June 26, 2011
Somehow, this month got away from me. I kept meaning to post something on this blog, but I didn’t. So before the sky explodes in fireworks to mark the fourth of July, here’s a recap of some highlights.
June 8: The weather was stifling in New York City, and I was there for most of the day. First up was the annual luncheon of WISE: Women in Sports and Events, the networking organization for women who work in the sports industry. This year’s luncheon honored three women: Stacey Allaster, CEO of the Women’s Tennis Association; Lisa Baird, Chief Marketing Officer of the U.S. Olympic Committee; and Wendy Lewis, Senior VP for Diversity and Strategic Alliances for Major League Baseball. As in previous years, the honorees were extraordinary women with impressive resumes and an astonishing ability to handle extremely demanding professional and personal lives, often thanks to the help of very supportive partners at home. Although they made me feel like a bit of a slacker, they also inspired me to do more to reach outside my comfort zone in my own career. And with her stories of women’s tennis, Allaster reminded me how important the game was to women’s sports history in general and to my own history in particular. My first published sports article was an interview with African-American superstar Althea Gibson in the early 1970s, and my first foray into writing about sports history was a college paper on early female tennis players.
After the WISE event, I changed from my business attire into more casual clothes and walked up to Central Park, with a few stops to hydrate in the 95-degree temperature (real-feel over 100). There, at the Victorian Gardens family amusement park, I would be signing copies of Bull’s-Eye as part of a benefit for the Coalition for the Homeless. Between the rides, face painting, ice-your-own-cupcake station, and endless supplies of chicken fingers, burgers, and ice cream, none of the kids seemed to be deterred by the hot weather, and with a constant stream of lemonade provided by my friends, I was okay as well. The four other authors and I were supposed to sign books for an hour, but we kept signing as the kids kept coming. My favorites were Emily, who wanted to give the book to her teacher instead of keeping it for herself, and Hannah, who was a gifted reader at age five and who couldn’t believe that the printed dedication in the book read “For Hannah, a pioneer girl at heart.” She exclaimed, “For ME???” It was a lovely coincidence.
June 16: Several months ago, Lois Youngen, the president of the board of directors of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League Players Association, asked if I would represent the association at a reading of “Howling Hilda,” a new musical by Anne Berlin. Anne had dedicated the reading to the AAGPBL, and theatergoers would be invited to make donations to the league. Two friends accompanied me to the tiny Robert Moss Theater in the Village to see the show, along with Gene Visich, who played first base for the Rockford Peaches, and Carolyn Odell, who was a batgirl for the South Bend Blue Sox. The one-woman show, starring the magnificent Mary Testa (above right, with Gene), a two-time Tony nominee, tells the story of Hilda Chester, the ultimate Brooklyn Dodgers fan. It’s set in 1957, the last season the Dodgers played in Brooklyn, and it’s a tribute to the team as well as its most tenacious supporter. As she sits in the stands watching a game, Hilda tells her story to an unseen interviewer, touching on memorable moments and favorite players while trying to convince herself that the team will never leave Brooklyn. When she mentions first baseman Dolph Camilli, Gene whispered to me, “He was my role model. I became a left-handed first baseman because of him.” Hopefully, “Howling Hilda” will be playing to larger audiences in the not-too-distant future.
That’s it for part one. I’ll be back with additional highlights from June later in the week.
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Misspelling of the Month
I don't often turn to Chinese restaurant menus for misspellings because they can be easy targets. But this one invented a new word that has a bit of charm. Quite accidentally, it's the second "steak"-related Misspelling of the Month in a row. So thanks to Empire Szechuan Village on Seventh Avenue, South, in New York City for this meaty mistake. (Of course, "waterchestnut" should be plural and two words as well.)
Click on the photo to see a larger image.