Thursday, November 30, 2006


Jack Leigh, who died a couple of years ago, was part of the Biograph Theatre’s staff in late-1973/early-1974. He was earnest and quick-witted. Jack liked to play chess and talk about movies, and of course -- photography. In those days he was already a very good photographer.

The quiet style Jack would use throughout his career was already evident. He authored six books of photographs, including Oystering, which featured a foreward by James Dickey.

Leigh introduced me to Half-Rubber, a three-man baseball-like game that he said orginated in his hometown, Savannah. It was played with a broom handle and half of a red rubber ball. So one warm afternoon, to kill time I cut a ball in half, ruined a broom, and crossed the street with Jack and Bernie Hall to play a new three-man game. At the time there were several vacant lots on Grace Street, across from the repertory cinema, which I then managed.

The key to pitching was to throw the ball with the flat part down and it would fly somewhat like a Frisbee. Hitting or catching it was quite another matter. Bernie, a southpaw who also worked at the Biograph, could make the ball do the most tricks. Why is it that lefthanders seem to be able to put more stuff on a ball, any kind of ball?

The pitcher served up the ball in the general direction of the batter, who tried to hit it. If he missed, and he usually did, the catcher tried his best to catch it. By the way, the batter was allowed to hit the ball on a bounce. In fact, it was better to do so, from a strategic standpoint. When the catcher did catch a ball that the batter had swung at, the batter was out. Then the pitcher moved to the catching position, and the catcher became the batter, and so forth. Runs were scored in a similar fashion to other home run derby-like games.

But the reason to play -- other than the laughs from how foolish we looked dealing with that weird half-ball -- was the kick that came from hitting it. When we connected with that little red devil it jumped off the bat like a rocket. Yes, it went a long way -- very quickly. For guys who love the feeling of crushing a golf ball, I recommend half-rubber.

The following is from the Jack Leigh gallery’s web site:

"In 1993 Leigh was commissioned to create a photograph for the book cover of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. The book became an international best seller and the photograph is Leigh's most famous and widely recognized image."

Do yourself a favor, click here to visit the Jack Leigh gallery.
The photo of Jack Leigh is from his gallery's web site

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