Donora Dandy

When we were shooting the Griffey commercial, I GOT IT, I messed with him.

‘Who’s the best baseball player from Donora, Pennsylvania?’

Griffey looks sheepish. Donora, Pennsylvania was Griffey’s birthplace.

‘Stan Musial.’

At that time Griffey was in the early years of his career and Stan-the-Man was an all-time great, probably one of the five best players of all time.

Griffey had never heard of him.

Ironically, Musial was a very distant relative.  I had aunts and uncles and cousins in that area that had the same name.  We pronounced it Mu-Shaw.  The Polish people had a huge pride in the accomplishments of the Polish people in America.  I spent my early years growing up in a Polish ghetto.  We had our own market, school, church, barbershop, and everyone spoke Polish (except me).  The Poles were brought into this area to work in the steel mills, and my hometown of Braddock, Pennsylvania had the largest steel mill on the face of the earth, The Edgar Thompson Works, of U.S. Steel.

Many of the Poles came over as semi-slaves. The steel and coal industries were labor intensive. The Poles that came here faced a different kind of oppression from that in Poland, substandard wages and living conditions and violence. Ironically, because of language barriers, the Poles were never considered a threat to the status quo, but their sense of community led to the eventual unionization of those industries paid for by Polish flesh and blood. The filmmaker Terrence Malick touched upon this in his film DAYS OF HEAVEN. It was a very harsh life and Poles looked up to anyone who could escape it. Stan the Man was one of the greatest heroes

…and Griffey never heard of him.