Thursday, April 28, 2016

Mansfield Nine Trades Mary to Persuasion Navals

Wait Fanny! Captain Benwick would better appreciate Cowper.

In the big leagues of baseball, major league players are traded between teams as often as baseball cards are traded among fans. After her whiff at the plate, our own Mary Crawford was traded to a team that barely has its land legs. At our last JASNA meeting, Marie Sprayberry tantalized us with the idea suggested by Matthew Melko that maybe there were better matches to be made in Jane Austen's works if the characters could be traded among the books like baseball players.

Thus she suggested Fanny might be better matched with Captain Benwick in the Persuasion/Mansfield Park division. After all, they are both of a poetic nature. Then there is the notorious Just Deserts division, where we might find Miss Lucy Steele with Lt. George Wickham and Miss Maria Bertram with Mr. John Willoughby. Ideal teammates indeed.

We had fun at the meeting suggesting other trades and pairing different Jane Austen characters. My favorite was Lady Susan Vernon with General Tilney. I'm sure they could top the Just Desserts division.

Her are the pairings from Marie's talk along with JASNA CWNY's suggestions

Jane Austen “Fantasy Baseball”
A. Marie Sprayberry
JASNA Central and Western NY, April 2016

Matthew Melko’s picks (from his Persuasions 27 article, “Re-Pairing Jane Austen”)

Miss Elinor Dashwood
Mr. George Knightley
Miss Catherine Morland
The Rev. Edmund Bertram
Miss Elizabeth Bennet
The Rev. Henry Tilney
Miss Fanny Price
The Rev. Edward Ferrars
Miss Emma Woodhouse
Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy
Miss Anne Elliot
Col. Brandon
Miss Marianne Dashwood
Mr. Henry Crawford
Miss Mary Crawford
Capt. Frederick Wentworth

A. Marie Sprayberry’s original picks, with more of the “bench players” included:

The Emma/Sense and Sensibility division (with one trade from Pride and Prejudice)

Miss Elinor Dashwood
Mr. George Knightley
Miss Marianne Dashwood
Mr. Frank Churchill
Miss Emma Woodhouse
Col. Fitzwilliam
Miss Jane Fairfax
Col. Brandon

The Persuasion/Mansfield Park division

Miss Anne Elliot
Capt. Frederick Wentworth
Miss Fanny Price
Capt. James Benwick
Miss Louisa Musgrove
Lt. William Price
Miss Elizabeth Elliot
Mr. Thomas Bertram
Miss Mary Crawford
Mr. William Elliot
Mrs. Penelope Clay
Mr. Henry Crawford

The Pride and Prejudice/Northanger Abbey division

Miss Elizabeth Bennet
The Rev. Henry Tilney
Miss Eleanor Tilney
Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy
Miss Jane Bennet
Mr. Charles Bingley
Miss Mary Bennet
The Rev. William Collins
Miss Lydia Bennet
Capt. Frederick Tilney

The “worthy, slightly dull, miscellaneous” division (your help here will be particularly welcome!)

Miss Georgiana Darcy
The Rev. Edmund Bertram
Miss Catherine Morland
The Rev. Edward Ferrars

The “just deserts” division

Lady Catherine de Bourgh
Sir Walter Elliot
Miss Caroline Bingley
General Tilney
Miss Maria Bertram
Mr. John Willoughby
Miss Charlotte Lucas
Mr. James Rushworth
Miss Catherine Bennet
The Rev. Philip Elton
Miss Augusta Hawkins
Mr. Robert Ferrars
Miss Lucy Steele
Lt. George Wickham

Special trade: Mrs. Norris, from the Jane Austen League to the Charlotte Brontë League, to teach at Lowood School in Jane Eyre.

Changes and additions suggested at the April 16 JASNA CWNY meeting in Pittsford:

Lady Susan Vernon
General Tilney
Miss Caroline Bingley
The Hon. John Yates
Miss Catherine Bennet
The Rev. James Morland
Miss Isabella Thorpe
The Rev. Philip Elton
Miss Catherine Morland
Mr. Charles Musgrove (Jr.)
Miss Mary Elliot
Mr. Perry
Mrs. Grant
Mr. Henry Woodhouse
Miss Julia Bertram
Capt. Denny

Still warming the bench by meeting’s end: The Rev. Edward Ferrars, Mrs. Jennings.

Additional suggestions: (1) doing another “fantasy baseball” round in which parents are matched with different children, and (2) doing more trades between the Jane Austen League and the Charlotte Brontë League.

Finally, to wrap up the meeting Marie treated us to her version of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," newly entitled "Take Me Out to the Jane Game." Unfortunately, there was no video.

Take Me Out to the Jane Game

Miss Jane Austen was baseball-mad,
Had the fever and had it bad,
Just to cheer for her hero team
Every cent
Miss Jane spent.

When one Saturday Tom Lefroy
Called to see if she would enjoy
A dance or a show, Miss Jane said, “No,
I’ll tell you what you can do:

“Take me out to the Jane game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some pork pies and good spruce beer,
I don’t care if George Wickham is here!

“’Cause it’s root, root, root for the heroes,
If they don’t propose, it’s a shame.
’Cause it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out,
At the old Jane game!”

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Mary at the Bat

Jane Austen coaching Greg Maddux on his way to the Baseball Hall of Fame 
(photo credit: Marie Sprayberry)

"... and it was not very wonderful that Catherine, who had by nature nothing heroic about her, should prefer cricket, base ball, riding on horseback, and running about the country... "
Northanger Abbey, Chapter 1

Inspired by baseball’s opening day, this month’s JASNA CWNY meeting will welcome our own Marie Sprayberry speaking on “Jane Austen Fantasy Baseball”. We all know Jane Austen invented baseball. Lisa Brown has reminded us that Catherine Morland grew up playing the game. OK it might not have been exactly the same thing. 

Thinking about opening day brings to mind the great rivalries in baseball like the Yankees and the Red Sox. That got me thinking about the great rivalries in Jane Austen's novels such as Elizabeth Bennet and Caroline Bingley, or, what may be the greatest of them all, Fanny Price and Mary Crawford as they compete for Edmund's attention. 

Suppose Mary and Fanny had, like Catherine, played baseball. Imagine the scene: a hot summer's day late in the season. Mary's bat has carried the Mansfield Nine almost to the championship, but she still must face Fanny Price on the pitcher's mound.

With apologies to the late Ernest Thayer, I present the final moments. (The original can be found here.)

Mary at the Bat

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mansfield Nine that day;
the score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play.
And then when Henry died at first, and Aunt Norris did the same,
a sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

Maria Bertram stood to go in deep despair. The rest
clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
they thought, if only Mary could get but a whack at that –
they'd put up even money, now, with Mary at the bat.

But Tom preceded Mary, as did also Johnny Yates,
and the former was so sickly and the latter would orate,
so upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
for there seemed but little chance of Mary’s getting to the bat.

But Tom let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
and Yates, the much despised, tore the cover off the ball;
and when the dust had lifted, and the crowd saw what had occurred,
there was Johnny safe at second and Tom a-hugging third.

Then from five thousand throats and more there rose a buzz of bees;
it rumbled through the valley, and the Avenue of Trees;
it ran throughout the shrubbery and recoiled upon the flat,
for Mary, mighty Mary, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Mary’s manner as she stepped into her place;
there was pride in Mary’s bearing and a smile on Mary’s face.
And when, responding to the cheers, she lightly doffed her bonnet,
no stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Mary who was on it.

With lavender she took her bat and rubbed it all well down,
while staring at the pitcher perched high atop the mound.
And there was Fanny Price, alone, with the spheroid on her hip.
Defiance gleamed in Mary’s eye, a sneer curled Mary’s lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
and Mary stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the pretty batter the ball unheeded sped--
"Tis not my style," said Mary. "Strike one," the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.
"A duel! A duel with him!" the Colonel shouted in the stand;
and it's likely he'd have killed him had not Mary raised her hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Mary’s visage shone;
she stilled the rising tumult; she bade the game go on;
she signaled to Miss Fanny, and once more the spheroid flew;
but Mary still ignored it, and the umpire said: "Strike two."

“Obstinate and Headstrong”*, all said it was a fraud.
but one scornful look from Mary and the audience was awed.
Those hands that played the harp so well were tight with stress and strain,
and they knew that Mary wouldn't let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Mary’s lip, her teeth are clenched in hate;
she taps, just like a lady would, her bat upon the plate.
And now Miss Fanny holds the ball, and now she lets it go,
and now the air is shattered by the force of Mary’s blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
the band is playing somewhere, and Edmund's heart is light,
and somewhere Janeites laugh, and somewhere children shout;
and there’s joy in Thornton Lacey for - mighty Mary has struck out.

*Contemporary accounts suggest the presence of many Mansfield fans from Derbyshire in the stands.

Come and join us to find out what "Jane Austen's Fantasy Baseball" was really like.

Event:     JASNA CWNY April meeting
Topic:      Marie Sprayberry speaking on Jane Austen Fantasy Baseball
Where:    Pittsford Barnes and Noble, Community Room
When:     Saturday, April 16, 2016 at 1 pm