The Beatles disembark at Kennedy Airport. (Library of Congress)
If there never was a baseball game played at Shea Stadium, she might stand if only to memorialize this night. On August 15, 1965, some 55,600 Beatlemaniacs squinted toward the diamond to glimpse John, Paul, George, and Ringo -- the pop music equivalent of a Seaver-Satchel-Clemens-Buerhle rotation (sorry, Ringo.) First song: "Twist and Shout," though ecstatic twisting and ear-piercing shouting made something of a dumbshow out of the Liverpool lads -- not least to the musicians themselves, who couldn't hear a thing. But in the madness lay the message. It was the highest-attendance pop music event ever tried, and a watershed event both for the industry and for youth as a cultural force. On a personal note, my old man claims to have watched the Beatles hop down from their helicopter and walk across Flushing Meadow. I believe that he believes this -- and we'll leave it at that.
- Happy birthday to 32-year-old Oliver Perez! Met fans will long remember Ollie for his roster-busting contract, his riotous command, his doe-eyed mental derangement, and his theater-of-the-absurd last game. But when all is said and done, who beside Bernie Madoff has trolled the Wilpons more capably?
- 66 years ago, a woman went into labor while tuned to a popular radio program, and emerged from her exhausted stupor to ask after its star -- "How's Duffy?" Donald R. Dyer had gained a nickname. The backup catcher received for both the Miracle Mets of '69 (29 games) and the improbable pennant winners of '73 (70 games) in his seven year Met career, hitting just enough to scatter the flies.
- In 1967, the new Met Tommie Reynolds (turns 71) played left field, right field, center field, third base, and -- for one game -- catcher; a total of 101 games, in which he was about 46% as good as an average hitter. Reynolds was born near Homer, Louisiana; notable resident: Larry G. Sale, the bodyguard standing by when Huey Long was assassinated.
- The late Nino Espinosa (would be 59) had a great afro, a great name, and a superior nickname: "Bananas." What he lacked were strong peripherals and a halfway decent team to play on. Nino pitched for the Mets from 1974-78, managing a 109 ERA+ in 1977; the following offseason he was packaged to the Phillies. Tragically, Espinosa died of a heart attack at age 34.
Game of Note
I remain in the tank for Jose Reyes, and his Met-era memory is still my favorite recent recent player. On August 15, 2006, my man homered twice from the right side off Philadelphia's Randy Wolf, and turned around to smash his third home run out of the left hand of Brian Sanches. Reyes's trot around the bags, though I don't particularly remember it, was surely a tonic for the soul. Unfortunately, Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez made his own grab at the headlines that night, letting up a franchise-record 11 runs in four innings as the Mets were thumped by the Phillies, 11-4.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
On August 15, 1040, King Duncan I of Scotland was murdered by the Thane of Cawdor -- a bloke called Macbeth. On the very same date, 1057, he got his when Burnham Wood came to Dunsinane. Finally, in 2011, the Scott's sometimes impersonator oversaw a battle at Citi Field when the Royal Shakespeare Company peeked in our national game. "Baseball is like our own game of rounders, but with big boys, right?" remarked Goneril, as ever sewing discord. But when Jose Reyes wrangled a hot-shot turned double-play, the thespians leaped to their feet. "Now that's exciting theater!"