Friday, June 10, 2016

Baseball Doodle

I was really creative in my high school years. Not that my creative output was always good, but I did a lot of it. One of my writing and art destinations was a baseball story which I both wrote and illustrated. The story was about Alex Solomon, a Jewish guy who wanted to play professional baseball. I followed him through his career in the minor leagues. He was a big tall guy who was trying to play infield, a position unsuited for his (modest) talents. His coaches switched him to catcher and he learned to catch pretty well, with some good home run and hitting numbers. But he never progressed, and finally was let go in his second year of playing in the minor leagues.

His minor league team was the "Olean Ospreys," a (mythical) farm team for the Baltimore Orioles situated in the town of Olean, which is in southwestern New York State near the Pennsylvania border. The league they played in was the "New York-Pennsylvania" league. In my text fragments about Alex's life in the minors I wrote about his struggles with hitting and also the difficulty of being Jewish in a team and a culture which knows very little about anything Jewish except anti-semitic prejudice.

After his time in the minors Alex went to law school and for the next thirty-five years practiced law in Albany, N.Y. He got married and fathered three children, who grew up fascinated and proud of his baseball background. He ran for Congress in the western New York State area but didn't win. He may still be alive somewhere in mythical New York State.

The real Olean, NY team still exists and their name is not the "Ospreys," but the "Oilers." That name refers to the historic gas and oil industry which used to be a big thing in western Pennsylvania and New York State. They play collegiate baseball now. I don't know why I didn't look up the team when I was writing about them. Even in those pre-Internet pre-Google days a few phone calls to western New York State could have given me the information I needed. Play (mythical)ball!

I doodled this sketch of Alexander on the back of a school notebook. He is not wearing catcher's gear, but he is clutching a glove and a baseball. Inscription says, "You can't keep an Osprey down!"

Ballpoint pen on cardboard, 8 1/2" x 11", 1968.

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