Thursday, July 29, 2010

Call Me Envious: Jerry Garcia Tribute Night

I don't want to steer you wrong. First of all, I am not a Giants fan. I can't stand that bay area team, and like all true blue fans I want to beat them unmercifully every time we play them. On the other hand, I am extremely envious of an event they have planned for their fans.

I know, I know... Jerry Garcia, the Grateful Dead and that brand of hippy jam band instrumental freak-out is really a thing of the past. Sure, the sound had a wonderful resurgence in popularity in the 90's when bands like Phish, Blues Traveler, String Cheese Incident and Widespread Panic became big, but for this man with a touch of grey I hardly noticed (except for Phish- they were great live).

Now, I am reminded of how wonderful it once was to be young and care free. When I would travel many miles to see a concert and made an annual ritual out of going to the Grateful Dead shows in Las Vegas- which happened to always coincide with the weekend before finals week in college. The Giants, in a little over a week, are having a Jerry Garcia Tribute Night and I am jealous, envious and beside myself. I stare at the picture above and find myself wanting it- a ceramic bouncing head masterpiece.

Why, oh why, did they put him in a Giants jacket?.... dammit!

Former Dodger Coach Elected to Polish Hall of Fame

Danny Ozark, a former coach under Walter Alston, just this past month was inducted into the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, he had passed away a year before at the age of 85, but that didn't stop folks from celebrating his life and accomplishments.

Tom Paciorek, a former Dodger player, was on hand. I'll let the press release I received tell the story.
"Paciorek, kept the audience lively with stories of hasty dugout snacks, some prudent and mostly clandestine. He recalled what a tremendous influence Ozark had in his career and life. “I learned how to play first base from Danny Ozark when I just came up to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1973,” Paciorek added.

Paciorek told of the Chicago Connie’s Pizza chronicles. He needed no further prompting as he enthusiastically said, “We used to hide Connie’s Pizza’s in the umpires’ room at old Comiskey Park. There would be five or six of the big pies, thick and very Chicago style. As long as we left one, (emphasizing one), for the umpires post game snack, the custom was accepted and continued. If you weren’t playing, you could pop in and out and get some pie. It was the third inning and the batboy poked his head in and whispered, Wimpy they want you to pinch hit for Kittle (Ron Kittle), he’s got a migraine. Man, I had a Connie’s in my hand, (gesturing with his index finger and thumb, spread to the maximum). This is not convenient. I go out, look at Kittle, and he just puts his head down. I am snarling. I get my bat and helmet. Again, I look at Kittle, he looks down……I walk up to the plate, and just like that, WHOOSH, ….strike one. Before you can blink….WOOSH again and WOOSH a third time. STRIKE THREE. I walk back to the dugout throwing my helmet and bat. I go right up to Kittle….and I say…..Kittle, you could have done that.
The baseball conversation always got back to Ozark memories. The informal dais became brighter as Greg Luzinski reveled in the humanistic coaching techniques that Ozark employed in the big leagues. “The Phillies would not have had the great 70s teams if it wasn’t for Danny Ozark,” said Luzinski. “We had some great horsepower but it was Skip (Ozark), who kept the personalities together.”

The Sym-Phony Band

Here is a great color drawing of the old Brooklyn Dodger fan conceived Sym-Phony Band, via eBay. I don't know if this is rare or who the artist is, S. Rini, but it is sure is nice.

Back in Brooklyn, Dodger fandom was more fanatic and ridiculous than you can imagine. They had the infamous superfan Hilda Chester at the ready with her cowbell in hand and her mouth ready to scream out orders. Then, in the mid-30's a group of fans brought in their instruments and played them to their hearts content during games. They were named the Sym-Phony Band by announcer Red Barber in 1939. As the story goes, a group of patrons arrived at a game one afternoon with their instruments after a planned picnic had gone bust. Initially they were refused entry so they ditched their instruments in a hiding spot. Then, once they got in they went to the rear of the stadium and hauled them up to themselves with a rope. It didn't take long for Branch Rickey to recognize their popularity with the fans. So, he gave them their own row of seats in the aptly named Section 8.