August 16, 2012—
Frank Sinatra plays a wide-eyed ballplayer not unlike the Cubs Tony Campana in the 1949 comedy “Take Me Out To The Ball Game.”
He wonders, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be married to a girl who played baseball?”
I wonder, ‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be married to a girl who would go with me to ‘Frank Sinatra Tribute Night’ at the home of the San Francisco Giants?
So, earlier this week I landed alone in my favorite American city to see the Giants host the Washington Nationals at the beautiful AT & T Park.
‘Sinatra Tribute Night’ was Aug. 13 where fans texted and tweeted their favorite Sinatra songs and pictures of Giants players appeared on the scoreboard in crisp suits and old school microphones.
I took a photo of all-star Melky “The Milkman” Cabrera in this get up. Two days later he was suspended 50 games for violaiton of MLB drug policy.
No one texted “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.”
The winning songs were 1.) “Come Fly With Me„” 2.) “My Way,” and 3.) “Fly Me To The Moon.” I kept score and the Giants only flew out twice against the Nat’s ace Gio Gonzalez.
Before the game fans Tweets appeared on the big screen, A couple of them got me misty eyed in the cool evening. Someone remembered that “Summer Wind” was the song played after the final out at the Giants long time home of Candlestick Park, and another couple celebrated the fact that “The Way You Look Tonight” was their wedding song.
No one, however, mentioned the fine 1973 Sinatra ode to Ebbets Field, “There Used To Be a Ballpark.”
Tribute tickets were priced at two tiers.
A ticket in the range of $165 guaranteed you a pre-game dinner, visit with the “Sinatra family,” a walk on the field to special reserved seating and a Sinatra bobblehead. It was a good thing the premium package was sold out when I decided to attend “Frank Sinatra Tribute Night.” Turned out the only family member who showed up was Tina Sinatra.
I wanted to talk Lee Hazlewood with Nancy.
So I settled for a regular upper deck seat (they call them ‘View Boxes’ at A T & T) that set me back $58.75. An $11 surcharge was added on to ensure the bobblehead, with the smiling blue-eyed Chairman leaning on a baseball bat. I’d say it was worth it, but then that’s why I fly solo.
I sat next to some bikers from Oakland who were huge Raiders fans and a guy who actually thought Ryan Theriot was a good player. The Giants lost 14-2, thanks to a couple of bobbles from the former Cubs second baseman.
The night began on the wrong foot, literally, where Tina Sinatra had no clue where she was supposed to go to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
She actually thought she was supposed to throw the ball from home plate.
I have been to thousands of baseball games and I have never seen that. Dad wouldn’t be so proud.
Mr. S. had deep ties with baseball, moreso than Tony “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” Bennett.
He was born in Hoboken, N.J., which many people say is the real birthplace of baseball.
Sinatra played second base in a late 1940s Hollywood softball team he formed called The Swooners that included songwriters Jule Style and Sammy Cahn and actor Anthony Quinn. Ex-Yankees Joe Di Maggio and Joe Pepitone were friends and “The Theme from New York, New York” is still played after every New York victory at Yankee Stadium.
Former New York Giants manager Leo Durocher was a tight friend of Sinatra’s and was one of the pallbearers at the funeral of Sinatra’s mother. In last year’s “Willie Mays, The Life The Legend,”: by James Hirsch, the author recounts how Sinatra had Mays;’ back after Mays got into a racial dust-up in a Vegas casino. Sinatra apologized and told the Say-Hey Kid, “If I played baseball like you, I’d be the happiest guy in the world.”
In Bill Zehme’s acclaimed book “The Way You Wear Your Hat,” Zehme told, in Sinatra’s own words, of the night Bing Crosby and boxer Jack Dempsey strolled into the iconic Toots Shor in New York. Sinatra was having a “few touches” (love that verb) when Babe Ruth appeared out of nowhere.
“When Babe Ruth walked in I damned near wet my pants,” Sinatra told Zehme. “Because I’d never met him before. I knew Dempsey and I certainly knew Bing—but Ruth!…As we walked through the room, everyone in the entire place stood up and applauded. I mean, they just stood and cheered and hollered because the four of us walked into the room at the same time. It’s something I will never, never, never forget for as long as I breathe.”
Frank Sinatra. Babe Ruth. Jack Dempsey. Bing Crosby.
Can you think of any celebrity firepower like that today? Just sayin’. (For more on Sinatra and baseball link to Frank Sinatra.com.
On Sunday night I warmed up by eating at Sodini’s Green Valley Restaurant, 510 Green St., one of my favorite Italian joints in North Beach. The 100-year-old restaurant is filled with Sinatra memorabalia, a sassy waitstaff and colorful characters, not unlike LaScarola, my favorite restaurant in Chicago.
I flew home the day after the Sinatra Tribute game, a carry-on filled with calypso, weird Stonewall Jackson LPs and Christmas vinyl from Amoeba Records and a stylin’ blue eyed bobblehead.
The trip may have been “Something Stupid” but it sure was fun.