Ukulele, Baseball and Murder

The Gettysburg Times (5 August 1929) reported the fatal shooting of a ukulele player by former major league baseball player, Samuel (Red) Crane.  Crane shot John D. Oren at Bria’s Hotel and Crane’s ex-girlfriend, Ms Della Lyter,  as the two sat at a table in the Hotel.

Oren was playing the ukulele at the time of the attack, and he tried to use the ukulele as a weapon of defence. He managed to hit Crane a couple of times before falling with two gunshot wounds in his abdomen.

Crane then fled the scene, but three hours later he surrendered to police. He was bleeding from a head wound that the ukulele had left, so, after his arrest he was sent to hospital for treatment. Oren died hours after the shooting, and Ms Lyter died a few days later.

Crane was found guilty of the second degree murder of both his victims. He served at least 15 years in prison.

Published in: on August 5, 2010 at 8:56 pm  Comments (5)  
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Baseball, the Redsox and ukulele discrimination

The Pittsburgh Press of 3 December 1928 reported on the effects of prejudice and discrimination on the career of baseball player, Walter Shaner (who might have been born 24 May 1901, according to a summary of career-to-date in the Pittsburgh paper, 23 March 1929). Anyway, the report provides a sad commentary on collective human nature:

Walter Shaner, who is said to have been sent away from the Redsox a few years back because he played a ukulele too much, will be with the Cincinnati Reds next summer. He’s an outfielder.

They put the ukulele player in the outfield — typical. (By the way, how does one gauge too much, when it comes to ukulele playing?)

Published in: on April 18, 2010 at 7:34 am  Comments (1)  
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Bobby Goldsboro and the ukulele

According to an article in Billboard (5 October 1974, page 1961), Bobby Goldsboro’s interest in performing music was given a boost by a ukulele. When he was twelve years old, he visited a neighbour who had scored a ukulele for Christmas — one that had an Arther Godfred push-button gizmo to help make the chords. Now Bobby had an ear for music. He could remember tunes he heard on TV, complete with instrumental arrangement. So…

here I was with this ukulele, fooling around, trying to play something. As it turned out, I found a song the first time through, and everyone in my friend’s family ended up standing there staring at me, wondering where I’d learned to play.

The neighbour loaned the uke to Bobby permanently, ‘who promptly figured out how to play it without the chordmaker and continued to teach himself.’   Bobby recalled that

Over the next few years I got a series of improved instruments. Finally, I was looking through the Sears catalogue … I thought a bass-guitar was a big ukulele [but] I chose a guitar, which I played like a ukulele for a while anyway. Left the lower strings untuned and strummed [the top four strings] very carefully.

But the interesting thing, for me, is that Bobby originally really wanted to be a baseball player.

Published in: on January 2, 2010 at 6:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Ukulele and US Baseball Players

At least three US baseball players have had their names linked to the ukulele.

Joe DiMaggio’s photograph (with ukulele and a number of young women) appeared in Life magazine of 1 May, 1939, page 67. But it’s ok, he only pretends to play.

Baseball Digest revealed, in March 1973, that Norm Cash, who played for the Detroit Tigers, was a “ukelele strummer and a singer of Texas songs” off the field, and that “he’s not averse to doing solo dances either.”

Babe Ruth is featured in the New York Magazine of 7 March 1983 (page 48). It was reported that, in his spare time, Babe Ruth used to drop bars of soap from his penthouse into a fountain below, hoping to splash those passing by. “When he wasn’t bombing strangers, Ruth liked to party with friends … entertaining them by playing his ukulele (badly).”

If he had to do something badly, it might as well have been ukulele playing.

Published in: on January 1, 2010 at 8:11 am  Comments (1)  
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