Yogi Berra’s famous adage is applicable to many pursuits in life. I would like to think that for me, learning ain’t over until my departure from this earth.
My husband, Garry Spector, has a PhD in chemistry from Columbia University. He possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of all things baseball, particularly the sixty-year history of our beloved Mets franchise. He also knows far more about classical music, including opera, than many of us in the industry itself. His knowledge and remembrance of historical events of significance and their respective dates is positively intimidating.
But what my husband doesn’t possess is vanity. He knows so much about all of these subjects because his fascination with them has fueled a lifetime of voracious reading and regular attendance at baseball games, concerts, and operas.
Garry frequently shares anecdotes, facts, and trivia when either the day’s date or a current event triggers his memory of a related event in history. This he does, not to flaunt his vast knowledge, but because of his genuine enthusiasm for the subject at hand.
I would never think nor try to compete with Garry’s comprehensive knowledge, but in our twenty-seven years of marriage, he has seemed delighted to hear my own stories and anecdotes about classical music from my thirty-five years working as a professional musician. He particularly delights in hearing many of the stories I have from my thirty years as a member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.
If Garry has any “blind spots,” he readily admits that there are gaps in his knowledge, particularly of popular culture. It was particularly delightful to be able to fill in one of those “gaps” for him involving baseball—a subject about which I am a novice compared to him.
A life-long follower of the Mets, Garry grew up listening to the radio voice of the late Bob Murphy. Early on in our shared baseball life, I learned that it was Murphy’s voice decrying the famous “It gets by Buckner!” call that is near and dear to Mets fans of all ages. He has casually mentioned some of Murphy’s delightful terminology.
When the subject of a doubleheader came up some years ago, Garry admitted that that was one of Murphy’s expressions that he had never understood.
In single admission doubleheaders, the second game follows shortly after the first game has concluded. On other occasions, like today at Citi Field for example, two separate games with separate admissions are scheduled. This is called a day-night doubleheader—what Bob Murphy referred to as a “Cole Porter affair.”
How thrilling it was for me to be able to fill this infinitesimal gap in his broad and thorough knowledge of all things baseball!
I explained that one of Cole Porter’s most famous tunes was “Night and Day.”
There have been only a few times like this where my knowledge of popular culture has served to add meaning or perspective on either baseball or opera. On road trips to see the Mets, we have been at several ballparks where an organist has played the players’ walkup music. There have been times where I smile, knowing the words to the melody the organist plays for specific players and how they serve as a musical commentary to either their name or appearance. These “inside jokes” are mostly lost on Garry.
It doesn’t happen often, but on those occasions when I can “teach” Garry something that he doesn’t know related to baseball, we both enjoy it. As far as we both are concerned, we “ain’t over” learning new things until “it’s over.”