In the November issue of Sports Illustrated Kids, there’s an illustration that imagines current sports legends such as Stephen Curry, Miguel Cabrera, the Manning brothers, and Brittney Griner sitting down at a Thanksgiving meal. Now imagine Yogi Berra calling together a dinner between Yankees legends, past and present, such as Derek Jeter, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Elston Howard, and Lou Gehrig. That would be pretty cool! And that’s exactly what happens in Eric Simpson’s play Bronx Bombers.
The play uses a real-life event as a jumping off point. During a game against the Red Sox in 1977, Reggie Jackson didn’t hustle after a ball, leading tough manager Billy Martin to pull Mr. October from the game. The two get into a heated argument, and Yogi Berra, the bench coach, separated them. In Bronx Bombers, Berra feels stuck in the middle of the argument, so he and his wife, Carmen, call a dinner meeting to try to mend the rift between player and manager. And in order to do that, Yogi calls on players from different eras in Yankees history to get their advice what to do if they were in his position as bench coach.
It was funny watching scenes such as Babe Ruth shaking hands with Derek Jeter and Lou Gehrig showing the dinner guests how Ruth used to swing. The play did a great job of showing what it would be like for legends from prior decades to meet current Yankees players that fans in our time love and know so well.
After the performance, I interviewed the actors who played the roles of Ruth (C.J. Wilson) and Gehrig (John Wernke). Wilson, told me that he always admired Ruth’s slogan, “I swing big with everything I’ve got. I hit big or I miss big. I like to live as big as I can.” Wernke added that he tries to live like Gehrig as much as he can.
When I saw Bronx Bombers, it was running at the Duke on 42rd Street in New York. But recently, the cast got some big news: As of January 10, 2014, the play would be seen on Broadway! After watching the play, I have a feeling it will do really well on the bigger stages of the Great White Way. It’s a funny, dramatic trip through Yankees history — and it’s a fun way to enjoy baseball in the offseason.
Visit the Bronx Bombers website for more on information on the show.
Max Mannis is an 11-year-old special correspondent for sikids.com and a member of SABR. Catch his posts on advanced baseball statistics. To learn more about SABR and to join, visit www.sabr.org.
Photo courtesy Max Mannis