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Posts Tagged ‘Shea Stadium’

Baseball The First 100 Years Album CoverBaseball season has snuck upon us again and it remains one of my favorite times of the year.  I had my first taste yesterday, watching the Mets squander a lead then lose in extra innings to the Washington Nationals as I worked in the studio.  It felt pretty good. I have written many times over the years here about my affection for the game and how its history and its folklore is woven into the mesh of our country.

One of my favorite things to listen to when I was a kid was an album called Baseball: The First 100 Years .  It was from 1969, the year that marked professional baseball’s first century, and I can’t remember if I got it in Cooperstown or at Shea Stadium.  But I would play it over and over, listening to the calls of the great plays and great games of the past.  Willie Mays’ over the shoulder catch.  Bobby Thompson’s epic 1951 home run that ended with perhaps the most famous sound clip in baseball history– The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! 

Mighty Casey Has Struck OutIt had Abbott & Costello with their classic bit Who’s On First?, which still makes me laugh even though I’ve heard it a thousand times.  There were songs about Joltin’ Joe and Say Hey Willie and  the classic Take Me out to the Ballpark. And, of course, there was a recitation of Ernest Lawrence Thayer’s poem Casey At The Bat.

I’ve heard many versions of Casey At The Bat over the years.  Some are goofy, some are dead serious and some are emotionally overwrought, especially some of the earliest ones that featured stage actors who exaggerated every feeling and syllable in the poem.  They are all good fun but I prefer a more straight approach.  Today I am featuring a version with the wondrous voice of James Earl Jones followed by a version from another wonderful voice, Garrison Keillor, giving the other side of the story, speaking in a strong Bostonian accent.  Casey was obviously a Yankee in this version.  It’s pretty funny and sends me into the season with a smile.  Hope it does the same for you.


 

 

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GC Myers- Geometry of the HeartIt was Opening Day for Major League Baseball the other day, which is always  a red letter day for me.  It’s sort of like 2013 has officially began, that my day to day life now has something with which to synchronize, something to fall in rhythm with.  So, even though I have been feeling under the weather for several days,  I was able to complete a new piece, one that had been banging around in my head for a long time.  It incorporated the perfect geometry of the baseball diamond nestled among a tightly clustered neighborhood of Red Roofs.  It’s an odd piece, one that feels both typical and atypical at once.  That’s a quality that I like.

ralph_fasanella_sandlot_baseball_1373_356I have been wanting to incorporate the baseball diamond into one of my landscapes, perhaps influenced by some of the folk art paintings that did it so well.  I have featured some of these here, such as Malcah Zeldis’ Homage to Hank Greenberg, shown at the bottom of this page or Ralph Fasanella’s Sandlot Baseball,  shown here on the left.  These are paintings I like very much as much for the baseball aspect as for the wonderful folk art manner in which they are painted.  There is something in the sight of a diamond that has a hypnotic effect on me, something I hoped to capture in a painting.

I always remember the feeling when I was a kid and we went to Shea Stadium to see the Mets play, especially for night games.  You would head out from the dim light of the concourse and emerge into the brightness of the field lights.  The green of the field was so vibrant, the brownish red of the infield dirt so rich.  There was something perfect in looking down on that diamond, a design that made so much sense to a child’s mind.  A beautiful geometry, one that equalizes weaknesses and strengths.  The length of the basepaths, for example, are such that  on a hard hit  ball to the infield a fast runner can be easily thrown out at first but a slower runner can often beat out a soft groundball.

Here, a small man could easily conquer a much larger man from a distance of 60′ 6 “, the distance from homeplate to the pitching rubber.   Skill overcomes pure strength, size and athleticism.  If you ever saw Michael Jordan flailing helplessly at minor league curveballs, you’ll know what I mean.

I could write a lot more here.  And I probably should.  But I simply want to show this new piece, a 20″ by 24″ that I’m calling Geometry of the Heart.  Here, the ball park, a Little League sort of field, represents the heart of the neighborhood, the openness of the field stands in direct contrast with the cramped houses.  This is a painting that I have really enjoyed painting, one that is probably more for myself than for anyone else but one that I needed to paint.

malcah-zeldis-homage-to-hank-greenberg

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