As major league baseball season begins Monday, April 24th, Santa Monica Playhouse presents an opener for a stage play that pays tribute to one of professional baseball’s all-time favorites — early 20th century Hall of Fame pitcher Christy Mathewson.
Matty: An Evening with Christy Mathewson, a solo stage play written and performed by Eddie Frierson, has its opening night performance scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 21st, at the Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 Fourth St., Santa Monica. Tickets are $20.
Additional performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 28th and 29th.
The play is a series of stories relating to the life of Christy Mathewson, a star athlete who pitched for the New York Giants from 1900 to 1916, and who was also viewed by many as a gentleman and philosopher.
Mathewson was among the early celebrities to be spawned by professional baseball. Besides his ballpark record (still among the game’s most impressive), he was an author of books for boys, toured in vaudeville, made a motion picture, was a war veteran, a coach and a sports writer, and was among the first major American sports figures to become a product spokesman.
Mathewson was considered the dominant pitcher of his era, having won more than 20 games during each of 12 straight years and 30 or more games each of the three seasons from 1903 to 1905.
In 1908, Mathewson won 37 games, a National League record that still stands. He dominated batters with a screwball-type pitch dubbed the “fadeaway.”
Frierson, who researched and developed the play, is a college-educated ballplayer, just as Mathewson was. Frierson went to UCLA on a baseball scholarship and pitched for the Bruins. While at UCLA, he realized he would never make it to the big leagues, and bypassed his professional baseball aspirations in order to pursue acting.
But, staying close to his athletic roots after graduation, Frierson became the head coach at Santa Monica High School while developing ideas for his acting career. His visions came together with the Christy Mathewson story, which he spent 12 years researching and developing.
In its early stage, the play was performed locally at Santa Monica Playhouse in 1989. It then sparked the interest of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, where it was subsequently performed. As a result of Matty, Frierson was ushered into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame as an honorary inductee.
The play is directed by Kerrigan Mahon, who got his start directing foreign language films and then moved to theater, notably a staged reading of Origins, by the late Randy Rocca, at the Strasburg Theatre; and Person, by Kathleen Mazzola, at the Fifth Estate Theatre. Mahon has been with Matty since the beginning.
Suzan Kay Frierson designed and stitched Matty’s authentic period costumes using patterns she created from old photos and a model vintage uniform. Her originals will be on display in the future in the National Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
Information, (310) 394-9779 ext. 1.