Daily Archives: 13 February 2010

Beating Dead Horses on the New Frontier

This week brought the surprise retirement of JFK’s nephew, Patrick Kennedy, from Congress.  I’ve always been mildly fascinated with the Kennedy clan, and the absence of a Kennedy in the Federal Government for the first time since 1946 strummed the chords of nostalgia.  Included in that chorus was a recollection of my lone trip to the Bay State to visit the Family C on Cape Cod.  During my visit, I treated my hosts to my venerable JFK impression incessantly on an unsolicited basis.  Alas, my audience dubbed my parody with less than glowing reviews and criticized it as sounding like a “Robot JFK”. 

The unenthusiastic, though slightly bemused, feedback left me undeterred and my “Robot JFK” could be heard frequently throughout the visit, reaching it’s zenith in Hyannis Port as we searched in vain for the famed Kennedy compound.  My family, brother and sisters all, but most prominently my father, own a genetic quirk which prevents us from walking away from a joke, even after it’s long dead.  This led me to suggest that our family crest should be that of a man beating a dead horse.  Two and a half years after “Robot JFK” should have died a less than honorable death, I’m here to beat that horse one last time in the name of family honor.  This link by two history professors — collectively referred to as “the Professor Brothers” definitively establishes that JFK was, in fact, a robot.  That’s right: John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States of America was a robot.  The proof of JFK’s android origins appears toward the end of this very funny video (language warning). 

The Say Hey Kid

On the heels of the publication of James S. Hirsch’s new biography, Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend (Scribner, 2010), yesterday NPR’s “All Things Considered” aired an interview with arguably the greatest player to ever play baseball: “The Say Hey Kid,” “Buck,” Mr. Willie Mays.  In the interview, Mays offers some interesting reflections on his career, such as the last couple of years of his career with the Mets (for which he was roundly criticized) and how his approach to baseball as one of the early players to break the color barrier in MLB differed from Jackie Robinson’s approach (apparently Robinson criticized Mays on more than one occasion for not taking a more public stance on civil rights not just in MLB but also in America generally).  Of course, the interview spends a god deal of time on what’s known nowadays simply as “The Catch,” that seemingly impossible over-the-head, on-the-run grab that Mays made during Game 1 of the 1954 World Series against the Cleveland Indians.  A couple of people reminisce about having seen the magnificent catch live and how surreal it was.  But it’s Mays’ recounting of what was going through his head during the race to the ball that Vic Wertz hit and what he did after catching it that is truly poignant.  For, in the few remarks that he offers about his recollection of “The Catch,” we hear just how good he was at playing the game, and it had far less to do with his speed, dexterity, and strength than it did with his forethought and acuity.

As a closing note, it’s perhaps worth a mention, and I reckon all (five) of the fair readers of Eat My Peashoot will recall, that Bob Dylan drafted Willie Mays into some pretty powerful company in “I Shall Be Free,” situating him alongside Dr. Martin Luther King and Babtunde Olitunji.

Oh I sat me down on the television floor
I flipped the channel to number four
Out of the shower comes a football man
With a bottle of oil in his hand
Greasy kid's stuff
What I want to know mister football man is
What do you know about Willie Mays
Martin Luther King
Olitunji
--"I Shall Be Free" on The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (1963)