By: T.H. McCULLOH
SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
Thursday, November 23, 1995
How many of today's young sport fans remember who Christy Mathewson was?
Probably not many. And it's a shame. Mathewson was not only a baseball hero, who pitched
for the New York Giants early in the century, but he was a man who made an impression on
Americans way beyond the outfield walls.
Director Kerrigan Mahan didn't know who Mathewson was when he became involved in Eddie Frierson's one-man play, "Matty--An Evening With Christy Mathewson," opening on Saturday at Studio City's Two Roads Theatre.
Baseball isn't his sport. But theater is, and he has since become fascinated with Mathewson, the man. "He was such a huge star that he was considered one of the finest pitchers in baseball history," Mahan says. "There's so much theater here."
Baseball is Frierson's sport. He pitched baseball for the UCLA Bruins while he was working on a theater arts degree, and later coached baseball for Santa Monica High School, four of those years as varsity head coach.
At the same time, he was establishing himself as an actor on television and stage, and working as a voice-over actor, where he originally met Mahan.
In the mid-'80s, Frierson was looking around for a subject for a one-man show for himself. His father coincidentally gave him a copy of Mathewson's book, "Pitching in a Pinch." Frierson says baseball legends jumped off the page at him and ended his search for a subject.
He began a long period of research on Mathewson, including much time spent with his family.
Frierson wants people, through their two hours spent with Matty, to get a complete sense of the man.
"He invented the screwball, and was one of the original inductees at the Baseball Hall of Fame," Frierson says. "He co-authored a Broadway play, and made lots of money in the stock market. He was the national checkers champion, and wrote a whole series of books for boys."
When Mathewson was pitching for the Giants, Frierson relates, professional
baseball was a rowdy affair. "Baseball needed a vehicle to start getting kids and
women into the ballpark," he said. "Sportswriters used Mathewson as the symbol
to turn baseball really into the national pastime."
* "Matty--An Evening With Christy Mathewson," Two Roads Theatre, 4348 Tujunga Ave., Studio City. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturday. Indefinitely. $12.50. (818) 766-9381.
PHOTO: Eddie Frierson, who plays baseball's Christy Mathewson, calls him
"a terrific role model." PHOTOGRAPHER: NICK NEWTON / For The Times
Type of Material: Theater Review
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Last Updated May 22, 1997 by MATTY: AN EVENING WITH CHRISTY MATHEWSON