name is Trish Vignola. I’m a 32-year-old
freelance writer and standup comedian. I
am also a giant Baseball fan. You might
say that Baseball is in my pedigree. I
was born the same day the New York Yankees clinched the 1978 World Series. My dad claims that I was out by the 7th
inning, because I never met a celebration pileup I didn’t like. My mom claims I was almost named after
Catfish Hunter…but then the anesthesia wore off.
then, I have gone on to visit 30 stadiums (most of them on my own). I was hit on by two National League mascots
(I’m going on record by saying that American league Mascots are always perfect
gentlemen). I’ve pull tarp (oh! When
they say, “Let Go”, you should or you’re doing a header down the field). I’ve published several articles; accidently
got a Yes Network commercial and met “Mike and Mike”. (If you’re wondering, Mike is the cutest.) Seriously though, Baseball has always played
a major role in my life.
why Baseball? Baseball is the illustration
of everything I find great about competition.
You play to win. Nonetheless, in
life as in Baseball, you can only have one winner (unless it’s the 2002
All-Star Game). So, what do you do if
you lose? You pull yourself together
because tomorrow is another game. For
someone who grew up to find herself in the highly competitive field of comedy,
it’s the best possible metaphor to live by.
woman, I never have role models to encourage my competitive instincts. Sadly I still find it hard to find strong
competitive women to emulate. The role
models I did find I could look up, I found through Baseball. Men like Cal Ripken Jr., Ken Griffey Jr. and
Don Mattingly showed me that you could be a fierce competitor but still leave
the field with your head held high. These men showed me that you can play tough,
but you don’t have to play dirty.
bigger sense, I love the democratic ideal behind Baseball. Again, as a comedian, I always live life with
the odds stacked against me. There will always be someone stronger than me,
with more experience than me, lurking around the corner. In Baseball however,
there is a romantic (but pretty accurate) sense of equality. Every team plays within the same rules, gets
the same amount of at bats, etc. Sure, you’re always going to have a dominant
team. Nonetheless, every spring the
clock resets and everyone starts at the same starting line. What happened yesterday doesn’t matter today. Yes, there’s no reason that the Pittsburgh
Pirates can’t beat the St. Louis Cardinals on a given day. It’s that believe in the everyman, underdog
that makes me love baseball and drives me in my everyday life.
- 1908 – Future Hall of Famer Walter Johnson pitched his third consecutive shutout in four days, a 4-0, two-hitter over the New York Highlanders. Alright Yankees fans, we’ll let this one slide by. ONCE!
- 1952 – Johnny Mize hits a pinch-hit grand slam to give the Yanks a 5-1 win at Washington. He has now homered in each one of the fifteen Major League parks. Man!Was Washington ever good at this?
- 1953 – Roy Campanella sets the Major League record for RBI by a catcher when he smacks a three-run home run in a 6-3 Dodgers’ win over the Phils. Campy’s 125 breaks Yogi Berra’s Major League record of 124 set in 1950. Poor, Yogi. First Robinson is called safe at home, now this. At least he has a future career as a successful Yankees’ Manager…What? No?
- 1955 – Whitey Ford continues his mastery with his second consecutive one-hitter, beating the A’s 2-1. Jim Finigan hits a two-out single in the seventh for the Nats’ only hit. Afterwards, the Yanks hit the Open Bar. I frankly lost count of the hits from there.
- 1978 – The Yankees, four games behind the Red Sox in the American League East, arrive in Boston for a crucial four-game series. The Yanks begin the “Boston Massacre” with a 15-3 rout. Shhh…Do you hear that sound? It’s Boston choking.
- 1998 – Ken Griffey, Jr. homered twice against Baltimore, giving baseball three 50-homer players in a season for the first time. Jr. joined Mark McGwire and Babe Ruth as the only players to hit fifty or more in consecutive seasons. The Babe is psyched to finally welcome someone who deserves to be there.
Layon Gray’s “All American Girls” had its formal press opening last night at the Actors Temple Theatre (339 W. 47th Street). “All American Girls” is the story of an all-Negro female baseball team whose coach goes missing in 1945 Chicago right as they are scheduled to play the storied (all-White) Rockford Peaches. Gray invokes an era in American history when women were called on to keep baseball alive as the men went off to fight in World War II. Gray, the show’s writer and director is an award winner with two shows running Off Broadway simultaneously.
I was pretty excited to check out this show. I am a huge baseball fan. In fact, I published several articles on the All American Girls Professional Baseball League, as well as the Negro Leagues. I interned at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and I just moved to New York from Chicago.
It is about time someone brought to light the indelible impact of the African American Woman in professional baseball. Effa Manley, owner of the Newark Eagles, is the only woman to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Toni Stone, who was signed to the Indianapolis Clowns (a men’s team), took over for none other than Hank Aaron when he was signed by the Boston (soon to be Milwaukee) Braves. Historians are quick to point out that she was actually better at the position than the future Hall of Famer. My point is that there are plenty of amazing true stories of African American Women in baseball. Why not tell them?
So, Gray opted to create a piece of historical fiction. That’s fine. It’s his prerogative. Nonetheless, the missing coach arc didn’t live up to the time period he worked so hard to place it in. It felt like an old episode of “The Twilight Zone” in skirts and cleats. I was far more interested in the girls’ internal stories (how they fought to get there, what was left behind, etc…) and most of those back stories ultimately went by the wayside.
One of my biggest pet peeves is historical accuracies. If you are going to create a piece of historical fiction, you at least need to get the history correct. It felt like research for this project didn’t go much beyond watching “A League of their Own.” The internal layout of Wrigley Field was non-existent. The geography of the city was wrong and the well-documented history of race relations in Chicago, known as one of the most segregated cities above the Mason-Dixon, was periphery at best.
The one exceptional strong point of the production was the cast. The actresses, who specifically played the girls on the roster, were for lack of a better word – great. In fact, they deserve credit for keeping me so engaged when the plot just frustrated me. Two standouts (if you had to choose) were Chantal Nchako and Yasha Jackson. Ms. Nchako was enthralling as Jonnetta. She precariously balanced the rage of oppressed generations before her with the need to keep her job. Ms. Jackson was also impressive as Sara, who must hide her panic as she does everything in her power to keep the secrets of her team in house.
If you are looking to learn about a piece of history that’s been cut from your school books, this is not the play for you. However, if you’re in the area, check out this roster of talented actresses. I’m sure it’s the not the last you’ll hear of them. http://www.allamericangirlsplay.com
On June 28th, 1907, the New York Highlanders’ catcher Branch Rickey crouched behind the plate and proceeded to get thirteen bases stolen on him by the last-place Washington Senators. That’s not a typo, folks. That’s the Branch Rickey and that would be thirteen freakin’ bases in one game. Even my Great Grandmother swiped the dish from him that day.
Rickey, apparently the Todd Pratt of his day, would go on to become one of the premier Baseball administrators in the history of the game. It only goes to show you that, you never have to give up on a dream. Just adjust it.
In some cases, a lot.
If I didn’t adjust a dream or two in my lifetime, I would still be trying to become a world-renown glockenspiel player.
FYI: There are no world-renown glockenspiel players.
(I’m sure that it’s only fair to tell you that Branch Rickey was pressed into service because the Highlanders’ starter had a bum shoulder. Only Senators’ pitcher Tom Hughes and second baseman Nig Perrine miss out on the fun. However, with a name like Nig Perrine, this was probably not the first fun he ever missed out on.)
Hey! Speaking of the Highlanders…
Did you check out that incredible Yankees’ rally last night? Four runs in the ninth and then the Cano blast in the 10th? The last time the Yankees overcame a four-run deficit in the ninth inning or later was in 2007. This “never say die” Yankees attitude and win is obviously attributed to the afterglow of my show last night. Derek Jeter, you can thank me later.
No, I’m not drinking expired milk again…thank you.
Wait for it…
My Level D students performed last night at Second City and did an incredible job with an “against all odds” attitude. I want to take credit for giving them an awe inspiring speech before hand as I had them take a knee and listen to a parable of the 1996 Yankees. (After they laughed at me, the nervous tension was broken and they went out there to have an incredible show.)
You can thank my speech…or their talent. Either or.
FYI: One of my students last night informed me that she was born in 1990, making her six years old in 1996. If you need me, I’ll be hitting myself in the face with a toaster oven.
On a personal note, happy birthday to one of the best Intern advisors ever – Tim Wiles of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. (I was a Research Intern, class of 2002.) Tim, you’re fabulous. Tonight, I’m going to get Kangaroo Courted in your honor.
YOU’RE DARN RIGHT I CAN!
Last night I was bored at work, so I challenged myself to see if I could field a team of Hall of Fame Lefties. After all, Left-handed position players account for 49% of all position players in the Hall of Fame. That’s parity and pretty impressive considering that Lefties only account for 23% of the population on a whole.
So, you think this would be pretty easy? Err, not quite. Ever hear of a Left-handed Second Baseman? Didn’t think so… This was harder than using those stupid lefty safety scissors from when I was a kid. In fact, out of my position players, only Ruth and Gehrig bat and throw lefty. Well, here we go.
1st Base: Gehrig
2nd Base: Carew
3rd Base: Brett
Shortstop: G. Davis (This is where it started to become a stretch…)