own in all-around play with Pee Wee and Phil. (But I'm not going to going to bat for Wes Westrum over Campy and Yogi.)
It's true there weren't as many of us New York Giant fans, but there were plenty scattered around the five boroughs of NYC and neighboring suburbs. Including future Hall of Famer Joe Torre raised close to Fauci in Bensonhurst deep in the heart of Brooklyn.
"Nobody's perfect," Dr. Fauci, and please continue doing your good work of trying to talk truth to power about the public health quandary we find ourselves in.
"Nobody's perfect", of course, brings to mind Joe E. Brown's classic closing line in Billy
Wilder's hilarious farce "Some Like It Hot" (1959).This Sat May 9 at 8PM, there is a deserved prime time showing on TCM (Turner Classic Movies) of Wilder's rarely seen earlier film "Ace In The Hole".
It was released in 1951 the year after his big success with "Sunset Boulevard" (1950).
Kirk Douglas plays a newspaper reporter banished to New Mexico from NYC. A mine accident traps a worker underground, and Douglas seizes this opportunity to make a national story at the expense of the poor victim.
Douglas reportedly urged Wilder to soften his character a little bit, but the director was unrelenting. He wanted to make a mordant statement about mass culture and he sure did. The film pretty much bombed at the box office in the U.S., but made more money in France released as "The Big Carnival" (1955).
One more TCM tip in the coming days. In a rare back-to-back showing, on Monday May 11 at 8PM and 1045PM, George Nierenberg's joyous tap dance documentary, "No Maps On My Taps" (1979) will be shown. Tap masters Sandman Sims, Bunny Briggs, and Chuck Green get deserved acclaim.
Some of the music in the doc. is provided by Lionel Hampton who once told me when he wasn't traveling, he often coached first base for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues.
Speaking of the Monarchs and the Negro leagues, an absorbing and intelligent read is Jeremy Beer's award-winning biography, OSCAR CHARLESTON (University of Nebraska Press).
Glad to see too that Oscar was honored with a plaque in his home town of Indianapolis.
I have no crystal ball on when we might see live baseball in the States again. In their thirst for live sports, ESPN has made a deal with the Korean Baseball Organization for late night coverage Tu through Su plus playoffs..
On Monday night May 4th I stayed up late to watch an opening night game. And whatdya know? There was a rain delay! It was only a half-hour pause, and for the few innings I could stay awake I was treated to crisp defensive play and good pitching. Fan noises were piped into the empty stadium which may happen here if there are indeed games in the USA in 2020.
In the meantime, let's cherish our memories of games and heroes of the past. And keep hoping we'll have a future of fresh games to look forward to sometime soon.
As Dr, Fauci described it beautifuclly a few days ago, you're at a game and "just watch things go slowly and then all of a sudden explode with a couple of line drives off the wall." And if home runs follow, your adrenaline goes up tenfold!
Until that happy moment, now more than ever, Take it easy but take it!