Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Muellers

As reported in the New York Times this morning, the baseball player Don Mueller died Wednesday at 84. This news made me think of two people: Bill Mueller and Don Miller.

First, the scoop on Don Mueller (pronounced Myooler). He's known for delivering a single right before Bobby Thomson hit The Shot Heard Round the World, which led the NY Giants to the pennant in 1951. Mueller, known as "Mandrake the Magician," had a way of directional hitting that made him difficult to retire. In that famous game, he singled past Gil Hodges, later injured himself sliding into third, and was taken off the field.

"Mueller was lying on the clubhouse table when he heard the crowd erupt. 'I couldn't be certain that it wasn't something good for the Dodgers because there were plenty of Brooklyn fans in that park [. . .] There was no radio in the clubhouse. But I knew pretty quickly what had happened once the players started to pour Champagne over my injured ankle."

Bill Mueller (pronounced Miller) meanwhile, is known for delivering a single up the middle for the Red Sox, sending Dave Roberts homeward in Game 4 of the epic 2004 ALCS.

Don Miller (pronounced Miller) is my mother's father. If we were Swedish, he would be known as Morfar--Rob Strong recently gave me this speech: "Your mother's mother is Mormor; your mother's father is Morfar; your father's mother is Farmor; and your father's father is Farfar."

Don Miller was not Swedish, so I called him Grandpadon, which sounds like a really sweet dinosaur.

When Don Mueller hit his single in 1951, my mom was 25 days old and Don Miller was 32 years old. Bill Mueller was 33 years old when he delivered his single. My own Far, Robert, is 60 and once hit a homerun in Hadley, but this might have been a tale he told me when I was little. Little is known about whether he ever had Champagne poured on him. Dave Roberts once pointed at me on Boylston Street after the 2004 World Series while I was reverently shouting his name.

Little is known about whether Don Miller ever singled or homered or drank champagne. He did break his pinky playing basketball in Hadley, leading to an amputation, but this might have been a tale he told me when I was little. And he did like whiskey sours.

He, like me, was color-blind.

John Ruskin was not color-blind. The greatest art critic of the 19th Century, he often studied the work of J.M.W. Turner. My Mor's initials are J.M.W. (Jean Miller [not pronounced myooler] Wanczyk).

Ruskin said this about art:

"Now, I want a definition of art wide enough to include all its varieties of aim. I do not say, therefore, that the art is the greatest which gives most pleasure, because perhaps there is some art whose end is to teach, and not to please. I do not say that the art is greatest which teaches us most, because perhaps there is some art whose end is to please, and not to teach. I do not say that the art is the greatest which imitates best, because perhaps there is some art whose end is to create and not to imitate. But I say that the art is greatest which conveys to the mind of the spectator, by any means whatsoever, the greatest number of the greatest ideas[.]"

By no means are my Mueller/Miller ideas great, but the thing which brings to mind the greatest number of ideas for me is the New York Times. Is it art? Probably not. But it helps me sink into pattern-making of a Saturday morning, and that is my favorite pastime.

So, thanks to my Mor and my Far, who bought me a home delivery subscription to The Grey Lady, I read for awhile this morning, reconsidered my Morfar and my Mueller, and had a way to pleasantly bandy with the one-page of Ruskin I read on the toilet.

No comments: