Polman: Being Christy Mathewson

From SABR member Jeff Polman at Huffington Post on February 24, 2014, on SABR member Eddie Frierson:

It’s a cold and drizzly night in L.A., and I have to meet Christy Mathewson at the Coffee Bean in 10 minutes. I mean, I know it isn’t really him — Matty, Big Six, the Christian Gentleman, among other monikers — but something about Eddie Frierson has me unconsciously believing it is.

So I don’t want to keep him waiting, and there he is already: sitting outside on a cushy seat beneath an awning, looking ready for reflection in his vintage, hand-stitched New York Giants cap and Atlanta Braves warmup jacket, which he would later shed to reveal a blue Homestead Grays jersey. He’s in his early fifties, an easy six-feet tall, hair slightly graying, with an open smile and soulful eyes. Eddie is recovering from an awful head cold, but even in this unusual wintry climate does not want to miss spinning a tale.

He’s been working across the street at Sony Pictures most of the day, dubbing his voice and other noises for Kitchen Sink, an upcoming zombie comedy starring John Cusack. Eddie does that sort of work for Sony and other studios as often as possible, sometimes providing sports play-by-play, other times “re-voicing bad actors,” as he puts it. It pays the rent, contributes to his single dad life up in Santa Clarita, but even though one of his life dreams was to become a Hollywood actor, it hasn’t been nearly as fulfilling as his nearly 30-year journey entering the past and carrying on the legacy of Christy Mathewson.

Since first performing Matty: An Evening with Christy Mathewson at the 1987 SABR convention in Washington, D.C., Frierson has staged the 90-minute one-man portrayal of the Hall of Fame pitcher, national idol, international celebrity, war hero, class president, historian, journalist, author and great collegiate football player (for starters) “around a thousand times.” Four months of shows were at the Lambs Theater in Times Square. Two of them were at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown over Fourth of July weekends at the turn of the current century. He’s also performed it regularly in Mathewson’s birthplace town of Factoryville, PA, where they’ve been having a “Christy Mathewson Days” festival for 18 years, ever since the show left Broadway.

Read the full article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeff-polman/being-christy-mathewson_b_4804688.html

Originally published: February 24, 2014. Last Updated: February 24, 2014.