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Top 6 Things I Learned While Chasing Dreams

Archive for August, 2015

Top 6 Things I Learned While Chasing Dreams

By: Ellie Gettinger,
Education Director, Jewish Museum Milwaukee

As we reach the end of each exhibit, I find myself mourning it a little. For 3 to 4 months, I am inundated with that topic and there are always so many wonderful connections to be built between our permanent exhibit and the changing, and in developing ideas that I would never have the opportunity to otherwise. This exhibit, Chasing Dreams: Baseball & Becoming American, is no exception. It has shifted my narrative on immigration and acculturation and provided me with cultural touchstones outside the Jewish experience. So this is what I am going to miss when the exhibit closes in one week (NOTE: The final day of the exhibit is Labor Day Monday, September 7 from Noon to 4–Get here before the exhibit closes)

  1. The power of the Jewish star: I grew up with the myth of Sandy Koufax looming large (my dad had seen him pitch and this outing was one of the bedrocks of his fandom, which was passed to me), but I had never really had the opportunity to explore some of the other Jewish Major Leaguers. I particularly fell in love with Detroit Tigers first baseman, Hank Greenberg. The original Hebrew Hammer was a hitting machine, the only person to come close to Babe Ruth’s home run record between Ruth and Roger Maris. In addition, he is the first player to sit out a game on Yom Kippur. Poet Edgar A Guest documented this in his 1934 poem “Speaking of Greenberg.” Beyond his baseball prowess, he was the first American League player to enlist in the army during World War II, immediately after his second MVP season. He served in the US Air Corps for 4 years.
  2. The Knothole Club: This story really shows the power of public-private partnerships. Borchert Field, where the minor league Brewers played was a great distraction for young students. It was a full city block at 7th and Burleigh, easily accessible for city kids, who would skip school and watch the games through the holes in the fence. Milwaukee Recreation Director, John Zussman, decided that he would capitalize on this desire for baseball and he created the Knothole Club, which rewarded school attendance with tickets. This club continued once the Milwaukee Braves came to town. Kids would sign the following: “I agree, as a guest of the National League Baseball Club of Milwaukee, Inc., to conduct myself in a way that will reflect credit to the organization through which I became a member.” Zussman’s legacy is still felt in Milwaukee today, as two athletic scholarships are awarded each year in his name.
  3. The Milwaukee Brewers are really amazing Presenting Sponsors: This exhibit received great support from our presenting sponsors. They lent us some really great pieces, including a Prince Fielder jersey (the size boggles the mind) and a bat signed by the entire ’57 World Series Championship team. Beyond this, they helped promote the exhibit broadly and within their own blogs and broadcasts. Finally, a special thanks to one pair of our honorary chairs, Mark and Debbie Attanasio, who had their first joint interview as part of this exhibit. Their warmth and accessibility made this such a special night.
  4. The Mensches of Baseball: This is an exhibit that celebrates the good guy and I have loved being able to spend my summer with Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente. These men were not only amazing players, but were amazing people who dedicated their lives to helping others.
  5. A League of Their Own is just the beginning: As part of the exhibit, we explored the legacy of women and baseball with our series exploring the All American Girls Professional Baseball League, which was funded by the Wisconsin Humanities Council. In addition, we borrowed a uniform, pennant and hat from The History Museum in South Bend, Indiana, which are on display in the exhibit. During the lecture series, we were introduced to Tiby Eisen, a Jewish player in the AAGBPL, who stole 674 bases in 966 career-games. I also had the privilege to meet Joyce Westerman, who played in the league for nine years, including playing for the Championship South Bend Blue Sox in 1952. Joyce spoke with her biographer Bob Kann and charmed the crowd with stories of relearning to throw, changing game rules, and the complicated rules of being feminine while playing a sport. You can get a sense of the game these women played through this newsreel:
  6. Bud Selig is a heck of a storyteller: Our other set of honorary chairs were Bud and Sue Selig. You can’t talk about baseball, especially baseball in Milwaukee or baseball as a means of social change, without talking about the impact of the Commissioner Emeritus. In the pieces that we developed, we engaged the history of how Bud brought baseball back to Milwaukee. We were thrilled that he opened our exhibit up sharing his experiences as an owner and as the commissioner. Highlights included his thoughts on George Steinbrenner and playing baseball against Herb Kohl as a child. I particularly loved his sense that baseball is a social institution that has brought the experiences of minorities to the fore in the United States. Take the time and watch the full Bud Selig opening below (Bud starts at the 8:00 mark, the introduction by Mark Attanasio is also worth watching!):

    Take a moment out this week and come by the Museum to explore this fabulous exhibit before the last out.

September Movies

This Month on Turner Classic Movies

Each month, we list the movies with Jewish themes on TCM. Check your local listings for channel information.

Tuesday, September 8

12:45 AM        Tin Drum, The (1979)

A young boy hammers on his drum, serving as the angry conscience of a world gone crazy. Dir: Volker Schlondorff Cast:  David Bennent, Mario Adorf, Angela Winkler.

C-142 min

 

Thursday, September 10

8:45 PM        David and Bathsheba (1951)

King David’s lust for a married woman has disastrous consequences for Israel. Dir: Henry King Cast:  Gregory Peck, Susan Hayward, Raymond Massey. C-116 min

 

Tuesday, September 15

1:45 AM          Just Tell Me What You Want (1980)

When her older lover won’t make their relationship legal, a woman takes up with a younger man. Dir: Sidney Lumet Cast:  Ali MacGraw, Alan King, Myrna Loy.

C-112 min

3:45 AM          Bye Bye Braverman (1968)

Four failed writers try to attend a friend’s funeral. Dir: Sidney Lumet Cast:  George Segal, Jack Warden, Joseph Wiseman. C-94 min

 

Thursday, September 17

3:15 PM        Prisoner of Second Avenue, The (1974)

A suddenly unemployed executive and his understanding wife must adapt to their new life. Dir: Melvin Frank Cast:  Jack Lemmon, Elizabeth Wilson, Anne Bancroft.

BW-98 min

Saturday, September 19

11:00 PM      I Accuse! (1958)

True story of writer Emile Zola’s defense of Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish army officer framed by anti-Semites. Dir: Jose Ferrer Cast:  Jose Ferrer, Anton Walbrook, Viveca Lindfors. BW-99 min

 

Monday, September 21

10:30 PM        Funny Girl (1968)

Comedienne Fanny Brice fights to prove that she can be the greatest star and find romance even though she isn’t pretty. Dir: William Wyler Cast:  Barbra Streisand, Omar Sharif, Kay Medford. C-157 min

 

Tuesday, September 22

1:30 AM       Funny Lady (1975)

Musical biography of Fanny Brice and her tempestuous marriage to showman Billy Rose.

Dir: Herbert Ross Cast:  Barbra Streisand, James Caan, Omar Sharif. C-138 mins

 

Monday, September 28

2:00 AM          Confession, The (1970)

A Czech government official charged with treason is subjected to brutal interrogation methods. Dir: Costa-Gavras Cast:  Yves Montand, Simone Signoret, Gabriele Ferzetti.

C-139 min

7:15 AM          Prisoner of Second Avenue, The (1974)

A suddenly unemployed executive and his understanding wife must adapt to their new life. Dir: Melvin Frank Cast:  Jack Lemmon, Elizabeth Wilson, Anne Bancroft. BW-98 min

 

 

Tuesday, September 29

9:00 PM        That Justice Be Done (1945)

Newsreel footage from both sides of World War II make a case for convicting Nazi war criminals. Dir: George Stevens BW-10 min

9:15 PM        Nazi Plan, The (1945)

Documentary cameras capture the atrocities of the concentration camps. Dir: George Stevens BW-127 min

11:30 PM      Diary of Anne Frank, The (1959)

A young girl comes of age while hiding from the Nazis. Dir: George Stevens Cast:  Millie Perkins , Joseph Schildkraut , Shelley Winters .

BW-180 mins, CC, Letterbox Format

2:45 AM       Judgment At Nuremberg (1961)

An aging American judge presides over the trial of Nazi war criminals. Dir: Stanley Kramer Cast:  Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark. BW-179 min

 

Take Me Out the Ballgame

By: Ellie Gettinger,
Education Director, Jewish Museum Milwaukee

Upon reading the title of this blog, you suddenly had the song of the same name stuck in your head. By all accounts this is third best known song in the United States, after the national anthem and “Happy Birthday to You”. The song was dashed off quickly in 1908 by Jack Norworth after seeing an ad for a baseball game at the Polo Grounds. He had never been to a baseball game. Nor had the song’s composer, Albert Von Tilzer. Born Albert Gumm, he took his mother’s maiden name Tilzer and added the von title to make himself sound less Jewish. Von Tilzer and Norworth collobarated as part of a Tin Pan Alley partnership. The song became famous as Norworth’s wife Nora Bayes, sang it throughout the country.

The thing that really struck me about this baseball anthem, is that the lyric that we know so well is actually just the chorus of a much longer song. The song is all about a young lady named Katie Casey who is an avid baseball fan, who when asked about going to see a show opts for a baseball game instead. She proceeds to demonstrate her grasp of the game and its players and uses the song itself to help rally her team. As a woman who loves baseball, I love this. I love that we have Katie as a model of sport’s fandom from the early days of the game. That she loves baseball independently from her beau and probably could explain a thing or two to him!

As a woman who loves baseball, the first question I often get is oh, did your husband get you involved? Did he teach you about baseball? Ladies, I think we, like Katie Casey (and in later versions Nora Kelly), can say “No, I’ll tell you what you can do!”  Here is an early example of baseball’s allure to fans of both gender, which continues to today. Baseball is the sport with the most gender parity among its fans, and yet, many of us feel the need to defend our position, to show our knowledge. Just like Katie Casey, who “Knew the players by their first names; Told the umpire he was wrong” This is one of the many stories at play in Jewish Museum Milwaukee’s Chasing Dreams: Baseball & Becoming American exhibit (open through September 7, 2015), which was developed by the National Museum of Jewish American History in Philadelphia. It’s a story that is expanded through the lens of women players in the All American Girls Professional Baseball League and the contemporary story of Justine Seigel. I celebrate these stories and have relished the opportunities to share them. I also honor the many women who have joined us this summer to explore baseball.

So now, without further ado: here are the complete lyrics to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”

Katie Casey was base ball mad.
Had the fever and had it bad;
Just to root for the home town crew,
Ev’ry sou Katie blew.
On a Saturday, her young beau
Called to see if she’d like to go,
To see a show but Miss Kate said,
“No, I’ll tell you what you can do.”

“Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don’t care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don’t win it’s a shame.
For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out,
At the old ball game.”

Katie Casey saw all the games,
Knew the players by their first names;
Told the umpire he was wrong,
All along good and strong.
When the score was just two to two,
Katie Casey knew what to do,
Just to cheer up the boys she knew,
She made the gang sing this song:

“Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don’t care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don’t win it’s a shame.
For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out,
At the old ball game.”

And because you deserve it, check out Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra singing a somewhat modified version of the song in their 1949 film entitled “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”