WJZ’s Ron Matz, beer with bling and ‘The Spy Behind Home Plate’
WJZ’s Ron Matz retiring
For more than two decades, Ron Matz has appeared down in Fells Point bright and early every week, hosting guests and strangers belting out the Bangles’ “Manic Monday” live on-air for WJZ-TV. But July 1 marked the final edition of the zany weekly segment, with the Channel 13 news crew and Matz announcing he’s retiring soon from the station, according to Baltimore Fishbowl. Matz is the latest longtime talent to leave WJZ-TV. June 28 marked general assignment reporter Alex DeMetrick’s final day after 35 years there. In May, anchorwoman Mary Bubala, there since 2003, was let go days after asking a poorly worded, racist-sounding question about Baltimore’s black female mayors in the wake of Catherine Pugh’s resignation.
Also see: Ron Matz, ‘Crazy, Wonderful Ride’
Pennsylvania Avenue is a designated Arts & Entertainment District
For the first time in years, Baltimore has a new dedicated arts and entertainment district — this one along an underserved former black cultural corridor that community leaders hope to revitalize, according to Baltimore Fishbowl. The new Pennsylvania Avenue Black Arts and Entertainment District spans most of its namesake road running from Penn North to Upton. It joins Highlandtown, Station North and Bromo Seltzer as the city’s only areas with dedicated state tax credits and other incentives encouraging economic development centered around the arts. The grassroots think tank Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, the Upton Planning Committee, Arch Social Club and the Druid Heights Community Development Corporation were among the organizations pushing for the designation. The cohort submitted its application in April, and has been awaiting approval from the Maryland Department of Commerce and Maryland State Arts Council. The effort earned the backing of the city council in March, a required step under state law, as well as the surrounding community.
As with the 27 other arts districts spread across Maryland, the state will offer income tax breaks for artists to live and work in approved areas, and incentives to building owners who renovate their spaces for arts uses. Arts districts are required to reapply for the designation every 10 years, meaning the Pennsylvania Avenue Black Arts and Entertainment District will be up for renewal in 2029.
There’s a new beer in town and it’s got bling
Union Craft Brewing has beers for fall, spring and winter in its Hoppy Seasonal Series, and the time has come to roll one out for the summer. Enter: Bling Universe, an India Pale Lager – not an ale, but a lager – that includes “copious amounts of Amarillo, Cascade and Grungiest hops,” per a release. The brew joins fall’s Foxy Red IPA, winter’s Rye Baby IPA and spring’s Steady Eddie IPA in the hopped-up lineup of seasonal releases, according to Baltimore Fishbowl. The beer’s name is inspired by Baltimore’s own American Visionary Art Museum, whose mantra of “adorning one’s world – transforming it into a place that defies convention, surprising and delighting, providing hope and wonder” is represented in shiny works such as “Cosmic Galaxy Egg” and the “Community Mosaic Wall.” The latter is incorporated into the label design. Bling Universe will be available in stores and on draft starting July 2. To celebrate their collaboration, Union and AVAM will hold an all-you-can-eat and drink happy hour at the museum on July 25 ahead of the Flicks on the Hill screening of “Home Alone.”
Alex Bregman hoping for two in a row as MVP
Alex Bregman will have the chance to make it two in a row as Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game MVP. The Houston Astros’ Jewish slugger was elected the starting third baseman last week to start the July 9 game in Cleveland, easily outdistancing Hunter Dozier of the Kansas City Royals and Gio Urshela of the New York Yankees with 49 percent of the fans’ ballots. Bregman as of the weekend had a batting average of .266 with 22 home runs and 52 runs batted in to help power the Astros to first place in the American League Western Division. In last year’s All-Star affair, Bregman snapped a 10th-inning tie with a two-run homer to give the A.L. an 8-6 victory over the National League in Washington, D.C. Playing in his first All-Star game, he was the first Jewish player to win the Most Valuable Player award since it was instituted in 1962. In March, the 25-year-old, playing in his fourth season after being a No. 1 draft pick out of Louisiana State, agreed to a six-year, $100 million contract with the Astros — one of the largest deals ever for a professional Jewish athlete. He’s already won a world title with the Astros and also was a member of the U.S. team that took the World Baseball Classic title in 2017. One Jewish player who was in contention for an All-Star slot but came up short was rookie pitcher Max Fried of the Atlanta Braves. Fried, a 25-year-old lefty starter for the first-place Braves, failed to crack the 11-man staff assembled by a vote of players and the Commissioner’s Office despite a record of 9-3, one win behind the N.L. leader. His earned run average of 4.04 is good but perhaps not enough for the midsummer recognition.—JTA
Speaking of intriguing baseball players …
In baseball terms, Morris “Moe” Berg would best be described as a journeyman player. A New York native and son of Jewish immigrants, he played for five Major League Baseball teams between 1923 and 1939, with a lifetime batting average of just .243. The enigmatic Berg’s career would generally not attract much attention, but his overall story is far from typical. In addition to his baseball career, Berg worked for the Office of Strategic Services – predecessor to the Central Intelligence Agency – spying in Europe and playing a prominent role in America’s efforts to undermine the Nazis’ nuclear ambitions during World War II. Berg’s life is now the subject of a new documentary, “The Spy Behind Home Plate,” by award-winning filmmaker Aviva Kempner. A Washington, D.C., resident, Kempner will present “The Spy Behind Home Plate” on July 7, at 4:30 p.m. at the historic Parkway Theatre.
- Moe Berg’s Life as Ballplayer and Spy, This Time as a Documentary
- In ‘Catcher Was a Spy,’ Paul Rudd is a Jewish Baseball Player Turned Nazi Hunter
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