15 minutes of vicarious fame for stage-door mother

Neighbors/ Glen Burnie

May 27, 1992|By Bonita Formwalt

For a brief shining moment last week, I was the mother of a star. Well, perhaps "star" is not quite accurate; maybe "extra" is more appropriate. Anyway, for one day, my son Travis was invited to participate in a Japanese television project taped around Baltimore about the life of baseball legend Babe Ruth.

It all began with a casting story that rivals Lana Turner's discovery at Schwabb's drugstore. Our neighbor, Thomas "T.J." Goldberg, 10, was playing baseball one afternoon at Point Pleasant Elementary School when casting agent Charles Domm noticed his resemblance to a young Babe Ruth. Domm offered the role to T. J., and taping began last week.

Several scenes required an assortment of children as extras, and before I knew what was happening, I was sitting on a wall at Cardinal Gibbons High School watching the making of a documentary whose title roughly translates from Japanese to "Babe Ruth: What A Guy."

Several Glen Burnie children were involved with the project, including Alex Terry, Ben Wright, Billy Hudgins, Dylan Silcox and Bradley Howard.

The film crew spoke very little English, so communication throughout the day was a bit of a challenge. However, by day's end, the crew did learn the phrase, "When do we get paid?" and an unusual assortment of double negatives.

The parents' initial enthusiasm for the project began to wane after two hours of watching the children jeer at young Babe as he repeatedly failed to hit the ball. We tried to teach our children better manners, yet the ease with which they managed to "act" so nasty was alarming.

By noon, we had decided that this would be our last outing as stage parents unless someone gave us a percentage -- a big percentage.

My son had been selected to be the catcher, so he was in most of the shots of the Babe trying to hit the ball. I assumed it was his innate star quality that made the director select him for this pivotal supporting role. Later, I discovered that he had badgered the director until the poor man gave up any hope of controlling the scene and said, "Yes, Travis, you can be the catcher if you will just leave me alone."

The documentary will be shown on Japanese public television in August. It will probably never be shown in the United States, but the crew has promised to send a copy of the tape to T. J. His mother, Kathy, has promised to run a special screening and serve sushi.

That's a wrap, Glen Burnie.

* The weather couldn't dampen Glen Burnie's enthusiasm for the annual Memorial Day Parade and Picnic. Marching bands, floats, clowns and a politician or two participated in the afternoon's fun.

Following the parade, awards were distributed for everything from the best ambulance to the best majorette group. Joe Corcoran, parade chairman, announced the awards.

* Contemporary Fire Equipment -- Landsdowne Volunteer Fire Company, best-appearing pumper, best-appearing company overall, most uniformed personnel in Line; Savage Volunteer Fire Company, best-appearing aerial/platform, company coming the longest distance; Anne Arundel Alarmers, best medical support/coffee wagon.

* Antique Fire Equipment -- John Stumpf, 1951 Ward LaFrance; best-appearing antique pumper; David Hilliard, 1960 Ford, best-appearing apparatus (other than pumper); Dana Ziegenheim, 1961 Chevrolet, best- appearing antique ambulance; Mal Sarna, 1930 GMC American LaFrance, oldest motorized fire apparatus; Level Volunteer Fire Company, 1929 Ford Chief Car, antique coming longest distance under own power; Al Lignelli, 1929 Ford Chief Car, antique coming the longest distance, John and Jennifer Westbrook, 1948 Mack, judges award; David Westbrook, 1947 Mack, judges award.

* Veterans Units -- American Legion Post 40, best-appearing veterans color guard, Judges Award; Disabled American Veterans Chapter 13, veterans unit with most uniformed

personnel in line; Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8097 Auxiliary, best-appearing ladies auxiliary, veterans ladies auxiliary with most uniformed personnel in line.

* Community and General -- Smokey the Clown, best clown or comic entry; Severn Covenant Church, best-appearing float; Boy Scout Troop 3672, best Boy Scout troop; Daisy Troop 1289, best Girl Scout troop; Cub Scout Pack 911, best youth group; Boumi Temple Camel Wheels, judges award; Edgemere Moose Clowns, judges award; Boumi Motorcycles Corps, judges award.

* Bands -- North County High School, best band, best pom-pom squad; Glen Burnie High School, best drum corps; Pride Of Maryland, best majorette group.

* Antique Cars -- Jim Shrout, 1948 and older street rod; Lee Stepp, 1950-59 original and convertible; Will Sank, 1950-1959 customized; Joe Jacobs, 1960-1967 original and convertible; Wayne Terpin, 1960-67 customized; Carl Blazak, 1967 and older sport car original; Harry Kerner, 1967 and older truck original; Fred Vollhouser, 1967 and older truck customized; Jim Agee, judges award; Chuck Pryor, judges award; John Lignoli, judges award; Larry Merritt, judges award.

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