March 31, 2008

Music of the Spheres

Major League Baseball has been having this rolling series of opening days this year—games in Japan and Washington—which is silly, since everybody knows that the capital-letter Opening Day only happens when your team gets going, so they might as well do them all at the same time. Which is why it's today (2:20 PM EST, Zambrano vs. Sheets) that we'll do an Opening Day post.

My loyalties lie elsewhere than here in Massachusetts, but here's a little something for the hometown crowd—M. J. Messer's "Una Schottische," published in 1874, and "Dedicated to the Una Base Ball Club of Charlestown—Junior Champions 1870-72-73." In 1960, the late Robert Cantwell offered an appreciation:
The amateur clubs were still in existence, and the junior champions were a club from a Boston suburb, called the Una Base Ball Club. When the Una nine won the championship again in 1873 it electrified a Boston dance music composer named M. J. Messer, of whom nothing is known except that he wrote the "Una Schottische" in honor of the victory. With this piece of music, baseball came very near winning a timeless composition in its honor. Perhaps the only barrier to its lasting popularity was its title. The "Una Schottische" was as vivid and lighthearted as the tunes of Oklahoma! almost a century later, and like that music possessed a charming country-dance or outdoor air; it was a work of happy enthusiasm that made it ideally suited for the band concerts that once accompanied ball games.
And here it is: just the sort of music to wax your handlebar mustache and beat up an Irish immigrant by.

I think I'll go get a hot dog.

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