Institute to offer courses on baseball, Bob Dylan

Staff Writer

What do Edwin Snider and Robert Zimmerman have in common? Besides being better known by other names — Duke Snider and Bob Dylan — they will be among the subjects of OLLIRU courses to be taught this fall by William Cutti of Morganville.

Cutti’s courses are titled “New York Baseball in the 1950s” and “Bob Dylan: Genius or Myth.”

The former is a one-day, five-hour class to be offered at 10 a.m. Oct. 5 at the Western Monmouth Higher Education Center at Brookdale Community College, 3680 Route 9 South, Freehold Township.

The latter will be spread out over five weekly sessions at 1 p.m. starting Oct. 9, also at the Freehold Township site.

OLLI-RU is the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Rutgers University, which offers noncredit classes for people over 50. For more information, visit or call 848-932-OLLI (6554).

Cutti, 66, is a retired CPA who grew up in Flatbush, Brooklyn, and was a Dodgers fan until his beloved Bums went west after the 1957 season. His favorite players were the Hall of Fame members Snider and Pee Wee Reese. His heart now belongs to the Mets, though not with nearly the same intensity he felt for the Dodgers as a youth.

He was a third baseman for Brooklyn College’s varsity baseball team in the late 1960s and keeps his hand in the sport by serving as an umpire at high school games throughout Monmouth County.

Highlights of Cutti’s baseball course will include a discussion of Jackie Robinson breaking the Major Leagues’ color barrier in 1947, the five consecutive World Series championships won by the Yankees from 1949-53, Brooklyn finally winning the World Series in 1955, Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series and the 1957 move to Los Angeles that made Walter O’Malley the most hated man in New York.

Cutti still feels the emotional rollercoaster ride of those years in Brooklyn and aims to convey it in the Oct. 5 class.

After all of the Dodgers’ frustrating near-misses against the Yankees in the 1947, 1949, 1952 and 1953 World Series, the impact of their breakthrough in 1955 cannot be overstated. Yet two years later the Dodgers were on their way out of town. “When they left after 1957,” Cutti said, “I temporarily became a [Milwaukee] Braves fan because they beat the Yankees in the series that year. Then when the Mets came along in 1962, I became a Mets fan.”

By that time most of the Brooklyn players were no longer on the team, but Duke Snider was still a Dodger when Los Angeles paid its first visit to the Polo Grounds (home of the Mets) in 1962, so “certainly the first times the Dodgers came back, I went to some of the games.”

Another draw was Brooklyn-born lefty Sandy Koufax, who had been a scatterarmed rookie at Ebbets Field, but “was just coming into his own” as a superstar in 1962.

Cutti’s interest in Bob Dylan began when he was a teenager.

“The first album I bought was ‘Bringing It All Back Home,’ which is probably one of his best albums,” he said.

When Cutti first heard the title song, he remembers his amazement that it was about three times as long as the typical pop song and the words were very different from the AM radio norm.

He called Dylan “a musical chameleon. … He’s changed so many times in his career.”

Cutti recalled one of the turning points took place at the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island about a half-century ago, when Dylan “came out and played electric guitar, and they booed him.”

The course description indicates a focus on words and music of Dylan’s early years, 1962-85, and the discussion will concentrate on his “best songs and albums, but also address some of his clunkers and missteps.”

OLLI-RU is for individuals over 50 who are looking for an opportunity to expand their horizons, learn in an engaging environment and meet new friends. The course guide states that OLLI-RU offers noncredit education that is stimulating, friendly and informal. There are no tests and no grades.

Cutti was asked if there were any other topics he might wish to teach. He mentioned that he was a big oldies music fan — primarily tunes from the 1950s and 1960s — then added, “The only other thing I would enjoy talking about would be the Three Stooges.”

Cue a few bars of “Three Blind Mice.”