The Electric Slugger

indexWhat do the symphony and baseball have to do with one another? Apparently, a lot. Glenn Donnellan is a violinist with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. He is also the inventor of the “Electric Slugger,” which is kind of a violin made from a baseball bat. Last night he played the National Anthem on it at Nationals Park.

Here’s a clip of him performing the Anthem at Camden Yards in 2011:

Here he is at Nats Park a few years ago discussing his unique musical instrument:


This is so amazingly cool. Just another example of how baseball, music, and art influence one another…

Happy Friday!

~ baseballrebecca

The Babe in Art

  The other day I walked past the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, and was surprised to see a familiar face staring back at me. Right outside the museum was a poster featuring Babe Ruth. It was an announcement for a recently opened exhibit. Naturally, I had to go inside and check it out. 

The exhibit, One Life: Babe Ruth, depicts several points in Ruth’s life through several images, including photographs, videos, caricatures, and drawings. The coolest part is that the entire exhibit is in both English and Spanish. I’m pretty sure the Babe would love it. 

The exhibit runs through May 21, 2017, so there’s plenty of time to get to DC and check it out. 

~ baseballrebecca



Bernie Gives Back

Bernie-Williams-350x260Today at the White House, First Lady Michelle Obama will be treated to a talent show featuring students and mentors from the Turnaround Arts program. Among others, the program will feature recent music school graduate and former New York Yankees star, Bernie Williams.

Turnaround Arts is a program of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. The purpose of the program is to transform struggling schools “through the strategic use of the arts.” According to the program’s website, “Turnaround Arts brings arts education programs and supplies to a group of the lowest-performing elementary and middle schools in the country. These resources help schools improve attendance, parent engagement, student motivation, and academic achievement.”

Now that he’s a college graduate, Bernie will be serving as an ambassador for the Turnaround Arts program and will be working with Jettie S. Tisdale School in Bridgeport, CT. In conjunction with his visit to the White House, he will be visiting members of Congress to discuss the Turnabout Program.

This may not necessarily be a case of where baseball and politics work together, but it is definitely a case of a baseball player sharing his other passion – music – for the good of the community.

~ baseballrebecca

“God Bless Baseball”

mapOn Saturday night, group of friends and I braved the almost single-digit temperatures in the D.C.-area to see the play, “God Bless Baseball,” by Toshiki Okada. Naturally, the title alone intrigued me. But the play turned out to be seriously deep. Basically, it’s about Japan and Korea, their relationship to each other, as well as their relationship with the U.S. All told through the lens of baseball. The play is presented in Japanese and Korean with English subtitles. It starts out with a man teaching two women about baseball. At one point an Ichiro impersonator is added to the mix. A far off voice speaks to them.

And then it gets seriously weird. But fascinating at the same time. According to one summary, the play “addresses the current social and political climates of Japan and South Korea, where baseball is deeply rooted in popular culture. Through an episodic narrative and incorporating Okada’s distinctive style of hyper-colloquial speech and subtly choreographed commonplace gestures, God Bless Baseball unearths images, conflicts and personal and national memories related to the sport, while offering a humorous yet cynical allegory depicted by the naïve adoration that two brothers (personifications of Korea and Japan) have for their parent (America).” Talk about your Baseball Sociology!

After performances in New York; Chicago; Philadelphia; Columbus, OH; and College Park, MD, the show is now off to Taiwan. For now, I’ll just leave you with a clip from the Japan Society of New York, one of the play’s sponsors.


~ baseballrebecca


Baseball as Art

The Smithsonian Institution is fascinated with baseball.  It’s quite understandable.  Many of us are as well.  Baseball is, after all, the National Pastime.  The Smithsonian Magazine has covered the subject of baseball extensively.  The museums themselves have had several baseball exhibits, including a traveling and online exhibit on Roberto Clemente.

The other day I went to the National Portrait Gallery.  I wasn’t expecting to see anything baseball-related, but I was pleasantly surprised.  On the third floor mezzanine, the museum has an exhibit on sports champions.  It has photographs, paintings, and sculptures of not only baseball greats but other famous athletes as well.  My favorite, of course, was the Yogi Berra sculpture.  Yogi always makes me smile.

The exhibit was sorely lacking in one thing – anything Cal Ripken-related.  They are going to have to do something about that!

~ baseballrebecca

Teaching Baseball

Believe it or not, there are actually some people out there who don’t love baseball.  Weird, right?  I mean it’s the national pastime!  Aren’t there laws about that?

Don’t get me wrong – its always an honor to take some one to their first ballgame and teach them the game (and I seem to do that a lot).  Just this past week, I took my niece to a Bowie Baysox game.  We’ve been to other games together in the past, including our family outing to see the Miami Marlins in June.  I truly enjoyed answering her questions about the game and, of course, the sociological implications of baseball, but she said that two games in one summer was the most she’d ever been to.

Clearly I need to hang out with this girl more.

Or maybe we just need more baseball education.  There are a few colleges and universities out there that teach baseball history.  In fact, it was a discussion at this year’s Society of American Baseball Research (SABR) National Convention.  Several folks have come up with baseball-themed lesson plans.  Here are a few I found just by Googling “Baseball in the Classroom:”

There are actually a lot of baseball-related educational materials out there – from elementary school to college levels.  In fact, there’s a great book on the subject: Baseball in the Classroom: Essays on Teaching the National Pastime, which has several examples of baseball-themed classroom materials for subjects from history to business.

Of course, I’m biased.  But I think we can learn a lot about baseball – everything from statistics to race relations, art, and, naturally, sociology.  So, take someone to a baseball game today and teach them about the national pastime, U.S. society, and maybe even statistics!

~ baseballrebecca