Thursday, May 03, 2007

We Hardly Knew Ye: Edo Vanni & Tom Poston

Edo Vanni died Monday at age 89. Vanni was long considered the embodiment of Seattle's baseball history (as well as its dean, its face, its heart and soul, etc.). Born in Black Diamond and attending both Queen Anne High School and the UW, the speedy Vanni played right field as a rookie on the first Seattle Rainiers team in 1938. Until his death, he remained its last surviving member. Vanni's fiery presence helped the Pacific Coast League Rainiers win three consecutive pennants between 1939 and 1941, turning Seattle into a baseball-mad city. After managing the final Rainiers team in 1964, he was employed by every subsequent pro Seattle ballclub in various capacities -- coach, manager, general manager -- except by the Mariners, who honored him with a lifetime pass. He called the Seattle Pilots "the biggest farce I ever saw," but remained a big M's fan (his favorite player was Ichiro). He lived the rest of his life in Queen Anne, where he ascribed his longevity to daily constitutionals and lots of wine, and his marriage of 58 years. See him in action in this great Rainiers video, and read Larry Stone's 2005 profile.

Tom Poston died Monday at age 85. Poston was a comedic actor who mostly appeared on TV in his 56-year career, usually playing slow-witted, bewildered characters. He often worked alongside Bob Newhart: his best-known regular role was simpleton handyman George Utley on Newhart (1982-1990). He also played Bob's old college roommate in five episodes of The Bob Newhart Show between 1975 and 1977, along with appearances on Bob (two episodes in 1993), George & Leo (one 1997 episode), and the 1971 theatrical movie Cold Turkey. Besides being a frequent game-show panelist, he's had guest appearances on seemingly every sitcom of the last 20 years, and also voiced animated characters on King of the Hill (as Mr. Popper, the old vaudevillian who turns Bobby on to ventriloquism) and the The Simpsons (as the Capital City Goofball).

Tenuous link: Suzanne Pleshette played Bob's wife Emily on The Bob Newhart Show. Emily grew up in Seattle during the '40s and '50s, where there's a good chance she saw Edo Vanni in action at Sick's Stadium. In real life, Pleshette married Tom Poston in 2001.
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