Baseball and America’s Survival

On this podcast you will hear how a theatrical event that started out lightheartedly surprisingly turned into something deadly serious, became an adventure, and brought me a bunch of new and talented friends. Actor and playwright, Larry Tish, contacted me one day saying he would like to write a comic play adapted from my book, “American Jews and America’s Game.” Flattering? Yes. I met Larry. Terrific guy. Knew nothing about baseball. So what I told myself was, “I’ll teach him and his partner, Lee Goodwin, enough for the purpose.” I said, “How about a musical? I know a talented composer, Erin Murray, who just graduated Berklee College of Music.” The three took to each other, and ultimately decided to leave me out of the writing. OK, see how it goes. Well, it went well enough to be produced several times in Boston, Maine, New York, and finally at the home of the late philanthropist and arts enthusiast, Ted Cutler. Alas, money was wanting to continue advancing the play, cleverly named, “Jews on First,” by Larry Tish’s daughter, after Abbott and Costello’s famous line, “Who’s on First?” What to do? Larry and Lee bowed out, as it were. Using that title, I bowed in, writing a short history of Jews in America since the late 19th Century through Depression times to the present. I befriended and hired a brilliant young woman, Jillian Offermann, still in college, to gather illustrations to be sequenced and related to the history, a talent she had expertly nurtured since her mid-teens. The result was a montage of several hundred photos perfectly matched to the narrative, but which created copyright and brand liabilities in an age where MLB and all businesses protect their logos, brands, marks, and images zealously. At that time I formed a team with Jill, and Jordan Rich, veteran and popular broadcaster and podcaster, who you hear conversing with me on these podcasts. Just before Covid struck, Rotary invited me to tell them of the project on a Zoom show. The presentation impressed their audience, and their community oriented leader, Joyce Graff, asked if I could do the montage to be followed by my interview of an appropriate person from the front office of the Red Sox, directed by generous Brookline producer, Harvey Bravman. Joyce’s idea was that the interview would be on the issue of inclusiveness and discrimination in America. Joyce knew that I had some friends over there at Fenway Park, but hardly did I think I would be successful in obtaining anyone, let alone my first choice, Assistant Head of Baseball Operations, the articulate and engaging Eddie Romero Jr., born and bred in Puerto Rico. That was before generous and socially perceptive Red Sox President, Sam Kennedy, stepped in and made it all come true. Wow, this is getting serious. Well, there is much more to this story. Along the way key and accomplished people over there at Fenway Park like the aforementioned Sam Kennedy; the astute Chaim Bloom, Head of Baseball Operations; House Counsel, the brilliant Dave Friedman, Esq.; and Adam Grossman, Head of Marketing Operations, helped bring it to fruition. Not only did the story get serious but downright existential, as the subject matter segues from baseball to the survival of democracy. Any American interested in where our country may
be heading will want to hear this podcast.

People, always people!