Sunday, April 15, 2012

Three of Life's Greatest Pleasures

Baseball, music and art:  three of life's greatest pleasures.  Friday night at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, all were celebrated.  Breaking the Color Barrier in Major League Baseball a current baseball card exhibit at the MET through June 17th.  The cards are part of the extensive collection bequeathed to the museum by Jefferson Burdick, a lifelong collector who we were told never went to a baseball game. 

Today Major League Baseball celebrates Jackie Robinson.

The Baseball Project sang us through a history of baseball.  
Linda, Scott, Peter, Mike (Steve was too far to the left)
As to be expected, the melodies were catchy, the lyrics ironic, smart, funny and poignant.   Harvey Haddix is a tribute to those who have pitched perfect games (they name all of them) and the one who didn't get the credit.  Why don't we add Harvey to that list they lament.

10th inning down, 11th inning down, he moved on to the 12th
3 straight outs and the fans were pinching themselves
The best game ever pitched and still a scoreless tie
Poor Harvey had to carry on and give it one more try

13's never lucky so you can guess the rest
Harv gave up a hit and then he lost the whole contest
I wonder how he slept that night knowing how close he came

To a most exclusive club that should include his name

There were other tributes such as the one for the 1986 World Series (Buckner's Bolero) , which elicited a yell of "Let's Go Mets" from the audience.  Satchel Page, Ted Freakin' Williams, Willie and Jackie were all honored. 

The performance was a quasi REM reunion.  The Baseball Project consists of , Scott McCaughey  who has been part of REM since 1994, Steve Wynn (Dream Syndicate), Peter Buck  and Linda PitmonMike Mills joined the band for this show and I believe I saw  Michael Stipe siting in the audience.

The evening opened with a panel discussion about cards and baseball's part in breaking the color barrier. Sharon Robinson, educational consultant to Major League Baseball and daughter of Brooklyn Dodgers pioneer Jackie Robinson, talked about her parents fleeing a house in Florida as a lynch mob was headed for her father.  The locals did not want a black man playing with a white team in their backyard.  Jackie was playing with a minor league team at the time and was one year away from joining the Dodgers.

The consummate baseball player Dale Murphy talked about his dad bringing him Willie Mays' glove.  A 9 year old Murphy was skeptical about it actually being Willie's glove.  When he got Willie's baseball card, he counted the stitches on the glove in the card and it was the same amount as on his glove.  The glove was a replica, but it was the same model.  New York Times sportswriter and author William Rhoden talked about practicing Willie's basket catch over and over.  Bill could not believe how easy Willie made the game look.  Sean Kirst, sports columnist for the Syracuse Post-Standard and author had a geographical link to two stories.  The collector Burdick came from Syracuse and Jackie Robinson had said "In Syracuse they got on me pretty good, but that didn't bother me."  He mentioned it as the one place that was hard on him.

As The Baseball Project sang (with a nod to Simon & Garfunkel), And here's to you Mr Robinson

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