SI Vault
September 26, 1966
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September 26, 1966


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As a matter of fact, if you listen to the sportscasters, the implication is that there already are two separate football games, apparently going on simultaneously. Except for Red Barber, who, for example, gave currency to "the catbird seat" and "rhubarb," and Dizzy Dean, who worked inimitable wonders with the preterit, play-by-play announcers have not notably enriched the English language. But in the past few years they've outdone themselves, solecismwise.

For instance, nowadays there's scarcely one that doesn't say something very much like this in the course of a telecast (the italics are ours): "You'd have to say that those Tigers can still beat these Lions down there, but they'll have to get that football if they're going to do it." The inference is that just beyond camera range—not down there, pal, down there—you'd have to say that these Tigers have no chance at all of beating those Lions because this football....

It's almost enough to make one yearn for Harry Wismer. Almost.


"Al Ferrara mastered Beethoven and Brahms when he was 16," the wire story began, "and now he is finally coming of age as a swinger."

" 'Mastered,' my foot," growls the Los Angeles Dodger outfielder, who looks more like a piano mover than player. When Ferrara gets a key hit, which he has done six times this year, the stories read, "Ferrara, who gave up a promising career as a concert pianist...." It's a hell of a human-interest bit they've got going, so why ruin it with facts?

It is true that every Thursday afternoon for nine years the late Guido Morvillo came to the Ferrara residence on East Second Street in Brooklyn. It is also true that after six years of having his knuckles rapped by Mr. Morvillo's pencil every time he butchered a sonata, Al Ferrara played in Carnegie Hall.

"But they got more than one hall in the place," he says. "This was a little one. Mr. Morvillo had a recital for his students every year and the parents came. He had taught my mother and grandmother, and they wanted me to play, so I said all right. I didn't hate it, but I was like a robot. You wind me up and I play the piano for an hour. Then I run out and play baseball."

The promising career came to a close in 1956, when Ferrara was 16 and Mr. Morvillo's visits began conflicting with the Lafayette High School baseball schedule. "I haven't touched a piano since," says Ferrara.

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