For now, the man who hit more Major League career home runs than any other is Henry Aaron. I remember seeing Hank Aaron play at Shea Stadium in New York. He was the complete ball player – masterful at the plate and in the field.
Any baseball fan who attends a game hopes he/she will be lucky enough to catch a foul ball or, even better, a home-run ball. I have attended dozens of games, but have never left with a souvenir ball. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have a great treasure from the National Pastime – I just haven’t caught one… YET! One day, while on a concert tour of the south-eastern states, I found a small baseball card shop in a rural Georgia town. The friendly proprietor had some autographed baseballs – one of them was a Hank Aaron ball. I purchased it for a very reasonable price, and have proudly had it on display in my various homes since that day. It represents a part of history.
In the classical music world, one name is often mentioned as being the greatest conductor of all time – Arturo Toscanini. This Italian maestro held posts as conductor of the La Scala Opera House in Milan, the New York Philharmonic and the NBC Symphony Orchestra late in his life. Maestro Toscanini died before I was born, so I never saw or heard him conduct, but historic recordings and videos exist and offer a glimpse of his genius, even if they are all in monochrome & low-fidelity form.
I do, however, have a strong anecdotal link to Toscanini through my mentor, Mr. Brenner. Toscanini hired Brenner in 1930 to play oboe in the New York Philharmonic. Brenner relayed many stories of rehearsal tirades and performance triumphs. In 1932, Toscanini presented Mr. Brenner the baton which he used in that evening’s performance. I inherited this legendary piece of classical music history, and have it displayed proudly in my home too.
Two pieces of history – of an era gone by. I look at them often; proud and lucky to own them both.