The following year I again wrote to several people, including Tigers Owner Mike Ilitch. He referred me to [Tigers President/CEO/General Manager] David Dombrowki. Mr. Dombrowski referred me to [Director, Lakeland Operations] Ron Myers from the Tigers Spring Training site in Lakeland, Fla. I will never forget the moment when he called and said, "Norm, we want you." That was the first time I did the entire 85-minute show. Rotary gives you 20 to 30 minutes.
Dreaming Made Simple: How did you get connected with "Babe Ruth?"
Norm Coleman: That’s an interesting story. I am in contact with a lot of bloggers. One of them was a gentleman who used to work for ESPN, out of Pasadena. He told me he videotaped a Babe Ruth impersonator out of Boston named Steve Folven. I saw the video and contacted Steve. I had been considering a two-man show with Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth for some time. He said, yes, I’d like to do it with you. I wrote the script and went to Boston this past August. We performed six shows in six different cities for Rotary clubs.
The two of us got on the same page very quickly. Steve came to San Francisco in April of this year, and we met at [famed sports restaurant] Lefty O’Doul’s. We went to the restaurant in costume. We sat down at a table in the back, and we attracted a lot of attention. We had no script. We talked like two old guys having a beer together. Restaurant owner Nick Bovis liked the show so much that he booked me to do a show at Lefty’s next month. Steve and my photograph is hanging under an 11 X 14 photo of Ichiro.
Dreaming Made Simple: Let’s talk about fellow San Francisco native Joe DiMaggio. You actually photographed Joe D., right?
Norm Coleman: Yes, I did. I had a portrait studio in San Mateo, Calif. for 30 years. I did a bar mitzvah for a well-to-do family. They told me they had a VIP coming. It was Joe DiMaggio, who was a good friend of the grandfather. "Don’t talk to them. Just take the picture. Don’t ask for an autograph," they said.
Dreaming Made Simple: How did you get into photography?
Norm Coleman: I started in New York City. I studied at the New York School for Social Research. I studied with a very famous photographer named Lisette Model. She was the second woman photographer hired for LIFE magazine. I was very fortunate to be in her class. I later moved out to Santa Fe, NM. I photographed the ghost town, and I photographed Indians. When I came out to California, I got a job as a ballet photographer. In 1965, I opened up my own portrait studio in San Mateo and got into the wedding business. I photographed many athletes over the years at social events - Willie Mays, Joe Montana, Johnny Bench - My claim to fame was I photographed Ronald Reagan when he was running for president back in 1980.
Dreaming Made Simple: Why did you start acting?
Norm Coleman: I went to a local theatre called the Coastal Repertory Theatre. I was so impressed with the acting. As I was walking out of the theatre, there was a letter on the table. It said there were auditions for the next show. I picked the letter up and put it on my bulletin board. I looked at it numerous times. I went down there and read a bunch of lines. I came back and read some more lines. Then I got a call back, and they said, 'We have a small part for you.' It was a small part - exactly 16 lines - I played a juror. It took me forever to memorize those lines. I didn’t know stage right from stage left, but I loved being part of the theatre family. I was bitten by the theatre bug, you might say. At that time, I was reading about Ty Cobb. I began to put it together that this could be a one-man show.
Dreaming Made Simple: What’s your dream, and how has that evolved in the six years you have been playing Mr. Cobb?
Norm Coleman: My big dream is to perform at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. They know who I am. They have my information. I have performed at the Ty Cobb Museum, but my big dream is to perform at Cooperstown.
Learn more about Norm Coleman, a.k.a Detroit Tigers legend Ty Cobb, and see where he will be appearing on his Web site