Play Ball

Before the Super Bowl I waxed nostalgic about growing up watching football with my father and how the sport doesn’t hold a lot of appeal to me since he passed away. The same holds true for “America’s pastime,” baseball.

In 1951, Marilyn Monroe, know as “the Blonde Bombshell” batted a stellar .327 with 28 home runs, 52 stolen bases, and 120 RBI. All while wearing heels.

My dad loved the New York Yankees, as did my entire extended Italian American family on both sides. When one of my aunts on my mother’s side married a New York Mets fan, it sent shockwaves through the familia. This was serious stuff, people! At times, I swear, my family really was like the Castorini family in Moonstruck. I played the part of Cher as Loretta, forever rolling my eyes.

So, in the 1980s and early 1990s when I wasn’t discovering incredible movies like Manhunter or King of New York on my beloved WPIX Channel 11 out of New York City, or watching Crazy Eddie hawk electronics (“His prices are INSANE!) I was watching Yankees games with my dad, from spring until autumn. Baseball, unlike football, is a quieter game, much more outwardly analytical. There’s a reason the sport has been a favorite subject of literary writers for ages now. So even though I rarely watch it now, I can still respect the beauty of the game, the strategy involved, and its historical importance to America. Plus my dad enjoyed it, so in the middle of summer, even though I’m likely not watching baseball, I still think of watching baseball because that’s what I did, for years, with my dad. It’s that old muscle memory kicking in.

Batter up! Her form is impeccable.

As another Major League Baseball season gets underway, here’s a fetching photo shoot from 1951, featuring Marilyn Monroe swinging for the fences with members of the Chicago White Sox. It’s the American icon playing the American sport. Feel the patriotic synergy!

Being a Hall of Fame Blonde Bombshell, Marilyn plays baseball in her tiny, tight shorts and high heels. Of course she does. While it would’ve been cute to see her in a modified Sox uniform, her ensemble is definitely a home run in my book. I’m sure the players were in awe of her blinding beauty while doing these publicity shots, but at least one of them realized she was no blonde bimbo. As taken from The Marilyn Report, which notes this photo shoot actually led to Yankees slugger Joe DiMaggio requesting to meet Marilyn (the two would later marry), player Gus Zernial said of meeting Marilyn, “She was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. Not only was she lovely, she was very intelligent. She wasn’t a dumb blonde. I talked to her for about two hours that day while they prepared all the cameras.”

Not a suggestive pose at all. Get your minds out of the gutter!

Even good old Gus wasn’t immune to Marilyn’s scorching sex appeal, though. He went on to say, “We posed for pictures for about half an hour. She was squatting and I was told to wrap my arms around her and show her how to hold the bat. That was no problem. I enjoyed my work that day.” He’s downplaying things just a bit. I’m sure it qualified as the greatest work day of his life. Seventy-two years later, the rest of us who never met Marilyn, let alone wrapped our arms around her, remain eternally jealous of Gus.

Now she’s just showing off.

Happy opening day to those who celebrate. For the rest of us, there’s always Marilyn Monroe trying her hand at baseball and absolutely knocking it out of the park. I can hear my dad cheering now as Marilyn rounds the bases. That’s a triple play I can get behind: Marilyn Monroe, baseball, and my dad. Americana at its finest.

Play ball!

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