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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Shakespeare, Mom, and the World Series

In 1948, my Nana and my mother, then a young lady, were on their way, by train, from Brooklyn to visit relatives in Chicago. They stopped for a train change in Cleveland. A porter approached, offering to carry their bags. "What do you think of the Indians," he asked my mother. "You have Indians in Cleveland?" she innocently asked, surprised. In disgust, the porter put down their bags and walked away.

The Cleveland (baseball) Indians would go on to win the World Series that year, defeating the Boston Braves. It would be, in fact, the last season in which Cleveland would win the World Series (until?).

On whether they or their opponent, the Chicago Cubs —last winners of a World Series over a century ago, in 1908, long suffering under a caprine curse— win this October, I take no public stance. My beloved Washington Nationals were, after all, swatted away in the post-season (1924 being the last time they, in an earlier iteration, won the world championship).

And yet, I will watch and root against history. And I will take note that today, Game 1 of the 112th Fall Classic, falls on St. Crispin Day (outfielder Coco Crisp, notwithstanding), a feastday for which William Shakespeare —possibly with the ghost-writing assistance of Christopher Marlowe— penned what might be the ultimate pep talk ... if not originally for a baseball game.


This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in America [my apology, Mr. Shakespeare] now a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

October can be the loveliest month. Angst and joy, but (hopefully) no bloodshed. Talk beer, tomorrow. Play ball, tonight.

-----more-----
  • The video clip is from Act IV Scene 3 of Shakepeare's play Henry V, as performed (and directed) by Kennth Branaugh in the 1989 film, Henry V. Lawrence Olivier's earlier 1944 film is considered by many the cinematic sine qua non of the play.
  • UPDATE: The Cleveland Indians won Game 1, 6-0.

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