Written and performed by Eddie Frierson
Directed by Kerrigan Mahan
by Sam Whitehead
You could scour every ballpark across the land and be hard pressed to come up with a guy more in love with Americas pastime than Eddie Frierson. Anyone doubting this need only see his one-man show, MATTY, an engaging homage to both the game and to Christy Mathewson, baseballs first true-blue national hero. Not just a fan, Frierson is also a unique historian (he wrote the script after 12 years of research) and a charismatic performer to boot.
Assuming the character of Mathewson, or Matty, as he was commonly known, Frierson pitches and pines for lost pals amid the antique clutter of Robert L. Smiths comfortable set, guiding the audience through the rough-and-tumble world of turn-of-the-century big-league ball. Wisely, he often shifts the shows focus away from its solo aspect, conjuring the spirits of many notorious personalities with who Matty spent his illustrious life. For instance, theres Fred Merkle, the New York Giant whose anxious first-base behavior cost his team the National League pennant in 1908. The press dubbed this error the Merkle boner and taunted him with the name Bonehead, killing his spirit and nearly ruining his career, but coining an insult still used today. Ah, the things we owe to the press.
Frierson and director Kerrigan Mahan have given this piece a shape rarely found in one-person shows, an existence such as Mattys provides infinite fodder for storytelling. Regular theatregoers as well as devout followers of baseball will certainly find MATTY a real joy and may even be driven to jump up in a Phil Rizzutto froth and exclaim, "Holy cow! Its a hit!"