#BotB Results and #QotM

BATTLE OF THE BANDS! (BOTB Top Photo)

 

Uncle Jack commented, “Makes me feel my age when several of your followers say they never knew Jackie Gleason was a musician.” Jackie recorded some thirty-odd albums between 1953 and 1971, so I’d say he was quite the musician, as did three-quarters of you in Battle “Tenderly.” The final results:

Jackie Gleason: 14
Red Norvo Trio: 5

 

I liked both of these about the same, Jackie’s for the strings and his trumpet, Red’s for the rhythm and the combination of his vibraphone and Tal Farlow’s guitar. Anyway, congratulations to the Great One, and kudos to Red, Tal, and Charles Mingus (who played bass with the trio) for a job well done.

QotMBadge

I didn’t get the email for this month’s question and only got the question after I saw Arlee’s and Alex’s responses. More than likely, I did get it and was a little too aggressive in cleaning out my mailbox. Anyway, the question is:

Have you ever met an idol/influence/someone you really admire? How did it go?

 

A while ago, I talked about my encounter with Sophia Loren in the elevator of the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead, but that was more a chance meeting.

One of my favorite books, and by far my favorite baseball book, is Ball Four by former major-league pitcher Jim Bouton. Written during the 1969 season, when Jim was with the expansion Seattle Pilots (now the Milwaukee Brewers) and Houston Astros, it was a diary of that year for him and the guys who were on both teams, the managers, coaching staffs, umpires, former teammates, and front-office personnel. It was an honest portrayal of what it’s like to spend half your year with a major-league baseball team, and wasn’t always flattering to the game, at least not by the standards set by previous baseball books. For example, most books about Mickey Mantle, certainly one of the greatest players to put on a baseball uniform, neglect to mention that the man was an alcoholic and not always the nicest guy to deal with. Most books don’t go into detail about contract negotiations between owners and players, who at the time were indentured servants to the team, unable to become free agents and sell their services to the highest bidder, due to the “reserve clause” that bound them to the team until the team chose to dispose of them or they decided to retire. And no book ever discussed how twenty-five men in their twenties and thirties filled their time away from the field, particularly on road trips and away from their wives and families, or what went on in the locker room.

Naturally, the book was (for lack of a better word) condemned by the Commissioner of Baseball, Bowie Kuhn, and Bouton was criticized by the players (particularly the ones mentioned in less-than-flattering terms in the book). Bouton was asked on at least one occasion to disavow the contents of his book, and he refused. Despite all this, he managed to spend another ten years as a player, and fans who read the book thought it was entertaining and felt a kinship with the guys who play a kid’s game for money. For me, it made me a fan of the game for life.

I was in Raleigh, North Carolina doing training classes for a week back in the early 1990’s, and learned that the Durham Bulls, then the Class-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves, were at home playing Pittsburgh’s Carolina League affiliate. I decided I would go to one of the games while I was there, because I had seen the Durham Athletic Park in the movie Bull Durham and wanted to see it live, plus I wanted to see the guys who one day might be playing for the Braves. I had such a good time there that I ended up going every night that week, and in typical fashion the Bulls lost the four-game series.

One evening they announced that Jim Bouton was at the park, signing autographs and throwing out the first pitch. After some hemming and hawing, I decided to go out to the plaza and meet him. There was a long queue waiting to see him. Some people had really prepared for the occasion, brandishing copies of his book and rehearsing the questions they would ask him. I just stood and wondered what I would say. I really had no questions for him, I just wanted to meet him and tell him his book had made a difference in my life. He autographed a card for me (he brought his own), handed it to me, shook my hand, and I managed to squeak out that his book had changed my life. He said “Thanks,” and waved as I walked away.

I lost the card, probably throwing it out by mistake, but it doesn’t matter. I really don’t care about collectibles, and besides, a baseball card off “Jim Bouton, Businessman” probably wouldn’t get me a lot of money, anyway. But I was happy for the opportunity to meet him and tell him what his book had meant to me.

(Monday’s Music Moves Me is on its way!)

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Author: John Holton

I'm a writer and blogger who writes and blogs about things that interest me.

11 thoughts on “#BotB Results and #QotM”

  1. Still neat that you met him and had something signed, although you don’t have it anymore. If I had the chance to meet a celebrity, I wouldn’t ask a question either. I’d want to say something, but would probably be too nervous, chicken out, and hate myself for it later. haha

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    1. Most of the time you meet a celebrity by accident. You happen to be there at the same time he or she is, and there are times you don’t even recognize them. You aren’t thinking, “There’s X! I’ve always wanted to ask him this…”

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  2. I’d known that Jackie Gleason had put out some albums but didn’t realize he had that many. I have a double CD set that I believe is probably kind of like a greatest type of compilation. Whatever it is, it’s good.

    I vaguely remember the name Jim Bouton, but since I never followed baseball that seriously I don’t know much about him. I’d have no idea what I would have asked him or said, but I guess if I had read his book I might have thought of something.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

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    1. If you ever find it and have a couple of hours, “Ball Four” is a great book. At the time, athletes were generally not the sharpest knives in the drawer, and most of their books were ghostwritten. He’s quite a character and a very good writer.

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  3. So glad Jackie Gleason won the battle. He was certainly a great talent!

    Very cool about your encounters. It’s great to have had the opportunity to let Jim Bouton know how much his book had affected your life. That’s such high praise for any author and I’m sure he was thrilled to hear that!

    Let’s see…who have I met that is famous? I ran into Richard Thomas (JohnBoy from the Waltons) at a grocery store in Washington, DC: he was there doing a play at the Kennedy Center. He was buying a can of beans. I went up and introduced myself and got his autograph. He was very friendly and invited me to the play. Nice!

    Then I met Joe Jacoby (from the Redskins) at a bar one night: we partied and he bought me shots all night. He ended up giving me his phone number because he wanted to get my radio station (I worked at Classic Rock WCXR) involved in a charity golf tournament. On my way home that night I hit a guardrail and cracked up my car. I called him the next day to tell him what happened and to let him know that I would talk to the promotion director at the station regarding his tournament idea. Sometime later, the radio station was doing an event and all the top brass were there. Joe Jacoby and Mark May were there to sign autographs and when Joe was walking around shaking hands of all the station brass, he got to me and said “Hey, you didn’t drive here today, did you?? Stay off the road!” Everyone laughed, except my sales manager who was still kinda pissed that I got loaded at a station event…

    Who else? I met Don Henley at the radio station. He was rude and cocky, I thought.

    I’ve met other folks, like various authors: Alan Cohen, Byron Katie, Lorna Bryne, etc.
    Screenwriter Karl Iglesias – I took his Screenplay Writing workshop here in Austin a few years back
    Actor Eric Bogosian (a friend of mine’s brother was doing the lead in the play Talk Radio. Eric Bogosian was in Austin and came to the play. He was the main actor in the movie Talk Radio. Have you ever seen it?)

    I can’t really think of anyone else right now…

    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. Eric Bogosian was in “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.” Writers are generally a friendly sort; I mentioned Lawrence Block on the site once and he dropped by and left a comment. On the other hand, rockers can be real jerks. I saw Bob Dylan and Tom Petty in a bar once, and as I was walking over to say hello their bodyguard told me to get lost.

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