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October 30, 2014


Don Z. Block

I have to correct Joyce Stillman, who refers to Mcgowan as Mrs. She would go to great pains to refer to herself as MISS McGowan.

Does anyone know how she spelled her last name?

Don Z. Block

Joyce Stillman, how the hell are you? McGowan was a crusty old teacher who liked to sit on her wooden high chair and survey the class as if she were a queen. I did learn a lot in her class, though. When I realize how little my community college students know, I wish they could have been taught by a curmudgeon like McGowan. But did she make the right call on the crotch catch? Odor seems irrelevant; if Michael Lurie also became a counter tenor, that would be nice but also irrelevant. The salient question is did Michael hold on to the ball for at least two seconds after he removed it from his crotch. How long did he hold the ball up? If he did so for at least two seconds, and it seems likely that he did, then the catch was legit, and McGowan made the only mistake of her long life.

joyce stillman ps 217 class of 56

Mrs. McGowan , on the other had, was the only teacher of my six teachers that treated me fairly, without fat, or add prejudice. In my case she was elevated to sixth grade. Mrs Horenstein (sp) was my undoing in fifth..

Richard Mothpan

Actually, recent research in nineteenth-century baseball history provides some justification for Mrs. McGowan's call. On July 16, 1876, during the Pioneer League season, the “crotch catch” was executed by Ed “Moaner” Sonnenfeldt (also a third-baseman). According to contemporaneous accounts, the catch was made exactly as you describe, and the ball was held by the fielder in such manner for a prolonged period. The umpire ruled that the ball had thus been rendered “malodorous and unfit for further use,” and that Sonnenfeldt's spectacular play was therefore “not a fair catch.” Sonnenfeldt's professional baseball career was short (that one line drive was just about it) but curiously, years later he re-emerges in the world of baroque music, singing countertenor roles with the New York Pro Musica.

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