Tag Archives: New York Yankees

Roundup: Yanks’ Bat Girl, Playhouse, Ireland …

=====================================================

Gwen Goldman McLoughlin’s star turn as New York Yankees’ bat girl — 60 years after the team rejected the 10-year-old’s request — has gotten plenty of national media attention. “06880” covered the inspiring story on Sunday.

One of the best pieces was in yesterday’s New York Times. Click here to read. Then click below for a tweet that will have you smiling all day.

Whether you love the Yanks or hate them, you gotta admit: This is pure class.

=======================================================

Ninety years to the day after it first opened, the Westport Country Playhouse celebrated a new season last night.

The audience was COVID-limited in size. They enjoyed a recorded — not live — presentation of “Tiny House,” a clever comedy.

But — after last year’s remote-only season, and some decisions about how to present this year’s shows — there was a palpable sense of joy among last night’s theater-goers.

The Playhouse has survived one of the toughest times in its 9-decade history. They’ve got a full schedule of events this year (most remote, a few cabarets and such in person).

The doors were open again last night, exactly 90 years after the former tannery in an apple orchard began its run as one of America’s premier summer theaters.

Here’s wishing 90 more great years, to one of Westport’s greatest jewels!

Welcome back! (Photo/Dan Woog)

======================================================

Optimum will “dramatically reduce” upload speeds for new customers on July 12, according to published reports.

The Verge says that the cable company — owned by Altice — will slice some plans from 35 Mbps to 5 Mbps.

The change affects new customers serviced by Optimum’s non-fiber network. It will impact current subscribers only if they upgrade, downgrade or otherwise change their service. Download speeds should remain the same,

The change, Altice told The Verge, is to bring the plan  “in line with other ISPs and aligned with the industry.” (Click here for the Verge story; click here for a longer story from Ars Technica. Hat tip: Dick Lowenstein)

=======================================================

Concerts at the Levitt Pavilion is an Angus family tradition since they moved here in 1993. He grew up watching the Hall Family Band Night (and was part of Music for Children for a long time).

Some of Drew Angus’ most memorable Westport nights were with legends Nile Rodgers and Chic, John Fogerty, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, and most recently Bruce Hornsby. 

He remembers too when his grandmother brought panties to throw on stage for Tom Jones.

He’s seen great regional acts like Philly’s Low Cut Connie and Brooklyn’s Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds. He enjoyed some of the country’s best blues and rock acts at Blues Views & BBQ. One of his all-time favorites was a Latin zydeco band from California, Incendio. 

Drew long dreamed of playing on stage. He fulfilled that dream in 2018. It’s a stage I dreamt of playing as a kid and did for the first time in 2018

This Friday (July 2, 7:30 p.m.), Drew Angus is back. He’s joined by a 7-piece band, including Westport’s Russ Crain. They were fellow Class of 2007 Staples graduates.

They’ll play songs from Drew’s upcoming record, and familiar covers. It will be a special night for one of the Levitt’s favorite musicians — on both sides of the stage. (Click here for tickets, and more information.)

Drew Angus rocks.

=====================================================

Work begins soon on the transformation of the old Barnes & Noble into a new grocery outlet — rumored to be Amazon Go. A construction trailer has moved into the parking lot.

Meanwhile, around the corner, work continues on the renovation of Greens Farms Congregational Church.

(Photo/Bob Weingarten)

Meanwhile, back near the former Barnes & Noble, there is no sign of action whatsoever at the abandoned Mobil Self-Serve. It closed nearly 3 years ago, and the site looks sorrier by the day.

=======================================================

Last month’s Westport Fine Arts Festival was a cold washout.

Weston hopes for a better forecast for their own Fine Arts Festival. It’s July 17 and 18, on School Road.

The juried event includes over 100 artists working in painting, sculpture, jewelry, ceremics, wood and fine crafts, plus children’s activities, art demonstrations, musical guests and food trucks. Weston’s own Jose Feliciano performs live on Saturday.

Admission is free.

======================================================

Speaking of art: Sorelle Gallery’s next show is “Quiet Moments.” Works by contemporary coastal realist painter Daniel Pollera, and abstract artist Kelly Rossetti, are on display from July 10 through August 1.

A reception is set for July 10 (3 to 5 p.m.), in the Church Lane space. For more information, click here.

Works by Daniel Pollera and Kelly Rossetti.

=====================================================

Yesterday’s “06880: The Podcast” upload featured Helen McAlinden. The CEO of Homes with Hope discussed homelessness and food insecurity in Fairfield County, with her well-known passion and trademark Irish brogue.

As it happens, she’s spending this week visiting relatives back home. She took time to send this photo of Westport — Westport, Ireland, that is.

Sure, and it brightens your day.

(Photo/Helen McAlinden)

======================================================

Speaking as we were of the water: Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo is from this side of the pond. I have no idea if there are horseshoe crabs in Ireland.

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

=======================================================

And finally … speaking of Westport, Ireland: Matt Molloy of the Chieftains owns a pub and music venue there. It’s on a road whose name we share here in Connecticut: Bridge Street.

Now Bat Girling For The New York Yankees: Gwen Goldman!

In 1961, Gwen Goldman was a 10-year-old girl living on Green Acre Lane. She wrote the New York Yankees, asking to be a bat girl.

On June 23 — exactly 60 years and 4 days ago — general manager Roy Haney replied.

He thanked her for her letter. But, he said:

While we agree with you that girls are certainly as capable of boys, and no dobut would be an attractive addition to the playing field, I am sure you can understand that in a game dominated by men a young lady such as yourself would feel out of place in a dugout.

I don’t know how Haney was so sure Gwen would “understand.” But she overcame her disappointment — and, probably, many other gender-based barriers — and went on to spend more than 30 years as a social worker.

Now married, Gwen Goldman McLoughlin retired in 2017 from Stepping Stones Preschool. She was highly regarded by her Westport Public Schools colleagues.

The other day, Gwen got another letter from the Yankees.

This came from the general manager too — the current one. Dated June 23, 2021 — exactly 60 years to the day after his predecessor’s — Brian Cashman noted that he was born 6 years after Haney had written.

But, Cashman said:

Here at the Yankees, we have championed to break down gender barriers in our industry. It is an ongoing commitment rooted in the belief that a woman belongs everywhere a man does, including the dugout. And despite the fact that 6 decades have passed since you first aspired to hold down the position as a New York Yankees Bat Girl, it is not too late to reward and recognize the ambition you showed in writing that letter to us as a 10-year-old girl.

So — noting that he has a daughter himself, and acknowledging that “some dreams take longer than they should to be realized” — Cashman invited Goldman to be the Yankees’ “honorary bat girl for the day” for tomorrow’s (Monday) game against the Los Angeles Angels.

Goldman — whose daughter Abby had sent Haney’s letter to Cashman — was both stunned and thrilled by the invitation.

“It is my honor and my dream,” she said. “I will be there!”

Gwen Goldman McLoughlin gets the news she’ll be Yankees’ bat girl.

She’s not the only one excited by the honor. Pitcher Gerrit Cole says, “I only get to play 32 games a year. So the other 130, I’m working the dugout. I can show you all the sneaky routes and quick ways to get in, when you have to give the balls to the umpire, where you keep the bats in case their broken. I can help you out with the flow.”

Goldman’s star turn is the first for the Yanks’ HOPE (Helping Others Persevere and Excel) Week. For 12 years, the program has highlighted inspiring individual stories.

Speaking of inspiring: Click below for a great tweet from the Yankees.

EXTRA INNINGS: Because this is “06880” — “Where Westport meets the world” — there’s one more local connection to this story. I first heard about it from Julia Schorr, the team’s social media coordinator.

A lifelong Westporter, Julia graduated from Staples High School in 2016.

Crutches 4 Kids: Westporters’ Gift To The World

How long have those crutches sat in your attic?

If you’re like most Westporters Americans:  quite a while.

We sprain an ankle or break a leg.  We use crutches, then get better.  But we can’t be bothered to recycle them, or even throw them out.  We keep them, for “whenever.”  It’s the way we roll.

Billions of people in the Third World — many of them kids — don’t have crutches.  But they need them a lot worse than we do.

In 2009, Westport natives Ken and Beth Shubin Stein, and Beth’s husband Chris Ahmad, did something about this paradox most of us never think about.  They formed Crutches 4 Kids.

Since their 1st event — a hugely successful crutch collection drive at Bedford Middle School — they’ve delivered crutches to needy youngsters around the globe.  That simple gift has transformed thousands of lives.

Tonight the trio will be honored by the New York Yankees.  In a pre-game, on-field ceremony, Ken, Beth and Chris will accept a Starter Athletics award for their efforts.

More importantly, they’ll get a nice check to continue their vital work.

The Crutches 4 Kids guys (and gal) come by their passion naturally.

Ken and Beth — twins who graduated from Staples in 1987 — come from a medical family.  Their father is a cardiologist, their mother a fertility specialist.  The extended Shubin Stein family has long believed in medical charity — and acted on their beliefs.

Beth is an attending orthopedic surgeon, specializing in sports surgery, at the world-renowned Hospital for Special Surgery.  She’s a graduate of Columbia Medical School.

Ken Shubin Stein

Ken graduated from Albert Einstein Medical School.  He’s now a founder and managing member of Spencer Capital, a value investing firm.

Beth’s husband Chris — a former Columbia soccer player — is an attending orthopedic surgeon at New York Presbyterian Hospital.  He’s also the Yankees’ head team physician.

Ken has a home near Compo Beach.  Beth and Chris spend their summers here — and will soon move to Westport full time.

But all 3 know that life in Westport is not the real world.

“There are 3 huge groups that need crutches,” Ken says.

“Over a billion people live in areas so poor, like Africa and central India, that there’s no infrastructure for access to even basic medical care.

“There are places of violence, like Sierra Leone and southeast Asia, where kids are collateral damage.

“And there are natural disasters, like the earthquake in Haiti or tsunamis, where there’s a sudden need.”

Many medical problems — like getting medicine to AIDS patients — are almost impossible to solve.

Collecting and distributing crutches is not like that.

Beth Shubin Stein

“There are no barriers,” Ken says.  “There’s a massive supply of crutches over here, and a massive demand over there.  We hook them both up.  It’s very direct, and very impactful.”

Columbia and the Hospital for Special Surgery have been very supportive of Crutches 4 Kids.  But that early boost from Bedford — when guidance counselor Lisa Weitzman helped spearhead an enormous drive — showed the organization’s founders that their simple idea really could work.  More than a dozen drives, at other schools, have followed.

“This is so cool, for 3 reasons,” Ken explains.

“First, we teach kids about social service.  Whether it’s wealthy Westport or low-income Stamford, any American kid can help collect crutches — and help other kids around the world.  That’s a fantastic education.

“Second, we recycle.

“Third — and most importantly — we give the gift of mobility.  We help kids walk.

Chris Ahmad

“Doctors who worked in Haiti told me about kids who had legs amputated — Civil War-type medicine — because they had no other equipment.  There was no pain medicine; kids sat on the floor with bloody stumps.  Doctors I know were horrified and traumatized.  Giving crutches to kids like that is the least we can do.”

Being honored by the Yankees for their work is nice, Ken says.

But he cares more about the check.

“We’re on a shoestring budget.  Every dollar is important, to help us attract more donations and volunteers.”

And help clean out more attics, of more forgotten, unused crutches.

(Click here for more information about Crutches 4 Kids.)