Who was beautiful Priscilla Howe? What has she got to do with handsome Ted Williams? What do I have to do with either one of these two talented people? You’ll have to wait until the end of this note to get to that part of the story, and listen to the podcast to get the whole story.
Let’s start with something more serious, that being the central place baseball held and still holds in American life, in fact a glue that holds it together, as “Rudy Giuliani The First” reminded us as the Mayor of Gotham, days after the Twin Towers were felled. How stuck the diamond game is to our national culture was yet again shown during the pandemic.
Detroit, home to haters Henry Ford and Father Coughlin, was a hotbed of anti-Semitism in the years before and during WWII, when Henry “Hank” Greenberg, two time AL MVP, played there and demonstrated that Jews were no sissies. This handsome 6’ 4” giant home run champion held off the haters with his fists when necessary, joined the service before Pearl Harbor, rose from the ranks to be a Captain, served four years, returned in 1945 to lead the Tigers to yet another pennant, went on to rise to GM and then part owner of the Cleveland Indians, and crossed the line to help Marvin Miller and the players win free agency! Did “Hankus Pankus,” as he was known, personally support, on the field of play, Jackie Robinson in his quest to break the color line? Yes, he did. Did he nurture his lifelong friend, Ralph Kiner, to be the NL Home Run Champ seven consecutive seasons to become worthy of election to the Baseball Hall of Fame? Yes, he did. Was Hank Greenberg the greatest American Jew of the 20th Century? Arguably, yes he was, as the hero to millions of American Jews in an era when anti-Semitism was rife.
You want to know about the Boston Braves who departed Boston for Milwaukee in 1953 taking away from Boston Hall of Fame stars like the winningest lefty in MLB history, Warren Spahn, feared slugger, Eddie Mathews, and maybe the best MLB player ever, the late “Hank” Aaron, not to mention four time twenty game winner Johnny Sain, who could well be in the Hall of Fame. The Braves had acquired other stars to play in Boston, like Paul and Lloyd Waner, known as “Big Poison” and “Little Poison,” Hall of Famers both, two time NL batting champion, and yet another Hall of Famer, Ernie Lombardi, NL 1948 MVP, Bob Elliott, slugger Wally Berger, and many others. Listen and you shall hear.
You want to know about the woeful NFL Boston Yanks whose main claim to fame is bringing to Fenway Park opposing football superstars like Sammy Baugh, Bob Waterfield. Sid Luckman, and Don Hutson to treat us to gridiron thrills. Listen and you shall hear.
OK, let’s talk about Priscilla Howe. Petite, charming, talented enough as a band singer to appear on the Arthur Godfrey show, and regularly at Boston’s well-known Rainbow Room, impressionable enough to be impressed to take a liking to me to the consternation of the leader of her band, one Sammy Dale, who had a Mickey slipped to me which could have killed me. Listen and you shall hear!
Taking Priscilla to one of Teddy Ballgame’s last games ever late in the 1960 season seemed like a better bet to escape harm. I predicted for Priscilla what Ted was about to do which he promptly did. Listen to what he did! That caused my podcast partner and good friend, Jordan Rich, to say on air, “You really know how to impress a chick,” adding, “Thank you Chuck Estrada, wherever you are.” Who is Chuck Estrada? What is he doing in this story? Listen, and you shall hear:)!
People. Always people!