Monday, September 18, 2006

From This You Can Make A Living?

I can imagine Ira Berkow’s mother posing this question, somewhere in his youthful past. Your shayneh boychik has done well for himself, Mama Berkow, and he’s speaking tomorrow night, Tuesday, September 19th at the Washington, D.C. Jewish Community Center as part of their Jewish Literary Festival. The talk begins at 7:30 p.m. Joining Mr. Berkow will be George Solomon of The Washington Post. Located at 1529 16th Street, N.W., tickets are $8.00, and for more information check out the Center's website: D.C. Jewish Community Center.

Maxwell Street, Chicago

Published this year, Berkow’s book Full Swing: Hits, Runs and Errors in a Writer’s Life will be batted around as he shares his memories of growing up in Chicago as well as his homage to those who helped him in this journey from parents to sports figures and many others. He has been a noted sports writer for The New York Times for over 20 years and has written several books including biographies of Red Smith and Hank Greenberg. Berkow also worked in conjunction with comedian Jackie Mason on a book titled How To Talk Jewish. Have you ever seen Jackie Mason perform? He has a great bit about the Jewish passion for coffee and cake. “It is easy to tell the difference between Jews and Gentiles. After the show, all the Gentiles are saying "Have a drink? Want a drink? Let's have a drink!" while all the Jews are saying "Have you eaten yet? Let's have coffee and cake!" And who knows…there may be coffee and cake after the lecture. A little nosh, a little babka. Standing around kibbitzing. “Er frest vi a ferd.” (He eats like a horse.)

"You call that a slice?"

There’s a scene from the 1980 movie, Airplane, that goes:

Flight Attendant: “Would you like something to read?”

Passenger: “Do you have something light?”

Flight Attendant: “How about this short leaflet—“Jewish Sports Legends.”

Lipman Pike (1845-1893)

But there are Jewish sports legends. Lipman “Lip” Pike begin playing baseball with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1866, playing third base for $20 a week. He was baseball’s first professional player, first home run champion, and it is recorded he hit six homers in one game in July, 1866. Primarily an outfielder, Pike’s career spanned the years 1865 to 1887, and among the teams he played for were the Brooklyn Atlantics, Philadelphia Athletics, Lord Baltimores, Troy Haymakers, St. Louis Brown Stockings, Cincinnati Red Stockings, Hartford Nutmegs and the original New York Mets. He also ran competitively and once raced a famous horse named “Clarence” in a 100-yard sprint (in 10 seconds flat,) winning a prize of $250.

There is one of my personal favorites, Sandy Koufax:

...and Morris “Moe” Berg. Berg has been in the news again lately. Well. The Sunday funnies in The Post.

(From "Flashbacks" by Patrick M. Reynolds)

In this past Sunday’s edition, Patrick M. Reynolds’ comic strip “Flashbacks” revisited 1934 when the U.S. All-Star Baseball Team traveled to Japan to play a series of games against the Japanese All-Stars. Reynolds speculates that Moe Berg, (as Reynolds calls him “…a mediocre catcher for the Washington Senators”) was on board because of his background as a spy as well as the fact that he could speak Japanese. There’s an excellent book about Berg's life called The Catcher Was A Spy: The Mysterious Life of Moe Berg by Nicholas Dawidoff. Cartoonist Reynolds has also done two excellent books you might want to check out: District of Columbia Neighborhoods: A Cartoon History, and A Cartoon History of D.C.

Moe Berg (1902-1972)

There’s even been a Jewish female football player: Anita Marks. Anita grew up in South Dade, Florida, picking up games in her neighborhood. As she put it, “It was a lot easier to play football with the boys in the neighborhood, than making the boys play dolls with me. I had to play well or else they would rough me up. It sounds bad, but it made me a better football player.” It was at the University of South Florida where she was able to fine tune her skills and dominate the Collegiate Flag Football circuit for four years. This girl didn’t potchka around, Bubbala. She took a degree in communications and since her graduation in 1992, she has created a career as a sports producer for CBS in Miami.

Anita Marks

Tuesday. 7:30. Ira Berkow. Head on over to the D.C. Jewish Community Center. Shelp your friends.

This isn't chupah, is it?
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