Saturday, September 6, 2014

Roger Dean Stadium/West Palm Beach to Jacksonville: Spring Training Part 3

This is part of a multi-part post: West Palm Beach to Jacksonville Spring Training 
A short 12 mile drive up Interstate 95 North takes us to Jupiter, Florida. Jupiter is an important stop on the Spring Training highway as the home of Roger Dean Stadium. Jupiter is an affluent suburban beach community that also features boating, swimming, a historical park, excellent golfing, a sandy beach, a lighthouse and a River inlet.

Driving To Jupiter

As we motor North, it would be wise of us to use caution. This report from WPBF News points out that Interstate 95 in Florida is one the most dangerous stretches of highway in the US.

Here is the map of the day's short drive.

BigRig Travels posted a dashcam view of the drive.

Roger Dean Stadium

The reason we have stopped in Jupiter is to visit Roger Dean Stadium. It is a busy ballpark! It was built in 1998 and for most of the year it holds the distinguishing record of being the home park for 4 different minor league teams: Class A-Advanced Baseball Florida State League's Jupiter Hammerheads and Palm Beach Cardinals as well as the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League's  Gulf Coast Marlins and Gulf Coast Cardinals all call Roger Dean Stadium home.

roger dean stadium (Flickr User Jennifer Griggs/CC)
Before summer, when the Minor Leagues come in to rule the parks, in February and March, two Major League Baseball teams call Roger Dean Stadium home: the St. Louis Cardinals and the the Miami Marlins. The park features an berm around the outfield that fans can use as a sort of picnic lawn to watch games at a bargain admission price.It is a popular place for fans to enjoy a spring game.

Roger Dean Stadium Panorama (Flickr User Brian & Jaclyn Drum/CC)

This playlist has 2 videos of Roger Dean Stadium, a guidebook style clip as well as families recollections of going to berm games to watch the Cardinals play. Thanks to  YCTV Destination Videos and RogerDeanStadiumTV for posting these clips.

Playlist Additions

The music this week will focus on two themes: Car Crashes and Baseball Songs, with three songs on each topic.

Car crashes are on the mind following the disturbing news that the stretch of Interstate 95 was the most dangerous highway in America. One of the stranger car crash songs that had a moderate amount of success in the days of New Wave was Warm Leatherette by The Normal. Its a song of erotic attachment to car crashes. Based on a 1973 novel by J.G Ballard, Crash, about a group of fetishists who are aroused by staging real and fake auto crashes. Warm Leatherette  was an early entrant into the genre of electronica and its influence cast a wide shadow in the development of the electronic and industrial genres.

Crawling From The Wreckage by Dave Edmunds is a song that might have followed Warm Leatherette on a late 70's early 80's New Wave radio station. Not as cerebral or dark as Warm Leatherette, Dave Edmunds tosses out a rockabilly influenced Pub Rock classic. The song is a celebration of still being alive after wrecking the car. At least that is the surface story, the song being really more of a metaphor for overcome adversity in life. It's a rocker and one of Dave Edmunds best.
A more obscure track is Transfusion, by Nervous Norvous. A novelty hit from 1956, Transfusion is the sung from the point of view of a careless driver who describes his accidents ending each verse with a sound effect of a car crash and ending each chorus with some sort of 50's hipster request like "Pass the blood to me , Bud" or "Give the crimson to me, Jimson" In Transfusion, Nervous Norvus takes some decidedly beatnik rapping and drops it onto a rockabilly riff. Its cool, Daddy-O! America thought so too as it rose to number 8 on the Billboard charts and stayed charting for 14 weeks.

Nervous Norvus was the alter ego of  Singing Jimmy Drake, who recorded and performed demo records for aspiring and mostly unsuccessful song writers. He would record their songs with his vocals accompanied by his king sized ukulele, These one off demo recording are now rare collectible records as only one or two copies would be made, and the songwriters generally did not go on to success,  His Nervous Norvus character was a diversion from his main demo business.. He recorded six side Dot Records,

Transfusion was the high point of his career professionally. He did follow it up with another novelty hit a few months later that did almost as well,  Ape Call. Transfusion  caused a bit of an uproar over its gory lyrics and was banned on both the ABC and NBC radio networks as to indecent for radio. Regardless, it was a hit. Ed Sullivan invited Nervous Norvus to appear on his program, but in spite of his cool sound when singing, Jimmy Drake was at heart a very shy guy and did not perform publicly. He declined the offer. and eventually drifted into obscurity and alcoholism, ultimately drinking himself to an early death at 58 caused by cirrhosis of the liver.

The song was headed towards obscurity as well, Then on his radio program, Los Angeles DJ and record collector Barry Hansen played the song on his radio program of novelty records. Fellow DJ "The Obscene" Steven Clean said that Hansen had to be "demented" to play that. The same Dr. Demento stuck and another alter ego was born involving the song. The song, as well as Dr. Demento's radio program, became  it became cult classics, with Demento perhaps most notable for launching the career of Weird Al Yankovic.  My version of Transfusion was included on a 1970;s K-Tel compilation called Looney Tunes that featured a number of late 1950's rock and roll novelty records.

Taking a swing at some more baseball songs, the site TheDeadBallEra.Com has a page of mp3's of novelty baseball songs. A few tracks from there comprise today's mix. Legendary Detroit Tigers announcer, Ernie Harwell begins with his A Definition Of Baseball, a poetic ode to the game and how it fits so deeply into the culture of the United States.

Jane Morgan's Baseball, Baseball is up to bat next. Jane Morgan was raised in Florida, and was a classically trained graduate of Julliard. Hired to sing American songs in front of a Parisian Orchestra, in 1948 she was successful and her fame spread throughout France. Se wanted to return to the US, but struggled as booking agents considered her a specialty act that would not sell to the American public. She was working, though and Dave Kapp of Kapp records had seen her perform and offered her a recording contract. On her first album 1954's An American Girl From ParisBaseball, Baseball was featured to again emphasize her branding as an American and not a french artist. Maybe it worked as she continued to enjoy some success in America.

Casey at the Bat 3 (Flickr User Tom Bridge/CC)
On our third swing we hear the story of possibly the most famous strike out in baseball.history. On June 3, 1888 The San Francisco Chronicle published a poem titled Casey at the Bat: A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888 by Ernest Thayer, a reporter for the Chronicle.

The story of a classic baseball game of the era, Casey at the Bat: A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888 revolves around the end of game tension for the fictional home team from Mudville. Down by two runs, the batting lineup is not promising unless they can get the fifth batter, the team's star: Casey. The first two batters strike out and things are looking grim for Mudville. Flynn and Blake are the next batters in the line up and they are notoriously weak players. But the Flynn hits a single! Blake follows with a double! Suddenly there are 2 men on base. They are down two runs with two outs. But...Casey bats next! Casey takes the plate with bold cockiness, He lets two perfectly good pitches go by as he shows off for the crowd of 5000 gathered to watch the game. The tension mounts. Down two strikes, two run and two outs with two men on base and the chance to win with a run, Casey strikes out! Mudville has lost! It is a great portrait of 1880's baseball and its a great slap in the face to folks who get too proud of themselves in life. Its wonderfully American.

The poem was published a month later in The Sporting Times, without attribution, and with a renaming of its title and lead character to make it "Kelly At The Bat".  It was already on its way to joining the canons of both American Baseball and American Poetry. Being the era of Vaudeville, it began to be recited as an act on Vaudeville lineups. The most famous of those performers was a popular stage performer who was veteran of over thirty Broadway musicals. Dewolf Hopper was known for his loud bass singing voice and his rather goofy stature (think Kramer from Seinfeld). Hopper performed the Poem over 10, 000 times during the course of his career. Our last "song" this week is from a 1909 recording.

A Definition Of Baseball DeadBallEra.Com Audio Vault Ernie Harwell >
2:47Baseball, Baseball Audio Vault  Jane Morgan 2:22
Casey At The Bat DeadBallEra.Com Audio Vault Dewolf Hopper  7:25

Signing Off and Coming Attractions

Old Highway Notes would like to say thank you for coming back after my summer hiatus. I have added some things that should make it a little easier to browse around the site and find stories that interest you if you are visting this site on a PC or laptop. I still have some work to do on mobile. I'd love to know what you think in the comments. Has anyone gone to a spring training game? Do You have a good car crash story? Tell us about it in the comments.

Next Week: More on Muddy Waters as we continue Route 66 through Chicago.
Two Weeks: More San Diego tourism on the old Highway 101 in California.
Three Weeks. More to see in Jupiter, Florida when we return to Interstate 95.

Mileage Stats
Route 66: 0 Miles/1 State/621 Tracks/141 Videos/26 Posts
Highway 101: 19  Miles/2 Countries/1 State/503 Tracks/186 Videos/23 Posts
Interstate 95: 84 Miles/1 State/30 Tracks/70 Videos/9 Posts
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