Marty Appel is an American public relations executive and author. He was born in Brooklyn, NY and was brought up a Yankees fan (same as my dad). He grew up idolizing Mickey Mantle, and later joined the “Bobby Richardson” fan club because he wanted “his own guy.”
Appel graduated from SUNY Oneonta in 1970 with a degree in political science. You may ask yourself, how did he get involved in sports? While in high school, he was a by-lined reporter for the local newspaper in Rockland County, NY. He also wrote a page news feature in addition to his sports reporting. His interest in communications grew as he was serving as a sports editor and then editor-in-chief, for school newspapers. Later on, he became the editor of the campus newspaper in college. Appel also had the pleasure of being educated by the man considered to be the founder of the PR profession, Edward Bernays.
While a student, he kicked off his career by writing a letter to the Yankees Public Relations director at the time, Bob Fishel. In 1967, Fishel hired him to answer Mickey Mantle’s fan mail because it was not getting answered. That’s how it all started. It was a major break for him and it opened the doors wide open for the 19-year-old.
He went right from college to the New York Yankees. Marty had the chance to interact with one of the most iconic sports figures of all-time. His name was Mickey Mantle. He was starstruck, and he couldn’t believe the fact that Mickey Mantle even knew who he was. The Mick liked Marty, and he would even hand him all his gift certificates he recieved when he did radio interviews, such as $10 off Thom McAn shoes. He stayed good friends with Mantle until he passed away, and he claims that the “awe” factor never fully went away.
At 21, he was named Assistant Director of Public Relations. In 1973, Marty was named PR Director of the team, which was at the same time that George Steinbrenner was taking over ownership of the ball club. After Bob Fishel left, Steinbrenner made his first hire and gave Appel the top job available. He wound up being only the third in the franchise’s history, and the youngest ever in baseball. Of course there were ups and downs, and a lot of pressure working under The Boss, but it made all those people under him better and tougher.
“I earned that World Series ring, let me tell you.”
Along the way, Marty got to know a lot of characters besides the Mick, including Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, Bobby Murcer, Catfish Hunter, Thurman Munson, Mel Allen, Phil Rizzuto and many more. Too many to be honest. He pretty much knew everybody you could think of. He stood as a Yankee employee from 1968-1977.
Marty resigned in 1977 from his position with the Yankees and started a sports management company. He went on to work for Major League Baseball and joined the staff of Bowie Kuhn. He became an accomplished author, and has written 17 books, including “Munson,” “Now Pitching for the Yankees” (the best New York baseball book of 2001 by ESPN), ”My Nine Innings” and “Yesterday’s Heroes.” He has also contributed to a variety of publications, including Sports Collectors Digest, Yankees Magazine, Encyclopedia Americana, Sport, Baseball Digest and Beckett. Appel has also worked for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games and The Topps Company.
He is now the president of Marty Appel Public Relations, which is a New York based PR firm specializing in sports that was created in March 1998. Appel has worked on a few projects as a consultant, including Billy Crystal’s HBO special “61*”, consulting producer for ESPN’s “The Bronx is Burning”, and he is a frequent guest on sports documentaries (YES Network, ESPN, HBO,) and live panels. He served as VP for Public Relations for WPIX, won an Emmy as the executive producer of Yankee telecasts, produced pre-season football telecasts for the Giants and Jets, he’s on the Board of Directors for the Yogi Berra Museum, stands as a member of the Board of Trustees of the New York Sports Museum and Hall of Fame and is a member of the Advisory Council to the Israel Baseball League. He served as Editor-at-Large for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and and the museum’s quarterly magazine, and helped write the text on the plaques of Hall of Fame inductees.
Some of Marty’s sports clients included the Yankees, the Baseball Hall of Fame, The Topps Company, EA Sports, The Sporting News, the Yogi Berra Museum, Major League Baseball, Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant, The ALS Association of Greater New York, Jewish Major Leaguer baseball cards, the Israel Baseball League, The Boys and Girls Clubs of America and many more.
Marty believes in 2:20 games, ejecting those people sitting behind home plate waving to the cameras while they talk on their cellphones, and when the Yankees are strong, baseball is strong.
This guy had a job that many Yankee fans would die for. I know I would. Ron Blomberg and Roy White were at his wedding! It just shows how well he knew some of these people, and the connections he made within the organization. Mr. Appel is now recognized as a Yankees historian, one of the nation’s premier authorities on Yankee history, one of baseball’s most informed historians and he’s considered a “storyteller’s storyteller.”
If you were a Yankees fan in the 1970s, the name Marty Appel will ring a bell.