The Monthly Editorial Blog By Schlafly Beer Co-Founder Tom Schlafly
Over the years the St. Louis area has produced some world class divas, including Grace Bumbry (Sumner High School) and Christine Brewer (McKendree College). To this illustrious list I would add the name of Ellen Foley (Rosati-Kain High School and Webster College). While Grace Bumbry was renowned for playing the title role in Bizet’s Carmen: and Christine Brewer made her mark as Isolde in Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, Ellen Foley received critical acclaim for her virtuoso performance as the lead female vocalist in Meat Loaf’s Paradise by the Dashboard Light, which is probably familiar to most alert readers (ARs) of a certain age. Some of these ARs may even recall that the most famous voice in this oeuvre, both when it was released in 1977 and perhaps still today, was that of Phil Rizzuto, the announcer for the New York Yankees.
Who can forget Rizzuto’s breathlessly calling the action as an unnamed baseball player is trying to score? The suicide squeeze is on. Here he comes. Squeeze play. It’s gonna be close. Here’s the throw. Here’s the play at the plate. Holy cow. I think he’s gonna make it. Then again, who can forget the three words, belted out so forcefully, that propelled Foley to national and international fame? STOP RIGHT THERE! As many ARs will remember, Foley’s character then insistently asks Meat Loaf’s character, Do you love me? Will you love me forever?… I gotta know right now before we go any further.
Many of the operas in which Bumbry and Brewer have starred have tragic endings in which one or more lovers meet untimely deaths. In Paradise by the Dashboard Light, on the other hand, neither lover dies prematurely. That’s the problem. They both live too long. Meat Loaf’s character swears on his mother’s grave that he’ll love Foley’s character to the end of time. He then has buyer’s remorse and laments, If I gotta spend another minute with you, I don’t think that I can really survive…. I’m praying for the end of time, so I can end my time with you.
While Rizzuto’s famous call may have given new meaning to the notion of fantasy baseball, there were plenty of interesting stories in real baseball this past summer, at least three of which involved pitchers. First is that of Mo’ne Davis, who was one of two girls to play in the 2014 Little League World Series. She was the first girl in Little League World Series history to pitch a shutout and the first to earn a win. She was also the first Little League baseball player of either sex to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a Little League player.
Even more remarkable is the story of Ryan Perez, who pitched for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks in the Cape Cod Baseball League. As some ARs probably know, this is a select league for the best college baseball players in America. I became aware of Ryan while vacationing on Cape Cod last summer and read that he had just struck out the side in the CCBL All Star Game and had been named MVP of the West team. Nothing extraordinary about that, except that he struck out the first batter he faced pitching left-handed; then struck out the next batter pitching right-handed; and struck out the final batter of the inning pitching left-handed. His fastball topped 90 miles per hour from both his left and his right hands.
During this same vacation I learned about another star in the CCBL named Matt Eckelman, a relief pitcher for the Falmouth Commodores. What really got my attention was that he also plays for the St. Louis University Billikens. I went to a game between Falmouth and the Cotuit Kettleers and read in the program that Matt was born on October 6, 1993, meaning his 21st birthday is soon approaching. Maybe he’ll decide to celebrate it at The Schlafly Tap Room or at Schlafly Bottleworks. He might even be able to persuade the bartender to buy him a pint of beer for his birthday.
The day after Matt’s 21st birthday is the 50th anniversary of the start of the 1964 World Series, between the Cardinals and the Yankees. The Cardinals won the seventh and decisive game eight days later on October 15th, a day on which, according to The New York Times, “it seemed that all hell was breaking loose.”
President Lyndon Johnson’s longtime chief aide Walter Jenkins had just been arrested for finding paradise by the locker room light in a Washington, DC YMCA (long before the Village People sang about how much fun it was to stay there). Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev had just been ousted in a coup by Leonid Brezhnev and Alexei Kosygin. And, at a site called Lop Nur, Red China had just conducted its first successful nuclear test. As reported in the Times, LBJ supposedly lamented, “I’ve got the Russians on one side of me and the Chinese are dropping bombs around, contaminating the atmosphere, and disease hit Walter Jenkins, the best man I ever knew.”
Phil Rizzuto and Joe Garagiola were the TV announcers for games three, four and five of this World Series; and the radio announcers for games one, two, six and seven. While all this was happening, Ellen Foley was in eighth grade at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic School on Blow Street in South St. Louis.