Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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Sports column

April 8, 2013

Baseball, Broadway are theater in their own way

(Continued)

Forget that Hall was traded to the Cleveland Indians. To Mantegna, once a Cub, always a Cub.

And finally, third baseman Ron Cey dominates the wall in a full-color, personally autographed post.

“Ron Cey was at Macy’s signing posters when the Cubs were in town,” Mantegna said. “Between plays on Wednesday I went over there and got him to sign one for me.”

A Tony Award winner standing in line at Macy’s department store for Ron Cey’s autograph. Perhaps no other way can the connection between baseball and Broadway be so graphically illustrated.

See, this baseball thing and its ties to Broadway isn’t a one-man love affair concerning Mantegna, as I came to find out.

If you go back almost 60 years you find out that Douglass Wallop III, a graduate of the University of Maryland, wrote an innocent little book in 1954 entitled “The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant.”

It became “Damn Yankees” on Broadway and ran for more than three years, winning a Tony Award.

It was the story of Joe Hardy, who sold his soul to the devil so he could play for the Washington Senators and help them beat the New York Yankees.

Beating the Yankees was the dream in 1954, only it turned out to be the Cleveland Indians who did it, ending a string of five consecutive World Championships.

“I’d spent my life, starting as a 5- or 6-year-old in old Griffith Stadium in Washington,” Wallop said. “I can remember going to games in a Boy Scout uniform and getting into the bleachers for a dime. I’m old enough that I saw Walter Johnson pitch his last game and I saw Ty Cobb at the end of his career. I was what you would call a frustrated Senator fan.”

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