It’s Spring-like Here

… and my mind turns to spiritual things.

“I believe in the Church of Baseball. I’ve tried all the major religions, and most of the minor ones. I’ve worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I heard that, I gave Jesus a chance….”

Annie Savoy

Pitchers and catchers begin reporting in two weeks.

The 26th of January

Cartoonist Jules Feiffer is 88 today.

Bob Uecker is 82. Uecker received the Baseball Hall of Fame Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters in 2003.

College of William and Mary alum Scott Glenn is 76 today.

Activist and author Angela Davis is 73.

Lucinda Williams is 64.

Ellen DeGeneres is 59.

Wayne Gretzky, the Great One, is 56. Gretsky’s number, 99, was retired by the league.

Paul Newman was born 92 years ago today (1925). Newman was nominated for the Best Actor in a Leading Role Oscar eight times, winning for The Color of Money in 1986, but not for Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, The Hustler, Hud, Cool Hand Luke, Absence of Malice, The Verdict, or Nobody’s Fool. He was also nominated for the Best Supporting Actor for Road to Perdition at age 78.

Akio Morita was born on January 26th in 1921. He was a co-founder of Sony.

Jimmy Van Heusen was born 104 years ago today. He won four Oscars for best song: with lyricist Johnny Burke, “Swinging on a Star” and with lyricist Sammy Cahn, “All the Way,” “High Hopes” and “Call Me Irresponsible.”

Maria Augusta Kutschera was born on this date in 1905. In 1927 she married George Ludwig von Trapp. Documentation indicates she was in her six month when they married. I don’t remember that part in the movie. (In addition to his seven children, they had three.)

The most overrated — especially by himself — person in American history was born on this date in 1880. That’s Douglas MacArthur.

Julia Morgan was born in San Francisco on January 26, 1872.

Miss Morgan was one of the first women to graduate from University of California at Berkeley with a degree in civil engineering. During her tenure at Berkeley, Morgan developed a keen interest in architecture which is thought to have been fostered by her mother’s cousin, Pierre Le Brun, who designed the Metropolitan Life Insurance Tower in New York City. At Berkeley one of her instructors, Bernard Maybeck, encouraged her to pursue her architectural studies in Paris at the Ecole Nationale et Speciale des Beaux-Arts.

Arriving in Paris in 1896, she was initially refused admission because the Ecole had never before admitted a woman. After a two-year wait, Julia Morgan gained entrance to the prestigious program and became the first woman to receive a certificate in architecture. While in Paris, Morgan also found a mentor in her professor, Bernard Chaussemiche, for whom she worked as a drafter.

Soon after her graduation from the Ecole, Julia Morgan returned to her native San Francisco and began working for architect John Galen Howard. At the time Howard was the supervising architect of the University of California’s Master Plan, the commission of which he won by default from Phoebe Apperson Hearst. Morgan worked on the Master Plan drawing the elevations and designing the decorative details for the Mining Building built in memory of George Hearst. During this time Morgan also designed the Hearst Greek Theater on the Berkeley campus.

Over the course of the next 28 years, Morgan supervised nearly every aspect of construction at Hearst Castle including the purchase of everything from Spanish antiquities to Icelandic Moss to reindeer for the Castle’s zoo. She personally designed most of the structures, grounds, pools, animal shelters and workers’ camp down to the minutest detail. Additionally, Morgan worked closely with Hearst to integrate his vast art collection into the structures and grounds at San Simeon. She also worked on projects for Hearst’s other properties including Jolon, Wyntoon, Babicore, the “Hopi” residence at the Grand Canyon, the Phoebe Apperson Hearst Memorial Gymnasium at Berkeley, the Los Angeles Examiner Building, several of his Beverly Hills residences and Marion Davies’ beach house in Santa Monica.

Hearst Castle

Take a look.

57 years ago today Danny Heater scored 135 points for Burnsville (West Virginia) High School (against Widen HS). It is still the record by one player in any sanctioned game at any level. He had 50 at the half. He was 53 for 70 from the field (all two pointers, of course) and 29 of 41 from the line. He also had 32 rebounds and 7 assists. He was just 6-feet-0.

Lehman Caves National Monument (Nevada)

… was proclaimed on this date in 1922. It was made part of Great Basin National Park in 1986.

Lehman Caves attracts tens of thousands of visitors to eastern Nevada yearly, a trend that began not long after their discovery in the late 1880s. For over 60 years, Lehman Caves National Monument protected these underground wonders, with their unique geology and ecology. And today, they remain protected as part of Great Basin National Park.

The human history of Lehman Caves is both interesting and insightful. The discovery of such a natural wonder only 130 years ago is thrilling, while the abuse the cave endured during its early years causes many people to cringe. Learning about the early years of Lehman Caves provides context for the cave today. History remains the great teacher.

Great Basin National Park

Gold

… was discovered by James W. Marshall on the property of Johann Sutter near Coloma, California, 169 years ago today (1848). By the end of the year the rush was on and nearly 100,000 people arrived in California in 1849.

But these days, as The Gatlin Brothers sang —

All the gold in California
Is in a bank in the middle of Beverly Hills
In somebody else’s name