Abner the Baseball
The baseball season has started, and today is the opening game for the Chicago Cubs. Huzzah! After 104 losing seasons in a row, this could be the year!! (It won't be -- with new management they're still rebuilding and are a year or two away from even contending -- but it could be).
In honor of this grand occasion, I was going to play a song about baseball that I love, but something else transpired today. The legendary comedian Eddie Lawrence passed away at the age of 95. (It turns out he died last Tuesday, but I didn't know about it until today when Mark Evanier wrote it about.) Eddie Lawrence wasn't a hugely recognizable name, but had a very long, successful career and is best known for this "The Old Philosophy" character, which had the well-known tagline -- often used by others -- "It's that's what's troubling you, bunky?" Mark has a video of him doing a monologue of it, along with some wonderful tales here.
(For those who have the cast album of the wonderful musical, Bells are Ringing, Lawrence was in the original Broadway cast and played the role of the con man, Sandor, who sings two songs, "It's a Simple Little System" and "Salzburg.")
But when I think of Eddie Lawrence, I think of a very old 45 RPM record I had as a wee kidling (and I believe still have) of something called "Abner the Baseball." This is what's officially known as "obscure." It's long (both sides) about 10 minutes, but I loved it dearly and have fond affection for the sketch, though I haven't heard it for years. Rather than try to track down my copy and digitize it, I found the thing on YouTube.
I don't want to give anything away about it -- it actually leads to a fun point (which alas the YouTube heading gives away some of, so if you don't want to know, avert your eyes...) -- but what I remember being so impressed by, even at that young an age, is how he humanizes a baseball, telling the story in first "person" about its life, and with such whimsy and humor.
This comes from another, almost mythical time now it seems when not only did 45s actually exist, but someone would do a 10-minute monologue about a baseball. And there would be an audience for it...
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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