Son of Biagio (Max) Corvo Shares His Father’s Imigration Story

Biagio (Max) Corvo was born in Italy in 1920. He arrived in the United States as a boy after his family was forced to flee Italy. Corvo went on to lead the Italian office of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during the Italian Campaign (1943-1945) in the Second World War.

William Corvo, Max’s son, shared his family’s immigration story in a heartfelt op-published by the Hartford Courant. The piece can be viewed here.

AMERICAN MASTERS: Ted Williams: ‘The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived

In anticipation of the documentary “AMERICAN MASTERS: Ted Williams: ‘The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived’ airing on PBS tonight (7/23) at 9:00 pm Aviva reminisces on her phone interview with Ted Williams in the making of The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg.

In a bonus feature from Aviva’s The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg Documentary, “Hitting in the Golden Age,” Ted Williams said in his phone interview with Aviva on Hank:

“He didn’t hit those smashing line drives that just got into seats real fast. He was a fly ball hitter. But he hit long flies, and of course you gotta hit a long fly to get a home run. And he was conscious that when he hit the ball good in the air things happened. And I’d be playing deep, and I’d think “this is just a fly,” I got to go back a little more, then a little more, and it kept going and, hell, it’s in the third deck! His ball carried.

Pretty near all hitters, they’ve got God’s gifted ability. They hit the ball, they’ve got that good position, and bam! They’ve got everything going. But what separates a lot of guys that have that ability, and becoming great is their thinking and correcting and making every time at bat or every swing a better one and a corrected swing over the time before. “I got to sharpen up, work it up!”

Greenberg could be struck out. A lot of pitchers used to say, “Just give me a chance, that’s all. All I’ll do is throw a good high, tight fastball. Well I heard them talk about that, but I also saw them when they talked like that there’s another one going on the upper deck, and it might have been a curve, it might have been anything, but he had such good all around power and ability and smarts… and smarts… and smarts, that he just didn’t let them get by with the same thing all the time. And that was one thing, if anything impressed me, was the fact about Greenberg– I knew he was a smart hitter.

He always wanted to talk about the game and always wanted to talk about the pitchers and the hitters… and he’s just absolutely a great guy. I thought an awful lot of him.

Hank was not a real fancy fielding first baseman. He was a big guy, a wonderful target. He was dependable. But hitting is what Hank Greenberg was really renowned for.”

 

 

 

 

In this bonus feature, Caral Gimbal, Hank’s first wife, also said, “Hank would always tell him, ‘You just have all this natural talent, you run like a gazelle, but why don’t you work on your fielding? You’re a terrible fielder.’ Ted would say, ‘I’m paid for hitting not fielding,’ and he couldn’t care less about the fielding. And they’d have these arguments. He said, ‘Hank, you’re paid for hitting, you’re not paid for fielding.'”

Aviva Interviews MLB Historian John Thorn

Aviva Kempner had the great pleasure of interviewing MLB historian John Thorn this past Friday,  July 13th for the Moe Berg Documentary. Thereafter, on July 14th at the Library of Congress,  Aviva and the Ciesla Foundation staff got the chance to hear Thorn speak on “The Origins of the Modern Game: The Laws of Baseball”.

“I truly learned so much about the origins of  baseball and was impressed by the full house who came to see you speak.” – Aviva Kempner

Next stop, MLB All-Star Game  in Washington D.C. tomorrow!!

Aviva Kempner interviewing John Thorn for the Moe Berg documentary.
John Thorn Speaking on “The Origins of the Modern Game: The Laws of Baseball” at the Library of Congress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bringing ‘Doctor Atomic’ to the Birthplace of the Bomb

Author: Michael Cooper
Publisher: The New York Times
Date: July 6, 2018

Link to article: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/06/arts/music/dr-atomic-santa-fe-john-adams-peter-sellars.html

SANTA FE — The lights of Los Alamos, the birthplace of the atomic bomb, can be seen at night from the idyllic open-air theater of Santa Fe Opera. So around here, John Adams and Peter Sellars’s “Doctor Atomic,” about the bomb and its creators, is not just a meditation on the invention of a weapon that changed the world.

It is also very much a local story — a complicated one.
“One of the most powerful things about doing ‘Doctor Atomic’ here is to make a history from New Mexico,” said Mr. Sellars, who assembled the opera’s libretto from historical sources, directed its premiere in 2005 and is rethinking aspects of it for the new Santa Fe production he is creating, which opens on July 14 and runs through Aug. 16.

“Here the story is, of course, the Los Alamos laboratory,” he added, “but also the ‘downwinders,’ the people living with all these cancers from all the test sites — and the pueblos that are 10 minutes away from Los Alamos, where most people and their families were employed.”

Other operas have been staged at or near the locales where they are set; Plácido Domingo once starred in a television production of Puccini’s “Tosca” that was filmed live at the locations in Rome where the action takes place. But the Napoleonic wars that serve as the backdrop of “Tosca” are nowhere near as hotly debated as the creation of the atomic bomb, and the decision to use it on Japan at the end of World War II.

The nuclear threat that is the opera’s theme has been in the headlines more than usual lately. The United States recently seemed closer to contemplating the use of nuclear weapons than it had in decades. President Trump, before his recent disarmament talks with North Korea, issued a bellicose warning last summer, saying threats to the United States would be “met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

The bomb is never far from the conversation here. Los Alamos remains the home of a national laboratory that still works on the nation’s nuclear weapons. The success of the Manhattan Project — in which the polymathic physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer was tapped by the no-nonsense Army Gen. Leslie Groves to run a secret laboratory to race Nazi Germany in creating an atomic weapon — is still locally celebrated.

A statue of Oppenheimer and Groves stands outside Fuller Lodge, at the former boys’ school where the scientists gathered during the war. Gift shops sell cocktail glasses with Oppenheimer’s silhouette and his martini recipe painted on the outside (“4 ounces good gin, a smidge of dry vermouth, lime juice and honey syrup”). One of the streets, Trinity Drive, is named after the Trinity test, when the world’s first atomic bomb exploded in 1945, some 200 miles to the south. A picnic late last monthcelebrated the 75th anniversary of the lab’s founding.

The director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, Dr. Terry Wallace, is a second-generation Los Alamos scientist who said that when he was growing up there, his Boy Scout troop would collect depleted uranium, something that would be unimaginable today. He expressed concern that the opera, which portrays the creation of the bomb as a tragedy, risked simplifying a complex moral calculus.
“As the director of Los Alamos, I have to make sure that we have a safe, reliable and effective nuclear deterrent,” he said in an interview in Fuller Lodge. “And I certainly would never advocate using that deterrent. But the reason we have a strategic deterrent is clear. There’s only one reason: so nobody uses a nuclear weapon on us. We’re very dedicated to that mission.”
Elsewhere in New Mexico, the state’s atomic legacy is viewed differently. As opera rehearsals were underway in Santa Fe last month, Tina Cordova, 58, a small-business owner who lives in Albuquerque, was in Washington testifying before the Senate. She was part of a group seeking compensation from the government for damage she contends was caused by the Trinity test, which was so powerful that it melted the sand into a glasslike substance eventually named trinitite.

“The government has always characterized the area as remote and uninhabited, but we know from the census data that there were thousands of people living in a 50-mile radius of the test site,” Ms. Cordova, a founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, testified. One of those people, she said, was her father, who was a 4-year-old living in Tularosa, about 40 miles from the Trinity site, when the bomb exploded. He died many years later of cancer.
Mr. Sellars said that he planned to cast downwinders in his new production. Some will stand as silent witnesses in a scene in which General Groves explains that, to maintain secrecy, he will not send evacuation forces into nearby areas. (A medical officer tells him: “Sir, no cure has yet been found for the agonies that result from overexposure to fallout and radiation.”) Downwinders light candles each year to commemorate those who died of cancer; Mr. Sellars hopes to incorporate that ceremony into the opera as well.
One morning last week, he and the opera’s choreographer, Emily Johnson, took a break from rehearsals to visit the Puye Cliff Dwellings, the centuries-old remains of a Native American settlement on the Santa Clara Pueblo, a short drive from Los Alamos.

“We really want this to be from here,” Ms. Johnson said, adding that she had been particularly grateful that people from several pueblos had offered to perform a sacred corn dance at the opera house before the performances. (There is also a corn dance within the opera, scored by Mr. Adams, and the libretto includes a traditional Tewa song.)
Mr. Sellars said that his new production would not labor to recreate the war era through its sets and costumes, as his earlier one did. Even the bomb itself — called “the gadget” by the scientists who built it — will be a reflective sphere rather than a facsimile of the real one; Mr. Sellars wants it to represent all nuclear weapons, not just the prototype.
He and Ms. Johnson toured the cliff dwellings with Mina and Jordan Harvier, Native Americans who live on the Santa Clara Pueblo and are helping arrange the corn dance. They spoke about the complex relationship the pueblo has had with Los Alamos over the decades. Both had grandmothers who worked there as housemaids; both noted that there had been years of concerns about contamination and pollution from the lab. (The government has spent hundreds of millions of dollarscleaning up Los Alamos, but still has more to do.)
“My grandparents always told me that Native Americans are the caretakers of this earth,” Ms. Harvier said shortly before she descended into a round kiva, or ritual room, with Mr. Sellars and looked at the dried remains of what had once been the pueblo’s reservoir.

Mr. Sellars said that he hoped that the opera would bring people together to share their experiences and better understand one another. “That is the hope,” he said. “And what opera can do, because opera is slow: It gives people the time to think and consider — and across ‘Doctor Atomic,’ to consider more deeply and more quietly what the long-term questions are.”
There will be a contingent in the audience from Los Alamos. Heather McClenahan, the executive director of the Los Alamos Historical Society — which operates a museum that gives a sense of what life was like in a lab so secret that the babies who were born there had their addresses listed as “P.O. Box 1663, Santa Fe” on their birth certificates — said that a group planned to attend the opera and discuss it afterward at UnQuarked, a local wine bar.
J. Arthur Freed, a former librarian at the lab, plans to go, as well. Which is not exactly surprising: He is something of a “Doctor Atomic” groupie and has seen staged productions by 11 opera companies in seven countries. Mr. Freed, a member of the J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Committee, formed to commemorate Oppenheimer, said that he viewed the work as historical fiction, but found it rewarding.

“I didn’t expect it to be gung-ho atomic weapons,” he said in a telephone interview. “I rather expected it to have an overall anti-nuke aspect, and why wouldn’t it? Don’t misunderstand me: I worked for the lab for 33 years, I think it’s a wonderful place, and I think it did perform and continues to perform an extremely important function for this country.”
Ms. Cordova, who testified in front of Congress, said in a telephone interview that she was intrigued by the prospect that “Doctor Atomic” might bring together people with different points of view about the bomb.
“To come together through an opera, to sort of recognize that there were many sides to this,” she said, “could be hugely cathartic for all of us.”

John Thorn Speaks at LOC on The Origins of Modern Game: The Laws of Baseball

Don’t Miss…
The Origins of the Modern Game: The Laws of Baseball 
When
Sat, July 14, 2018
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Where
Whittall Pavilion
Thomas Jefferson Building, ground floor
10 First Street SE
Washington, DC 20540
The Origins of the Modern Game: The Laws of Baseball
John Thorn, the official historian of Major League Baseball, will discuss original documents from the landmark 1857 meeting of New York baseball clubs that established the rules of the modern game. Recently rediscovered, the “Laws of Base Ball” manuscripts will be on view in “Baseball Americana” beginning June 29, 2018.
Request ADA accommodations five days in advance at (202) 707-6362 or ada@loc.gov. Registration for the program is also required.
About the Summer of Baseball Programming:
A vintage baseball clinic based on the game’s 19th-century rules, a children’s performance about African-American ballplayers, a conversation with “Moneyball” author Michael Lewis and a screening of the popular film “Field of Dreams” will highlight a summer of programs to accompany the new exhibition “Baseball Americana” at the Library of Congress.
Baseball Americana Family Day on Saturday, July 14, will present a daylong series of free baseball-themed events and activities for visitors of all ages. The day will include a vintage baseball clinic based on the rules of the game from the 19th century; “Black Diamond,” a play for children from Smithsonian’s Discovery Theater about some of the game’s first black players; a demonstration on the craft of bat making; and a presentation about the original “Laws of Base Ball” by Major League Baseball’s official historian. All events will take place at the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building.
Learn more here.

A pioneer charts his own course

The Washington Post    25 Jun 2018
BY GENE WANG IN PULLMAN, WASH.        Read Full Article Here.

PHOTOS BY RAJAH BOSE FOR THE WASHINGTON POST

Athletic Director Pat Chun arrived at footballmad Washington State after more than five years as Florida Atlantic’s athletic director. “It’s not lost on me the significance of being the first Asian American athletic director at a Power Five,” he says.

From the time he began playing sports as a young boy with neighborhood buddies, Pat Chun stood out as the only Asian American on the block. It’s no different professionally for Chun, who has grown accustomed to being the only Asian American in the room since he started in athletics administration.

The pioneering athletic director at Washington State frequently deploys humor as a way to address that distinction. He may offer an amusing anecdote about growing up as the only son of Korean immigrants, with a father who taught taekwondo — “talk about stereotypical,” Chun said, chuckling — and a mother who worked as a grocery-store clerk.

Or he may elicit laughter by mentioning some of the travails linked to a career in which Asian Americans have been underrepresented to such a degree that, through 15 years as an understudy at Ohio State, his alma mater, he had no one of his or any other Asian ethnicity to count as a mentor.

“Let me put it this way,” said Chun, 43, who arrived at Washington State in February following 51/ years as Florida Atlantic’s

2 athletic director. “It’s not lost on me the significance of being the first Asian American athletic director at a Power Five.”

Like many Asian American children of his generation, Chun’s parents pushed him to be a doctor or a lawyer. But Chun knew neither of those occupations was for him after taking a liking to sports as a child in the Cleveland suburbs.

Athletics served as a vehicle for Chun to assimilate. His friends were white, and Chun shared a love of sports with them. They collected and traded baseball cards and gathered to watch football games on television. His closest friends remain those with

he played football in junior high and high school.

Still, his peers occasionally reminded Chun that he wasn’t exactly the same. He hasn’t forgotten the slanty-eye gestures or teasing in a mocking Asian accent.

“The joking comments that were made to you growing up would not be tolerated today,” he said.

Even as Chun immersed himself in sports, his mother, a classically trained pianist, was far more concerned with him practicing the violin. Eventually, she relented, allowing Chun to drop violin lessons in the sixth grade to concentrate more on sports. All the while, she remained skeptical about his career choice, even as he began moving up as an administrator at Ohio State.

“You’d have to be an Asian American to understand this,” said Chun, whose parents divorced when he was in the eighth grade. “Like a lot of Asian parents, they put this crazy emphasis on college and dreams of Ivy League schools and things like that.”

When Chun and his wife, Natalie, a former Buckeyes softball player, were discussing starting a family, his mother didn’t hesitate to offer more advice.

“This is 2002, 2003, and I’m already well into my athletic career, and we were talking about having a baby, and my mom pulls me aside and says, ‘ Hey, if you guys are going to have kids, you really need to start thinking about getting a real job,’ ” Chun said, laughing. “At that point, you know you’re not going to win that debate with your mom. It’s like: ‘Mom, just trust me. I’m on a great path here.’ ”

‘A modern success story’

When the news of his hiring at Washington State became public, Chun began receiving emails from Asian American administrators and coaches from other schools congratulating him.

Much of that correspondence came from well-wishers he had yet to meet in person. Still, Chun indicated, he couldn’t help but feel an unspoken kinship given his position of prominence within the small community of Asian Americans involved in college athletics.

“Pat, like a lot of successful people, he’s so focused on doing what he needs to do that I think he sometimes maybe isn’t as proud of that as he needs to be,” Washington State President Kirk Schulz said. “Pat’s a little bit humble that way. He’s just a modern success story.”

Chun gained a reputation as a skilled fundraiser at Ohio State, having overseen record contributions to the Buckeyes’ athletic department that included $42 million in 2012 and $41 million the previous year. A “relationship builder” was how former Ohio State athletic director Andy Geiger, who gave Chun his first job as an intern, described his protege.

He became athletic director at Florida Atlantic in 2012, and three years later, the school announced the largest single gift in its history: $16 million. With Washington State’s athletic department facing a budget deficit of $67 million, according to a recently released internal audit, Schulz made it his priority hiring a candiwhom date with a deft fundraising touch.

As an added benefit, Chun had hired Lane Kiffin to be FAU’s football coach in December 2016. Chun’s experience dealing with the occasionally controversial Kiffin reassured Schulz and other Washington State officials that he could forge a fruitful working relationship with the Cougars’ colorful football coach, Mike Leach.

Chun flew to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport for an initial off-campus interview in January, volunteering to be the first of eight candidates to meet with the search committee. Six of the semifinalists, according to Schulz, were sitting athletic directors. The other was a top deputy Schulz said would be one in the near future.

“When you start getting more involved, then it hits you: ‘Wow, no one really looks like you,’ ” Chun said. “You never really quantify these things until you start competing for jobs and you’re trying to get to different levels of your career. It’s like, ‘Wow.’ It does hit you.”

The conversation with Chun left such a positive impression, Schulz recalled, that one member of the search committee, minutes after Chun left the room, said with the utmost sincerity, “I think we’re done.”

‘It means a little bit more’

Chun was to be introduced at Washington State on Jan. 17, but university officials pushed the ceremony back a week because of a tragedy that had left the campus reeling. The day before Chun’s originally scheduled news conference, Tyler Hilinski, a redshirt sophomore quarterback on track to start for the Cougars this season, committed suicide in his Pullman apartment.

The sensitivity with which Chun navigated those tragic circumstances endeared him to the football program, the athletic department and the Washington State community, colleagues said.

Continue reading the article HERE.

5 Jewish baseball players hit home runs on the same day

Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers connecting for his second home run of the game against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, June 8, 2018. (Corey Perrine/Getty Images)

By Ron Kaplan         

(JTA) — June 8 was the most productive day for Jewish batters in Major League Baseball history.

Five members of the tribe combined for six home runs on Friday to help their respective teams to victory. Here’s the scorecard:

Ryan Braun, “The Hebrew Hammer,” hit two home runs, driving in five runs to lead the Milwaukee Brewers to a 12-4 win over the Philadelphia Phillies — who have a Jewish manager in Gabe Kapler. Braun’s three-run shot with two outs in the first inning broke a scoreless tie. His two-run homer, again with two outs, left Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Ballpark with an exit velocity of 112.9 miles per hour, according to the new high-tech analytics. It’s the hardest ball Braun has hit since they started measuring these things in 2015.

Kevin Pillar, the Toronto Blue Jays outfielder who is known more for his outstanding defensive play than his skills at the plate, hit his sixth homer of the year and third in seven games in a 5-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles. His eighth-inning solo shot gave the Blue Jays their final run. Danny Valencia, the third baseman for the O’s that night, was the only Jewish position player not to hit one out on Friday.

Alex Bregman hit his eighth home run, a solo drive, in the Houston Astros’ 7-3 win over the Texas Rangers. The Astros selected his younger brother A.J. in the recent MLB draft, so it’s conceivable they could become the first set of Jewish brothers to play on the same team since Norm and Larry Sherry were members of the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1959 to 1962.

 

CONTINUE reading the article here.

a film by Aviva Kempner