May 18th Should Be a National Holiday

Reggie Jackson is 70 today.

Named the World Series MVP in 1973 and 1977, Jackson’s star seemed to shine its brightest on baseball’s grandest stage. In five World Series, Jackson hit 10 home runs and 24 RBI while batting .357, nearly 100 points higher than his career average. His most memorable moment in the Fall Classic came in Game 6 of the 1977 series when Reggie hit three home runs on three pitches, earning the nickname “Mr. October”. Dodgers first baseman Steve Garvey later said “I must admit, when Reggie hit his third home run and I was sure nobody was looking, I applauded in my glove”.

National Baseball Hall of Fame

Brooks Robinson is 79.

Robinson began his career with the Baltimore Orioles, the only team he ever played for, in 1955, and for 23 years dazzled fans on the field with his glove. Off the field, he was humble and gracious. Joe Falls of The Detroit News pondered “How many interviews, how many questions — how many times you approached him and got only courtesy and decency in return. A true gentleman who never took himself seriously. I always had the idea he didn’t know he was Brooks Robinson.”

In total, the 18-time All-Star and winner of a record 16 consecutive Gold Glove Awards led the Orioles to six post-seasons including two World Series Championships.

National Baseball Hall of Fame

Frank Capra was born in Bisaquino, Sicily, on May 18th in 1897.

He was the first to win three directorial Oscars — for “It Happened One Night” (1934), “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town” (1936) and “You Can’t Take It With You” (1938). The motion picture academy also voted the first and third movies the best of the year.

Capra movies were idealistic, sentimental and patriotic. His major films embodied his flair for improvisation and spontaneity, buoyant humor and sympathy for the populist beliefs of the 1930’s.

Generations of moviegoers and television viewers have reveled in the hitch-hiking antics of Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in “It Happened One Night;” in Gary Cooper’s whimsical self-defense of Longfellow Deeds at a hilarious sanity hearing in “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town;” in the impassioned filibuster by James Stewart as an incorruptible Senator in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” in Mr. Cooper’s battle to prevent a power-crazed industrialist from taking dictatorial control of the country in “Meet John Doe,” and in Mr. Stewart’s salvation by a guardian angel in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

The New York Times

And Tina Fey is 46 today.

Prayer

Many films diminish us. They cheapen us, masturbate our senses, hammer us with shabby thrills, diminish the value of life. Some few films evoke the wonderment of life’s experience, and those I consider a form of prayer. Not prayer “to” anyone or anything, but prayer “about” everyone and everything. I believe prayer that makes requests is pointless. What will be, will be. But I value the kind of prayer when you stand at the edge of the sea, or beneath a tree, or smell a flower, or love someone, or do a good thing. Those prayers validate existence and snatch it away from meaningless routine.

Roger Ebert in review of Tree of Life five years ago.

May 17th

Horace E. Dodge was born on May 17th in 1868; he should have been built Ford-tough, he died at age 52. With his brother John, the Dodge Brothers supplied early automakers with engines, including Henry Ford and Ransom E. Olds. In 1914, they began building their own vehicles, with a much more modern design. Ford bought out the Dodges, who were partners in the Ford Motor Company, for $25 million. John died in January 1920; Horace in December. Their widows sold the company in 1925 for $146 million; Walter Chrysler bought it in 1928 for $170 million.

Jane Parker (Tarzan’s Jane) and Mia Farrow’s mom was born on this date in 1911. That’s actress Maureen O’Sullivan.

The New York Stock Exchange was founded on what is now Wall Street on May 17th in 1792.

May 5th Should Be a National Holiday

New York World photo to promote Bly's around-the-world voyage.
New York World photo to promote Bly’s around-the-world voyage.

Nellie Bly was born on May 5th in 1864.

Nellie Bly was born Elizabeth Jane Cochran in 1864. In the 1880s and 1890s, as a reporter for Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World, she was a pioneer in investigative reporting. Before the “muckrakers” of the early 20th century publicized corruption and today’s investigative reporters sought the ‘story behind the story,” Bly was one of the first to “go behind the scenes” to expose the ills of society. At considerable personal risk, she had herself committed to a mental institution so she could study first-hand how the mentally ill were treated. As a result of her “expose,” the care of the mentally ill was reformed. The New York Journal recognized her as the “best reporter in America.”

National Women’s Hall of Fame

She went down into the sea in a diving bell and up in the air in a balloon and lived in an insane asylum as a patient; but the feat that made her famous was her trip around the world in 1889. She was sent by The World to beat the mark of Phileas Fogg, Jules Verne’s hero of “Around the World in Eighty Days,” and she succeeded, making the tour in 72 days 6 hours 11 minutes. Every one who read newspapers followed her progress and she landed in New York a national character.

The New York Times