This weekend is Memorial Day Weekend, where we pause to remember those who gave all to the service of our country. Whether they literally gave their life in service or gave up so much of their life for our country, we appreciate and remember.
Editor’s note: We met author Laurie Jacobson at the Missouri Cherry Blossom Festival in Marshfield.
She was signing several of the books she has written—most of the celebrity gossip genre. While this spotlight article is shining on Laurie, she is used to sharing it with her celebrity actor husband who she was sitting with during an autograph session at the Festival.
Laurie is is married to actor Jon Provost, who played “Timmy” on the old Lassie TV Show, and she even combined on a book with him called “Timmy’s in the Well: the Jon Provost Story.”
Laurie and Jon had a chance meeting, explained later in the article, but basically because of their shared friends who were child actors in Hollywood.
They live in California, but she is originally from St. Louis and is still a Cardinals fan—with an interesting story.
By Sally Tippett Rains
When the Cardinals play the Giants next month there will be at least one Cardinals fan living in the Bay Area who will be rooting for the Cardinals.
Laurie Jacobson, the successful award-winning Hollywood author. whose most recent book is “Top of the Mountain: The Beatles at Shea Stadium in 1965” (shown right) is from St. Louis and is a Cardinals Fan.
She is a leading Hollywood historian and researcher, and spent much time on that book, about the Beatles concert at Shea in 1965. Perhaps an impetus to research that famous Beatle concert in 1965 had a little to do with the memories in the back of her mind of when the Beatles played at Busch Stadium in 1966. That concert turned out to be one of their last shows before they stopped touring.
Though Busch Stadium has been the setting for a Beatles concert– it’s not the music at Busch that has stayed in her heart all these years– it was the St. Louis Cardinals. She grew up in the time of Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Joe Torre and Dal Maxvill and the World Series teams of the 1960’s.
“For me, the Cardinals have historically always been one of the great baseball teams and I will always be a loyal fan,” she said.
As with most Cardinals fans the love of the team—and the game—comes from her family. Both her father, Sid Jacobson and her mother, Carol were die-hard fans.
Part of it stemmed from Sid’s love of the game and excelling in the sport. He played baseball at Soldan High School (Class of 1940) and even played some minor league ball. Soldan, which had opened in 1909 and closed as a regular high school in 1990 still exists today as Soldan International Studies High School.
During the years Sid Jacobson went to Soldan (late 1930’s to 1940) they had some great sports teams including their football team which won the Public High League Championship.
Sid played several sports, but baseball was his favorite and he was already a letterman by the start of the 1940 season, playing for newly hired coach Arthur Gordon. The Soldan baseball team is shown in the photo, right and he is on the front row, third from the left.
“He was a terrific athlete and particularly excelled in baseball,” said Laurie Jacobson. “He was a left-handed first baseman. Like most St. Louisans, he was a huge Cardinal fan. His one and only dream was to play first base for the Cardinals.”
He is shown in his senior picture in the Soldan High School yearbook, right.
After high school he played independent league baseball. He felt like he was on his way. Then he was offered a contract with the St. Louis Cardinals.
“His dream almost came true,” she said, “Our parents told us about Dad being offered a contract for the Cardinals (to report to a) farm team. His immigrant father stayed up all night reading the contract– every word of it.”
He was to turn in the signed contact the next day, but the whole thing turned out to be a bittersweet day for his family as on the same day he had the opportunity to sign with the Cardinals he got his draft notice and ended up joining the service.
“The next day, my dad was offered a contract he had to accept — with Uncle Sam,” said Laurie. “His draft notice arrived the following morning. And that was the end of Dad’s career in baseball.”
Sid went into the Army Air Corp, which became the Air Force. Though he was flattered with the knowledge he was good enough to make the Cardinals minor league team, and would have liked to have been a Cardinal, flying high with a baseball career– he ended up flying planes instead of pennants, see photo left.
But that was not the end of Sid or his family’s baseball memories. His daughter still has a love for the Cardinals because of her childhood.
“Were we Cardinal fans?” she asked, “Yes! My parents went to all the sporting events in St. Louis back then—the baseball Cardinals, football Cardinals and the Blues. My dad even invented a foot warmer that fit over your shoes for the cold games like late fall baseball and football—but that’s another story.”
Carol Jacobson was already a baseball fan in her own right when she met Sid, having attended many St. Louis Browns games at Sportsman’s Park with her own dad.
“My parents were passionate die-hard sports fans and took us to games. My brother knew the stats of every player and had plastic figures of his favorites. Of course, he wishes he would have kept them as they are now worth quite a bit, but he still has Dad’s Soldan letter sweater.”
They went to games and listened to them on the radio. As the years went by and more and more games were on television, Carol and Sid watched as many games as they could on TV.
Laurie looks back on her childhood and her life with her parents and brother with great happiness. The photo, left shows Sid and Laurie dancing.
Decades after he had served in the military and raised his family, Sid and his wife were having dinner one night on the Hill. His wife noticed someone looking at him and said, “Sid, there’s a man across the room who keeps staring at you. I think he knows you.”
“Dad turns and is delighted to see Arthur Gordon, his high school baseball coach,” said Laurie. “He rushed over to his table to extend a warm hello.”
“’I was just talking about you!’ his coach said. He turned to his tablemates and said, ‘This is the guy I was telling you about — the best left-handed first baseman I ever worked with.’”
It was quite flattering, but then her father looked at the others at the table and quickly recognized a very famous face.
“He turned back to my dad and said, ‘Sid, have you met Stan Musial and his wife Lil?’ My dad was floored,” she said.
The coach went on about Sid and what a great baseball player he was— talking to Stan Musial.
“Mom said he floated back to the table, his feet nowhere near the floor,” she said.
“Twenty minutes later, Lil Musial passed their table on the way to the ladies room and put her hand on Dad’s shoulder.”
What she said really touched his heart: “You must have really been something, because he is still talking about you.”
“Long after Dad passed away in 2001, Mom continued to loudly root for the Cardinals from her living room,” said Laurie. “This to the shock and surprise of her caregivers who were not used to seeing anyone carry on like that.”
Laurie has been living on the West Coast most of her adult life. She has written books, documentaries and TV specials about different aspects of Hollywood history, appearing on such shows as E!’s “Mysteries and Scandals.”
She and Jon met at a collectibles show in 1996 in Los Angeles. She was signing her book and Jon was sitting next to friend and also child-star Stanley Livingston, who played Chip on My Three Sons, signing autographs. Jon posted the photo, right on his website, JonProvost.com of he and Laurie shortly after they got married. The other woman in the photo was his TV mom, June Lockhart.
Though they live on the West Coast she continued her love of baseball and continued sharing it with her mother.
“Whenever the Cards played the Giants, Jon (her husband who is a San Francisco Giants Fan) and my mom called each other throughout the games, egging each other on, raising their penny ante bets. She loved that. I suspect it was during baseball games that she missed my dad the most.”
And the mention of the Cardinals tugs at Laurie’s heartstrings also.
“Jon and I live in the Bay Area now,” she said. “But I still have my Cardinals cap and my autographed picture of Stan the Man.”
Sid Jacobson may not have gotten to play for the team he dearly loved, but years after their contract offer that he had to turn down, he felt it had all come full circle. To be able to meet Stan Musial—who he might have even played baseball with—and to have Musial talking about what might have been was so gratifying in his heart.
“That night was a great gift to my dad,” said Laurie. “I will always be so happy he got to hear that.”
She continues rooting for the Cardinals from California.
“I’ll always have my memories of growing up in a family united in their love for America’s National Pastime an in specific– the St. Louis Cardinals in particular.”
For more about Laurie Jacobson’s books CLICK HERE.