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Posts Tagged ‘Mickey Mantle’

“He wasn’t larger than life. He was life.”

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Derek Jeter-HannahDavis

AP Photo/Kyodo News, Suo Takekuma

  • Not everyone in Japan knows who Derek Jeter is. Some think he’s a catcher. Others have no idea who he is. That must be refreshing for him.
  • John Sterling unfortunately lost everything in an apartment fire. He lost all of his World Series rings in the blaze, except for 2009 (which he was wearing). Alex Rodriguez even offered him a place to stay.
  • Hannaah Davis landed the cover of Sports Illustrated’s 2015 Swimsuit Issue. I met her at the “Swim City” event in Manhattan and I got a chance to meet her. She was absolutely beautiful. I even asked her to take a selfie with me and she gladly did. She’s got my approval (not that she needs it).
  • Joe Torre wants everyone to keep quiet about A-Rod and let him play. Mr. T stated, “Obviously, what Alex did was wrong. He admits that. There’s nothing left for him to do but play baseball.”
Hannah Davis - Derek Jeter's Girlfriend

Photo Courtesy of Sports Illustrated

Derek Jeter - Hideki Matsui

Source: Chris McGrath/Getty Images AsiaPac

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Here’s a clip from April of 1987, when George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin appeared on Letterman. Billy shares a story about a time he went hunting with Mickey down in Texas.

If you’d like to see the full interview, fast forward to the 15:15 mark on this video.

 

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jetermantle

Growing up in Brooklyn in the 50’s and 60’s, my father grew up a Yankees fan. Every young Yankee fan grew up idolizing him. Bill Crystal once said, “Mickey Mantle just was everything.” After Joe DiMaggio left, Mantle became the main attraction in the Bronx. He was the guy that drew crowds into the stadium. Mickey was the player young kids waited for by the press gate to just get a glimpse of, or maybe even an autograph.

Mantle broke into the big leagues in 1951. I wouldn’t be born for another 40 years. When I was around 5 years-old, I recall Charlie Hayes closing his mitt down the 3rd base line and the Yankees winning the 1996 World Series. It was the beginning of “the last dynasty” and the “Jeter Era.” Being a 90’s kid, every boy dreamed of growing up to play shortstop for the Yankees. It was all about Derek.

From 1995 to the present, Derek has stood as a model of consistency on and off the field. Say what you want about him, but the numbers speak for themselves. I’m not here to say that Jeter was on Mantle’s talent level, because that would just be unfair. Mickey was the superior talent. It was in the way they represented the Yankees pinstripes that mattered. And during their respective eras, they were arguably the face of baseball and dominant talents at their respective positions. Mantle and Jeter are the guys who could do no wrong by New Yorkers. Inside the baseball diamond’s chalked lines, they stay baseball legends in the minds of fans.

As big of a Mantle fan as my father is, he always told me, “they’re not heroes, look up to your father.” And I guess you could say he’s right about that. But I also don’t think he looked at Mickey that way when he was a young kid. This was the same guy who stapled posters of Mickey onto his bedroom walls and stuck his baseball cards into his bicycle spokes. A lot of people are looking up to professional athletes as role models and they probably shouldn’t be. But I don’t think there’s anything wrong in admiring a ballplayer, as long as it’s for the right reasons.

There’s a certain innocence in watching a young child sit on the edge of his seat as he roots on his favorite player. He doesn’t have a care in the world. Because in the end, it’s not about how much money they’re making, who the star is dating or the trouble they might be getting into off the field. It’s about being entertained. I don’t really care how old I get, I think we all have a bit of that kid inside of us who just loves the game for what it is. A game.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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Bronx Bombers: A New American Play

Illustration By: Mark Ulriksen

That’s right. The New York Yankees have hit the Broadway stage. The show comes from the same creators of Broadway’s “Lombardi.” The story centers around Yogi Berra and his wife Carmen, as they take you through the New York Yankees storied history. Legendary players such as Ruth, Mantle, DiMaggio, Gehrig, and Jeter are portrayed on the stage. I’d bet this would be a real treat for any Yankees fan to attend, both young and old.

**If you’re interested in attending a show, visit: BronxBombersPlay.com or call: 212-239-6200 / 800-432-7250. Box Office Information: Hours: Mon: 10 – 6, Tues – Sat: 10 – 8, Circle in the Square Theatre, West 50th Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue.**

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Here’s some terrific 8mm footage taken by a fan back in 1968 at the original Yankee Stadium. It was really cool to watch these old-time players, and how many of them took the time to greet and sign autographs for the fans before entering the ballpark.

The steel beams holding the stadium together are really noticeable to the viewer, and were clearly obstructing views for many of the fans. My father told me that when he went to the games as a child with his dad, they would slip the usher a few dollars to have them put in different seats. Some other noteworthy things in the video include: the bullpen car, old stadium scoreboard, the layout of the baseball diamond (especially around home plate), old advertisements lining the walls behind the bleachers.

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With two hits in last night’s game, Derek Jeter now remains 17 hits shy from joining the 3,000 Hits Club. A feat that hasn’t been reached by the likes of Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio or Mantle. Derek will be the first New York Yankee to do so.

The club will be on the road for four more days, and will come home for a 10-game home stand, where they will host the Red Sox, Indians and Rangers. New York fans are hoping he will reach the plateau on their home turf in the Bronx.

2,983 hits and counting.

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ESPN New York released their “50 Greatest Yankees” list the other day. I can’t really argue too much with their list, although I probably would have swapped Thurman Munson (#12) and Bill Dickey (#10). Yes, I know Dickey is in the Hall of Fame and Munson isn’t. But it was Munson’s leadership, as much as anything else that returned the Yankees to their winning ways in the ’70s. And who knows what kind of numbers he would have put up if not for the plane crash?

Anyway, here’s their list. I’ve added in the dates they played for the Yanks, along with their position. An asterisk denotes a playing career interrupted by a military commitment; # denotes a Hall-of-Famer. Current players are in red type. Feel free to let us know how you feel about the list!

50. Mike Mussina (RHP, 2001-2008)

49. Bob Meusel (LF, 1920-1930)

48. Albert “Sparky” Lyle (LHP, 1972-1978)

47. Gil McDougald (IF, 1951-1960)

46. Jim “Catfish” Hunter (RHP, 1974-1978)#

45. David Cone (RHP, 1995-2000)

44. Roy White (LF, 1965-1979)

43. Hank Bauer (RF, 1948-1959)

42. Jack Chesbro (RHP, 1903-1909)#

41. Eddie Lopat (RHP, 1948-1955)

40. Rickey Henderson (1985-1989)#

39. Vic Raschi (RHP, 1946-1953)

38. Joe Gordon (2B, 1938-1946)*#

37. Tommy Henrich (RF, 1937-1950)*

36. Charlie “King Kong” Keller (LF, 1939-1949)*

35. Bobby Murcer (CF, 1969-1974, 1979-1983)

34. Spurgeon “Spud” Chandler (RHP, 1937-1947)

33. Willie Randolph (2B, 1976-1988)

32. Waite Hoyt (RHP, 1921-1929)#

31. Mel Stottlemyre (RHP, 1964-1974)

30. Paul O’Neill (RF, 1993-2001)

29. Graig Nettles (3B, 1973-1983)

28. Dave Winfield (OF, 1981-1990)#

27. Herb Pennock (LHP, 1923-1933)#

26. Allie “Superchief” Reynolds (RHP, 1947-1954)

25. Rich “Goose” Gossage (RHP, 1978-1983, 1989)#

24. Elston Howard (C, 1955-1967)

23. Earle Combs (CF, 1924-1935)#

22. Roger Maris (RF, 1960-1966)

21. Jorge Posada (C, 1995-present)

20. Phil Rizzuto (SS, 1941-1956)*#

19. Bernie Williams (CF, 1991-2006)

18. “Poosh ‘Em Up” Tony Lazzeri (2B, 1926-1937)#

17. Ron “Gator” Guidry (LHP, 1975-1988)

16. Andy Pettitte (LHP, 1995-2003, 2007-2010)

15. Reggie Jackson (RF, 1977-1981)#

14. Vernon “Lefty” Gomez (LHP, 1930-1942)#

13. Alex Rodriguez (3B, 2004-present)

12. Thurman Muson (C, 1969-1979)

11. Don Mattingly (1B, 1982-1995)

10. Bill Dickey (C, 1928-1946)#

9. Charles “Red” Ruffing (RHP, 1930-1942)#

8. Edward “Whitey” Ford (LHP, 1953-1967)*#

7. Derek Jeter (SS, 1995-present)

6. Lawrence “Yogi” Berra (C, 1946-1963)#

5. Mariano Rivera (RHP, 1995-present)

4. Mickey Mantle (CF, 1950-1968)#

3. “Joltin” Joe DiMaggio (CF, 1936-1951)*#

2. Lou “Iron Horse” Gehrig (1B, 1923-1939)#

1. George “Babe” Ruth (RF, 1920-1934)#

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