Saturday, May 9, 2015

Researching Ty Cobb-Two theater performances

Following my debut in Inherit The Wind, February 3, 2006,  I spent the year reading many books about Cobb and learning how to use a computer. Of all the things I learned this year, one was not to listen to the many naysayers who told me I couldn't write a script because I had never acted and I never wrote anything but business letters. I started collecting positive mental quotes such as:

Dale Carnegie: "Believe that you will succeed and you will."
Walt Disney: "Dream it, believe it, do it."
James Allen: "Dream lofty dreams and as you dream, so shall you become."
Ty Cobb: "I clearly saw myself playing baseball in those Northern ballparks, and I saw myself a success'"

That was my approach as I continued researching and writing the script. As I wrote and started to memorize the words, I visualized myself on stage, as Cobb in front of an audience.

I kept detailed notes about this complex man. From the time Ty was a young lad growing up in Royston, Georgia, he dreamed and pictured himself playing Major League baseball when he grew up.

Plaque at Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, NY

Of course, lots of boy do as I did as a kid growing up in Brooklyn, New York. I was the best hitter on the Dodgers, in my fantasy.  In those days, the Dodgers  had stars like Duke Snider, Roy Campenella, Carl Furillo, Gil Hodges, Pee Wee Reese and of course Jackie Robinson. Little did I know that in the future, I would play, on stage the greatest player that ever played the game.

I was an award winning professional photographer with a successful portrait/wedding studio located in downtown San Mateo, California. I was an entrepreneur,  a business man who eventually operated four businesses. Weddings were my specialty. From the day I opened the studio in August 1965, I always saw my self as a successful photographer. The other business's
were a frame shop, wedding show producer and bridal magazine publisher, an annual publication.

Cobb;s famous hands way apart swing
An entrepreneur is defined as someone who can visualize something and when he visualizes it, he can see exactly how to make it happen. I discovered I had the ability to capture beautiful brides, handsome grooms and capture the events occurring during the course of the wedding in an artistic, professional manner without annoying the brideby taking her away from her party. This smooth professional approach led  affluent clients to seek my services.

Not only did I read books about Cobb, but books about Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Shoeless Joe Jackson. 

Adding music to the show, twenty-four pieces all together. introduced the following scene. All of the music was in the computer so it fell to Mr. Clay Beatty, my assistant to coordinate his cue, the last line of the previous scene with the new scene. The music lasted about twenty to thirty seconds giving me my cue, and an opportunity for me to relax, drink some cold water and wipe my brow as the show takes place on a hot humid evening in July in Atlanta, GA. The coordination between Clay and I had to be flawless to create a perfect flow from scene to scene. We practiced this over and over again until it was immaculate.

There is a scene where Ty calls Joe and the music is Diamonds are a girl's best friend from the film Gentlemen Prefer Blonds that Marilyn stared in.

Joe married Marilyn in Saint Peter's and Paul Catholic church San Francisco. I learned Joe and Ty were friends so Ty calls Joe as any friend would to congratulate him on his upcoming marriage. But this was no ordinary marriage. This made headlines across the country.  Joe was marrying  America's sweetheart, America's darling.                                                                                                            

Ty dialed Joe on a princess phone a friend gave me. The audience hears Ty speak, not joe. Cobb, who proffered hitting and financial advice to The Yankee Clipper was not shy to offer marital advice too. Ty advises Joe to give Marilyn diamonds, lots of diamonds. "Women love diamonds" he tell him. Joe should have accepted Ty's advice as the marriage failed six months later. Not because Joe did not give his beautiful wife diamonds. He gave her plenty. They had other issues.  

In early September, I auditioned for a part in Inherit The Wind, this time playing at The Hillbarn Theater in Foster City, California. Now a veteran stage actor with one show under my belt, I bravely read for two roles and landed them both; a citizen in the small town and a juror once again. The show opened October 19th and also received rave reviews from the local theater critic.

Our director, Virginia Abascal had her vision on how to direct the cast, totally different from the approach in Half Moon Bay. This was a lesson for me how two directors can work with the same script but have totally different approaches to tell the same story. I made many friends in the cast including actress Wendy Wood who I regaled with stories about my Cobb show. Not a baseball fan, she asked me "who was he"? But, she was impressed with my performance and several years later, she interviewed me for her magazine that she published in Florida, Forever Cincuenta.

At shows end, when the judge asked, "how say you" to the jury, I stood and loudly said, "guilty your honor".

"I believe youngsters all around the country will read baseball books and see my name and photos throughout those books and ask their daddies, who was Ty Cobb daddy? Their daddies will say, Cobb! He was the greatest player that ever played the game."

A line from the stage show.

A friend told me about a writers club at the Senior Center in Half Moon Bay. Every Thursday morning for many weeks I would bring a short piece to read, we were given ten minutes to read. Copies were given to all attendees to write their comments. The instructor was Ms. Susan Black, a published writer and poet who was extremly beneficial to me in her critique of the piece helping me put together a script that enabled me to become as successful as I did.

Cobb quotes - "I may have been fierce, but never low or underhand" Source: Baseball As I Have Known it. (Fred Lieb 1977)

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