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David Walker, BravoPhotoArt.com
Don Mattingly as Mother Ginger on stage with co-stars in the Evansville Ballet Production of "Nutcracker." Credit: David Walker, BravoPhotoArt.com
Don Mattingly traded his Dodger blue for a powder-white wig and an oversized hoop skirt during the weekend to perform in his hometown ballet's production of "Nutcracker."
In the name of helping children express themselves artistically, the Dodgers manager -- no stranger to a big stage, but usually one covered in turf and dirt -- returned to Evansville, Ind. to play the role of "Mother Ginger." An Evansville news station captured video of Mattingly as the larger-than-life character, who opens her skirt to unveil dancing children, one of whom is wearing a Dodgers uniform in the Evansville production.
"He did a tremendous job, and it was so much fun," said Mark Bush, the ballet's artistic director. "The kids just fell in love with him.
"He was really serious about it. He took home a DVD to study and found ways of relating to the music. And, the crowd loved it, of course."
The former Yankee played high school ball at Memorial High School in Evansville. The performance was well attended, which probably had something to do with the return of a hometown hero, Bush said.
Mattingly took artistic liberty with the character by making a bat-swinging motion and cycling through some signs to the batter.
How did Bush get a life-time .307 career hitter involved in the performance at Evansville's Victory Theater?
Mattingly's wife, Lori, and Bush knew each other through ballet school, where she used to teach. She has remained in touch, and Bush ran into the couple at a fall festival in Evansville.
After a brief description of the role and some encouragement from his wife and Bush, Mattingly stepped to the plate.
"I walked away headed to a corn dog stand and thought, 'Don Mattingly is my Mother Ginger,'" said Bush, who also grew up in Evansville, returning less than two years ago. "He has been so supportive of ballet. It has been a win-win for everybody."
Mattingly, who also performed during a school presentation in Evansville, told WTVW that it was "kind of cool" to get out of his comfort zone.
"I think it's a good thing for these kids," Mattingly told the station. "They're doing something they love."