Dan Schlossberg's Baseball Blog: Why did 'Bronx Bombers' bomb? • Latino Sports


Dan Schlossberg’s Baseball Blog: Why did ‘Bronx Bombers’ bomb?


The show Bronx Bombers was designed to delight Yankees fans but entertain everybody else. Why it fizzled so quickly remains a major mystery.

Perhaps it was the harsh New York winter, with an endless stream of paralyzing snowstorms in rapid succession. Maybe it was too difficult to get New Yorkers into baseball before spring training, with the tabloids focused on the Super Bowl first and then the Sochi Winter Olympics.

The show itself made a hit with this columnist, who has never been a Yankees fan but has great respect for baseball history and traditions.

Bronx Bombers closes March 2 so see it soon

Bronx Bombers closes March 2 so see it soon

All the Yankees heroes are here: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, Derek Jeter, and especially Yogi Berra, whose career as player, coach, and manager spans most of the others.

Elston Howard, Billy Martin, and Thurman Munson are also portrayed, along with Carmen Berra. Most of the portrayals are perfect, with Mantle and Martin particularly well depicted. The uniforms are perfect too, with the 1939 Baseball Centennial patch on the left sleeve of Gehrig’s No. 4 and the Yankee Stadium Farewell patch on Jeter’s No. 2.

The parody of Martin is perfect, from the cowboy hat and boots to the paranoia about his job security as manager. Jackson, in lavish ’70s get-up complete with chains and Afro, is not quite so good, especially since the real Reggie is an intelligent and articulate individual whose speech is devoid of any mannerisms that might be devised as jive.

Yes, Reggie had an inflated ego. Yes, he locked horns with both Munson, the team captain when George Steinbrenner added Reggie as a free agent, and Martin, who yanked him from a nationally-televised game at Fenway Park for allegedly failing to hustle after a fly ball in right field. But, then again, Martin battled with everyone — even a marshmallow salesman who rubbed him the wrong way.

Berra plays peacemaker throughout the whole show, which begins in a Boston hotel room after Martin pulls Jackson and ends in a “dream” dinner that depicts Ruth and Mantle as fond of the bottle but Ruth and Gehrig as not fond of each other. Gehrig also falls a couple of times, suggesting the onslaught of the fatal ALS (also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”).

There are lots of funny bits: Berra’s propensity for malaprops, Ruth’s ribald personality, Gehrig’s shock at discovering something called World War II (he died just before it started), and DiMaggio’s disdain at being remembered more for Mr. Coffee commercials than his Hall of Fame career. At one point, Joe D insinuates that Mantle was not a worthy heir.

All the characterizations are first-rate: the Mantle of the show strongly resembles the late superstar, the Gehrig character oozes the calm and class of the one-time Columbia captain, and the Yogi on Broadway is perpetually befuddled by an avalanche of potatoes left on his New Jersey lawn by a disgruntled North Dakota farmer.

Yogi says he didn't always say what he said

Yogi says he didn’t always say what he said

The producers of Bronx Bombers had hoped to follow in the footsteps of Damn Yankees, a show-stopping success years ago. But there was a major difference: the current show is a play, while the latter was a musical. There were also a lot more women in Damn Yankees (“Whatever Lola wants…”) than in Bronx Bombers, which only has Carmen.

With just a few fleeting days til closure, Yankees fans should make an effort to go. It’s easy to reach Circle in the Square, on 50th Street near 8th Avenue, with subway stops just footsteps away and plenty of parking nearby. The price of a ticket is not unlike the price of a baseball ticket but patrons attending Bronx Bombers can count on two things: they won’t be rained out and their team won’t lose.

With exhibition games now in their beginning stages, here are some spring training thoughts to keep in mind:

The upcoming two-game series between the Yankees and Phillies in Panama will be the first big-league action in that country since 1947, when the Dodgers and Yankees played several spring games there . . .

Panamanian shortstop Ruben Tejada (Mets) lost weight and added muscle while wintering in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He might have been motivated by his team’s pursuit of veteran Stephen Drew . . .

Ruben Tejada hopes his off-season regimen improves his numbers

Ruben Tejada hopes his off-season regimen improves his numbers

Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda would be the team’s youngest starter at age 25 but needs to prove he’s sound again after undergoing surgery that kept him sidelined most of the last two years . . .

Wonder how long it will take the Mariners to criticize ex-Yankee Robby Cano, their high-priced free agent signee, to hustle in the field and on the basepaths . . .

After posting a league-worst 4.23 bullpen ERA last summer, the Colorado Rockies think they have found the answer in 41-year-old ex-Met LaTroy Hawkins . . .

Buck Showalter believes Baltimore’s signings of pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez and slugger Nelson Cruz will enable the Birds to compete in the competitive American League East . . .

By declining the Rangers’ $14.1 million qualifying offer last fall, Cruz cost himself $6 million — his Oriole deal pays him $8 million, not bad for a potential 30-homer man but not good compared to what he rejected . . .

Congratulations to Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez, a Cuban native, on his contract extension…

Big Papi wants big bucks from Boston. Image Credit: Bill Menzel

Big Papi wants big bucks from Boston.
Image Credit: Bill Menzel

He may be 38 but David Ortiz, the dynamic Dominican who is the top designated hitter for the Boston Red Sox, hopes to ink a new one-year deal soon. Ortiz tops virtually every list of lifetime DH leaders but trails Edgar Martinez in batting average . . .

The Mets are trying to convince Eric Young, Jr. to try for more bunt hits. The fleet and versatile Young, who led the National League with 46 stolen bases, had only six bunt hits and a paltry .310 on-base percentage a year ago . . .

Knowing they probably can’t compete with Atlanta or Washington, the Mets still hope to stay respectable. A step in that direction is auditioning 36 pitchers in spring training this year.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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