The All-Star Game. Lots of sports have one. Only one is The All-Star Game. The Midsummer Classic. The only one a President of the United States would bother calling, even if just for an inning. But that was a long time ago. Before it was just another interleague game. After gambling but before steroids. When baseball wore stirrup socks and looked distinctive. Before everyone looked like slobs and baseball decided to follow suit. When Home Run Derby was Mark Scott’s, not Chris Berman’s. When the Midsummer Classic was classic. When we didn’t have to be reminded that it counted.
The All-Star Game isn’t what it was. But it’s still something. And it’s a chance to remember when it was more. So I’m listening to André Previn and Russ Freeman’s 1957 jazz album Double Play! Williams, Aaron, Mays, Mantle, Musial—they were all All-Stars in 1957. Baseball deserved a celebration. And it got one.
Previn and Freeman were all-time greats, too. Don’t forget Shelly Manne on the drums. The music was sweet and sophisticated. Baseball wasn’t the only thing that was better then. It was a time when cool meant being a grown man, not a perpetual adolescent. It was the kind of music you could snap your fingers to, or maybe swirl your lady around. But you wouldn’t thrash like you were having a seizure with your pants legs pooling around your ankles and flip-flops.
No, you got better than that from baseball and music. And if you had a lady, she deserved better out of you. Because what you got from her was pretty damn good. It was a time when subtlety was still appreciated. ”If you’ve got it, flaunt it,” was a comedy tune—not a how-to manual. Men could appreciate feminine charm and women could still show it.
And that’s why I listen to Double Play! It’s a lost relic of a bygone era. Of pure pleasures that aren’t easy to find anymore. It’s from a time when baseball wasn’t hopelessly cluttered with gimmicks. When the All-Star Game celebrated the best ever. When music had style. When men weren’t girls and women weren’t boys. A worthy celebration of a worthy era.