An eighty-two year love affair! That is next to impossible, especially considering that a romance that began in the teen years would now be over one hundred years old! Oh, I forgot, this is a love affair with a ballpark, the most iconic one in America, Fenway Park in Boston, where my Dad first took me at age five in 1936. I have attended there ever since, now more than eighty-two years ago. Could I have known that in addition to the many diamond thrills I enjoyed there, a day at the pinnacle in my late coming literary career would occur there in 2013, a day that added some famous names to the growing list that career brought to me, usually face too face. All that In this short seventeen minute podcast? Oh yes! So better you listen, because what is here written is only enough to whet your taste buds.
The Red Sox, under the leadership of their three owners, the liberal and brilliant entrepreneur, John Henry, the veteran and successful baseball executive, Larry Lucchino, and the well-known entertainment mogul, Tom Werner, brought to Fenway a series called, “The Great Fenway Park Writers Series,” a first in MLB history. Under the guidance of its founder, the late George Mitrovich, politico and idea guy, many great writers stood at the podium in the uppper reaches of Fenway Park to tell about their books. I never thought that I would get the call from George, but I did. George wanted me to talk about my 2013 baseball and cultural history book, “American Jews and America’s Game.” I chose the irrepressible dentist, Dr. Charles Steinberg, far more adept at pulling rabbits out of hats than teeth out of mouths, to be my guest on the show. Charles is the same guy who oversaw all those extravaganzas at Fenway you saw on television with a huge American flag draped over The Green Monster, otherwise known as the left field wall, and former Sox players from the year one trooping in from deep center field to surround the mound. Charles wowed me and everybody there in answer to my convoluted and idiosyncratic first question invoking Edward Bernays, the founder of public relations, and his uncle, famed Viennese psychiatrist, Sigmund Freud. That made it easy for me to get along fine with the now warmed up and softened audience, each required to buy a copy of my book to gain admittance. In the audience were luminaries like Pulitzer Prize winning Boston Globe columnist, Kevin Cullen, who also wrote a best seller about famous mobster, Whitey Bulger, after emerging unscathed but unsettled from his South Boston lair some years before. Kevin and I continued our conversation, begun at the event, later that Wednesday evening at a party at the home of socialites and broadcasters, the late Smoki Bacon and the late Dick Concannon.
Sitting with Kevin was the biographer of Ted Williams that very year, Ben Bradlee, Jr. I suggested to Ben that his marvelous biography on the “Splendid Splinter” could be understood as telling about the greatness and deficiencies of Ted Williams on its surface, and those of the United States subliminally. Ted, after all, was a great player, a storied fisherman, and a courageous wartime flier, as well as often being loud, vulgar, ugly, and violent, sort of a mirror image of America.
My stay in the ether surprisingly continued two days later when Kevin featured me in his Boston Globe column that Friday. He wrote there too about Sox southpaw relief pitcher, Craig Breslow, whom I had talked about on Wednesday, dubbed by many as “the smartest man in baseball” because of his degree in esoteric science subjects at Yale University, and about the entire pennant winning hirsute Red Sox squad. Kevin wrote they looked like rabbis, observing that, “Those beards are working,” as they drove toward their World Series victory. Talk about free publicity!
This podcast ends with a few words about my favorite Sox players, Mookie Betts, now alas the leader of the Dodgers, and the colorful Ted Williams way back, a harbinger of the next podcasts which will take you further into the fascinating world of baseball. See you there.
People, always people!