Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Pasadena & Boston - Ty Cobb & Babe Ruth August 27, 2012

 I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.

To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe. Decide what it is you want. -  Write it down.  Make a plan. And … Work on it.  Every. Single Day. That's how this new show came about.

That is what I learned when I started the Ty Cobb show. After contacting my friend Steve Folven, I approached him with the concept of a show about Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth. 

 Steve (aka Babe Ruth) Folven (a) introduced me to his friend, Phil Van Horn (b) who resides in Pasadena, Calif. I contacted Phil who told me he recently video taped Steve for his sports media network. He said Steve, who is a professional Babe Ruth impersonator bears a remarkable resemblance to the Babe and sounds like him.

Phil said Steve told him about my Ty Cobb show and he asked me if I would perform in Pasadena for a client of his which I did in December.  After the meeting, Phil, md y nephew Steve Grant and I went to Jackie Robinson Park in Pasadena where Phil taped me.

Steve liked the idea and flew to San Francisco to meet me and discuss the concept.

Steve and I with friends met at Lefty O'Doul's Restaurant on Geary Street in Union Square,  San Francisco, in April. We entered the crowded restaurant in uniform, Steve in his Yankee uniform bearing  Ruth's famous number 3 on his back, and me in a Tigers uniform. The crowd was astounded, smiling and laughing as we strolled into the restaurant, past the bar and headed toward the rear of the establishment.

The restaurant, named after famous slugger and San Francisco celebrity Lefty O'Doul is famous for its outstanding collection of sports photos, including Cobb and Ruth, it's variety of sandwiches, hot lunches and bar serving what is known as the best Bloody Mary in the USA.

The four of us including our friends Hal Bogner and Nick Siegel took a table in the rear and immediatley improvised a conversation as Ty and the Babe might have done, downing beers and entertaining the crowd of men who surrounded our table. 

This attracted the attention of owner Nick Bovis who joined us, took several photos on his cell phone and said, "If you get a good photo of the two of you, I will hang it in the restaurant".
After we lunched, Hal, Babe & I posed for a portrait that now hangs in the rear of the establishment.

Photo by Hal Bogner
We decided to  write a script for a show we called" Ty Cobb & Babe Ruth, "A Tale of Greatness". We did not let the fact that 3000 miles separated us from rehearing. Steve lives near Boston and I live in Half Moon Bay near San Francisco. We agreed to rehearse every Sunday at 4PM for an hour. We each had a script, I recorded our rehearsals. We started early in May, our goal was to perform in the Boston area late August or early September.

With my experience with Rotary clubs in the San Francisco area, I contacted over twenty Rotaries over a three week hunting expedition  and six agreed to our performing starting August 27th.

I flew to Boston on the 23rd, stayed at Steve's home in Tyngsboro while he went to work in Lowell. We started our first in person rehearsal the next day. I expressed my desire to see the Red Sox play in storied Fenway Park and Steve's brother Ray arranged to receive four box seats, 5 rows from the field next to the Red Sox dugout. 

Along with Ray's nephew Matthew, we had a great time as the BoSox beat the Kansas City Royals 8-6.  

Left to right - Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio, John Pesky, Bobby Doer

August 27 - Chelmsford

Our first of six shows in six cities in four days was Chelmsford, located 24 miles northwest of Boston. The city was named after Chelmsford, England. Our contact, Dawn C. Ferrari advised us she was unable to attend but Patrick Kimera, Club President would and Charles Keen would video tape the show.

The location was the Radisson Hotel & Suites. As this was our first performance in public, we were slightly nervous at the start, but settled in as we introduced the show opening.

 Cobb entered stage left and described the two men as opposite as the sun and the moon. They had two different approaches to playing baseball, and playing the game of life. Ty says how he helped create the game we know as the national pastime, while Ruth changed the game with his home runs.

Ruth points out that he led the Yankees to four World Series Championship (c) pointing out that the Tigers with Cobb never won one. Cobb joshes Ruth by reminding him that he, Ty, hit over 400 three times. Ruth never accomplished that feat. The audience loved the friendly battles the two men engaged in.

       Cobb speaks about what he loved about playing baseball and when he is finished, he sits, lights up a pipe and picks up a newspaper.  Babe Ruth walks in stage right and talks about what he loved about playing the game.

They diss each other in a friendly manner each trying to out do the other explaing how they were the greater player drawing chuckles from the attentive audience. The show ends with a Q&A and a round of applause.

August 28 - Bedford

Robert A. Cassady, President Elect advised us there is construction and detour at the
Doubletree Hotel on Middlesex Turnpike.
We took this into consideration and left Steve's home in Tyngsboro early.

Bedfor is located about 15 miles northwest of the city of Boston. It was once known as the whaling capital of the world. Herman Melville sailed out of Bedford which inspired him to write Moby Dick.

We were served a buffet lunch and took the stage at 1PM. They bantered back and forth discussing baseball strategy, the players they admired
and who was the better hunter and golfer.

At one point Ruth asked Cobb how much he was worth (Cobb was a multi-millionaire) (d). Cobb answered "none of your damn business George. No one knows what I’m worth but when I die, the State of Georgia is going to be richer by one million bucks. Inheritance tax you know" drawing laughs from the audience.  We concluded with a Q&A, posed for photos with the President and others and signed some autographs.

August 28 - Evening

We took a three hour break before driving to Wellesley for the first of two "doubleheaders" I had scheduled.

We met Tory DeFazio, our contact person at the Wellesley Community Center on Washington St. in Wellesley Hills. A social 1/2 hour began at 6PM with a sit down dinner at 6:30. We took the stage at 7:15 and completed the show at 8PM following our 

Wellesley is an affluent town north of Boston. It is best known as the home of Wellesley College, a liberal arts college.

Tory told us the local cable company (Wellesley Media) will be present to record the show. They will broadcast our entire program for the weekly news program "Wellesley This Week"  

"I will be doing a writeup for the local newspaper using the photo and material 
you sent me".

Aug 29: BOSTON at the elegant Park Plaza Hotel. Lucia Millam, Speakerchair.  Small audience, about 20, They enjoyed the show. Excellent lunch, chicken & mashed potatoes at McCormicks & Schmicks.  Received complimentary note & photo from Lowell A. Hart. He asked for our autographs. We taxied to Fenway Park, bought a Sox shirt, walked around Boston

Aug 30:  DEDHAM, Tanya Taddeo, speaker.  She liked idea of returning to small theater, had a son, Duece there. Dan Wood met us and spent the day with us.
FRANKLIN with Bruce Healey, speaker.  Show at 3 Restaurant, meatloaf (I did not like it-great mashed potatoes) Good show. Positive comments. Steve lost his cell phone. Phone found. Very tired,  went to bed early.

Aug 30 - Evening Franklin

The official name isThe Town of Franklin was the first city in the country to have a library, donated by Benjamin Franklin. It contains the largest Catholic parish in the Boston Archdiocesse, St. Mary's Catholic church with 15,000 members.

After leaving Dedham, we drove to The Town of Franklin was our final stop on our 6 city tour. Bruce Healy was our contact person. He advised us the stage is small but should work. He agreed to provide a CD player for the introduction. He told us members arrive about five for cocktails and appetizers, Dinner at 6PM.

We said we would be about five, mingle with the members and have a few snacks. We enjoyed the dinner, went on stage at 7pm and concluded with our Q&A at 7:45.

August 31st was a day of rest and relaxation around the spacious pool at Steve's condo. We were both tired and need this day to prepare for our six hour drive to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY the next day.

Sept 1: Left for Cooperstown, NY at 8AM.  Our drive through  upstate New York took us through the most lbeautiful countryside of up state New York.to Cooperstown.

Sept 2: We had breakfast, than toured the Museum. It was delightful with so much to see. We had dinner at the elegant Otswega Hotel overlooking the Otswega Lake.
Steve attracted lost of attention as he wore his Yankee uniform, kids loved getting photos with the Babe. Adults too. We toured many memorabilia stores on Main St and 
a young man named Tom took our picture.

We drove back to Tingsboro and the next morning, I flew home to San Francisco.

(a) Steve Folven: Bearing an uncanny resemblance to Babe Ruth, his mannerisms and anecdotes, Steve has performed at ballparks around the country. 

(b)  Phil Van Horn
Integrity Sports Agency LLC
301 N.Lake Ave, 7th Floor
Pasadena, Ca 91101

(c) The restaurant was named after Lefty O'Doul, a great hitter in the National League and a San Fancisco celebrity. Located in Union  Square, it has hundreds of sports photos on its walls including, Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth and me.

(c) 1923 vs Giants 4-3
      1927 vs Pirates 4-0
      1928 vs Cardinals 4-0
      1932 vs Cubs 4-0

(d) Cobb invested in the stock market shortly after joining the Tigers. In corporations like General Electric, RJ Reynolds tobacco, US Steel and General Motors. His investments with Coca-Cola in the early twenties made him a  millionaire.  

Cobb quote:  "Baseball was one-hundred percent of my life." Source The Tumult and the Shouting (Grantland Rice 1954)                           

Monday, August 24, 2015

Mississippi Braves, Jackson, Miss. April 1 & 2, 2011

The journey to Jackson, Mississippi began in early December, 2010 when I sent a photo Christmas card of me to over 50 General Managers in the Minor Leagues including Steve DeSalvo, the General Manager of the Mississippi Braves in Pearl, Miss.  The team has been an affiliate of the Atlanta Braves since 2005 and is in the Southern League.

Several days later, I received a note from Steve asking me about the show. I mailed my press kit to him on December 10th explaing about the show and the costs.

Steve called, thanking me for the card and asked if I was available to come to Jackson to entertain Braves fans at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in Jackson, early April.   

 The museum opened on July 4, 1996 and has inducted over 300 athletes from all  major sports. To be eligible for election, an athlete must be either born in Mississippi or attended a University or college in the state.

Among the exhibits in the museum are the "Dizzy Dean Museum",  and the "Viking Classic Exhibit", which gives the history of Mississippi's PGA golf tournament.

Some of the many baseball players in the Museum are Hall of Famer Dizzy Dean, Will Clark, (SF Giants)  Rafael Palmeiro (20 years ML career, 569 HR's) and Cool Papa Bell. (Negro League star)

Ty Cobb is not in the Hall due to being born in Georgia & did not attend school in Mississippi.

After a lengthy phone conversation the following week, we agreed to my performing two shows:  one the evening of April 1st and a show the following afternoon.  He also agreed to pay all costs for me and Clay Beatty, my assistant. 

Poster created by Clay Beatty

Clay has been my assistant from the start of the Cobb show in 2006. He travels with me handling lighting, sound, staging and in addition, he creates the posters, postal cards and my website.                                                                                           

The show has 22 piece of music and several sound effect plus an introduction with a voiceover from a professional announcer from ESPN and a concluding piece of music,  the well known Amazing Grace. (a) 

We left San Francisco via American Airlines on March 29th and were met at the airport by Even Perzel who was an intern with the Braves and was our driver for the following days. He drove us to the Holiday Inn located in Pearl, about 12 miles from Jackson where we stayed for the next 4 days. I told him I love Bar-B-Que so he drove us to dinner for at one of Jackson’s well known Bar-B-Que restaurants, Chimneyville Bbq, not far from the center of Jackson and a really good Bar-B-Que restaurant

TheThe following afternoon, we went to the Museum to meet with the Assistant Director and their technical director to work out the kinks for lighting, staging and where the 200 chairs would be placed in the huge lobby of the three story Museum.

On the afternoon of the show, we returned to the Museum, Clay discovered they were missing an important cord he needed to hook up his computer to their speaker system.  A quick trip to the local Radio Shack solved that problem.  After lunch at The Red Lobster, we returned to the theater, hooked up the equipment and did a final rehearsal.   

Deborah Herrington, Suites and Catering Manager and her husband took us to dinner that evening at a wonderful restaurant.   

Me & SteveDeSalvo, GM         
                                                                                                                                                                                         That evening, we performed before 175 enthusiastic people.  I informed Clay that for the first time in the history of the show, I would sing Amazing Grace at shows end and encourage the audience to sing along with me which they did. I received a standing ovation and signed many programs after the show.

Cobb had become a born again Christian in the latter years of his life. When the onstage reporter asks Ty what number he wore on his uniform when he played, Ty explains players didn’t wear numbers on their uniforms in those days but if they did, he would have worn 23 as the 23rd psalm was Cobb’s favorite. He picks up his bible and recites the psalm.

The stage was taken down after the show and the 200 chairs were moved to another room in the  building as the Museum expected 300 youngsters to visit the following day.
Add caption

 The museum crew did the moving and Clay, our driver and me went to another fabulous Bar-B-Que restaurant for dinner.  It is obvious I love Bar-B-Que. Clay is a vegetarian and enjoyed fish, fabulous sweet potatoes and sweet potato pie.

Although the audience was smaller for the afternoon show, about 80 people with several youngsters in attendance with their dads, they too sang with me at shows end and got another standing ovation.

I enjoy interacting with the audience during the performance and pose several questions to them.
E.G: When Cobb tells the audience how many stolen bases he had in a season (96) and how man times he led the league in stolen bases (6) and how many he had over his career (892), he asks the audience what is the most difficult base to steal? Some say second, some say third,  most say home, the correct answer. 

He then tells them he stole home 54 times without ever being thrown out. A record that remains on the books to this very day. This usually draws oohs & ahs from the audience as most baseball fans know how difficult it is to successfully steal home. This tactic is no longer in use in todays game.

After packing up our equipment, we went to a small restaurant just outside the Museum called Crawdad Hole, highly recommended by Deborah and Steve. Clay purchased a container of the  popular little critters called crawfish. They are freshwater crustaceans resembling small lobsters.

Deborah Herrington, Suites Manager
Photos below show the comedic side of Clay devouring the little fellows.They are small,  the size of your thumb. We were directed that the proper way to eat the little critters is by popping off their head, and then sticking the remains in your mouth. I ate two (not my cup of tea)  and Clay devoured the box of twenty-five. They are an acquired taste and very popular in Mississippi.

 Sunday was our day to relax and enjoy ourselves. We went to a local cine-plex and saw I Am Number Four. A silly film about Aliens and thir Guardians hiding on Earth from intergllactic bounty hunters.

I took the hotel bus to downtown Jackson and visited the closed old and new Capitol. The Old Capitol served as Mississippi's statehouse from 1839 to 1903. The new State Capitol has been the home of the state legislature since 1903 and was renovated in 1983.  I also visited the State Mueum and discovered  the reasons the South seceded from the Union from their point of view.     

We left Pearl early Monday morning leaving just before it was announced on TV that tornados were heading toward Jackson. Fortunately, they swerved right and missied both cities.
A week later, Steve sent me a complimentary email stating:

“I thought your show was great and the feedback from those who attended was great as well.”  Steve DeSalvo, GM – Mississippi Braves.

Clay advised me after the show that he plans to "retire" from assisting me. I will miss him as he is a dedicated person with a giving soul
cheerfully doing whatever it takes to make my life on the road easy. He has a single minded loyalty and integrity with an intent to make the show as professional as possible.

Clay Beatty

A souvenir from the Mississippi Braves   Photo by Deb Wong

State Capitol of Mississippi 

(a) “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound...” So begins one of the most beloved hymns of all times, a staple in the hymnals of many denominations. The author of the words was John Newton, the self-proclaimed wretch who once was lost but then was found, saved by amazing grace.

Amazing Grace Sung by 4 Men - My Gospel Workers