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AMERICAN MOSAIC - March 15, 2002: Music written by John Williams / A question about Saint Patrick's Day / Watching baseball players get ready for the season - 2002-03-14



Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC — VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.


This is Doug Johnson. Our program today we:

play music written by John Williams ...

answer a question about the holiday Saint Patrick’s Day ...

and tell how Americans watch players train for the professional baseball season.

Spring Training


Many Americans love the sport of baseball. They are looking forward to the start of the North American professional baseball season at the end of this month. Currently, teams are busy training for the new season. Mary Tillotson has more.


Baseball has created many popular traditions. One of them is spring training. Each February, Major League players report to their teams for training in warm American states. The players work on a number of skills, including hitting, throwing and running. They play games against other teams to help team officials decide which players to keep.

Spring training is a popular activity for baseball fans. Thousands of people travel to the states of Arizona and Florida to watch the games. Some of the people do this to escape from winter weather in the north.

Florida, for example, is famous for its warm waters and activities for holiday travelers. Spring training is another popular activity. The cost to attend a game is much lower than the cost of a game during the official baseball season.

People of all ages enjoy spring training games. Boys and girls sit side by side with older adults. Parents take their babies to the games. Even some businessmen attend the games. Many people come equipped with cameras, baseballs, and something to write with. They ask players to sign their name on a baseball, a picture or a piece of paper. The most popular players are easy to recognize. They are the ones in the center of the largest crowds.

This year, spring training is a little different. Increased security measures were added because of the terrorist attacks in the United States in September.

As a result, the interaction between players and crowds is being closely watched. People who attend spring training games are no longer permitted to bring large cooling containers for food and drinks. Security officers search small, personal objects. They examine the playing field before a game. They also inspect the areas where people leave their cars.

Yet this has not kept Americans away from spring training. Some recent reports say it is now more popular than ever.

Saint Patrick’s Day


Our VOA listener question this week comes from Vietnam. Nguyen Thanh Duc asks about the holiday Saint Patrick’s Day.

Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March seventeenth. It is a religious holiday in Ireland. It is the day to honor the man who brought the Roman Catholic religion to Ireland more than one-thousand years ago.

Saint Patrick’s Day is not an official holiday in the United States. But a lot of people celebrate it anyway. They show the traditional Irish color, green. People wear green clothes. Some put green color in their hair or on their faces. Some public eating places serve beer that is green. The city of Chicago even puts green color in its river. Many Americans eat the traditional Irish food, corned beef and cabbage. And they enjoy parties and parades.

Saint Patrick’s Day was first celebrated in the United States in Boston, Massachusetts about two-hundred-fifty-years ago. These celebrations involved only people whose families had come to the United States from Ireland.

Today, Americans who are not Irish also celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. Some cities have Saint Patrick’s Day parades. An old story says this tradition began in New York City in Seventeen-Sixty-Two. Some members of the New York State military guard at that time had been born in Ireland. They decided to march to breakfast on Saint Patrick’s Day. These parades spread throughout the country as more Irish people came to live in the United States.

Many Irish people who moved to the United States settled in big cities. Many became firefighters, police officers and city leaders. They were able to stop work in the city for a day so they could have a parade to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day.

Today, New York City’s parade is the biggest. Hundreds of thousands of people march for eight kilometers along Fifth Avenue. Millions of others gather along the street to watch. Many of these Americans are not really Irish. But they like to say that everyone is a little bit Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day.This year, the parade in New York City will be on March sixteenth, because it is never held on a Sunday. Also this year, there will be a minute of silence for the people killed in the World Trade Center attacks.

John Williams’ Music


The National Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present its yearly Academy Awards on March twenty-fourth. The awards honor people who make movies. One of the nominees this year is music writer John Williams. He has been nominated for an Academy Award forty-one times. That is more than anyone else in history. Shep O’Neal has more.


John Williams may be best known for writing movie soundtracks, the music that is heard throughout a movie. He has written the music and served as music director for almost eighty movies. They include “E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial,” “Home Alone,” and “Superman,” to name only a few. He has won five Academy Awards. One was for the music from the movie “Jaws.”


John Williams is writing the music for the new series of “Star Wars” movies. The second of these will be released later this year. He also wrote the soundtracks for the first three “Star Wars” movies. He won an Academy Award for the first one in Nineteen-Seventy-Eight.


John Williams is nominated for two Academy Awards this year. One is for the music he wrote for the movie “A.I: Artificial Intelligence.” We leave you now with the music that earned him the second nomination this year. It is from the movie “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”



This is Doug Johnson . I hope you enjoyed our program today. And I hope you will join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC — VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.

This AMERICAN MOSAIC program was written by George Grow and Nancy Steinbach. Our studio engineer was Kwasi Smith. And our producer was Paul Thompson.