Paul Scimonelli on going to watch the Washington Senators play baseball at Griffith Stadium back in the day~
“The only reason to come to the stadium, and that was Shirley Povich and Bob Addy said the same thing, there’s no reason to go see a last place team, and the only reason to go there was Roy Sievers. . . He should be in the Ring of Honor, he really did cement baseball in the 1950s when there was nothing . . .”
Andy Ockershausen: This is Our Town and I’m Andy Ockershausen, and my wife Janice Ockershausen, I should announce this at the beginning of the program, she is actually the producer. I’m talking to Paul Scimonelli, who’s a very important part of WMAL’s history, as Janice and I are, but Paul is a one of a kind. He’s a teacher, a musician, a performer, a director, and he had his own jazz-rock band called Street Life for 30-plus years–
Paul Scimonelli: Still do.
Andy Ockershausen: -Playing all over the US. He was a member of the United States Marine Band, how did that happen, I want to talk about that. He’s been a teacher, he worked at Landon School in our Bethesda for 16 years, and how do you cram that much into your young life? He wrote a book, a beautiful book about Roy Sievers, that nobody in our audience remembers Roy Sievers except you and I, and the new people are gonna be watching. But Paul Scimonelli, welcome to Our Town.
Paul Scimonelli: Thank you, Andy, it’s great to be here, it really is great to be here back at WMAL again after so many years.
Andy Ockershausen: It makes Janice and I come alive, because our lives were intertwined in this building with these people, and it continues, and we both get so much out of it now. She has her own business and I have my own business and work for her, and we both love to be part of WMAL for a lot of reasons, and always will be. AM, FM, skywriting, we don’t care.
Paul Scimonelli: It’s the greatest station in DC, it really is.
Andy Ockershausen: The greatest thing that ever happened to this community I think, for a while. But Paul, what is this Marine Band? How do you become a Marine and you’re still in the Marine Band?
Paul Scimonelli Played White House After Parties as a Member of the United States Marine Band
Paul Scimonelli: That was back in the Vietnam era, and my dad got me an audition in the Marine Band in 1968 actually.
Andy Ockershausen: Down at 8th and I, is that where-
Paul Scimonelli: 8th and I, that’s where I was stationed, at 8th and I. It just so happened that the Marine Band wanted to get a bigger presence in the White House, because the Air Force Strings were doing all of the parties and all of the arrivals and all of the different ceremonies and stuff like that, and so the Marines, which is actually called the President’s Own, started by Thomas Jefferson, they wanted to have a bigger presence. Yes, the Marine Band would go in there and they would play before dinner, but then they would leave and then the Air Force-
Andy Ockershausen: Strings would take over.
Paul Scimonelli: They would take over, and they would do the only entertainment. Well, they wanted to have a combo and there weren’t players in the band that knew combo repertoire, tunes, just regular tunes. And I came in there, and I actually could sing a little bit of rock-and-roll, the old Jeremiah was a Bullfrog kind of thing, that was the day. They went crazy, they wanted to have someone with that kind of flexibility to be in the White House, and to play for the after parties. What would normally go on in the White House was that there’d be a big group with strings and horns and they’d play as people were coming in for the state dinners, I remember the big thing they had for President of France that came in there, we played for that. Then they’d go in, they would eat, the Air Force strings would go in and stroll during the dinner.
Paul Scimonelli: Then they would come back out, and they would go into the West Room for entertainment, in the Salon, and they would have entertainment. Then the band would leave and there’d usually be nothing, well then they would have a combo, and we would stay afterwards, they would pass around the cigars and the champagne, all that kind of stuff, and we would play for dancing. I got to see McNamara get red in the face from dancing all over the place, and we’d play our rock-and-roll. Nixon liked to party, Nixon liked to party, I was there mostly for the Nixon years. They wanted to have a combo presence there in the band, so that was primarily what I did. For the four years that I was in the band, I played in the White House and that was my job, or the State Department, or the Commandant’s Garden, or any kind of big function where they needed a dance band.
Andy Ockershausen: Did you travel when the band traveled?
Paul Scimonelli: Occasionally.
Andy Ockershausen: Because they would go overseas occasionally, the Marine Band.
Marine Band Played Event at Hotel del Coronado in San Diego
Paul Scimonelli: Not at that time, we went to San Diego, I remember that was a big deal, everybody in the universe went down there for the President of Mexico, there was great big dinner at the Hotel del Coronado.
Andy Ockershausen: The Coronado I know well.
Paul Scimonelli: Big, big place there, so that was a lot of fun.
Andy Ockershausen: You were so important in our life at WMAL, what you did for us, for the company was like a house band, like Janice would prefer, we were big time, we had our own house band.
Paul Scimonelli: I loved it.
Andy Ockershausen: One time radio stations had to have their own musicians.
Muscians’ Union Back in the Day
Paul Scimonelli: Yes, back in the ’40s that was a reason why the musician’s union became so important, when Petrillo was the head man in New York, and he was a real hatchet man, he was almost as bad as Jimmy Hoffa. He would just say, “You got to pay the guys more or we’re taking them out of the studio.”
Andy Ockershausen: And they would do it.
Paul Scimonelli: And they had to have live musicians in the studio.
Andy Ockershausen: It was in the contract.
Paul Scimonelli: For all of those, all of the radio programs that you can think of, Gunsmoke, As the World Turns, it was all live, done with live people. It’s been there-
Andy Ockershausen: Well then you were the instrumental in our growth, and your dad particularly because he was a musician, and he was an important part of Harden and Weaver, I think they made as much of Scimonelli as they made of anybody. It was so important to our golf tournament, and then to Bill Mayhugh for our fundraiser. If you remember at WMAL, we were constantly raising money for some cause.
Paul Scimonelli: Always.
Andy Ockershausen: Children’s Hospital or the Medical Center.
Bill Mayhugh’s Leukemia Radiothon
Paul Scimonelli: WMAL was really important in the life of the Leukemia Society, and I think they were the number one voice, I think that between LSA and MAL they raised so much money for research in that area.
Andy Ockershausen: Leukemia, it was a national effort and we were held up nationally as a way to raise money, and it was painless, we never had sold anything, people would just send us money.
Paul Scimonelli: It was so much fun.
Andy Ockershausen: They enjoyed it.
Paul Scimonelli: They were great stuff. I think we did it for 20 years, I’m pretty sure we started in 1980, I think it was the first one that Bill Mayhugh did, or there abouts, and our keyboard player Julio Fonseca was the one who heard of this.
Andy Ockershausen: We had such a good, that was a good party time. Let me talk to you about the old Scimonelli background, University of Arizona, Music Master’s in 1976-
Paul Scimonelli: Wait a minute, let me-
Andy Ockershausen: And then the Catholic University of America.
Dr. Frank Scimonelli, Navy Band, and Harden and Weaver
Paul Scimonelli: I’ve got a lot of degrees, but the whole thing goes back to my dad and Harden and Weaver, that’s really where this all started. Jackson Weaver of course was the announcer for the United States Navy Band Radio Hour during the war years, and my dad was the soloist with the Marine Band.
Andy Ockershausen: At the Navy Yard, the studio.
Paul Scimonelli: At the Sail Loft in that studio right there, and they would come and they would do victory shows and all that stuff, and my dad got in 1940, so all during the war years they did all these broadcasts and they became very close friends. And so when Frank Harden and Jackson Weaver came here, he came with them and they did all kinds of fancy things. And my dad, who played a unique instrument, the English post-horn, he would come and do solos for Jackson Weaver, his golf tournaments and the benefits.
Andy Ockershausen: Your dad was sensational.
Paul Scimonelli: My father was a tremendous musician.
Andy Ockershausen: He had a good time too.
Paul Scimonelli: He really did.
Andy Ockershausen: He really loved doing it, and that thing that the Navy did, the Navy, they did that, that was a national broadcast.
Paul Scimonelli: National broadcast, yes, all over.
Andy Ockershausen: Coast to coast.
Paul Scimonelli: Yes, and that’s where he actually met my mom there at the Sail Loft.
Andy Ockershausen: Brendler, remember Brendler? I went to high school with his son, we called him Yogi.
Paul Scimonelli: Really?
Andy Ockershausen: His father was the head of the Navy Band.
Paul Scimonelli: I know, Charles, are you kidding? We knew Brendler, he was rather straight laced and a little dictatorial.
Andy Ockershausen: He had to be to run that band.
Paul Scimonelli: It was the days of Toscanini, conductors were in that particular mold. My word is law-
Andy Ockershausen: Toscanini was owned by NBC, wasn’t he? Didn’t he work for them?
Paul Scimonelli: Toscanini was owned by nobody.
Andy Ockershausen: I meant they owned his, he was on NBC.
Paul Scimonelli: NBC Symphony Orchestra, yes. He was the conductor-
Andy Ockershausen: Because WMAL was part of the deal with the Red and the Blue Network then, the Red and the Blue, so Toscanini could only appear on the Red Network, which was NBC, couldn’t appear on the Blue Network, which was ABC. That’s a little trivia, but it’s worth something. Do you think so boss?
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: Yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: Yeah, Janice likes it. How did you get to CU then?
Dr. Frank Scimonelli – Education and Career
Paul Scimonelli: My father, my dad actually started his degree work at Catholic University in 1946 right after the war with the GI Bill, and they were giving out free money and my dad said, “Okay.” He started there at the-
Andy Ockershausen: What a wonderful thing, that GI Bill was a great thing for America.
Paul Scimonelli: Unbelievable, got his first degree in 1950, got his Master’s degree in 1952, then he was busy with the band, couldn’t do a whole lot, then after he got out of the band he was the Head of Music at Prince George’s College in Largo, Maryland.
Andy Ockershausen: Junior college.
Paul Scimonelli: Yes, now it’s a Prince George’s College.
Andy Ockershausen: Now it’s a university, isn’t it?
Catholic University and Father Gilbert Hartke
Paul Scimonelli: No, it’s a college, it’s Prince George’s College, it’s not a university yet. It was Prince George’s Community College at the time. He started the music program there in 1964, built it up, built up the building and the whole nine yards, they paid for his degree, went back to Catholic University and got his degree in ’72 I believe it was, and finished his Doctorate there. So he got all three of his degrees there, he knew everybody in the university, and he knew John Paul, Dr. John Paul had been a former Director of Music at the Navy School of Music at Norfolk. So my dad just called him, said, “Can you get us in?”
Andy Ockershausen: You got connected, how about Father Hartke, did he help him? Remember Gilbert Hartke?
Paul Scimonelli: Of course.
Andy Ockershausen: The drama school.
Paul Scimonelli: Actually he helped my brother Glenn, my brother Glenn actually got into the drama school and started working there with Father Hartke. Then after a couple years, he got in the Air Force Band and then decided it was too far away, and he went to University of Maryland, finished up his degree there. But he worked under Father Hartke and acted under Father Hartke with Six Characters in Search of an Author.
Andy Ockershausen: He was a precious man to Our Town, Hartke, we love Father Hartke. He loved Harden and Weaver too, he was aware of everything going on in Our Town.
Paul Scimonelli: Absolutely.
Andy Ockershausen: We’re talking to Paul Scimonelli about Our Town and his contribution as a musician, and what he has done as a citizen. He got involved with the school system in addition to Landon, and you also taught or worked with the public schools, did you not?
Paul Scimonelli Taught Music Throughout Our Town
Paul Scimonelli: I worked in PG County public schools as a substitute teacher, Howard County public schools as a substitute teacher, I taught at PG College for a couple of years when dad was there. I taught for 10 years part-time at Howard Community College, and I was pretty much the head of the jazz program there from ’86 to ’96, until I got the job at Landon, and I left Howard to go to Landon School. I finished up all of my teaching, I did a lot of bouncing around.
Andy Ockershausen: You have really been around, but it’s all connected with music.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: Don’t forget Nashville, Tennessee.
Paul Scimonelli: Oh dear god, how can you forget that. I left in ’82 to go to Nashville.
Andy Ockershausen: We’re gonna talk about that, but right now we’re gonna take a break and come back. This is Our Town, this is Andy Ockershausen and we’re talking to Paul Scimonelli.
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Announcer: You’re listening to Our Town.
Andy Ockershausen: We’re talking to Paul Scimonelli, this is Andy Ockershausen, this is Our Town, and Paul brings up so many thoughts that just knocked me for a loop here. We’re talking about what happened to Our Town with a program we had to raise money for the Leukemia Foundation, hosted by Bill Mayhugh, it was a 24 hour effort, a marathon, and because of Bill’s popularity with the all night world, because he was on all night, he was friends with so many musicians. During this three or four or five hour window from 1:00 to 5:00 AM, they would get off work and come by. They’d stop into our program and sit down and become part of the show.
Bill Mayhugh’s Leukemia Radiothon Brought Out DC’s Finest Musicians
Paul Scimonelli: We had the PA system and we had all of the equipment all set up, so the guys could just come in off of their gigs and come down, and some of the finest players in Washington would come in and just jam. And Bill would love it, of course Bill played jazz all the time, we had the finest jazz players in town. They would come in, plug into our equipment and just blow, and just play, and it was just the greatest music that you could ever want. All the service band musicians would come in after their gigs, all of the union cats would come in. There was one time that we had the piano player who worked with Gershwin-
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: Marvin Hamlisch?
Paul Scimonelli: No.
Andy Ockershausen: Marvin we had in the studio.
Paul Scimonelli: No, the young guy with the crooning voice, he worked with Ira Gershwin.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: Michael Feinstein.
Paul Scimonelli: Michael Feinstein drops by, just happens to be in town, just happened to come in and drop by, and he loved Leukemia Society, he loved Bill Mayhugh because Bill played all of his songs, excuse my memory. He would sit in and he would play, and he tore the place apart of course because we were all young-
Andy Ockershausen: And he always had an audience late at night, because everybody was up and nobody was competing with us, it was great. One of the things I notice in your biography is this twin bass it’s called, a double bass, the reason I ask, my brother was a bass player, he played in local bands. In fact, he had his own band for a while, years ago, they’d play down at Chesapeake Beach or North Beach, local. He was a good friend of Marty Emerson, who was Secretary of the Union-
Paul Scimonelli: And eventually became president, he eventually became president.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh, did he? But the secretary was very important. If we had some disagreement with the union, I could call Marty because of my brother’s friendship with him, and he would walk us through what we had to do. But that was the relationship that we had, because of WMAL, you were a big part of that Paul.
Paul Scimonelli: I was happy to lend my talents to WMAL for all the stuff that you did, and it wasn’t just the leukemia radio-thon, we did golf tournaments, we did Harden and Weaver Golf Tournament, Bobby Mitchell had a big golf tournament that supported LSA as well, and a couple of times we got up to the country club there and we played a couple gigs, dances for them as well.
Andy Ockershausen: We always put the dots together, we help them and they’d help us, and we were just talking about James Brown, JB was one of us because he helped us back in the early days. Now he’s a big star, but he still remembers what we used to do. I hate to tell you this, but you probably know Bill Mayhugh’s health is not good, but he’s with us all the time in our thoughts, Janice and I talk about it. He occasionally will call, talk to Jan more than he will me, but those are golden days Paul and you were a big part of it. I did not know about the Marine thing, are you retired from the Marines, do they still pay you?
Paul Scimonelli: Oh no.
Andy Ockershausen: To me you’re a Marine hero.
Paul Scimonelli: Oh please, I appreciate that.
Andy Ockershausen: You got rid of the Air Force Strings.
Paul Scimonelli: I did four years from ’69 to ’73.
Andy Ockershausen: Almost like a civilian, huh?
After the Marines
Paul Scimonelli: Yeah, it wasn’t a career path for me, I decided I wanted to do something else, and I really wanted to write music, and I really wanted to try to get into the music business. So I spent an awful lot of time with bands, I started bands in 1974 with my brother Glenn, and then just kept moving on from there. Went down to University of Arizona for a couple of years to get my Master’s degree and worked out there. Played a lot of jazz out there, came back, and then I went to Nashville for three years, which was not pleasant.
Andy Ockershausen: Country music capital of the world.
Paul Scimonelli: There are too many negatives to go along with the positives, but that’s a different, that’s a long story. But I came back here.
Andy Ockershausen: You mentioned back probably in the late ’70s, early ’80s, the Langley High School here in Northern Virginia had a stage band, and the kids were so great. I saw them, I went over and visited them and we did a concert from there, they’re 12 and 13 year old kids playing music, they’re reading charts of the best, they’re reading Quincy Jones, they’re doing everything. To see young people is so inspiring.
High School Bands and Hank Levy
Paul Scimonelli: I actually opened with that band when I was at Catholic University, there was a fantastic musician there by the name of Hank Levy. Hank Levy’s biggest claim to fame was that he did all these odd metered time charts, in 7/4, 5/4, 11/4, 13/4, they’re just weird time things. But he wrote for Don Ellis, he wrote for Stan Kenton, he wrote for a lot of big bands, and he would … We had a band at Catholic University filled with service band players, and everybody could read their faces off, so he would try out his charts there with us before he would send them to Don Ellis and stuff like that. We would be his reading band, he would get, he’s say, “Oh I like this tune, I’m gonna send this to Don.”
Paul Scimonelli: So one year, the Catholic University Jazz Band, on the direction of Hank Levy, we were the featured band, it was called the Bands of Tomorrow Contest, and Langley would always come in there. And Oakton High School had a fantastic band, Oxon Hill High School had a fantastic band, unbelievable, there was so much jazz that was going on in the late ’60s and early ’70s, that was really the heyday of-
Andy Ockershausen: That doesn’t exist anymore Paul.
Paul Scimonelli: It still does, and there’s still a lot of kids that do that, but it’s not as prevalent as it was before, but it’s still there.
Andy Ockershausen: I love jazz, and I love stage bands. We saw the University of Miami stage band, we were down in Naples, Florida, they blew the roof off, the Philharmonic down there. Great musicians, I don’t know what happened to them, but I guess they went on to big things.
Paul Scimonelli: The bass player who was with David Letterman, who was Lee, I’ll get his first name in a minute, his father was the doctor who ran the jazz program at the University of Miami, and he came out of there. He went right to New York and became famous, that’s how big University of Miami and the other one was North Texas State. North Texas State had one of the most fantastic-
Andy Ockershausen: Denton, Texas. We’re gonna take a break here boss, and we’re gonna come back and talk about a new life, a different life for Paul Scimonelli. He wrote a book that is not the bestseller it should be, but we’re gonna help him do that. This is Our Town, this is Andy Ockershausen, we’ll be right back.
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Announcer: You’re listening to Our Town with Andy Ockershausen, brought to you by Best Bark Communications.
Andy Ockershausen: This is Andy Ockershausen, Our Town, and Paul Scimonelli has written a book that I found so interesting, because it’s part of my life in reading what he has written about one of the great ball players that has not been recognized probably, named Roy Sievers. Those of us who grew up in Our Town, and went to Griffith Stadium many a time, I would go and it would cost $.25 cents to sit in the bleachers and it was great. It got up to $.35 cents to sit over in the pavilion, and then $.50 cents to sit in a good seat, but we liked the bleachers because we could get a suntan and bring our own beer. That’s all changed, Paul. We saw Roy play.
Paul Scimonelli: Did you?
Andy Ockershausen: I started going to the games when Luke Appling was alive and played.
Paul Scimonelli: Goodness gracious, that goes back.
Andy Ockershausen: At the stadium, and I worked there selling hot dogs and the stand was right underneath the bleachers, the hot dog stand. But to see these great ball players, and Roy Sievers was as great as any ever played, for the Washington-
Roy Sievers | Washington Senators Baseball
Paul Scimonelli: He was the only-
Andy Ockershausen: -Senators.
Paul Scimonelli: The only reason to come to the stadium, and that was Shirley Povich and Bob Addy said the same thing, there’s no reason to go see a last place team, and the only reason to go there was Roy Sievers.
Andy Ockershausen: Or the visiting team, you had a double reason.
Paul Scimonelli: Well, yeah. When the Yankees came or when Boston came or Detroit came, they had all the big stars and all that kind of stuff, but Roy Sievers was our star starting in 1954. He set franchise home run records from ’54 through ’57, franchise home run records.
Andy Ockershausen: He had 42 one year.
Paul Scimonelli: 1957 was-
Andy Ockershausen: -What was it, 154 games?
Paul Scimonelli: 154 games and he hit 42 home runs, 306 average, and 114 RBI, so he won the home run and RBI crown of that year. And of course, Ted Williams was hitting 3 million in four, and he only hit 306, so he wasn’t anywhere near Ted Williams batting average, so he couldn’t win the Triple Crown, but he came real close. But no one, and I say it again, no one on a last place team had ever won a home run and RBI title before Roy Sievers came up and hit that ball. And because of that, because he started in ’54 hitting all those home runs with one arm, and I’ll talk to you about that later, he put butts in the seats, he put people coming to come see there.
Paul Scimonelli: In 1956 Calvin Griffith wanted to move the team, he wanted to get out of Washington because he wasn’t making enough hot dog money, so he wanted to have a better place. He was being courted by San Francisco, by Los Angeles, by Minneapolis, and by Texas, he had all kinds of people. Well, Roy Sievers was bringing in too many people, making him too much money, so with a last place team he was actually running in the black number one, and number two, Gabriel Murphy who was his accountant, and the senior minority stock holder-
Andy Ockershausen: Ended up owning the team.
Paul Scimonelli: No, he did not. He got into a huge fight with Griffith because Griffith wanted to move the team, so in ’56 he threatened a lawsuit. Then in ’58, as Estes Kefauver started all kinds of hearings, all kinds of stuff that we could go into, but he forced Griffith to stay in Washington. But the reason why he stayed in Washington, A, Murphy threatened a lawsuit, and B, Roy Sievers hitting too many home runs and putting people in the seats. Then in ’57, boom, he has a career year, everybody’s coming to see the Senators, he’s making too much money. ’58, almost the same thing, he hit 39 home runs and 95 RBI.
Andy Ockershausen: That’s incredible.
Paul Scimonelli: Then in 1959, he has Bob Allison and Harmon Killebrew, and Bob Allison, Harmon Killebrew, Roy Sievers, and Jim Lemon combine for 106 home runs, they were the second place team in home runs against the Cleveland Indians in 1959, and they still had the worst run production in the league. Because they were hitting solo home runs, nobody else was getting on base, nobody else was getting on base so they’re hitting solo home runs all over the place, it was unbelievable. But they were still bringing people-
Andy Ockershausen: People were coming there.
Paul Scimonelli: -Out to the stands. And my contention is, Roy Sievers saved this franchise, if he had-
Andy Ockershausen: Saved it for Bob Short.
Arguably Roy Sievers Saved Washington’s Baseball Franchise
Paul Scimonelli: If Griffith had moved the team in 1956, there would have been an absolute void of team, and maybe, in the what-if factor, maybe there would not have been expansion in the American and National League in 1960, but because they stayed, because of the Kefauver hearings of trying to break the antitrust rule and the reserve clause, they stayed and then they decided, “Okay, we need to expand the league.” That’s when in 1960 you got the Mets and the Angels and the Houston Colt 45s, at that time, and the Minnesota Twins, which was the Washington Senators with Griffith who moved to Minnesota, and the new Washington Senators came in 1961. Baseball stayed here for Bob Short, another curmudgeon who wound up selling the team in 1971 to Texas and became the Texas Rangers and all that stuff.
Paul Scimonelli: If it were not for Sievers, my contention is that he would have moved sooner, he would have jumped to Minneapolis sooner, there would have been a void, there may not have been baseball in Washington until 2005 when we got the other team.
Andy Ockershausen: You lived through it Paul, as I have, and trying to get a team here, we had that void with no baseball all those years. To see what’s happening to Our Town, because of baseball and that stadium, Southwest Washington’s exploded.
Baseball and New Stadium Brings About Washington DC Renaissance
Paul Scimonelli: Unbelievable, the building is going on, it’s a complete renaissance, my brother Don, who is the manager of the DC Heliport, which is right across the street from the stadium. They’re building that stadium that’s right next to there, they’re thinking of expanding the heliport and making that bigger and making that a bigger spot.
Andy Ockershausen: All the buildings going in down there, it’s been so great, we had the great architect Arthur Cotton Moore, he doesn’t like the stadium, he said the stadium in his mind was like Baltimore, a ball park, he thinks this new stadium is too modern. But that was done by the city, and you know.
Paul Scimonelli: It’s a chrome and glass toilet as far as I’m concerned. Great sight lines, you can see everything in the field, but the building looks like one of the buildings from Downtown Washington, it just looks like an office building.
Andy Ockershausen: And you can’t see the Capital building, that’s another reason. But let’s get back to Roy, and baseball, and I don’t why we can’t help you with that Ring, they give you some help, he did so much for Our Town.
Paul Scimonelli: He should be in the Ring of Honor, he really did cement baseball in the 1950s when there was nothing in Washington outside, the Redskins were terrible in the ’50s, there was nothing going there. There wasn’t basketball-
Andy Ockershausen: It sounds like now, doesn’t it?
Paul Scimonelli: Gee, nothing’s changed in the last 50, 60 years. Andy Ockershausen: How are the Redskins gonna do? What has changed? Nothing, therefore they’re gonna do the same, mediocre is mediocre, that’s what’s gonna happen.
Paul Scimonelli: Now we’ve got a great team that’s actually contending, and they’re contending I think because of the past teams that were here, and the past players that we had. There were great players, there was Frank Howard, there was Mike Epstein, Ed Brinkman, Dick Bosman, there was good pitchers in the expansion.
Andy Ockershausen: Camilo Pascual, he was one of my favorites.
Paul Scimonelli: He was actually, he and Roy Sievers I believe are the last two who actually played on the original Senators and the expansion Senators. Camilo Pascual went to Minnesota, pitched there, and then was traded back to the Washington Senators.
Andy Ockershausen: Roy also talks in the book, or you put the words in his mouth, but the Cuban influence because of Clark Griffith, he didn’t do it for Cuba, he did it for money.
Paul Scimonelli: Because Joe Cambria-
Andy Ockershausen: That was his scout down there.
Paul Scimonelli: Joe Cambria was his scout in Cuba.
Andy Ockershausen: What people should have realized, Cubans were great baseball players, as they got more maturity as a baseball country, they won the Olympics, Cubans got good baseball.
Paul Scimonelli: They had great baseball, they really had great baseball even back then, and the thing was that they were a cheap product. They would come up here and play for the minimum just to get out of Cuba, and because even at that time $5,000 a year might as well have been $500,000 a year to these guys who were living in sugar cane fields. So he was getting cheap talent out of Cuba all the time, and several of them went on. Tony Oliva, Hall of Famer, Zoilo Versalles, who was the MVP of 1965 series, Rod Carew was another one, Hall of Fame.
Andy Ockershausen: I didn’t know that, wow.
Paul Scimonelli: Hall of Famer, all of those guys, Camilo Pascual and Pedro Ramos were both of the Cubans that were there, Jose Valdivielso, who was a good player who had a good career.
Andy Ockershausen: Who was the little guy that wore a sombrero on the mound, and they had-
Paul Scimonelli: Connie Marrero.
Andy Ockershausen: I saw him pitch, I went to the ballpark and saw all these guys, I mentioned to you about Luke Appling, but some of the names, like the Tigers came to town, they came with Hal Newhouser, they came with players. When they came, they’re gonna win, they were winners, and the Senators weren’t. But the Senators had Roy Sievers and everybody wanted to see him, against every pitcher.
Online Petition to Induct Roy Sievers into Nationals Ring of Honor
Paul Scimonelli: They wanted to see him, the whole nine yards, and I’ve started to petition online to get Roy into the Hall of Fame, it’s at GoPetition.com, and I’ve posted it on my Facebook page.
Andy Ockershausen: Why can’t we promote that, I think we can. Reading that introduction, I got to be very friendly with Bob Wolff when he was here, because he did some stuff for WMAL at that time, as a matter of fact when Jim Gibbons couldn’t make it, he’d let, Bob Wolff did some games for us. But in reading some of these things, he’s talking about the people that in my life, like Charlie Brotman, and people who worked with the Senators and the teams, and there’s no reason we can’t help Roy.
Paul Scimonelli: I would really appreciate that, I think he really deserves to be in the National’s Ring of Fame, I really feel, my contention is that there wouldn’t be a Washington Nationals’ team in this town.
Andy Ockershausen: Did you ever know there wouldn’t be an Andy Ockershausen without Janice Iacona.
Paul Scimonelli: And she’s putting the whole thing together.
Andy Ockershausen: She does it all.
Paul Scimonelli: You just go to Facebook and friend me, and then I also have a Facebook page that says Roy “Squirrel” Sievers, so you can actually go to that page and I’ve got the listing for the petition on the Roy Sievers’ page. I’ve also got it on my home page, Paul Scimonelli. If I can get at least some interest in there to show the Izzos and the Lerners –
Andy Ockershausen: Did Ted Lerner ever read this book, he grew up as a baseball fan.
Paul Scimonelli: I understand that, I’m gonna send it to him.
Andy Ockershausen: He’s a fan of baseball, because he’s in the age group, he’s in the 90s now, but he grew up when he was poor, and that’s what they’d do for recreation, they’d go to ball games. His son is not in good shape, you know.
“Until Television Every Kid Wanted to Play Baseball”
Paul Scimonelli: I didn’t know that. Kids didn’t do anything from 1900 until television, and with a different story, but until television occurred every kid wanted to play baseball, that was what they played. And I did this in a different interview, a podcast that I did a little while ago, and they brought this thing up, there were two things that kids gravitated towards between 1900 and 1950, their heroes were either ball players or sports players, boxers and baseball players, or jazz musicians.
Andy Ockershausen: The good music.
Paul Scimonelli: Bassey, Ellington, all the bebop players in the late ’40s that came on, kids went crazy for that kind of music until 1955, ’57, color TV, transistor radio, rock-and-roll and the Beatles in ’64. As things progressed, that’s what kids wanted to be, baseball was all kids did.
Andy Ockershausen: They’d play stick-ball in the street.
Paul Scimonelli: That’s all they did, I talked to him and his brother Bill Sievers and that’s all they wanted to do was to play baseball all day long. Their dad would come home from work and play stick-ball. In St. Louis-
Andy Ockershausen: That’s where Yogi and-
Paul Scimonelli: Joe Garagiola.
Andy Ockershausen: They grew up and played baseball.
Stick Ball | Cork Ball
Paul Scimonelli: Earl Weaver and Dick Williams also went to the same high school, Beaumont High School that Roy went to in St. Louis, and that’s all they played. In St. Louis they didn’t play stick-ball, they played cork-ball, they called it cork-ball. It was actually a rubber ball with a cork interior, like a fishing lure cork, wrapped around something, it wasn’t, stick-ball had a rubber ball that you hit. Cork ball was actually a cork centered kind of ball wrapped around with anything, tape, socks, whatever, and you just hit that thing wherever you could. So they played cork-ball, they played fuzz-ball, which was you get a tennis ball and you take all the fuzz off of it, and just use that. They used that or they would make up stick and ball games, just the whole nine yards.
Andy Ockershausen: It could be a broom stick, that’s about as big as a bat was.
Paul Scimonelli: It could be a stick, a stick that you get off of a tree, and they would use a stick off of a tree, something to hit a stone or rock or something with. They played-
Andy Ockershausen: That’s gone from our society now.
Paul Scimonelli: You can’t do that now, you can’t play-
Andy Ockershausen: You can’t play in the street.
Paul Scimonelli: You can’t play in the street anymore, and it’s unfortunately the tenor of our times, the violence of our times, there’s too many people going around, but that’s how kids grew up, they grew up playing baseball. Whitey Herzog’s book, who actually played with Roy 1957-
Andy Ockershausen: Then he became a great manager.
Paul Scimonelli: He grew up around outside of Missouri with Roy Sievers, and that’s all he played. He said they would play from the time school got finished, until it got too dark to play. On Saturdays that’s all they did, they’d get up at 9:00 in the morning and play all day long, they’d play 60, 100 innings worth of baseball all day long, and that’s where they taught themselves to play ball. They taught themselves to play ball by themselves, just by playing ball all the time. You don’t have that now, kids are in organized ball, you start with T-ball, a travel team, the whole nine yards. But I’m really pleased with the book.
Andy Ockershausen: The book is great, it’s all about Roy Sievers, but it’s more about a time and an age in the nation’s capital in Our Town, and I think it’s must reading. I will bring this to people’s attention to have some influence, and see if they can’t put a little pressure on them.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: And Paul, where can you get the book?
“Roy Sievers: ‘The Sweetest Right Handed Swing’ in 1950s Baseball”
Paul Scimonelli: It’s available at Amazon, it’s available at Barnes & Noble, it’s available at the Book Depository, which is an international place, and it’s available at McFarland Press. You can go to any of those places.
Andy Ockershausen: I use it as an information source, there’s so much in here that people should know about, Our Town and what we’ve been through.
Paul Scimonelli: I hope so.
Andy Ockershausen: What it was, what it is.
Paul Scimonelli: It’s not Peter Angel, it’s not Roger Kahn, it’s not George Will, I’m not-
Andy Ockershausen: They’re all great writers.
Paul Scimonelli: Great writers, but I think I did a-
Andy Ockershausen: The Boys of Summer.
Paul Scimonelli: Oh my god, what a great book. And Men at Work by George Will, a seminal book, a must read of baseball. But I’m hoping that people will find interest in a nice guy, he was a nice guy, a nice man. Bob Wolff says he was the nicest player that he ever knew in baseball, he was just a nice man who loved kids, he was humble, he never talked bad, never talked back to an umpire, never got thrown out of a ball game. The only time he ever talked back was to Al Lopez, and you got to buy the book, you can find out what he did. But he mouthed off to Al Lopez and got in trouble for that.
Andy Ockershausen: Al Lopez was from Tampa, right? His family had something to do with sponge fishing.
Paul Scimonelli: I think so.
Andy Ockershausen: I remember reading about him, but this has been a delightful conversation.
Paul Scimonelli: I really appreciate it.
Andy Ockershausen: What we can do, we meaning our effort here on Our Town, but also I’m on a couple of commissions and a couple of boards, and I see the Lerners from time to time. And Ted Lerner, he tries to be a baseball man because he loved baseball, he grew up in the city, and that was his sport.
Paul Scimonelli: Here, in DC? He grew up in this town?
Andy Ockershausen: Yes, absolutely.
Paul Scimonelli: Oh really, so he’s a native.
Andy Ockershausen: He’s a native.
Paul Scimonelli: I didn’t know.
Andy Ockershausen: His kids are too.
Paul Scimonelli: I thought they came from someplace else.
Andy Ockershausen: We all came from someplace else at one time.
Paul Scimonelli: But he’s building a fantastic team, the team is unbelievable, we’ve got three quality starters with the Nationals now, it really looks a great contention.
Andy Ockershausen: Now they’re looking for a fifth starter.
Paul Scimonelli: Wouldn’t it be nice, are you kidding, five.
Andy Ockershausen: If they can hold this thing through the playoff, they got to win in the playoff.
Paul Scimonelli: We’re not gonna see a pitching rotation of four man 20 winners, like they had in 1954 Cleveland, or the 1970 Orioles, but I think if they could get, if they have three 15-game winners, that’s almost half receiving, four 15-game winners, that’s incredible.
Andy Ockershausen: Now that after the fifth starter, I don’t know where they’re gonna get them from, but they’ve got good relief pitching and I would hope that we get to see some playoff wins.
Paul Scimonelli: I think so, I think this year we’re gonna have some.
Andy Ockershausen: We’ve got an audience, Paul they heard us and they rushed into see, they want an autograph. This is Our Town and it’s Andy Ockershausen, we’ve been talking to Paul Scimonelli about his career, his service in the Marine Corps, he saved us from a lot of atrocities with the Marines. And his book is a wonderful story of the Senators and Roy Sievers, one is the other to me, it was an era and it should be documented and you’ve done it. And Paul, thanks for all you do.
Paul Scimonelli: Thank you, I appreciate you having me on here, I really do.
Andy Ockershausen: You’re a big part of Our Town.
Paul Scimonelli: I love seeing the two of you again, you are a part of Our Town, and Janice and I grew up in the same town together.
Andy Ockershausen: She is Our Town, believe me.
Paul Scimonelli: She runs this place, if it wasn’t for her the place would fall apart.
Andy Ockershausen: We know that. Now we’ve got Ken, he’s keeping it alive. If things get bad, he’ll strum a little for us.
Paul Scimonelli: I really enjoyed doing this, thank you so much.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: Thank you, Paul.
Andy Ockershausen: Paul, thank you, this has been Our Town with Andy Ockershausen and Paul Scimonelli.
Announcer: You’ve been listening to Our Town Season 3, presented by GEICO our home town favorite, with your host Andy Ockershausen. New Our Town episodes are released each Tuesday and Thursday, drop us a line with your comments or suggestions, see us on Facebook, or visit our website at OurTownDC.com. Our special thanks to Ken Hunter our technical director, and WMAL Radio in Washington DC for hosting our podcast. And thanks to GEICO, 15 minutes can save you 15% or more on car insurance.
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