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Column: Today let us join in praise of famous men

Editor's note: Former longtime Daily Globe Editor Ray Crippen died Dec. 27, 2015. We will continue to publish previously run "Isn't That Something" columns on Saturdays, until further notice, as a tribute to Crippen and his knowledge of local and...

Editor’s note: Former longtime Daily Globe Editor Ray Crippen died Dec. 27, 2015. We will continue to publish previously run “Isn’t That Something” columns on Saturdays, until further notice, as a tribute to Crippen and his knowledge of local and regional history. The following column first appeared Jan. 28, 2006.

WORTHINGTON - Do you know the book title, “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men?”
Well, today, let us praise famous men.
What I hope is that Lismore can erect a plaque, or a small monument. If Lismore has trouble raising money, I hope we all will pitch in.
I will do some forecasting, which is often foolish. I predict that on Feb. 27, the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, N.Y., will announce that John Donaldson is a Hall of Famer - John Donaldson, who pitched for Lismore in 1926. We have talked about him in this column before.
John Donaldson has credentials to certify that, surely, he is the greatest ball player our region ever knew. Two-hundred-fifty wins in a 23-year career. Eleven strikeouts, average, per game. John McGraw, legendary manager of the New York Giants, the manager who led his teams to three World Series championships - John McGraw said of John Donaldson, “I think he is the greatest I ever have seen, and I would give $50,000 for him if it weren’t for the color line in baseball.”
On Feb. 27, Cooperstown will announce a list of new Hall of Famers, not because they were black men but because they were some of this country’s all-time best baseball players. On Jan. 18, Cooperstown began listing biographies of the nominees on its Web site. The first man listed is John Donaldson - which makes me dare to predict.
John Donaldson and his family lived in the house (I believe) which originally was at 401 First St. at Lismore. Lismore hired John for $450 a month, which was a very dear salary in that time. All credit to them.
Now on to a second famous man:
I was reading lately that Dudley Little will be touring with the Live Lawrence Welk Show - Feb. 17, Dearborn, Mich.; Feb. 18, London, Ont.; Feb. 19, Hamilton, Ont.
On through February. On and on through March.
Well. Great credit to Dudley. Dud - I know this: you are 75 years old now, or 76.
Are you asking who is Dudley Little? Dudley Little is Worthington’s own Big Tiny Little, aka Tiny Little Jr. Big Tiny is a piano player in the way Barbra Streisand is a singer. Big Tiny is a great among popular piano players.
One example: The old “Dinah Shore Show,” once featured America’s four greatest pop piano players all at one time. Ray Charles, Liberace, Peter Nero and Big Tiny.
I have an album, “Greatest Piano Hits.” Included are Hugo Winterhalter, Ferrante & Teicher, Floyd Cramer and Big Tiny playing “Alley Cat” and “As Time Goes By.”
By now it is necessary to remind: Big Tiny is the son of Irvin (Tiny) Little, whose band from the 1930s and 1940s was one of the great Midwestern bands of that era. The Littles lived at 814 Third Ave.
I suppose Big Tiny - Dud - is my most illustrious and famous classmate. He was a big kid, even as he came to be a big man. Rusty hair and lots of freckles and a grin that almost never stopped. He reached out to everyone. He was generous, always looking for ways to compliment or encourage others. We knew he was great before the world knew him.
Dud didn’t graduate from Worthington High. He went to Shattuck at Faribault, and we always were sorry for that. He used to play at our high school assemblies and at school dances and everyone admired him. In a point of fact, he was playing piano as soon as he could sit on a bench and reach a keyboard - 5 years old, or 6.
There is a picture of Dudley on the Internet. He is wearing a black fedora and a faux leopard-skin vest. He has glasses now, but he doesn’t look as old as the rest of us. His forte is ragtime. Big Tiny picked up where Scott Joplin left off. The wonder, of course, is that he never has been invited to Worthington for a Turkey Day. I hope we don’t always have to say this. My, it would be fun to have Big Tiny back with us another time, maybe playing “Alley Cat,” maybe “The Entertainer.” John Donaldson and Dudley Little. Famous men.

 

“Big Tiny” Little died March 3, 2010.

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