Thursday, May 28, 2015

President Gerald R. Ford Museum, Grand Rapids, MI Nov 2008

Shortly after returning from Royston, Ga, I received an email from a friend informing me there was a show called Born To Play Ball at the President Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The show was sponsored by the Hall of Fame and would run from August 8th to February 4, 2009. It featured the five greatest players at every position. I was excited to learn about this event and immediately wrote a letter to the Director at the Ford Museum. A week later I received a letter from the director asking me to send him information. I promptly mailed my press kit explaining who I was and my experience as Cobb.

President Gerald R. Ford
President Gerald Rudolph "Jerry" Ford Jr. was the 38th President of the United States, serving from 1974 to 1977. He was the  only U.S. president from Michigan. He became the 40th vice president from 1973 to 1974 under President Richard M. Nixon. Upon the resignation of President  Nixon in 1973, he became president. He is the only man to become president without having been elected.

Ford was a Congressman from Michigan from 1949 to 1973.

About ten days later, I received a phone call from Mr. Jim Kratsas, the curator at the museum explaining the show started two weeks ago, numerous baseball writers had spoken and they were booking other speakers as the show ran until early February. He told me no one had been booked to speak about Cobb, would I be interested. Of course I said yes but I don't talk about Cobb, I am an actor and portray him on stage. I bring him to life, so to speak.

He was impressed by my response and asked me what my fee was. I told him but said I was willing to work within their budget restraints. He told me he would get back to me.

Several days later he called and quoted a figure that pleased me. He asked if I would come to Grand Rapids early November and perform a show on the evening of November 4th. All expenses paid, airline tickets for two would me emailed to me, he said. I told him that would work, thank you.  Then I called Clay Beatty, my assistant to make sure his schedule was open. He said it was.

Posing at the poster in lobby of Ford Museum 

I called my nephew Steve in Los Angeles and asked if he could make a DVD with some video of Cobb, a few photos and a voice over explaining to the audience about the show. This would be my introduction. He said he would and Clay and I got down to rehearsing. 

We flew out of San Francisco early on the morning of November 1st on Southwest Airlines and arrived at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport at noon. We had lunch and settled down to wait for our flight to the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids. It left about three pm and we arrived in Grand Rapids about six pm.

Clay asked me how are we getting to our hotel. I said by taxi. As we left the airport and stepped on to the street, a gentleman in uniform stood next to a stretch limousine. This was my surprise for Clay. He asked if I was Norm Coleman. Yes, I replied. He introduced himself, placed our luggage into the trunk and chauffeured us to the Amway Hotel where we were escorted to our suite.

It was late, we were hungry and went to one of the six elegant restaurants in the hotel, the only one that was open at nine PM. The waitress handed us a velvet covered menu indicating as Clay would comment, "this place is expensive." I told him to order whatever he wanted, the client was paying. 

Hotel lobby
 The following morning after breakfast and a swim in the olympic sized pool, we had lunch with Mr. Jim Kratsas, the curator of the museum.  

He advised us to relax today and enjoy all the amenities the hotel offered. Clay told Jim he enjoyed tennis; Jim  suggested we take advantage of the tennis courts. 

He said to make sure we ate at the sports bar in the hotel and suggested we try the bar-b-que. It was excellent, he said.
The following evening, we rehearsed in the theater. Clay hooked the computer to the sound system and we started our rehearsal
with the music.

He found out they did not have the proper equipment to play the DVD that Steve created to open the show. After several phone calls, an engineer came to the theater and provided Clay with the proper equipment. We ate in the sports bar that evening, the bar-b-que was terrific.

On the evening of the show, we arrived at the theater two hours before showtime. Clay seemed more nervous than usual, he is normally cool under pressure, nothing bothers him. "What's wrong." I asked. He was concerned about the machine that would play the DVD. "Let's rehearse." I said, "everything would be fine." 

Clay went upstairs to the sound room, placed the DVD into the projector, it worked. He played the music in the computer and we rehearsed my lines for thirty minutes. We both relaxed and I changed into my Tiger's uniform

About fifteen minutes before showtime, Mr. Kratsas told me about the tradition at the Ford Museum. All speakers sign the guestbook he said. He went to hi office and returned with a beautiful leather album. He suggested I look at some of the signatures in the book.
He pointed out, Presidents Gerald R. Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton,  George H.W. Bush, George Bush, along with Hillary Clinton, Dick Cheney, Condaleeza Rice, Madelaine Albright General Colin Powell, and now, Norm Coleman.

I was stunned at all those famous people who spoke and signed their autographs. I was electrified, high as a kite. My hand shook slightly as he handed me a pen and asked me to sign.
I took the pen and signed my name in the best penmanship I could, Norm (Ty Cobb) Coleman.
He said, "you are now linked forever with some of America's greatest and famous people."
I profusely thanked him as tears of joy began to roll down my cheeks. He walked away saying he would announce me in ten minutes

Posing with Jim Kratsas
wiped my eyes and stood off stage as he introduced me. Clay played the DVD with video of Cobb, photos of Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays, all Hall of Famers. This was followed by photos of every President from William Howard Taft to Dwight D. Eisenhower. Cobb knew them all. He played Take me Out To The Ballgame and I walked on stage. It was showtime.                                                                                                                              

At intermission, both Jim and Clay entered the green room. Jim said he spoke with several attendees who told him how much they were enjoying the show. Clay shook my hand and said "good job, now knock it out of the ballpark." 

There was a party for the attendees in the lobby, I shook many hands and posed for photos.
Jim said he would like to have breakfast with us in the morning. He had a special gift for me. I changed out of my uniform, we went to our room and ordered room service. It took me several hours to come down from the high of the performance. Clay took a long walk and I fell asleep shortly after midnight.

The three of is met for breakfast early the next morning. Jim gave me a box of beautiful, gold colored pens signed by President Gerald R. Ford. He told us after breakfast, he would take us on a private tour of the Museum The photo below shows us sitting in a replica of the Cabinet Room. This is the meeting room for the cabinet secretaries and advisers serving the President. The room is located in the West Wing of the White House complex adjoining the Oval Office and looks out upon the Rose Garden.

Jim took us throughout the museum and we saw many galleries featuring Ford star football player, World War 11 navel officer, vice president and president. Other galleries featured the Nixon pardon, Queen Elizabeth's visit, the Bicentennial and the challenges of Reagan and Carter. Also an exhibit of Vietnamese refugees and we heard the President say, "at long last, the nations long nightmare is over."

We walked into a replica of  the "Oval Office", another featuring  the "seventies" where the music of Jimmy Hendrix, Bob Dylan, the Bee Gees and others were piped in. 

We were driven to the airport and left Grand Rapids at three in the afternoon, arriving in San Francisco shortly after midnight. Several days later, a letter arrived from Mr. Kratsas stating that, “Mr. Coleman captured the essence of this legendary player…who was misunderstood by the public and brought him to life for our audience." signed,  Jim Kratsas, Deputy Director, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum.

Performing at the President Ford Museum was a dream come true and left me with a feeling of remarkable accomplishment, a feeling that my study and practice gave me the skill to perform at this level. This experience was one of the most remarkable of my life, truly unforgettable.  I believed there would be other great experiences to come, but for me, this would be an unforgettable adventure.

         Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum  303 Pearl St. NW Grand Rapids, MI 49504


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Cobb show - Cobb Museum, Royston, Georgia, July, 2008

My first contact with the Ty Cobb Museum was a letter I wrote to the Museum in April 2007 to Candy Ross, secretary to Julie Ridgeway, Museum curator. I explained who I was and mailed a press kit. Candy and I had many phone conversations and said she would pass the information to Ms. Ridgeway. Julie told me she would consider me for the 10th anniversary of the Museum's opening in July, 2008.

The Ty Cobb Museum is  located in Royston, Georgia where Cobb was raised and is located about seventy-five miles northeast of Atlanta. It was officially dedicated in July 1998 and honors one of baseball's all time greats, Tyrus Raymond (The Georgia Peach) Cobb.

The Museum contains art and memorabilia, video, books and historical archives of Cobb. These include Cobb's 1907 American League batting champion medal, rare photos, a beautiful mural collage that surrounds The Cobb Theater, with stadium style seating. 

The Museum is located at 461 Cook Street in Royston.

Museum is located inside Cobb Memorial Hospital

Cobb used his wealth to establish the Cobb Memorial Hospital in Royston, that is now one of the crown jewels of an integrated rural healthcare system that serves thousands of patients throughout northeast Georgia. 

Cobb was often accused of being a racist, as he was born in rural Georgia 23 years aftr the War Between The States. Cobb discuss this toward the end of the show reminding the audience about the history of racism in America and his taking on the thinking of many folk  in the South

He points out, "there was as much hatred, prejudice and discrimination of the coloreds in Boston, New York and California as there was in Mobile, Alabama, Memphis, Tennessee,
Jackson, Mississippi and Atlanta, Georgia. Baseball was segregated and during World War 2,
while the United States wasfighting for liberty, freedom and democracy throught Europe and Asia, the Military was segregated.

I exchanged numerous e-mails and had many conversations with Ms. Ridgeway in the spring of '08. She was polite and informed me the directors of the Hospital and Museum were considering my proposal and she would get back to me.

Thanks to my friend and mentor Wesley Fricks's determination and the video of my show he taped in Lakeland, Florida, helped persuade Julie to finally say yes for me to attend the three day celebration and to perform on Saturday evening July 19.

Now that my wish to perform in Royston has come to pass, it hit me the pressure to perform at my best, in his hometown, his Museum in front of his relatives and friends, I had better be at my best. To knock it out of the park, to hit a home run, to be as great on the stage as he was on the field.

Clay Beatty, my assistant and I rehearsed repeatedly for weeks and flew out of San Francisco to Atlanta on Tuesday July 15. Wesley met us at the airport on a dark, stormy rainy evening and we were on our way to  Royston, about 75 miles away. A thunderous rainstorm hit  half way there with thunder and lightning lighting up the sky as we traveled the two lane road through rural Georgia.

It rained so hard, the windshield wipers couldn't clear the rain from the windshield so we pulled of the road until the storm let up. Wesley said not to worry, he knew the road and this was a typical Georgia storm. He confidently predicted it will pass, and it did.

Wesley, who lives and breathes Cobb insisted we drive into the Rose Hill Cemetery to view Cobb's Tomb. But it's one o'clock in the morning we protested. Wesley grinned a mischievous grin saying he knew, this was the best time to visit a cemetery he said, laughing his head off.                                                                                                    

The stars shined brilliantly in the pitch black night sky. He slowly drove his pick-up into the cemetery, lights dimmed and parked near Cobb's Tomb. It was quiet, beautiful but weird and freaky, not a sound to be heard. We spoke in whispers so as not to disturb the sleeping spirits.  

Using his flashlight, he walked us to the Tomb explaining Cobb was there with his mom and dad. He walked us to some other graves, informing us who was buried there without reading the names on the grave stone. "Let's go" I said explaining how tired we were. It  was two o'clock when we left the cemetery saying politely,  we would like to come back tomorrow in the daytime to pay our respects.

We checked into the Days Inn Motel when Wesley, wide awake with great passion explained to Mr. Shilpan Patel, the manager whom we had waked from a deep sleep that we just arrived from San Francisco, I was an actor Wesley told Shilpan who was going to perform as Mr. Ty Cobb Saturday evening. He wasn't impressed. Wesley informed in detail to the startled Mr. Patel all about Ty Cobb. We sheepishly smiled at the manager and asked him for the room key. Wesley helped us with our bags and bid us good night. We went right to sleep. It was three o'clock in the morning.     

Show flyer
It was Wednesday we slept late, then went into town for breakfast consisting of grits, omelets, potatoes, bacon, ham and coffee. Only $4.25. We're not in San Francisco anymore I told Clay. We then drove to the Museum to meet Julie and toured the Museum that sits in the lobby of the hospital.

Wesley let us use his pick-up and we toured the small charming town and visited many merchants on Main St. We shook hands with the owners and customers informing them we would be performing Ty Cobb SaturdayI evening and hoped they will attend the show.
We drove down Main Street in in five minutes we were out of town. Royston is a charming  small whistle-stop village, population, 3,500.

Thursday evening, July 17, we attended a Candlelight Reception at the Rose Hill Pavilion at the cemetery. Attendees included the Mayor, City Council members, Cobb's family, friends and officials from the Hospital and Museum, me, Clay and Wesley. 

Neither of us golf so we passed on the Ty Cobb Memorial Golf Tournament so Clay and I toured and hiked the beautiful Victoria Bryant State Park, and then drove 45 miles outside town to a large Peach farm. We purchased a barrel of the most fabulous Georgia peaches we had ever tasted. The sweet juice rolled down our faces as we devoured the worlds finest peaches. Clay mailed some to his parents and I sent some to my family.     

Saturday morning, July 19, we attended a vintage baseball game  followed by lunch with

Cobb's Tomb at Rose Hill Cemetery 
Southern smoke Bar-B-Q and potato salad. A Hearse was on exhibit that carried Ty Cobb's body from Cornelia to Royston. Don Rhoades, author, celebrity from Augusta, GA
did a book signing of his new book, Safe At Home, the latest Cobb Biography and gave me an autographed copy. Mr. William R. Cobb, Ph.D edited a book called Busting 'Em and autographed a copy for me too.

This was followed by a Ty Cobb limited edition baseball card; then a "Cobb Family Cookbook"
went on sale. I did not get an autographed copy.

The dinner show was scheduled for 6PM at the Swails Center, Emmanuel College Campus, ten miles outside Royston in Franklin Springs, GA. Mr. Fricks drove me and Clay to the College but given that many Cobb relatives would be in the audience gave me a fright.  He thought we should go to the cemetery so I could commune with Cobb's spirit before going on stage. Wesley likes cemeteries. And now we do too.

The theater at the college is huge, as is the stage. A smaller stage was prepared for me below the massive stage. Julie arranged for Clay to have two assistants as the sound system in the theater was massive. Many rock shows and Broadway musicals perform here.

Although I was well prepared, with many rehearsals, I was more nervous than usual given the large crowd of local folk, many of them distant relatives of Ty Cobb. They probaby know more about Cobb than I do and I was more concerned than usual, hoping they would like the show.

The tables seating three hundred people for dinner were arranged with a fabulous floral display plus peanuts, popcorn and crackerjacks. Diner consisted of Southern Fried Chicken, Cobb Salad, Apple Pie with Vanilla Ice cream and coffee. We did a sound check before attendees entered the room and I went into the huge green room behind the stage where I remained during dinner.

After dinner, Julie made a brief speech; Dixie was played, followed by an introduction, Clay
played Take Me Out To The Ballgame and I entered the stage. It was Showtime!
Julie and me on the air

Act 1 is forty-five minutes, at intermission, I returned to the green room and layed down.
Clay and the two interns entered the room. Clay asked me what was wrong as I looked sad. I said the audience was to quiet, they didn't laugh at the laugh lines.  Clay said, "no way, they love the show, they're paying attention, you have them eating out of the palm of your hands".
I felt much better.

San Francisco, Open Your Golden Gate opens Act two, that is forty minutes long. At shows end,
the audience rose giving me a loud, long standing ovation. I started to walk off the stage but Julie said "don't leave, the Mayor wants to say a few words". I didn't leave and he did. He also paid me a compliment and said, "I have a gift for you" and he presented me with the key to the city. Several people came over asking for my autograph and I posed for pictures with the Mayor and several families. They loved the show and I was extremly pleased.

As I hadn't eaten since lunch, Wesley took me and Clay to dinner at an all night diner.
I devoured a turkey sandwich, potato salad and a coca-cola and we talked about the show.
Julie told me how much she enjoyed the show and heard many positive comments. Wesley said
this show was way better than the Lakeland, FL show and Clay, who is quiet said I hit a home run.

Me and Clay at the Cobb Memorial Hospital

"I am proud of funding the Cobb Memorial Hospital in Royston,  and the Cobb Healthcare System for poor families.  This nation never has had a good health care system for its poor.  The Cobb Health care system was designed to help poor folk, regardless of color.  That is the Christian, American and humane thing to do.  I thank the Lord for enabling me to be in a position to help those less fortunate than myself".
Tyrus Raymond (The Georgia Peach) Cobb

Mural in downtown Royston
 "I believe the most important thing a youngster could do was to get a good education.  For those students who qualified, regardless of race, but were unable to stay in school due to financial reasons, the money was there to help the future stars of engineering, law, medicine and teaching.  As of today, May 20, 2015,over 10,000 students have received scholarships to the college of their choice in Georgia". 
Ty Cobb

We relaxed all day Sunday, swam in the motel pool while I basked in the hot sun knowing I  was a success in Royston and dreamed of where on this Heavenly road I was on I would be next.  We bid farewell to Julie, Candy and Mr. Patel. Wesley drove us to the Atlanta airport and Clay and I flew to our cool fog laden home in Half Moon Bay, CA.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Cobb in Lakeland, Florida, March 2008

My travels with Tyrus Raymond (The Georgia Peach) Cobb started in Lakeland, Florida in March 2008 when Mr. David Dombrowski, CEO, President and General Manager of the Detroit Tigers called Mr. Ron Myers, the Complex Director at Tigertown in Lakeland and asked Ron to hire me. Lakeland is home to the Lakeland Flying Tigers, a Rookie League affiliate of the Detroit Tigers and named after the famous Flying Tigers. 

I had exchanged numerous letters with David and he had my press kit.

Flying Tigers was the name of the 1st American Volunteer Group of the Chinese Air Force in 1941-1942, They were recruited under Presidential orders and commanded by Clair Lee Chennault. They trained in Lakeland, Florida before going to Burma. The only mementos left on the complex are a runway and an empty hanger.

The Detroit Tigers have made Lakeland their Spring Training headquarters since 1946.
Games are played in Joker Marchant Stadium, capacity, 8500.

Home of the Tigers

Ron Myers, Complex Director at Lakeland, Fl called me in mid-December, 2007 and we discussed the show. He asked several questions, how long was the show? Seventy-five minutes I told him. We discussed a few technical items. He said he would call me after New Years Day. I wished him a Merry Christmas.

I received a call from Ron on January 10th. We discussed a few more details saying he would have a conference call with me the following week. He explained his accountant and executive secretary would be on the line.

One week later he called and I had a pleasant conversation with with all three people. We discussed my honorariam, air-fair and hotel costs. He said I would stay at the hotel where the Tigers official staff were enconsed. "I'll get back to you" he said.

About a week later, at 6:30 in the morning, my phone rang. "This is Ron Myers in Lakeland, Florida," the voice bellowed. "We want you." it said.

My first show flyer
One week later, I received a call from Maria Walls who went over the details saying Ron wanted me to perform six dinner shows from March 17-22.

I leaped out of bed screaming, "I can't believe it, I can't believe it" and called family members to spread the good news.

I had eight weeks to rehearse my seventy-five minute show and rehearsed daily.

The Tigers first trained in Lakeland from 1934-41 at Henley Field and returned in 1946 and have been there ever since. They  moved to Joker Marchant Stadium in 1966,
that is now the home of the Lakeland Flying Tigers, a Tigers farm team. 

Adjacent to the twelve-acre tract on which the stadium is located is Tiger Town, the Tiger minor league training site since 1953. A three story dormitory provides housing for 190 players and coaches.

This massive complex is home not only to the Detroit Tigers but to seven of their farm teams consisting of young men from around the country, South America, Mexico and Japan who come here to show they deserve to make the Major Leagues and to make their dreams come true.

Most will not make it.  The Tigers house over 175 men in a four-room complex similar to one found on any college campus. 

A cafeteria is located herethat feeds the minor league players 3 meals a day. This is where I performed my show.

Clay Beatty, my assistant who handled sound, music and staging and I left San Francisco on  March 12th. We were joined by my nephew Steve Grant and  his partner, Bob Loudon, TV directors in Hollywood who flew from Los Angeles to video tape the show. With an assistant from the 

Entering the dormitory
Joker Marchant Stadium

Lakeland Flying Tigers,
the Tigers farm team, we
set up the stage, the audio
set where Clay worked to play the 24 pieces of music
between scenes that was in our computor.  A "green room" was built for me to dress before going on stage, numerous shelves were built to hold the equipment that Steve and Bob brought from Hollywood and a large curtain to hide all of this from the audience.

The lighting in the cafeteria was insufficient for taping so we went to a camera store in Tampa Bay to rent professional lighting, also two cordless microphones, one for the sound system, the other hooked up to the main camera for proper sound for the video. 

Clay and I did three rehearsals before the first show on March 17th. Wesley Fricks, my mentor also taped the show for a presentation for the Ty Cobb Museum in Royston, GA. Wesley was intent on my performing at the Museum and they requested a video of my performance.

Ron introduced me to the audience and asked the woman who sang the Star Spangled Banner at the stadium to sing it before I walked on stage. I was hidden behind a curtain and I

Posing with Cobb
 Clay Beatty working on the sound board

        became emotional listening to her sing, tears flowing  down my checks as I stared at the large portrait of Cobb on the wall who smiled at me as if to say, "knock 'em dead kid".

Clay played Take Me Out To The Ballgame and I strolled on stage. The show was a success. I borrowed the Tigers warm up jacket to wear on stage with instructions to return it after the show. I returned the jacket to Mr. Myers who told me, "you knocked my socks off, keep the jacket as a gift from the Tigers". The jacket has since become my signature jacket, I wear it at all the shows I do and have worn it daily at home in Half Moon Bay ever since.

Aeriel view of the ballpark 
I thanked Mr. Fricks for taping the show and hoped the curator at the Ty Cobb Museum would like it and hire me. I also thanked Steve and Bob for the work they did taping the show.

Positive thinking, loving what you do, commitment, supportive family, friends and faith in God
have allowed me to make my dreams come true.
Me & my mentor Wesley Fricks 

 "It really shows no matter what you set your imagination to, anything can happen, If you dream as big as you can dream, anything is possible."  Michael Phelps – Winner 8 Gold Medals  2008 Olympics      

Throw yourself into some work you believe in with all your heart, live for it, die for it, and you will find happiness that you had thought could never be yours”.  Dale Carnegie

“Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal — a commitment to excellence — that will enable you to attain the success you seek". ~Mario Andretti

Posing at the scoreboard

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

My friendship with the Detroit Tigers begins

Early in the year, 2007, I called the media director of the Detroit Tigers  Rick Thompson requesting a media guide. I received it a week later and proceeded to write letters to the sixteen  top officials in the  Tiger front office. I told them about my one-man baseball show about Ty Cobb and asked if they would sponsor my show. I received no response.  I vowed to try again later in the year.

In late spring, I met Lyn April Statten, a tall handsome woman who recently moved into the apartment complex where I resided. We struck up a conversation and she asked me what I was
doing so I told her I was an actor.  "What did you do when you were you younger" I asked.
She replied, "I was an actress, on Broadway in New York and on television in the early days when TV was live" she said. She informed me she also worked on stage in Hollywood and Las Vegas and made one film. I felt foolish and embarrassed but we became friends.

I explained I was new in the acting game and asked if she would give me some advice, she said yes, and became my director. 

Early in September, I decided to once again write to the officials in the Tigers front office telling them about my show seeking sponsorship. I received a letter from Christopher Illitch, President and Chief Executive Officer. He replied, "...thank you for your letter regarding your one-man show about Ty Cobb. I will be more than happy to forward your letter to the appropriate Detroit Tiger staff for their consideration".

He did and I received a letter from David Dombrowski, CEO, President and General Manager of the Tigers. He wrote, "If possible, our organization is willing to offer assistance if we can be helpful to you in bringing your play to Detroit and Lakeland, FL next year". David and I have since become friends and we exchange four or five letters a year.

Years later when the San Francisco Giants and Detroit Tigers met in the World Series, I called Mr. Dombrowski at the St. Francis Hotel where the team was staying while the Tigers played the Giants in San Francisco. His wife answered the phone. I explained who I was and wanted to wish him and you a pleasant stay in the city. She said David wasn't in but she would let him know I had called. 

When I explained who I was, she said, "I know who you are, my husband has talked about 
David Dombrowski, CEO. President, GM
many times, you are the actor who portrays Ty Cobb on stage".                                           

Oil portrait by Arthur K. Miller, Art of The Game

I added 24 pieces of music, some sound effects 
and a short introduction to the show informing the audience where the show takes place and who Cobb was. After the introduction, Take Me Out To The Ballgame plays and I walk on stage.

My friend Auri Naggar, musician, singer, big Giants fan and mc at open mic. night  at Cameron's Restaurant & Pub in Half Moon Bay suggested I do some of my show there on Thursday evenings. I demurred explaining I do a monologue, all of the performers are musicians and singers. and I don't sing. As Cameron's is a bar, I wasn't sure if people would listen to me perform Cobb for fifteen minutes while drinking and talking with friends.

He talked me into it. I was wrong, he was correct, the audience responce was positive. I continued performing the show for five weeks, twelve-fifteen minutes each night. I did this for ten consecutive Thursday evenings in preparation in the event the Tigers would send me to Lakeland, FL to entertain the many Tiger fans who escape the snow and cold winter up North to bask in the warm sunny days in Florida and watch their beloved Tigers during Spring Training.

Early December, I spoke with Ron Myerse, the Complex Director in Lakeland who informed me he had heard from David Dombrowski about my show. He asked me to send him some material. He told me he would get back to me in January if he was interested.
I mailed him my press it. 


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Why Ty Cobb? Performed 76 shows this year!

I retired from my photography career in 1997 after suffering a heart attack and had a double bypass. My wife Leah helped me to recuperate and get back to work. I photographed my last wedding in 2000 and wandered aimlessly for several years.  I sought a challenge in my life as I was going nowhere. I always had a love for baseball and and five years later, I started acting and fell in love with the theater. 

I was bored and needed a project, a task, something to challenge me, to test my ability, to prove to myself that I could accomplish something that I had never done before.  I was seventy and bored. I was on the road to no where. I found Cobb to be a fascinating character although  politically incorrect for our time. I saw a Cobb show  as a challenge. Would I be up for this task? Would I be able to finish what I started? Why not start and find out, I convinced myself.

I was a fan of Joseph Campbell, mythologist and writer who said, "if you follow your bliss, put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, the life that you ought to be living, is the one you are living. Wherever you are - if you follow your bliss,you are enjoying that refreshment that life within you, all the time". 

Who was Ty Cobb? During his twenty-four year career, he was an MVP, Triple crown-winner, twelve time batting champion, and was the first player elected into the new National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY in 1936 along with other greats: Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson. He retired over eighty-five years ago but he is the all time leader in BAV with 367, second in runs scored, hits and triples, third in stolen bases and high up in many other categories. He is a fascinating and misunderstood man.

I believed he needed a modern press agent to debunk the many myths and falsehoods that have been told about him over the years. The man needed a break and I took on this task; and found my bliss.

Trading card, 1909
An actress friend from Pacifica, CA, Lynn Ruth Miller created her comedy show the same time I was writing my show. She suggested I contact the Rotary club in Pacifica as Rotary is always looking for speakers. She is now living in London, is a celebrity there as well as in Scotland. We both agreed it is never to late to start a new career.
Anything is possible, we believed. She is now 81and found her bliss in Scotland and London where she now lives and is loved by the hip London crowd.

I contacted the Rotary  and on January 2nd, 2007, I performed my first of seventy-six shows during the year. These were all rehearsals for what I believed would lead to stage shows around the country. These rehearsals allowed me to test my material and my ability to perform in front of live audiences. The club meets in the morning for breakfast at 7AM, and as much as I enjoyed performing, and as much as they loved my show, I vowed never ever again to perform in the morning. I don't think folk are awake and I am not quite awake myself.  
                                                                                                                                                                       I owe a lot to the President of the club, Mr. Steve Wright who was so impressed by my performance, he sent a letter to 17-18 local Rotary clubs saying, "I have heard over 1000 speakers...I can simply say that Norm Coleman is one of the most enjoyable presenters...definitely in the top ten!"
Steven A. Wright, President, Rotary Club - Pacifica, CA 
Trading card 1910

Two days later, I performed for the Rotary in Half Moon Bay, CA in addition to sixteen other Rotary clubs. Also, many Lions and Kiwanis clubs as well as many other groups. I honed my material and waited to see what 2008 would bring.

In early July, I added music between scenes and hired Mr. Clay Beatty, a creative young man to handle the music, staging and lighting.  He was competent on the computer and would later make flyers to promote shows and also took care of my website.

Fourteen months after the Pacifica show, March 2008, the Detroit Tigers hired me and sent me to Lakeland, Fl where the Tigers conduct spring training and I  performed the show for appreciative Tiger fans.