I really don’t know from baseball. I once made a home run during a mandatory softball game in elementary school—but only because I was being chased by a big mean kid determined to ensure that I did (I don’t know how that plays out in official rule books). As for baseball in general, I think Roger Angell is one of the finest essayists writing today, but I’ve never gotten all the way through one of his baseball pieces in the New Yorker—I intend to, I’m seduced by his elegant prose and love of subject, but somehow, next thing I know, I’m in the movie reviews. On the other hand, if none of you have read his autobiographical Let Me Finish
, stop reading my scribblings right now and go order a copy–or better yet, order a copy from my favorite bookstore
. Coincidentally, the next and only other time I ever managed to swing a bat and have it hit a ball, was about 35 years later under the tutelage of the very same bookseller, who refused to believe that I lacked the coordination to properly swing a bat (he believes me now) As I remember, the bat was a green plastic one belonging to his then young son. I swung the bat per instruction, concentrating on making contact with the ball, and to my astonishment did make contact. The bat went crack, and so nearly did the ball, as it missed his young son’s head by a quarter inch. After that, I permanently retired from baseball and stuck to the sports I excel at—Olympic picture book browsing, competitive cookie eating, extreme lawn mowing…
|The Dilettante plays baseball
So what brings me to baseball this morning? After all, I concern myself on these pages mostly with matters of decorative arts and design, and human foible, not sports–otherwise, I would have a few tart things to say about Lance Armstrong and Manti T’eo,
Anyway, getting to the point, I was wandering through the Gottscho Schliesner archives on the Museum of the City of New York website, when I came across a couple of photos of Tom Yawkey’s New York apartment, at 992 Fifth Avenue, taken in 1935. I vaguely remembered Yawkey as having something to do with baseball—and a quick trip to Wikipedia later, found that he was a mid-western lumber heir who realized his big dream—to own a baseball team, no matter what it cost him, which over the years was apparently a lot—at very least enough to finance several ballet companies, a new opera at the Met, and perhaps the restoration of the entire downtown of a dying city, or send thousands of underprivileged kids to college.. One thing certain from the pictures, is that the money wasn’t spent on the decor. His dining room, with its stolid portrait, of Mother Yawkey, no doubt, and its very ordinary Grand Rapids dining room furniture in the Hispano-Tudorbethan vein, certainly lacks the chic or glamor one associates with fine New York apartments of the era.
No, what caught my attention was the bed in the master bedroom—an astounding pale confection of two twins beds, joined by an archway under a vast floating canopy inspired by the works of Mr. Chippendale. Quite something, no? Just what does that gate symbolize?
Stubbornly lodged in the back of my overstuffed brain, I know somethign else about this design—or at least it reminds me of something—but it isn’t coming to me.