Wednesday, July 8, 2015

They call the wind "Maria," and I don't know why

My lovely bride Peggy loves this magazine, a quarterly that's more like a book, called "Bella Grace."  It features essays, poetry, and pictures, dedicated to "finding magic in the ordinary."

Peggy finds all this enthralling, and I keep wondering about just one thing.  Is the title of the magazine, which translates from the Italian as "Beautiful Grace," pronounced in the Italian manner as BEL-lah GRAH-chay, or do they just call it "Bella Grace"?  I emailed the magazine staff to ask, but I did not get a reply.  Imagine that.

It all comes back to baseball.  The Oakland A's of the early 70's had a really good leftfielder named Gene Tenace, pronounced just like the game they play at Wimbledon.  It turns out, his real name is Fiore Gino Tennaci, (feeOREay GEEno tenAHchee) which was not widely known at the time.  I don't know why that had to be kept secret.

Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Darren O'Day has a curious sidearm delivery and an even more curious personal story.  No matter how much his name conjures an Irish background, O'Day is Polish by heritage.  His grandmother, Mrs Odachowski, found herself widowed with three sons to raise in Chicago, and she found it easier to go by "Odach" (with the final two letters silent, in the Polish way).  She worked hard enough to put all three through college, and then two of her sons, including Darren's dad, changed their names legally to O'Day in tribute.

And the story I love to tell involves the late Billy Martin, Yankee manager, infielder and all-around spitfire.  He was born Alfred Manuel Pesano, Jr, the son of a man who split from his family eight months after the baby boy's birth. In other words, he left town shortly after meeting Billy Martin, and that's not hard to believe. Billy's mother did not want him to know he was related to Pesano, Sr, and changed their surname to Martin for reasons unknown.  And his grandmother was so enchanted with young Alfred's handsome looks that she took to calling him "Bello" (Italian for beautiful).

I can see calling Tennaci "Tennis," and I can understand the plucky widow Odachowski going by "O'Day," but under no circumstances could I see calling Billy Martin "beautiful."  I should ask the people at the magazine about it.

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