Wednesday, January 31, 2007

What Are We Celebrating Today?

Norman Mailer is 84.

I've met Mr. Mailer twice, on both coasts. First, in Los Angeles, at the Century City Brentano's, in early 1997, as he was touring to promote his novel, The Gospel According to the Son.

It was then that he signed my copy of the one and only book of his that I have read and fully enjoyed, 1967's Why Are We in Vietnam?

I saw him again in New York, a year later, when he was touring to promote The Time of Our Time, an anthologized brick of his work. The first edition was issued in mass quantities with a signed tipped-in page. At the Barnes & Noble flagship store in Union Square, he inscribed a copy for me.

Mr. Mailer's been in the news of late, with a new novel about the childhood of Adolph Hitler, entitled The Castle in the Forest: A Novel.

And, Ernie Banks is 76 today.

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Mr. Banks, on August 7, 1978. My one and only trip to Cooperstown was way back then, as I accompanied my dad to the hallowed ground, not only to see the museum, but to attend the annual Hall of Fame Game. From the Baseball Hall of Fame website:

Rain Knots Tigers and Mets at 4-4, Aug. 7, 1978

Milt May made the most of the six frames the Detroit Tigers and New York Mets would play in the 1978 Game, belting two solo home runs and driving in three runs for Detroit before rain ended the game in a 4-4 tie in the top of the seventh inning. Lenny Randle's three-run blast gave New York a 4-3 lead entering the bottom of the fifth inning, before May's second clout evened the score. May would hit a first-inning home run, and later doubled in Tigers rookie Alan Trammell in the third-inning to give the club a 2-1 lead. Tom Grieve homered for New York to even the score at 1-1 in the second.

I don't remember much of the game. What I do remember is obtaining autographs from Tigers' future stars Jack Morris, Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker, along with Milt Wilcox. And, prior to the game starting, Dad pointed out Mr. Banks, sitting in the stands. "Mr. Cub" had been inducted to the Hall that year. I approached him, shook his hand and got his autograph.

I kept all these autographs in my wallet, which was stolen a few weeks later, in Springfield, Illinois, at a swimming facility. Easy come, easy go.

Oh, yeah, and have a
For more information on this special day, visit the official National Gorilla Suit Day site.


Jill said...

I loved "Why are We in Vietnam"...great book. Read it in college for a contemporary literature class.

The Ancient One, Blessed Be He said...

And don't forget that you also met and chatted with Kip Young, then a young pitcher just called up by the Tigers who had a very short MLB career. He had played for the Springfield Caps in the Central Illinois Collegiate League before being drafted by the Tigers. I can't remember but you might also have been his batboy when he played for the Caps. - Dad