You Can’t Take It With You: Free Agents

Martin Fay 1936 to last Friday
In 1962 classically-trained-violinist Fay together with three other Irishman put together The Chieftains, perhaps the most popular contemporary performers of traditional Irish music (or ‘Trad’ as one teacher of tinwhistle once told me).  Rapping together two bones to keep rhythm while not playing fiddle, Fay played with the group on the Great Wall of China in 1983 as the first Western musicians to perform in Communist China. Without them, there is no Michael Flatley and no Riverdance.

David Taub 1939 to three weeks ago Thursday
Taub founded Palm Bay International, one of the largest wine importers in the country.  In 1977, his company did what would become a notable first: imported Pinot Grigio from Italy.  In 2010, 36 million bottles of that Italian white crossed the pond.  Taub leaves behind the millions of Americans introduced to wine by the “crisp, fruity … easy to drink” Pinot.

Marvin Miller 1917 to Tuesday
Studs Terkel called Miller one of the great union organizers of the 20th century.  Who did he organize?  Major League Baseball players.  This NYU-trained economist invented free agency, allowing players for the first time to choose which teams to play for and which salaries to accept.  It worked–at least for the players.  During his tenure as head of the MLBPA, baseball’s labor union, the average salary increased from a paltry $19,000 in 1966 to $241,000 in 1982.  He leaves behind Alex Rodriguez’s ten-year 275 million-dollar contract with the Yankees.

Oregon’s Dream of a National Title 2011 to last Saturday
Stanford’s football team marches up to Eugene, hogties the Duck’s explosive offensive and knocks in an overtime field goal to derail the national title that Coach Chip Kelly promised.  The defeated Ducks leave behind those Nike uniforms whose historic success on the field barely makes up for their aesthetic disaster.

Joseph Murray 1919 to Thanksgiving Day
The Jesuit-educated Murray won the 1990 Nobel Prize for medicine.  He deserved it.  In 1954 he performed the first successful transplantation of an internal organ.  23 year-old Richard Herrick received a new lease on life from his twin brother Ronald in the form of a healthy Kidney.  He leaves behind Richard’s life and those of countless other organ recipients.

Wendell D. Garrett 1929 to three weeks ago Saturday
The “public face of American decorative arts” was likely more famous for his appraisals on the PBS hit Antiques Roadshow.  With “white hair, impeccable suits and courtly manner” he would point out salient features on a variety of 18th century furniture – from chests to apple-butter churns.  He leaves behind thousands of dollars in the hands of the ignorant supplicants who’d bring him their strangest possessions and sit at his feet.  Take a look:

Watch Coming Monday, June 11, at 8/7C, Philadelphia Hour 2. on PBS. See more from Antiques Roadshow.

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