Modern art is a little tougher. I have gotten away with "a brilliant landscape by Mele, done almost entirely in burnt umber muted with peanut oil." Peanut oil turns attention away from Sam, a good outfielder and an unlucky manager. But again I almost came a cropper when I mentioned several abstractions by Edward Kranepool. I had forgotten that the Mets have become a cult almost as much as Jackson Pollock has and that the oddest people are aware that Ed Kranepool is their bonus-baby first baseman. I was much safer with a contemporary Italian sculptor named Antonelli (John pitched the New York Giants to a pennant in 1954) and in describing a humorous though rather satirical series of collages by Pappas (Milt of the Baltimore Orioles).
Music is fairly easy. I wasn't at all worried when I tossed in Schoendienst's Composition for Cello and Calliope, which I described as an experiment in dissonant harmonics. I had a little trouble getting out of the dissonant harmonic swamp, but none of my pursuers apparently had ever heard of Red, the incomparable second baseman. A Radatz symphony slipped by easily, at just about the time Dick was breaking the old American League record for appearances by a relief pitcher, and I felt so sure of myself when I got to talking about the Jimmy De Shong-Russ Van Atta musicals of the early 1930s that I had some of my listeners remembering the titles of their songs. None, however, remembered that De Shong and Van Atta had been American League pitchers from 1933 to 1939.
I have seldom needed to refer to literature, but I am ready. I want to cite some of the rare first editions I could lay my hands on if only I had the money—a copy of Pinson's Poems (Vada, of the Cincinnati Reds) and a wonderful leather-bound edition of Walberg's Life Of George Earnshaw. Earnshaw was a pretty famous pitcher in his day, the second man on the Athletics' staff after Lefty Grove, and I just might have trouble sneaking him by. But I doubt that any of the critics will know that Walberg, the redoubtable Rube, was the third man behind Grove and Earnshaw, and perhaps the juxtaposition of names will throw them off. If so, then I plan to praise the Modern Library for reprinting the Max Bishop translation of Louis Chiozza's short stories. Max was the second baseman who played behind Grove, Earnshaw and Walberg (their locker room was the Mermaid Tavern, as far as I'm concerned), and Lou Chiozza was a third baseman for the Giants who is best remembered for breaking his leg in the middle of the 1939 season.
I don't know how far I will push this. I have Orengo (Joe) on tap if we ever get onto Mexican painters and Heintzelman (Ken) for German composers. Any day now I plan to get the conversation around to Norwegian literature just so I can mention an obscure but profoundly influential 19th century novelist named Arndt Jorgens (who otherwise was only a second-string catcher on pennant-winning Yankee teams in the '30s).
And if I do that I will reward myself by saying to a passing waiter, who will be proffering a tray of drinks, "No, thanks. I'm a little tired of gin and tonic. Would you ask the bartender if he could make me a branch rickey?"