Unapostrophizing

Some things to clear out of the in basket (which consists of a :

Apostrophizing:By way of Lydell, news that the apostrophe is really and truly dead–or at least no one really knows what to do with it anymore. The item is from the Chicago Tribune’s Mary Schmich. She notes a momentous local occasion: The unveiling of a statue of Ernie Banks outside Wrigley Field. The exterior of the inoffensive old ballpark also hosts a hideous sculptural tribute to the celebrated late beer-swiller Harry Caray, but that’s another story. Schmich describes the legend on the Banks installation:

Was the inscription on the correct side of the granite base? Yes, it was. Right down there on Ernie’s left it said:

LETS PLAY TWO.

Let us play two. Your 5th-grade teacher taught you this. When you drop a letter between words, you insert an apostrophe. In other words:

LET’S PLAY TWO.

“I’m the sculptor, I’m not a writer,” said Cella, sounding good-natured. “I just read it the way I heard it in my head.”

I will not argue with the directive Schmich remembers her teacher imparting (if I were to argue, I’d say the directive is incomplete). What is lovely here is that the artist shrugged off the error. It was not his job to get it right. And the job of no one else, either, because lots of people saw this thing before it went public and never flagged the error. (The episode is reminiscent of one here in the Bay Area a few years ago in which an installation at a public library included several misspelled names.)

I’m sure Ernie was happy with the inscription, with or sans apostrophe. Chances are this will be the most interesting thing his old team does this year. In the spirit of Mr. Cub, I offer a slogan for the season: The Cubs will be orthographically reprobate in 2008. Catchy, huh?

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5 Replies to “Unapostrophizing”

  1. I know a house in San Jose where you can pick up an apostrophe or two not being put to proper use. Take ’em to Chicago. Fix things.

  2. Fortunately there may be enough space to “artfully” add the apostrophe. I’d hate to do the opposite and erase something like that from granite–can you say “Spackle?” But when you think about it, the missing ‘ kind of fits in with the slightly out of whack nature of the Cubs and Wrigley. The black cat 1969 team; the 16-1 Rick Sutcliffe, 1984 San Diego swoon; the screwy fan interfering with the foul ball a few years back. And of course the ghastly Harry Carey post-mortem-resin-drenched bronze job over on Clark street. Now that(!) is a sculpture I’d be happy to melt into mortar rounds…and let 10th Mountain Division lob into Waziristan or some similar hellhole. I think even Harry would approve. Who knows, might even hit Bin Laden. Anyway, I’m sure there’s more to the list if you’d care to add anything.
    In the artist’s defense, he may have been transposing the text directly from something that was given to him, say, a White Castle burger sack with detailed instructions clearly spelled out between grease spots. At least that is what he should have offered as an excuse. It is a mistake that is easily corrected but which, in my opinion, should be left “as is” to keep people wondering about the enigma of the Cubs.
    Could you imagine the same mistake being made on a Lou Pinella statue? Sweet Lou would go…”nucular”.

  3. The “latest” from Clark and Addison is that the mistake has been fixed.
    Regarding your Piniella hypothetical, I offer this: Soon after Billy Martin became manager of the A’s, his boyhood hometown, Berkeley, decided to honor him. The city mothers and fathers decided that they’d memorialize Billy at the park where he used to play ball as a kid (another neighborhood lad who played there: Reggie Jackson). The place is called James Kenny Park, after an early Berkeley fire chief who died in the line of duty. The city had just refurbished the baseball field there, put in lights and fences and bleachers. The city decided name the field, but not the park, after Billy. He was invited to a ceremony, but thought that the whole park was being named in his honor. When he got to the event, he discovered that it was only the field that would bear his name. He told the park people to forget about it and left in a snit (no marshmallow salespeople were harmed in the production of the drama). The city withdrew the honor, and the field still languishes nameless.

  4. Don’t forget the Cracker Jack’s. Speaking of which: Now there’s a real old-time snack for you. I haven’t had it in years. Wonder if there’s still a “prize” inside?

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