Parnassua Imprints / ISBN 0940160641 (1996)
I am fascinated by the number of baseball star/vaudeville star couples there were in the early 1900s.
It seemed to be a "fatal attraction" virus that didn't peak until Marilyn Monroe-Joe DiMaggio in the 1950s.
Strong, silent, handsome athlete meets bubbling, gorgeous showgirl, and the chase is on.
It always helps if there are difficulties to overcome, as in -- one is already married. (In this case, Seeley.)
Love conquers all. Difficulties will be overcome. They will wed and become one. A child will be born.
And then the fighting begins over which career is more important -- baseball or show business.
Rube Marquard (Richard LeMarquis) was a leftie pitching star of the New York Giants.
Blossom Seeley (Minnie Guyer) was the bright, young star of The Hen-Pecks,
a Jerome Kern musical comedy. Her husband/manager had the unfortunate
idea of teaming her with a well-known sports figure in a vaudeville spot that
would attract both musical and baseball fans. "Breaking the Record" was
the name of a spot he had written for the new team of Marquard and Seeley,
little realizing it would not only become a hit on the vaudeville circuit but
would also end the marriage for which he had sacrificed his own career.
After a long court battle over adultry charges, the lovers were married in 1914
as Seeley approached her fourth month of pregnancy. But by then the luck of
the Giants had run out, and as Marquard's pitching statistics went down, so did
his popularity as a vaudeville performer. Blossom ignored his pleas to give up
show business for motherhood and went back on the road as a solo act.
The couple was separated in 1916 but not finally divorced until 1922. By that time Marquard's
career had all but disappeared, while Blossom had George Gershwin writing songs for her.
Considering the inequality of their careers, I was amazed that the book gives much more attention
to Marquard's life (and of baseball of his day) than to Blossom Seeley and the fascinating world of
early 1900s vaudeville. I really didn't need a play-by-play account of the Giants in their pennant-
winning years of 1911-1913, but that's what I got. And the book left several unanswered questions...
They had a son, but the author last mentions the newly-separated father taking his son the games
and seating him in the dug-out, and never mentions him again. The reader is left to wonder what
became of this child with such opposing heritages. And the author says the divorced couple
corresponded for 50 years, but gives none of the content of the letters. Was it friendly?
A continuing war for the heart of their only child? We will never know.
dimensions: 7.1 x 5.1 x 1 in / weight: 13.6 ounces / volume: 258 pages