If we were having a total eclipse of the sun on this day 50 years ago, it wouldn’t have mattered to me which two baseball teams were playing.
I’d want to import Sonny Siebert and Blue Moon Odom to a ballpark, get a few barnstormers to make up teams, and put on some kind of show. Can you imagine the marketing? I know it wasn’t as sophisticated in the 1960s as it is now, but still, I’ll bet someone could have generated revenue out of it.
In baseball terms, it probably would have been a good game. Siebert won 140 big league games, 57 of them with the Boston Red Sox.
Odom won 84 games, most of them with the Kansas City/Oakland Athletics. His real name was Johnny Lee Odom, but Charlie Finley, who owned the A’s at the time and had nothing on any of these modern-day hucksters such as Jerry Jones and Mark Cuban, liked his players to have colorful nicknames. Hence, we had John “Blue Moon” Odom and Jim “Catfish” Hunter. He wanted to call his star lefty, Vida Blue, “True Blue,” but Blue got an attack of sanity and pride and told him to forget it.
“Why don’t you call yourself ‘True Finley,’” said Blue.
Finley’s also the guy who urged his players in 1972 to grow mustaches so that they’d all look like Abner Doubleday — the man who, as legend had it, invented baseball.
But I digress. We’re talking eclipse here, and why should Bonnie Tyler have all the fun? We went through the day yesterday humming “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” and Bruce Springsteen’s (via Manfred Mann) “Blinded by the Light.”
(I also put Thomas Dolby’s “Blinded Me With Science” on that list).
Since the moon moves into the sun’s path, and since the moon is a zillion or so miles closer to us than the sun is, a total solar eclipse happens when the moon’s diameter casts a shadow that eclipses the sun (hah! The word “eclipse!”), causing 100 percent darkness in the middle of the day. I presume this means Cliff Richard and the Shadows got some decent airplay yesterday too.
This phenomenon means that Blue Moon Odom would have won the game against Sonny Siebert, right? He’d have eclipsed Siebert’s good pitching performance with a better one of his own, meaning his team may have won 2-1 or 4-2, or something along those lines. At any rate, Blue Moon would have blocked out Sonny.
And, of course, in my imaginary world of sports, maybe there could have been a time when Sonny Jurgensen would be cast as the foil for Warren Moon, who would, similar to Blue Moon vs. Siebert, obscure his exploits just long enough for the Minnesota Vikings to beat the Washington Redskins.
Thankfully, the Red Sox staged their own eclipse Sunday when they defeated the New York Yankees and Sonny Gray. That’s a name that doesn’t even need help. It’s an eclipse all unto itself — a partial eclipse anyway.
There’s so much more we could do with this. We could have Sonny Liston, boxer; Sonny Werblin, impresario and one-time owner of the New York Knicks; Wally Moon, baseball player and inventor of the unibrow (seriously, Google him and check it out); and Moonlight Graham, baseball player and inspirational character in “Field of Dreams;” Sonny Hill, broadcaster; Sonny King, wrestler; Sonny Sixkiller, Native-American quarterback and sports commentator (that’s really his name; his biggest claim to fame is that on the list of 65 most overlooked QBs, he’s No. 54, which means he probably wasn’t good enough to even be overlooked); Jamario Moon (L.A Clippers).
There’s Keith Moon, if you like drumming; Dark Side of the Moon, if you like Pink Floyd; Moon over Miami if you like Betty Grable; Shoot the Moon if you like Diane Keaton and Albert Finney … and the beat goes on (you know, Sonny and Cher).
And if you sit down today and have a grilled cheese sandwich, make it Swiss. Perhaps it’ll make you think of … wait for it … wait … wait … Sonny Corleone.