Friday, January 12, 2007

Pele and Old Bay Seasonings

Last night I was so depressed over the evening news' hints that George Dubya is looking to provoke Iran into war that I rewatched Once In a Lifetime, the ESPN documentary about the New York Cosmos - the superstar franchise that hired Pele in 1975 to put soccer on the map in America - in hopes that it would cheer me up. It did the trick, especially seeing all that footage of the amazing Pele, who I recalled seeing play an exhibition match (either with the Cosmos or his Brazilian club Santos) sometime in the mid-70s against the Baltimore Bays at Memorial Stadium.

Then this morning I read the obit for Baltimore's legendary sportscaster Jim Karvellis, he of the bourbon-flavored voice, who passed away on January 5 of this year. Synchronicity. In the early days of the North American Soccer League (1967-68), the Baltimore Bays had a franchise that played home games in Memorial Stadium and Karvellas was the team's play-by-play announcer. Karvellis later became a co-owner of the Bays when they played in the American Soccer League (1972-73). According to Baltimore's Press Box, "Following the final season with the ASL, Karvellas' Bays played an independent schedule against international competition and hosted the powerful Moscow Dynamos and Santos of Brazil for two exciting nights of big-time soccer that have never been duplicated in this town."

That might have been the game I attended, circa 1974 - which makes sense because I was a high school junior then and I'm pretty sure I went with my St. Paul's soccer teammates. (The only other time I was at Memorial Stadium for something other than a Colts or Orioles game was the infamous Eric Clapton rainout in the '70s.) I also remember the Baltimore Bays theme song they played over the loudspeakers, "It's a Red & Gold World." It was sung by none other than future crappy-lounge-coverband chanteusse Anita Shore (of Tiffany, Shore Patrol, and countless other forgettable ephemeral ensembles). I still have the 45 (featuring red text on a gold label, natch). I think the jingle was something along the lines of "It's a red, a red and gold world when the Baltimore Bays come on/A little pass here and little pass there and we score, baby we score!"

Anyway, Karvellas went on to become the TV and radio voice of the Cosmos. Small world, huh?

Once in a Lifetime is a pretty nice little documentary, done very much in the ESPN quick-cut editing style. But the most glaring omission in the doc is the total absence of commentary by Pele, the man who defined the Cosmos (even though egomaniac star striker Giorgio Chimaglio was their all-time scorer and personality). Apparently, he refused to be interviewed unless he was financially compensated. That's why I love the little dig during the end credits when Pele's name appears next to the text "Football Ambassador," followed by the sound of a cash register (ka-ching!) and the next line: "Declined to participate." Subtle and brilliant!

OK, now back to fretting over the gathering war clouds. Subtle and brilliant are two words that will never be used to describe George W. Bush. And, unfortunately, a George Dubya, even Once In a Lifetime, is one time too many.

Related Links:
Play On (Press Box obit)
This Is Cosmos Soccer (Big Apple Soccer Obit)
Once In a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos (IMDB)
Baltimore Bays (Wikipedia)


Blogger HOCkette said...

I hate the I know this, but it's Alana Shore, not Anita Shore

10:24 AM  

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