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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 5/18/20

Good morning!



A couple of weeks ago I shared the link to the Burdick collection of baseball cards at the Met in New York. I received a couple of emails about baseball memories, mostly about remembering going to games with parents or children. This one, edited a bit, really hit home:

"As for many kids of our generation, while we certainly had football and basketball—and hockey--baseball was indeed the “National Pastime.” For me (and many others), it was the sport that fostered a bond between my dad and me. When I was seven, my dad bought me my first baseball book, “Great Hitters of the Major Leagues.” Shortly after that, he took me to my first Dodger game. (For those of you scoring at home, it was “Don Drysdale Night” versus the Phillies.) I have my ticket stub from that game—and EVERY ticket stub from every sporting, musical, theatrical, and special event I ever attended in my life. I did this was because my dad told me to save every stub because it was a “built-in” souvenir! He suggested I write on the back of each ticket stub something about the game/event, such as the score, who I went with, etc. which I faithfully did on many of them."

So here’s a confession…I also kept every ticket stub from every baseball game, sporting event, play, musical, and museum—for a long time. My mother said these were “physical memories.” A while back, I relieved myself of the ticket stubs, but I still have a few programs from some of the “big” games and guidebooks from a number of places we visited. You can’t expect a packrat to get rid of everything…



When I was a young lawyer, I had the opportunity to invest in the video autobiography of Mickey Mantle. You can guess that this investment wasn’t the best financial decision—the entire investment was lost; although the video occasionally is replayed on “The American Experience” on PBS. The primary song on the soundtrack is Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman,” for reasons that escape me.

As a consolation prize for the film’s financial failure, I received a copy of the video, a t-shirt and an autographed ball. More importantly, I was invited to Oakland to watch the A’s play the Yankees and attend a post-game party with both teams and the Mick. Because I was allowed to bring a guest, I brought my father.

We flew up to the game, shared an airport shuttle with Bob Costas (who apparently had the same misguided financial acumen), and went to the game and the party that followed. Most of the players from that night’s game (Yankees vs. A’s) were there. Those who remember my father know that he was quite the raconteur. He could talk with anybody. So he walks right up to the Mick and they start chatting away, talking about the old days in the Bronx. My father was beaming and Mangle was laughing out loud. At the end of the conversation, Mickey says to my father, “Hey Doc, if you have something you want me to sign, I’d be happy to oblige.”

My father reaches into his pocket and pulls out his business card: “B. William Sonnenberg, M.D., Pediatrics.” He looked the Mick in the eye and, without missing a beat he says “I’ll bet this is the first time someone asked you to sign their card.”

With those words, that night, with my father and Mantle after the game, I realized this had been a great investment.



Great songs take on lives of their own. They begin in one form and take on different forms, moods and interpretations over the years, as they are covered by different artists in different contexts. James Schreier sent me a version of “Putting on the Ritz,” by Irving Berlin. That got me thinking about other versions I’ve heard over the years.

Here is the “flash mob” version Jim sent me, from an outdoor wedding in Moscow::

As I watched this, I was reminded of all the great versions of this song. This is the original movie version, with Harry Richman, from 1930:

And here’s Herb Alpert’s cover (check out the bartender and the bus driver):

But the best cover EVER is beloved by fans of Irving Berlin, Mel Brooks, and Gene Wilder. Wilder is Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, with his monster, Peter Boyle, “Putting on the Ritz” in Young Frankenstein:. It’s great:



Last week I asked which two athletes wearing number 32 were on my bedroom wall when I was a teenager. Jim Brown would have been a good guess, but he was long retired. Dave Winfield would have been a good guess as well. Magic Johnson had not yet begun his career; so a great number 32 but too soon.

The two players on my wall were Sandy Koufax and O.J. Simpson (who at the time was as wholesome as they come—times change…).

I will never forget the 1963 World Series. My father went to a game with one of his partners. He brought me a program and a picture of Sandy Koufax, both of which I have today. I was delighted my father went to the game and delighted that he brought me souvenirs but, for the life of me I couldn’t fully grasp why grown men would go to a ball game without boys…

Next quiz question: Only one starting rotation boasted four 20-game winners (back in the day when one only needed four starters). Can you name the team? The decade? The four pitchers?

Warm regards to all,


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