Hoboken in the NY Times
Hoboken restaurant Elysian Cafe got some good PR today with this article in the NY Times. You might recall an article on Hoboken411 last month regarding the refurbishment of the commemorative baseball plaque on 11th and Washington Streets. While I have nothing against the monument getting refurbished and helping inner-city kids, it would have been nice to involve more Hoboken businesses other than just one.
Field of Facial Hair Helps a Place in Baseball History
Have you heard the one about Albert Einstein, Charles Bronson and John Holmes walking into a bar? It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but not to some of the workers at the Elysian Cafe on Washington Street. On Tuesday, the cafe will conduct a charity mustache competition with categories like scholarly (Einstein), vigilante (Bronson) and adult film star (Holmes).
The contest is part of an effort by the cafe’s manager, Ames Crawford, and five bartenders to refurbish a metal plaque that commemorates a baseball game played June 19, 1846, about one block from the cafe. The cost of polishing Hoboken’s piece of history was less than $1,000. The rest of the proceeds — from customer donations and, on Tuesday, a $5-a-ticket raffle and a mustache-themed drink menu — will benefit Major League Baseball’s Rejuvenating Baseball in the Inner Cities program.
“We’re doing it for the kids,” Crawford, 33, said.
But the six men are not merely contest administrators. They have been growing mustaches for the cause.
READ THE REST AFTER THE JUMP…
(Mustaches for a cause, continued…)
It all started, Crawford said, after they watched a DVD of ESPN’s “The Bronx Is Burning” about the 1977 Yankees. Most saw the miniseries as a parable of baseball and a city in turmoil; the Elysian men homed in on the Reggie Jackson character’s facial hair and were inspired to grow mustaches, starting on opening day of the baseball season.
Crawford’s mustache makes him look like a villain who would tie a damsel to railroad tracks. Vito Lantz’s is more modern, with a soul patch, yet it would seem at home in the new CBS show “Swingtown.”
“My wife hates it,” said Lantz, 33, who has a 5 ½-month-old daughter, Payton. “People look at me funny when I’m pushing my stroller.”
Thomas Lavin, 37, said his wife would also be happy when he shaved his mustache — picture a furry letter C turned 90 degrees to the right.
“I kind of like it myself,” he said. “I like the Goose Gossage look.”
Not all women are turned off by whiskers.
“I’ve been getting more attention from the ladies,” Jonathan Heller, 28, said. “Not the ladies I want, but nonetheless.” His mustache seemed most natural, perhaps because of his rugged 5 o’clock shadow.
“My dog almost bit me because it didn’t recognize me,” said Steve Schneider, who at 24 is the youngest participant and whose mustache is the most earnest. “I’m going to keep it until I’m old enough to shave it off.”
No matter the look, the reason for the mustaches sat on a median on 11th Street facing Washington Street: the weathered plaque in honor of “the first match game of baseball played here on Elysian Fields between the Knickerbockers and the New Yorks.” The plaque, which the city was quick to remove from its stone base for restoration, concludes, “It is generally conceded that until this time, the game was not seriously regarded.” The men are taking their mission seriously.
Mike Hannon, half of the comedy duo the Knuckleheads, remembered his recent trip to the Elysian Cafe. Only after he had consumed a couple of drinks, he joked, was he asked to contribute. “Baseball is America’s game,” he said as he re-enacted his playfully slurred response.
Hannon and his comedy partner, Spencer White, are working on a song about mustaches for the night of the contest.
“I’m trying to write a bridge that involves John Holmes, the adult film star,” Hannon said. “When you say John Holmes to someone, mustache may not be the first thing they think of — or the second — but he did have a mustache.”
Crawford may have a future in public relations when this is over. He has found many sponsors, including the Firehouse Moustache Wax company. Crawford is planning a short ceremony to show off the restored plaque at 3 p.m. Thursday, the 162nd anniversary of the baseball game.
But where the game originated continues to be a moving target. It was long thought to be invented in 1839 in Cooperstown, N.Y., before Hoboken came to be known as baseball’s birthplace. In 2001, a librarian discovered newspaper references that suggested the game was played in New York in 1823. Then a document was uncovered in 2004 that showed baseball was played in 1791 in Pittsfield, Mass.
Who knows what town is waiting in the on-deck circle?