Jul 14, 2011, 2:10 PM EST
It’s hard to wrap your head around Don Drysdale and Robert Redford being contemporaries — for some reason it seems those worlds just shouldn’t collide. But it’s a fact that they attended Van Nuys (Calif.) High School together, both graduating in 1954. But did they, as Redford once claimed, play on the same varsity baseball team?
The Times references St. Louis sportswriter Bob Broeg’s baseball memoir, Bob Broeg: Memories of a Hall of Fame Sportswriter, in which he relates the following story:
I broke away one weekend to watch Robert Redford and Elizabeth Ashley in “Barefoot in the Park.” Two nights later, I attended an unusual Sunday night preview of an ill-fated Burt Lahr venture, “Foxy.” At intermission, I rose, turned, stretched, and looked into the blue eyes of — Robert Redford. Impulsively, I introduced myself, mentioned his show, and said, “You’re goin to be a great success…” Redford, pleased, wondered what I did. When I told him, he arched his brows. “Then,” he said, “I guess you know my high-school teammate, Don Drysdale?” Redford told me he had played the outfield behind Drysdale when Van Nuys was a fruit-and-vegetable farm area. “I hope,” said the actor, “that Drysdale makes the Hall of Fame one day.” When I later related the story to Drysdale, he assured me, “Redford was a pretty good ball player.”
The Times then did some research and found that there was no mention in any Van Nuys yearbook of Redford playing varsity baseball — although he did later attend the University of Colorado on a baseball scholarship. So the Times has determined that the story is, technically false; although conceding that the two may have played summer baseball together.
But here’s a couple of factors the Times may have missed: What if Redford and Drysdale had played on the same freshman or junior varsity team? Also, if you know anything about high school yearbook production, and I think I do, you know that they go to print while the baseball season is in progress, or sometimes before it even starts. So it’s possible that Redford joined the team late and didn’t get a yearbook mention.
At any rate, it’s interesting to ponder. And let’s also note that Redford was a better baseball player than Drysdale was an actor. Yes, I’m thinking of the latter’s appearance on that episode of The Brady Bunch.
Did Robert Redford play high school baseball with Don Drysdale? [Los Angeles Times]
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