On the Ball

March 31, 2002

 

Special-events programming is a big hit among alumni in the field. One recent gathering touched all the bases for fans of the rawhide sphere. "Baseball as America," the first major exhibition exploring baseball and American culture, brought National Baseball Hall of Fame treasures to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. On April 17, a reception, program, and private viewing, sponsored by the Duke Alumni Association and DUMAA (Duke University Metropolitan Alumni Association), was arranged for local alumni and friends.

This is the first time these Hall of Fame artifacts have left their legendary home in Cooperstown, New York. "Through the exploration of a broad range of themes, including immigration, nationalism, integration, technology, and popular culture," according to the museum's website (www.amnh.org/exhibitions/baseball), the exhibit reveals "how baseball has served as both a reflection and a shaper of American society." Some of the treasures on view are the original cornerstone of Ebbets Field, home of the Brooklyn Dodgers until 1958; seats from the Polo Grounds, the home of the New York Giants that was razed in 1964; Yogi Berra's glove and Don Larsen's ball, used in the only perfect World Series game in 1956; and Jackie Robinson's jersey. Dick Groat '53 was guest speaker for the evening event, and DUMAA president Susan Callahan '86 was host.

As for other sporting spheres, Blue Devil basketball still rules, on campus and off. Former Duke star Shane Battier '01 has lent his time and talent to several local alumni clubs while traveling with his team, the Memphis Grizzlies. On November 21, when the Grizzlies played the Cleveland Cavaliers, Battier spoke to nearly seventy alumni and friends at a postgame reception at Gund Arena, arranged by the Duke Club of Northeast Ohio. The club there has had a string of Blue Devil courtmen in the past: Danny Ferry '89 appeared for seven years at club events until he left the Cavaliers in 2000, says club member Tom Cirincione M.B.A. '90, and Trajan Langdon '99 has spoken to the group two years in a row. Carol L. Smith '87 is the club's president.

Battier was the speaker at a reception held by the Duke Club of South Florida when the Grizzlies played the Miami Heat on December 28. Club president Nelson Bellido '89 reports that Battier thanked alumni for the particularly warm reception he received when he was introduced at the beginning of the game. Battier said he is usually booed when brought on an opposing team's court. He even signed autographs and posed for pictures at the event, attended by about sixty.

Julie Hilton Calkins '90, president of the Duke Club of Memphis, reports that the local club's alumni board threw Battier a "Welcome to Memphis" dinner party on January 7, a night when he was between home games. "The other cool part of our event," she writes, "was that it happened to be held during the two days that MTV was filming Shane for an upcoming show called 'How to Live Like a Sports Star.' They did film during our dinner. It was clearly part of 'living as a sports star' to be invited to a catered dinner in your honor by your alumni group." The show was to air in February during the NBA All-Star game weekend.

Another popular Duke "star" is the university's president, Nannerl O. Keohane, who seems to be on the road almost as much as some athletic teams. She attends dinners for alumni, to give them a Duke update and present the video "Outrageous Ambitions" about the Campaign for Duke. On December 12, she was a guest of the Duke Club of Philadelphia, whose president is Kimberly Hendrix '92, J.D. '95. She was accompanied by Gary Melchionni '73, J.D. '81, Duke Alumni Association president, and Spike Yoh B.S.E. '58, who chairs Duke's board of trustees.

On January 15, Colby Walton '94, president of the Duke Club of North Texas, was host at a dinner for Keohane in Dallas. She was joined by Peter Denker B.S.E. '59, who chairs the North Texas Regional Campaign Council, and Duke trustee Nancy Nasher J.D. '79.

Keohane spoke to alumni and friends at a dinner in Washington, D.C., on March 5, where her host was Douglas M. Firstenberg '82, president of the Duke Club of Washington. Sharing the podium was Judy Woodruff '68, Duke trustee emerita; Dennis I. Meyer, the father of four Duke graduates; and DAA president Melchionni. Keohane had made an appearance earlier that day with the Duke Club of Baltimore, whose president is Stephen Yang '80.

May's schedule for Duke's president will take her from Texas to South Carolina. On May 2, she is slated to be the principal speaker at a dinner with the Duke Club of Houston, whose president is John Tobin J.D. '99. Other planned speakers are Roswell F. Vaughan III '60, a Duke parent who chairs Houston's Regional Campaign Council, and Rebecca Trent Kirkland '64, M.D. '68, a Duke trustee. Keohane is scheduled to appear on May 6 at a luncheon held by the Duke Club of Charleston, whose president is Sandi Feaster B.S.E. '94, and will be honored that evening by the Duke Club of Hilton Head. Torrey Glass '74 is the club's president. London looms for the president on May 30.