Wednesday, March 8, 2023

the last book I ever read (Buster Keaton: A Filmmaker's Life, excerpt six)

from Buster Keaton: A Filmmaker's Life by James Curtis:

With Go West completed, Keaton loaned Ray Cannon to Universal for a Reginald Denny comedy and left for New York with Nat, her sister Dutch, and their mother, ostensibly to confer with Joe Schenck and see to release plans for the new picture, but more directly to shuttle between Washington and Pittsburgh for the World Series. Baseball had assumed an increasingly important role in Keaton’s life, and the studio team, known widely as the Buster Keaton Nine, had captured three state championships. The Nine were frequently in the papers, playing municipal teams and athletic clubs as far north as Oxnard and highlighting the standout work of their captain as well as first baseman Ernie Orsatti, who did prop and doubling work around the lot and was trusted with such critical tasks as pumping Buster’s air during the underwater scenes for The Navigator. Other studios had teams as well: Douglas MacLean’s business staff, his writers and visitors, played daily on the FBO lot, and Harold Lloyd had not only a baseball team but a handball crew as well. Yet no Hollywood team seemed to inspire the attention that naturally accrued to the Keaton organization.

Ernie Orsatti was so good that one day in 1925 he arrived at work and found a new set of luggage and a check waiting for him… and he was told that he was fired. Keaton handed him a contract to play for the Vernon Tigers, in which he retained an interest, but Orsatti played just six games with the Tigers before he was sent to Cedar Rapids as part of the Mississippi Valley League. By 1926, he would be fielding in the minor leagues for the St. Louis Cardinals, on his way to the majors, where he would enjoy a career lasting into the mid-1930s.

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