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Posts Tagged ‘Marty Appel’

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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Marty Appel took this great photo just a couple of days ago at Yankee Stadium. Spring Training is right around the corner. 20 days until pitchers and catchers report to Tampa.

Photo Courtesy of Marty Appel

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I took an English course this past semester at school, and the main theme of the class was “Spectacle”. For our final paper, we were able to choose a topic that we thought fit that category, and I chose George Steinbrenner’s reign as owner of the New York Yankees. The purpose of my paper was to show how the different personality traits that he possessed led to success in many different aspects of his job.

spec·ta·cle [spek-tuh-kuhl]

–noun
1. anything presented to the sight or view, esp. something of a striking or impressive kind:
2. a public show or display, esp. on a large scale

Steinbrenner’s Reign

              George M. Steinbrenner III has gone down in the record books as one of the most controversial and successful owners in the history of sports. His demand for excellence and his hunger to be the best did not always put him in a good light with the people he worked with, because he was stubborn and wanted to do things his way. During his reign as owner with the New York Yankees, he had run-ins with authorities, MLB officials, players, and team personnel. If things didn’t go according to his plan, he would take matters into his own hands, berating players and messing around with the minds of his managers and employees. Even though many of his tactics were thought to be unethical, Steinbrenner transcended the game of baseball in the process by: bringing about the development of free agency, having the first organization to own and operate its own television cable network, controlling the back pages of the newspapers, and changed the way other clubs ran their teams. These developments allowed the fans to forgive and forget about the stunts Steinbrenner pulled. It was his attitude, competitiveness, larger than life personality, and his generosity that allowed his to shine the brightest in the biggest media market in the country. These personality traits were critical factors in his success as an owner: financially, on the ball field, and with the media and fans.

            Steinbrenner was a remarkable competitor, who was motivated to be successful like no other owner in the sports world. “Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing. Breathing first, winning next,” he said. His whole life was a competition, dating back to his childhood when he was constantly trying to gain approval from his father. George’s father, Henry Steinbrenner, “ruled with an iron fist” and instilled the idea that winning was all that mattered in life. George could tell him that he won two out of three races in school, but his father would only focus on why he lost that third race and what went wrong. In 1973, Steinbrenner and a small group of investors purchased the New York Yankees from CBS for $8.8 million dollars. Thirty-seven years later, the organization is now worth $1.6 billion, which is the most valuable baseball team in the league (and 3rd most valuable franchise in the world. 1st: Manchester United $1.8B, 2nd: Dallas Cowboys $1.65B). When he first bought the team, he led New Yorkers to believe that he would not be a hands-on owner, but he would rather keep his distance from the team and go back to his family shipping business. “I won’t be active in the day-to-day operations of the club at all. I can’t spread myself so thin. I’ve got enough headaches with my shipping company. We plan absentee ownership as far as running the Yankees is concerned,” he stated. It turned out to be the complete opposite, because he wanted his own project to work on, rather than staying put in his father’s shipping company. “I’m not here to run a country club,” Steinbrenner said. “I’m here to run a winning organization.” He soon donned the nicknames “The Boss” and “Manager George”, and would meddle in the general manager’s meetings and many of the on-field decisions. There were several occasions during the 1970’s where George would call Yankees manager, Billy Martin in the dugout during a game and give him a tongue-lashing. He would complain about anything from why they didn’t bunt in a particular situation to why Reggie Jackson wasn’t batting fourth in the lineup. It was a display of just how unreasonable George could be at times. (more…)

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Marty Appel has come out with a new book  162-0: Imagine a Yankees Perfect Season. It’s a must read for any Yankee fan. The book delivers the greatest wins of all-time in the history of the New York Yankees. Do you ever dream of the Yankees having a perfect season? Well, then this book is for you.

Even the greatest baseball teams lose 30 percent or more of their games each season. The 2009 New York Yankees are a perfect example of that, as they won 63.6% of their regular season games and went on to win a championship.
The book includes foreword from former Yankee and Red Sox killer Bucky Dent. Some of the most memorable victories include:
  • Mickey Mantle’s Yankee debut against Boston on April 17, 1951
  • Babe Ruth omering in the first-ever game player at Yankee Stadium on April 18, 1923
  • Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak reacing 56 games in Clevelandon July 16, 1941
  • Derek Jeter tying Lou Gehrig’s record for most Yankees hits on September 9, 2009

A little bit more about the author: Marty Appel: Former New York Yankees Public Relations Director and thier Emmy Award-winning TV producer, is the author of 18 books including the New York Times best seller Munson: the Life and Death of a Yankee Captain, the Yankees classic memoir Now Pitching for the Yankees, and collaborations with Tom Seaver, Bowie Kuhn, Larry King and umpire Eric Gregg. He runs Marty Appel Public Relations (www.AppelPR.com) out of New York City.

The book’s publishing company is Triumph Books. It was just released in March 2010 and is 256pp. I suggest you guys pick it up. (more…)

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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. (more…)

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Shelley Duncan signs with the Indians

Ken Rosenthal reports that Chien-Ming Wang’s latest check up was positive. He could throw off a mound in 6-8 weeks.

Wang keeps the door open to pinstriped return. “Sam Borden of the Journal News received word of a recent public appearance wherein Wang said “that there were no hard feelings on his side about being non-tendered.”

Now hear this: Marty Appel. “Appel spent some time with the Bookshelf discussing the work that went into Munson, as well as the behind-the-scenes process of putting together various publications for the Yankees, one of his responsibilities while with the team.”

Charlie Sheen is getting his Yankee tat removed. “The docs also show he’s in the process of having four of the tattoos removed, including an open zipper with an eyeball popping out, a Yankees tattoo, a Japanese  samurai and angel wings.”

A.J. Burnett turned 33 years-old yesterday. We wish him a belated Happy Birthday.

On December 28th, Jon Heyman tweeted that the Yankees don’t appear to be in on Jermaine Dye. He said that the Rangers, cubs, Giants, Braves and Angels were more likely suitors.

Laird brothers arrested in Phoenix. “Detroit Tigers catcher Gerald Laird and his younger brother, Yankees infield prospect Brandon Laird, were arrested following a brawl in the lounge area of Phoenix’s NBA arena, according to police.”

Teen Ramirez wins MiLBY as top starter. “At 19, Ramirez finished eighth in the league in ERA and eighth in strikeouts with 53. What set him apart was the .159 batting average-against and the fact he walked just 16 over his 61 innings. He led all pitchers who qualified in BAA and his 7.23 base-runners/9 IP ratio was also the lowest on the Rookie-level circuit.”

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Marty Appel sent over this fun product that recently came out. The National Ethnic Heritage Foundation has released an Italian American Baseball Heroes Card Set. This is a must for any baseball fan or card collector.

The Yankees seem to have more Italian stars than any other team. The set includes: Lazzeri, Crosetti, DiMaggio, Berra, Pepitone, Giambi, Torrre, Girardi, Rizzuto, Pettitte, Martin, etc.

ITALIAN AMERICAN BASEBALL HEROES CARD SET

The National Ethnic Heritage Foundation in partnership with the Order of Sons of Italy in America is proud to announce the first ever limited edition set of Heritage Cards honoring Italian American Baseball Heroes from the pioneer Buttercup Dickerson in 1878 to Dodger manager Joe Torre in 2009. This historic collectible box of 100 cards, made from original oil paintings commissioned specifically for this set, honors the Italian-Americans who contributed to making baseball America’s game. For some, this is their first ever card. For all, this is the most beautiful card ever issued. Everyone knows Joe DiMaggio, Phil Rizzuto, Tommy Lasorda, and Yogi Berra, but how many remember the other two fabulous DiMaggio brothers or Sam Mele, Manager of the Year in 1965? The backs of the cards are a treasure trove of Italian American baseball lore. (more…)

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Yankees PR man, Marty Appel, is handling the publicity for this book and he wanted me to share it with my readers. It’s called: Perfect: Don Larsen’s Miraculous World Series Game and the Men Who Made It Happen by Lew Paper. 

Press Release:

In the 105-year history of the Major League Baseball World Series, 606 games have been played, with 1, 212 starting pitchers. Of those, 218 have pitched for 9 innings or more. Only one World Series pitcher has gone nine full innings and retired 27 batters with zero hits and zero runs. That pitcher is New York Yankee Don Larsen, and his incredible feat on a warm October afternoon was the “greatest moment” in World Series history according to The New York Times.

PERFECT is the amazing inning-by-inning breakdown of Game 5 of the 1956 World Series where the New York Yankees were pitted against perennial rivals the Brooklyn Dodgers. There hadn’t even been a regular season perfect game in 34 years. These are the stories of the 19 people who had the best seats in the house that October day – the 19 players who actually appeared in the game. Author Lew Paper spent six years researching and interviewing players, managers, reporters, and families of those legendary players who took part in the historic match-up.

In a remarkable telling of both the game, and of these players’ stories, author Lew Paper has created a unique contribution to baseball literature, and the story of baseball in mid-20th century. Some were famous, some obscure, but all were together in Yankee Stadium on that one day to witness and take part in history. PERFECT also provides another perspective into some of the most explosive issues that continue to prompt debate among baseball fans, such as then St. Louis Cardinal Enos Slaughter’s slide into and spiking of Jackie Robinson and whether it was intentional or an accident.

From racial and ethnic discrimination to less than ideal traveling conditions, small salaries that required players to have jobs in the off season, and the broken marriages that resulted from careers and lives spent on the road. PERFECT is an affecting and meticulously researched celebration of the players who witnessed and contributed to the only perfect game in World Series history.

The “Greatest Game” Through the Greatest Perspective…

“This gem of a story brilliantly recreates one of the greatest moments in baseball history by interweaving the intense drama of the game with superb portraits of key players… Perfect captures our hearts as it carries us back to the golden age of baseball and the more innocent world of the 1950’s.”

—Doris Kearns Goodwin, New York Times bestselling author of Wait Till Next Year (more…)

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