Blog Entry

The Yankees, the Mick, Paul Simon and DiMaggio

Posted on: May 2, 2011 4:49 pm
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Where have you gone, Mickey Mantle?

Doesn't have the quite the same ring as Joe DiMaggio, does it?

Yet the interesting thing about Paul Simon's classic song, Mrs. Robinson, is that the singer's favorite player was Mantle.

Catching up on some reading over the weekend, I came across Nicholas Dawidoff's excellent feature on Simon in Rolling Stone magazine and found a very entertaining anecdote about Simon, his love for baseball and the classic song from The Graduate.

Here it is, from Dawidoff, the author and former Sports Illustrated writer, who obviously spent much time with Simon while reporting the story:

"Near the entrance to Simon's office, there are several framed pictures of baseball players, among them Jackie Robinson, the Negro Leagues star Buck O'Neil, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio and a fleet of other New York Yankees.

"I like baseball," he says. "Probably my favorite thing. When it comes to the end of life, I'll say it was baseball and music. That'll be it."

What Simon savors most about the sport is line drive.

"That feeling of the ball hitting the bat so perfectly, you don't feel it," he says. "It's like writing a great line. You don't even feel it. You think, Ahhh! It's perfectly concise. Anybody who has not experienced it can't understand."

His favorite player was Mantle, who, when he met Simon, wanted to know why, if that was the case, DiMaggio was the one Simon had immortalized in song. Simon explained about syllables, how it helps when they glide along for awhile. When Simon encountered DiMaggio in an Italian restaurant, the Yankee Clipper also had questions:

"What does that mean -- Where have you gone?"

He let Simon know he hadn't gone anywhere. He was doing ads for Mr. Coffee. Simon told DiMaggio about the potency of vanishing heroes. As for the line itself, how it came to him at age 26, all Simon has ever been able to say is, "I don't know where it came from, but all of a sudden it was there."

You can read the entire Simon piece at RollingStone.com by gaining access to their digital archive here. It's great stuff. Simon's new CD, So Beautiful or So What, is getting rave reviews.

Likes: If you haven't read it yet, Jane Leavy's biography of Mickey Mantle, The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood, is the best thing I've read on one of America's icons. Very well done. ... Great day to be an American, today. Not just knocking off Osama bin Laden, but to do so in such breathtaking manner, with such a clean hit and no American injuries ... bravo, troops.

Dislikes: Aw, Simon should have been on the cover of Rolling Stone, not that goofy Steven Tyler.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?
"Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you
"What's that you say, Mrs. Robinson?
"Joltin' Joe has left and gone away
"Hey hey hey"

-- Paul Simon, Mrs. Robinson

 

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Comments

Since: Aug 16, 2010
Posted on: May 2, 2011 11:56 pm
 

The Yankees, the Mick, Paul Simon and DiMaggio

Very well put       I remember when Pete Rose hit 40 all the talk was Joe DiMaggio and would the 56 go down well it really wasn't close to 56 when it ended at 44. He was brought up again when Jimmy Rollins made it to 38 and Chase Utley the same year made it to 35 but again that was it. Hitting in 56 consecutive games is a record I just can't see anyone breaking. But like it has been said records are made to be broken so I really shouldn't say never. But when Rose hit that 40 mark everyone thought that DiMaggio's record would fall. It was big real big back in the late 70's and everyday the baseball world was watching to see if Rose had a hit that day. But the whoopla was over when he didn't reach 45. When I was young I would always talk Mantle, Mays, Carew, Aaron, Yastrzemski and Kaline but my dad would always say they couldn't hold a candle to Joe DiMaggio or Ted Williams. He always said up to his last days they were the greatest hitters to play the game.



Since: Jul 23, 2008
Posted on: May 2, 2011 5:37 pm
 

The Yankees, the Mick, Paul Simon and DiMaggio

The song is a great example of how baseball is intertwined with the fabric of American culture, specifially popular music.  Paul Simon did not immortalize Joe DiMaggio by wriiting his name into the song Mrs Robinson.  Joe D was already immortalized as an American legend and hero.  Now and in the future whenever a baseball players has a hitting streak of any significance (currently Ethier's 27 game streak) people will bring up Joe DiMaggio's 56.

I think of 27 games and I can't imagine 56!  If Ethier's streak ends tonight then so be it.  It was nice while it lasted and it got me to think about Joltin' Joe!  I wish we can leave the statistics behind and focus on the game being played.  Joe DiMaggio was incredible!  He hit very well.  So well that he got at least one hit in 56 straight games.  That's impressive.  56 is a number but it means 56 GAMES!  He contributed to his team's success by performing very well at the plate for a good portion of the season.  He did something no one else ever did and no one has accomplished since then.

If Ethier can get a hit tonight he will be halfway to 56 and maybe someone will mention him in a song.  The song may not become a hit but the hit will still count.


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