LIttle Richard

On October 18, 2001 legendary musician Little Richard rocked The Pageant in the Delmar Loop during a 75th birthday celebration concert for Chuck Berry.

The St. Louis Rams were, by far, the best team in the NFL in 2001.

Under head coach Mike Martz, the Rams would compile a 14-2 regular season record, with an 8-0 mark on the road. The team had narrowly escaped the visiting New York Giants on Sunday, Oct. 14 by a score of 15-14. A bit more than three months later, the Rams would be shocked by the underdog New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

On that same October 14, the St. Louis Cardinals dropped the fifth and deciding game of the National League Championship Series to the Arizona Diamondbacks, 2-1. The final out of that game signaled the end of Jack Buck's broadcasting career with the Cardinals. Albert Pujols had arrived on the scene and won the Rookie of the Year Award after batting .329, with 37 home runs and 130 RBIs.

It was a big week for sports in St. Louis. It was a bigger week for entertainment, though.

On Thursday, October 18 legendary musician Chuck Berry celebrated his 75th birthday with a concert at The Pageant in the Delmar Loop. I was there.

One of few people that I know can vouch for me - and I can do the same for him - is St. Louis American photographer Wiley Price.

We were welcomed to the cramped backstage area. It was there that I met the man I came to see that night. A man who really could boast that he was the father of rock & roll. A man who was considered controversial and a danger to American white kids by many white parents in the late 1950s and early 60s.

Richard Wayne Penniman was in the house.

Known as Little Richard, he showed this St. Louis audience that at the age of 68 he more than just still had it. He was a force. Berry would perform. But, borrowing a line from Berry's Sweet Little 16, Little Richard “stole the show.”

When Little Richard took the stage, the venue was chilly. After a few songs it was hot enough to make you sweat.

He didn’t just play the piano. He attacked with a gleeful joy. A piano certainly would never be the same after Little Richard performed on it. He blasted the keys, never once losing eye contact with his audience.

It remains the best solo performance I’ve seen in my life.

I think he played all of his greatest hits.  We were treated to “Tutti Frutti,” “Slippin’ and Slidin’,” “Miss Ann,” “Long Tall Sally,” “Rip It Up,” “Good Golly, Miss Molly,” “Lucille” and “Keep a Knockin.’ 

With the crowd in a frenzy and singing along, somehow Little Richard’s voice and booming piano were the loudest two things in The Pageant.

Apparently, this was a rare performance because Little Richard was doing few live shows at that period in his life. He had struggled with cocaine and alcohol abuse for years, but had put his life back together.

In the early 90s, Little Richard told Rolling Stone, “I really feel from the bottom of my heart that I am the inventor [of rock & roll].”

“If there was somebody else, I didn’t know than, didn’t hear them, haven’t heard them. Not even to this day. So, I say I’m the architect.”

In comparing recording songs and performing in his early years to modern times. he said the past was much better.

“I enjoyed recording back then better ’cause it was real. You had to play. It wasn’t no machines, you couldn’t just mash buttons and sound like a band. If you couldn’t play, you didn’t have no music,” he said.

Little Richard also was instrumental in bridging the divide between white and black youths who just wanted to hear good music and dance.

“Tutti Frutti” really started the races being together. Because when I was a boy, the white people would sit upstairs. They called it “white spectators,” and the blacks was downstairs,” he said.

“And the white kids would jump over the balcony and come down where I was and dance with the blacks. We started that merging all across the country. From the git-go, my music was accepted by whites.”

Little Richard was elected to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. His standing ovation lasted several minutes.

After battling bone cancer, this great performer took his last bow on Saturday, May 9, 2020 at his family home in Tullahoma, Tenn.

There will never be another Little Richard. Period. 

Damn a DH

I was right in suggesting that Major League Baseball should play an 82-game schedule because it seems that is going to happen in 2020. In a proposal to the MLB Players Association, the season (if it is played) will include 82 games. But it will still include interleague play. And the worst part of the plan is that it will also feature the designated hitter in the National League.

This will not go away now. The Players Association wants the DH in the National League because it will create multi-million-dollar jobs for players no longer in their prime. They can still hit, but the idea of them playing defense is laughable.

Being born here, growing up here and returning here in my 30s, I’m a St. Louis Cardinals fan. Here, we like traditional baseball.

The manager has to use strategy. He has to think a few innings ahead. Add the DH and you’re watching a glorified Forest Park softball game.

Not to offend any readers, but the DH sucks. I’ll leave it at that.

As for the schedule, if adopted, the Cardinals would play National League Central Division members the Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati in four four-game home-and-home series. There would be two four-game home-and-home series with AL Central teams the Chicago White Sox, Kansas City, Detroit, Cleveland and Minnesota.

Seeing that I like the White Sox, this is cool with me. The White Sox, by the way, could be one of baseball’s most improved teams this year.

An unbelievable 14 teams would make the playoffs, with each league having four wild-card teams. The season might last until it snows.

Some teams might be playing in home ballparks with no fans.

Some might be playing in Florida or Arizona - also without spectators.

All discussion could be moot because MLB is reportedly going to ask for a 50/50 revenue share split and/or a reduction of player salaries because of the lost revenue from fans not attending games.

I’ll be shocked if that happens.

“A system that restricts player pay based on revenues is a salary cap, period. This is not the first salary cap proposal our union has received. It probably won’t be the last,” Tony Clark, the African-American MLBPA executive director told The Athletic on Monday.

“That the league is trying to take advantage of a global health crisis to get what they’ve failed to achieve in the past – and to anonymously negotiate through the media for the last several days – suggests they know exactly how this will be received.

“None of this is beneficial to the process of finding a way for us to safely get back on the field and resume the 2020 season – which continues to be our sole focus.” 

The Reid Roundup

Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, 53, post a second Instagram video of him firing rapid punches into a heavily-padded sparring partner on Monday, and ended it by saying “I’m back.” Tyson told rapper T.I. on Instagram, “I’ve been working out, I’ve been trying to get in the ring, I think I’m going to box some exhibitions and get in shape.  I want to go to the gym and get in shape to be able to box three or four-round exhibitions for some charities and stuff.” As crazy as it sounds, it’s actually a great way to raise money in these times of COVID-19... Gina Ford, Zion Williamson’s former marketing agent, is locked in litigation against the NBA star and alleges that he accepted “money, benefits, favors or other things of value” to attend Duke University and to wear and/or use Nike and Adidas.”...Tom Brady was among the more than 60 prominent athletes - black and white - that signed a Players Coalition letter calling for the Department of Justice to investigate the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Georgia man who was gunned down by a father-and-son while jogging near his home...LeBron James, in regard to the Arbery murder, said on Twitter, “We’re literally hunted EVERYDAY/EVERYTIME we step foot outside the comfort of our homes! Can’t even go for a damn jog man!”

Alvin A. Reid was honored as the 2017 “Best Sports Columnist – Weeklies” in the Missouri Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest and is a New York Times contributor. He is a panelist on the Nine Network program, Donnybrook, a weekly contributor to “The Charlie Tuna Show” on KFNS and appears monthly on “The Dave Glover Show” on 97.1 Talk.” His Twitter handle is @aareid1.

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