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Posts Tagged ‘George M. Steinbrenner III’

Marty Appel, former PR Director of the New York Yankees, was kind enough to answer a few questions for me about our beloved team and his role with the ball club.

Photo Courtesy of Marty Appel

Bill Dickey – Marty Appel – Mel Allen

Q&A with Marty Appel

1) Q: You started out answering Mickey Mantle’s fan mail. You later went on to become the head of public relations of the New York Yankees. You really started from the bottom and climbed your way through the organization. Did you always envision yourself working for the Yankees?
  • A: I was always a huge fan, but the idea of writing to the Yankees for a summer job came to me after a year as sports editor of my college newspaper.  It was just a bolt out of the blue; no grand scheme. And I never even thought I’d get an answer. Also, answering the fan mail wasn’t the bottom of the food chain. I’ll reserve that for the post-game cleanup crew, who used to augment their low wages by drinking the leftover beer left under the seats. I was a few rungs above that.
2) Q: When your mentor, Bob Fishel left the Yankees after the 1973 season, you were promoted to PR director of the ball club. You were just 24 years-old. What was that like?
  • A: George Steinbrenner called me in and asked if I felt ready for this assignment. No one my age had ever been a team PR Director, let alone in New York. But because I had been trained by Bob Fishel for six years, I absolutely felt ready. It was like learning democracy from Jefferson or Madison. I learned from the best and I was ready.
3) Q: Upon meeting George Steinbrenner for the very first time, what was your impression of him?
  • A: Very dynamic guy, and he said all the right things about winning. We were hungry for that sort of direction after all the disappointing finishes in the CBS years. One thing you don’t appreciate at first is the huge celebrity he would become. He was unknown on that January day in 1973 and we didn’t see what was to come. He went out and redefined what owners did, and he made the Yankees a bigger brand than they had ever been.
4) Q: Take us through a day as a PR director of the New York Yankees in the 1970’s.
  • A: Well it changed a lot after 1974 with the Catfish Hunter signing, and a year later with free agency. It really made the job a 365-day task. Prior to that, the winters were slower and people used to ask “what do you do in the off-season.” Of course it was spent preparing yearbooks, media guides, scorecards; doing a winter media caravan, preparing for spring training, attending dinners, announcing the schedule and promotion dates, making news when you can. Today the newspapers are told they must have a Yankee (and Mets) story every day. Then it was more of a struggle.
  • A: In season, I made all the road trips, prepared the daily press notes, fielded questions from the media, contacted the next team to exchange ‘probable pitchers,’ and established good friendships with press and the players, many of who were my age. And oh yes, in the days before ‘modern communication,’ I would often be on a pay phone in the press box, giving Mr. Steinbrenner the pitch-by-pitch account of a game if he was in Florida and couldn’t listen. And I’d fill in between pitches with plugs for the new Yankee Yearbook, which he didn’t always find amusing if we were losing.
5) Q: My father was in the upper deck of Yankee Stadium with his brother when Chris Chambliss won the pennant for the Yankees in 1976. That was “his moment.” Thirty-three years later, I would be in the grandstands with my father watching the Yankees win the pennant in 2009. That was “my moment.” In all the years you’ve watched the Yankees play, what was your favorite memory you saw in-person and why?
  • A: I would say Mickey Mantle Day in 1969 just edges the Chambliss home run. I had a lot to do with the planning of Mantle Day, which worked flawlessly and hit just the right emotional notes.  It was one of the better “Days” I’ve ever seen.  We had a great front office team in the planning then – Bill Guilfoile, Howard Berk, Bob Fishel and myself, fortunate enough to be there.
Photo Courtesy of Marty Appel
6) Q: In the ESPN TV miniseries, “The Bronx is Burning”, there was an intriguing Kangaroo Court scene. The perpetrator was Mickey Rivers. He was charged with a so-called “lunch meat violation”, where he was reaching for a cupcake and his private parts touched a ham. I’m aware you were a consultant on the show. Is this a true story? Were you ever present for these locker room gatherings? Were they always this silly?
  • A: The clubhouses were fun and crazy things could happen there – like Fritz Peterson’s hockey games, during which Rich McKinney got injured and it helped end his Yankee days. Mickey Rivers was always funny. Dock Ellis too – he was a special character in the clubhouse.  And Sparky Lyle. Oh, I could go on. Great collection of personalities.
7) Q: Can you please share an odd story from your time with the Yankees? Something the average fan might not know.
  • A: Mickey Mantle would always give me his gift certificates from doing pre-game radio interviews. I couldn’t imagine he would use “$10 off” at Thom McAn shoe store in Yonkers, so he’d give it to me. And eventually he’d save them up from road trips and bring them back to me. I couldn’t use “free dessert” in Minnesota, but it was a fun ritual. I should have had him sign the certificates and saved them instead of using them. Nice memory. He was great to me.
8) Q: How would you compare the Yankees of today to the ball club’s you worked under in the 70’s? How has the role of the PR Director changed over the years in baseball?
  • A: The role dramatically changed in the mid-’70s when, led by Murray Chass and Moss Klein, the media decided that they would decide what was news and go after it themselves, rather than using our daily press notes. So the PR department became reactive and not proactive. And it has been the same ever since, although the media gets far less access to the players today. Everything is much more controlled. Writers don’t even travel with the team anymore.
9) Q: Whether you like to believe it or not, you are a part of Yankees history. When I think of the Bronx Bombers, I think of Ruth, Steinbrenner, Jeter, Cashman, Sheehy, Torre, Michael, Appel, etc. As you grow older, you start to realize that there’s a lot more to a ball club than the players on the field. How does it feel to be part of such an iconic franchises’ history?
  • A: The Yankees are such a strong brand, that even after you’ve left the club, your time with the team sort of defines you. And I’m happy about that – it’s a great association. I’m honored to still be connected, doing video for Yankees on Demand, or writing for their publications. I love when someone in the front office calls to clarify some piece of history. I’m actually the last man standing (and still active in the field) who worked in the original stadium, worked when Mantle played, worked when CBS owned the team. Very proud of that. And proud to have been able to write Pinstripe Empire and get a lot of those memories on record.
10) Q: If someone wanted to be the Director of Media Relations of the New York Yankees today, what advice would you give them?
  • A: Well, it’s hard to always give time to social media, but ultimately, they are read and they are helping to form opinions among fans. I’d lobby to add someone in the department assigned to be the contact person for that category of “media” (bloggers, online columnists, large groups on Facebook, etc., so that the team is reaching its fan base through them. I’d also suggest having a strong sense of the business of baseball so that you better understand decisions made by other departments.  It’s not just knowing how many MVP awards Yogi Berra won.  It’s understanding the dynamics between the players, management, media, fans, the city, and even the nation.  The Yankees matter to a huge number of constituencies, and you have to be aware of all of them.
I can’t thank Marty enough for taking the time to be part of this Q&A interview. If you haven’t already, go out and pick up Marty’s book, “Pinstripe Empire: The New York Yankees from Before the Babe to After the Boss.”
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Just when we started to think Hal Steinbrenner was nothing like his father, he starts showing us signs that he may have a little “Boss” in him. Up to this point, the Yankees have acquired three big-time free agents in McCann, Ellsbury and Beltran. Following today’s press conference for Jacoby Ellsbury, Hal was questioned on the recent signing and what the organization had planned for the rest of the off-season. His response: “We’re not done yet.” That’s exactly what Yankees fans wanted to hear. George always put money back in the team because he felt like the New York fans “deserved it”. Lately, Hal has taken over that same sentiment, and I gotta say..it’s nice to hear. I’d bet there might be a few more presents nestled under your Christmas tree this year that you don’t know about.

Years ago, George spoke about letting the “young elephants” into the tent, and it was the beginning of a transitional phase. George knew his reign was coming to an end, and it made the fan base worry if the Steinbrenner family would even still be owners of the ball club after he was gone. Hal and Hank haven’t exactly been the most visible or outspoken owners of the last few years, making an occasional newspaper headline, being seen inside the Steinbrenner box or attending a stadium event. At the same time, I don’t think anyone could possibly fill the void that George left behind. Prior to the 2009 season (George was still alive), the Yankees made a big splash in the off-season with the new ballpark opening up. They brought in CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira. Even though George wasn’t in complete power at the time, one can look back and say that was “George’s last hurrah.” Looking at the way the Yankees are acting now, maybe Hal and Hank grabbed the ends of those reins that their father left behind.

Jacoby Ellsbury

Photo Courtesy of the New York Yankees

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     In 1985, Yogi Berra was brought back to manage the Yankees after an 87-win 1987 campaign. Steinbrenner wasn’t very happy with Berra’s laid back managing style. George wanted him in his players faces, but Berra would do nothing of the sort. After 16 games into the season, the club owned a 6-10 record and that was enough for George to let Yogi go. Billy returned, thinking that George would get off his back.

Billy made a pact with Steinbrenner. The terms of the deal were that George could not enter the clubhouse or deliver speeches to the team, while Billy would have to fine players on a whim. And that’s exactly what Billy did. Peter Golenbock says: “He fined Phil Niekro for giving up a grand slam home run. He fined Rich Bordi for not trimming his mustache, and he fined Bobby Meachem one time for swinging at the first pitch.” He goes onto say: “It got so bad that Niekro described Billy as “The Maddest of the Game’s Madmen.” By mid-season, Steinbrenner would be down his throat once again, causing Billy to continue drinking himself to death. (more…)

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Here are two clips of George M. Steinbrenner III appearing on Saturday Night Live (October 20, 1990):

Monologe / George Pays for Dinner / Ultra Slim-Fast / (Transcript)

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“I want to get the fans into the action. I don’t look for the glory for myself.” -Freddy ‘Sez’ Schuman

As most of you have heard by now, Freddy ‘Sez’ Schuman passed away at Lenox Hill Hospital yesterday after suffering from a heart attack on Friday night. He was 85.

In the same year, the Yankee family also lost George M. Steinbrenner III, Bob Sheppard and Ralph Houk. He was a “Super Fan”, a Yankee Stadium fixture and was said to be one of the most genial people you could ever meet. With frying pan and spoon in hand, he would walk up and down the stairs of the great cathedral, stirring up the crowd. He would interact with the fans, pose for pictures, and sign autographs. He couldn’t believe that others wanted his autograph, considering he was only a fan of the team. Just last week, people were banging on his shamrock frying pan and shaking his hand, so this caught people by surprise. He was even in a recent Nike commercial (at the 52 second mark). It seemed like he would always be there. I think I can speak for all Yankees fans, in saying that he will be deeply missed. He was as passionate as they get.

Will the Yankees organization have a moment of silence tonight to honor one of their most dedicated fans? According to a bleacher creature, they did it for original Cowbell King Ali Ramirez back in 1996.

Update: 5:00PM ET: According to Kim Jones, the Yankees will honor Freddy “Sez” Schuman with a moment of silence before tonight’s game.

An old friend of Freddy Schuman, Howard Goldstein, recently contacted me after he heard the news of his passing. This man used to take Freddy out for lunch in Manhattan (and then over to the stadium for the game). Howard wanted to share some memories of his friend, and I thought it would be a great idea. I would like to thank him for sharing these stories.

Fond recollections of my friend, the one and only Freddy Schuman  By: Howard Goldstein    

 

I met Freddy “Sez” in the early 1990s, around the time that my son David was born.  This was about the same time that I began to resume being a serious baseball fan, after having been only a casual one for the prior decade.  When I first saw Freddy do his frying pan thing at the old Yankee Stadium (the only real Yankee Stadium in my opinion), I immediately was reminded of the stories that my Dad (a lifelong Brooklynite) had told me about the uber-fan Hilda Chester of his beloved Dodgers.  Freddy appealed to my sense of baseball as a game which, above all else, was supposed to be about having fun. Freddy also appealed to my sense of passion since, when it came to the New York Yankees, I knew of nobody who had greater passion.
 
 Although I did not have much of a rooting interest in those days for either the Yankees (who were my childhood team), or the Phillies (for whom I rooted since moving there in 1978), I nonetheless for a number of years had been a collector/budding historian of all things related to Jews and baseball.  It was Freddy’s Jewish roots which made him of particular fascination to me. I remember approaching Freddy outside the Stadium one day and telling him about my interest in that subject.  As someone proud of his Jewish heritage, Freddy liked hearing me tell him oddball stories about the Jewish ballplayers and others whom I followed.
 
 Over the years my interest in baseball itself, both in the Yankees and the Phillies, grew exponentially to the point that I now have season tickets in both cities.  As a result, I probably came to the Bronx (on average) at least a dozen times per season.  During this period I had begun to email with Freddy and then went to his apartment where I marveled at the incredible number of signs that he had stored from prior years.  I remember buying a few of those from the 1996 World Series and thinking what wonderful works of folk art they were.
 
 It was at this visit that Freddy and I had our first lunch.  I greatly enjoyed talking to him because his passion for the Yankees poured out of every pore.  Freddy regaled me with wonderful stories that day and I hoped it would be only the beginning of many such get-togethers.  From then on, I continued to email with Freddy and also would try to meet him at least once a season for lunch and then drive him to the Stadium for the ballgame that day.  At one of these get-togethers, Freddy graciously agreed to give me one of his precious frying pans so that I could use it when I eventually mount a museum exhibit on Jews and Baseball.  Such an exhibit probably will occur within the next several years, and at that time I will joyfully display the pan (and one of his unique signs) in honor of my warmly remembered friend Freddy.
 
 There will be nobody to replace Freddy “Sez”, and for that the new Yankee Stadium will be the poorer.  The type of daily dedication and passion which Freddy exhibited towards his beloved Yankees is basically a relic of the past (though the real Bleacher Creatures are similar in certain respects.)  What a year this has been for the Yankees. what with the passing of Steinbrenner, Bob Sheppard, Ralph Houk and now Freddy “Sez”.  I just know that Freddy is in heaven arguing with George about the over-the-top size of his Monument Park statue.  If it were up to me, I would put one there of Freddy because the joy that he brought to innumerable Yankees fans over the years was priceless.

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I don’t know how long this will be up on YouTube, but you should check it out if you missed it. ESPN did a great job.

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Many people have said that nobody throws a ceremony like the New York Yankees. It’s so true. The Yankees held a very emotional tribute for the Steinbrenner family, as they unveiled the monument dedicated to the late George M. Steinbrenner III.

The whole Yankees team walked out to center field, leading the Steinbrenner family and former Yankees players and staff into Monument Park. Joan Steinbrenner pulled the curtain covering the monument, and fans were stunned by how big it was. George would’ve liked it like that. His monument trumps all of the others in size, and stands in between Mantle and DiMaggio. According to Yankees PR, the monument is manufactured by US Bronze (Hyde Park, NY). It measures 7 ft. by 5 ft. high, not including the base. It weighs 760 lbs.

After everyone left the park, Mariano remained kneeling in front of the monument, paying tribute to The Boss.

Former New York Yankees pitcher David Wells, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre, and Torre's wife Ali inspect baseball game

Members of New York Yankees attend unveiling of late team owner George Steinbrenner's monument

NEW YORK- SEPTEMBER 20: Mariano Rivera

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From the LoHud Yankees Blog:

“Just a reminder, the Yankees will hold a special ceremony to dedicate and unveil a monument in honor of George Steinbrenner in Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park prior to tonight’s game against the Rays.

The Yankees are asking fans to arrive early and be in their seats by 6:45 p.m. Monument Park will be closed to fans prior to the game. The ceremony is scheduled to begin at approximately 7 p.m. with a special introduction behind home plate, followed by the unveiling of Mr. Steinbrenner’s monument in Monument Park.

Mr. Steinbrenner’s granddaughter Haley Swindal, who is currently performing in the musical Cabaret at the Surflight Theater in Beach Haven, N.J., will sing God Bless America during the seventh-inning stretch in tribute to her grandfather. Frank Sinatra, Jr., will sing the national anthem prior to the game, while the colors will be presented by the West Point Color Guard.

Mr. Steinbrenner’s wife, Joan, and all four of the couple’s children – Hal, Hank, Jennifer and Jessica – are scheduled to be in attendance.”

First pitch was even moved to 7:35PMET:

“The Yankees have announced the full schedule for tonight’s pregame ceremony.

Everything will begin at 7:05, pushing first pitch back to 7:35. There will be a video tribute, the family will got to monument park and the monument itself will be unveiled at 7:20.

I’m guessing the whole thing will be on the YES Network.”

Welcome Back, Joe Torre and Donnie Baseball

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The Dodgers have the day off on Monday, which will allow both of them to attend. I didn’t see this coming. This is great news.

From the NY Daily News:

So big is the Yankees’ commemoration of a monument to George Steinbrenner at Yankee Stadium Monday night that Joe Torre and Don Mattingly are going to end their estrangement with the team to attend the ceremonies.

The Daily News has learned that Yankee brass extended an invitation to both Torre, the former Yankee manager who won four World Championships with the team before leaving under acrimonious circumstances after the 2007 season, and Mattingly, who joined Torre as batting coach with the Los Angeles Dodgers after being passed over as Yankee manager for Joe Girardi that same year, agreed to attend.

Torre announced on Friday that he will be stepping down as skipper of the Dodgers at season’s end and Mattingly will be his replacement.

It will mark the first time since either Torre or Mattingly left the Yankees that they have been at Yankee Stadium, the old or the new.

Ceremonies in which Steinbrenner will join Yankee immortals Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Miller Huggins with a monument in Monument Park, will bring together many of the Yankee living greats, including Yogi Berra, Reggie Jackson, David Cone, David Wells, Greg Nettles, Goose Gossage, and Roy White.

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From the Yankees Official Website:

There’s no question that late former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner occupies an important space in Yankees history. In September, Steinbrenner will take his place among the club’s other legends in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium.

Steinbrenner’s monument will be dedicated on Monday, Sept. 20, before that evening’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

At the news of the honor, the Steinbrenner family expressed its immense gratitude.

“We remain profoundly grateful and touched by the many expressions of sympathy and support from so many,” the Steinbrenners said in a written statement. “We wish to thank everyone for their kind thoughts and prayers, which we continue to hold close. We are especially appreciative that our family’s privacy was respected as we grieved the loss of George.

“We know we will always share George’s memory with Yankees fans everywhere, and a monument in his honor to be located in Monument Park will reflect the special connection, appreciation and responsibility that George felt for New York Yankees’ fans everywhere as they were always uppermost in his mind.”

Steinbrenner, the principal owner of the New York Yankees since 1973, returned the storied franchise to prominence both on and off the field and won seven World Series titles. He passed away on July 14 at his home in Tampa, Fla., at age 80.

The Yankees are also planning a special tribute to Steinbrenner’s life in Tampa before the opening game of Spring Training in 2011.

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Could C.C. reach 300 wins? He’s got 149 career wins and he just turned 30 last month. I don’t think it’s out of the question. If he really wants it, a few extra years in the major leagues should do the trick. If he plays until he’s 40, he’s going to have to average about 15 wins a year for the next 10 years.   

Is Monument Park big enough? When the new Yankee Stadium was built, you heard many complaints about how you couldn’t see Monument Park from your seat in the stadium. The old stadium’s park was wide open and was visible from basically any seat in the house. The new one is more closed in. Nobody is arguing whether it’s good looking or not, but is it big enough to house all the Yankees greats?

At the moment, Yankees security guards need to count fans and send them in certain group numbers. As a person whose been to the new one several times, I can say that it gets pretty crowded in there. Sometimes it’s a struggle to even get a camera shot with all the fans walking all over the place. You have to figure that one day, Monument Park will have to be expanded. But how? There’s the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar overhead, and the bullpens/bleachers on both side of it.

Monuments: Steinbrenner, (Will Jeter get a monument? How about Rivera? They both rank at the top with the greatest players to ever put on the pinstripes)

Retired numbers: Jeter, Rivera, Posada, Pettitte, Rodriguez, Torre, Williams (You might think it’s crazy now, but Sabathia, Teixeira [both thought to be franchise players] and Cano will likely have their numbers retired when it’s all said and done).

Plaques: You have to figure that some of the players who get their number retired, will also get a plaque up on the wall.

Here are a few more photos: Photo 1 – Photo 2 – Photo 3 – Photo 4 

Joe Girardi to the Cubs? Many have debated the topic, with Cubs manager, Lou Piniella, recently stating that he will be retiring at the end of the season. Girardi grew up in the Chicago area, went to college there and was even drafted by the Cubs. As Mike Axisa discussed, this will give him leverage with the Yankees when contract negotiations are brought up. Does it make sense for Joe? He would be leaving a World Series caliber ball club, for a team that hasn’t won a World Series in 102 years and is a total disaster.

If Joe was to leave (he never dismissed the possibility)….who would replace him as manager?

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