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Harvey Frommer

NOTE: Anyone with memories, contacts, or information about Super Bowl I in 1967, please contact author and historian Harvey Frommer today.  Contact him by emailing him at Harvey.Frommer@dartmouth.edu


All  About “A” in Baseball Names                              
By Dr. Harvey Frommer
 
With the season upon us and baseball in the air and on the tongue, herewith a primer for novices and super experts.  Enjoy, and keeps those letters and suggestions coming.

A-Rod  A shortening of one-time Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez’s name.                                                                            
Adjusted ERA  formula for pitcher's ability to prevent runs from being scored -  adjusted for league and home park factors. AERA, adjusted earned run average.
Advance
The moving ahead of a base runner to the next base as a result of a hit, error, sacrifice, balk, etc.
Advanced Rookie baseball  minor league baseball league just above Rookie baseball.
"All-American Boy"  Superstar slugger
Dale Murphy had a long career with the Atlanta Braves and had many nicknames including:  "Murph," "Gentle Giant," "John Boy," "Lil' Abner."  
Alley The space between the center fielder and right fielder or between the center fielder and left fielder.

All-Star Game 
The idea was conceived in 1933 by Arch Ward, Chicago Tribune sports editor. To give the fans a real rooting interest, Ward suggested that they be allowed to vote for their favorite players via popular ballot. In perhaps no other game do fans have such a rooting interest, although there have been a few periods when voting by fans has been abandoned. Today it appears that Ward's original principle will remain permanently in effect. The American League won 12 of the first 16 All-Star games, but went on to lose 20 of the next 23 to the National League through 1978. Some memorable moments have taken place in the contest often referred to as the Midsummer  Dream Game. In the first game ever played, Babe Ruth slugged a towering home run. The next year, New York Giants immortal Carl Hubbell struck out Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmy Foxx, Al Simmons, and Joe Cronin in succession to make for some more baseball history.
Amazin’ Mets
The first run they ever scored came in on a balk. They lost the first nine games they ever played. They finished last their first four seasons. Once they were losing a game, 12-1, and there were two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. A fan held up a sign that said "PRAY!" There was a walk, and ever hopeful, thousands of voices chanted, "Let's go Mets." They were 100-l underdogs to win the pennant in 1969 and incredibly came on to finish the year as World Champions. They picked the name of the best pitcher in their history (Tom Seaver) out of a hat on April Fools' Day. They were supposed to be the replacement for the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants. They could have been the New York Continentals or Burros or Skyliners or Skyscrapers or Bees or Rebels or NYB's or Avengers or even Jets (all  runner-up names in a contest to tab the National League New York team that began playing ball in 1962). They've never been anything to their fans but amazing—the Amazin' New York Mets.
American League Silver Slugger Award  Presented to the best offensive player in the American League for each position.                                                     
Anaheim
Angels   The franchise began play as the Los Angeles Angels in 1961, became the California Angels when it moved to Anaheim in 1966 and has been the Anaheim Angels since 1997, after the team negotiated a 30-year lease with Anaheim. Angels derives from Los Angeles, the "City of Angels," where the team started. Since 2005, the franchise officially has been the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.                                                         

Appeal Play
  An appeal play occurs when a defensive player claims a runner did not touch a base and urges the umpire to call the player out. The defensive player must tag the runner or the base to get the appeal considered.
Apollo of the Box  Hurler Tony Mullane, a tribute to his handsome appearance and playing position. Mullane was also called  "The Count" or "Count."                                                            
Arizona
Diamondbacks  Nickname derived from the Diamondback Rattlesnakes that are in the Arizona desert.                                                                                                                          
Arkansas Hummingbird 
Lon Warneke, a pitcher for the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals from 1930-1945, hailed from Mt. Ida, Arkansas.
Around the horn
A phrase describing a ball thrown from third base to second base to first base, generally in a double-play situation.
Assist
A player's throw to another player on his team that results in a putout.
Astroturf
  Not all of the artificial carpets that now have taken root in ball parks and stadiums in the United States and around the world are produced by the Monsanto Chemical Company. AstroTurf was the first, however, having been installed when the Houston Astrodome opened in 1965, and that's why the term has almost become a generic one for artificial sod. There is also Tartan Turf (made by Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing) and Poly-Turf (a product of American  Bilt-Rite). Resistant to all types of weather, more efficient to keep up than grass, better for traction than most other surfaces, synthetic "grass" has continued to "grow" throughout the world of sports, despite complaints that it results in more injuries for players. Studies focused on injuries are still in progress, while other research is under way aimed at improving the quality of the artificial carpets.
At bat 
An official time up at the plate as a hitter.
Athletic Hose
White socks worn under stirrup socks as part of a baseball uniform
Atlanta Braves  The franchise began in 1871 known as the Boston Red Stockings and then by several other names including  Beaneaters through 1906,  Doves when the Dovey family owned the franchise, 1907-1910.  In 1911, the nickname changed for new owner James Gaffney, a Tammany Hall "Brave.” From 1936-1940, the team was called Rustlers, Braves, Bees. In 1941, the Braves nickname returned and has stuck with the franchise through moves to  Milwaukee in 1953, Atlanta in 1966.                                                                                                      

Away
A pitch out of the reach of a batter. A side retired in its half of an inning.
Away uniform (grays)  distinctive (non-white) clothing worn by a team when playing “away” games.                                            

RED SOX vs. YANKEES: The Great Rivalry

                                By Harvey Frommer

 

        (NOW AVAILABLE FROM THE AUTHOR SIGNED COPIES)

http://frommerbooks.com/red-sox-v-yankees-3rd-edition-lg.jpg

        The roots of the rivalry extend all the way back to the first time the teams faced-off on May 7, 1903 at the Huntington Avenue Grounds in Boston. They weren't the Yankees and Red Sox then but instead had more geographically correct names: the Highlanders -- they played on the hilly terrain of upper Manhattan; and the Pilgrims -- in tribute to their New England heritage.

       Boston won that first game, 6-2 as well as baseball's inaugural World Series that year. New York finished fourth, 17 games off the pace.  In 1904, Boston won another world championship, and through the first 19 years of its existence continued to be one of baseball’s most successful teams. 

   It was damp and chilly throughout New England for most of the spring of 1912. Boston fans hungered to  break in their new ballpark against their rivals from New York in decent weather. It took a few tries before that happened.

On April 9th, the Red Sox and Harvard's baseball team faced off in an exhibition game in football weather “with a little snow on the side,”as one who was there said.  Before but 3,000 braved the elements, Boston won,2-0.

        The scheduled official Opening Day match on April 12th,however,  was rained out. Finally on April 20th, thre was a bit better weather. Fenway's first major league game: the Sox versus the Yankees (then known as the Highlanders because they played on higher ground in the Bronx), was on tap. A crowd of 27,000 showed up. Soggy, sad looking grounds greeted them and infield grass transplanted from the Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds, the team’s former home.

Boston Mayor John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, whose grandson would become the thirty-fifth president of the United States, threw out the ceremonial first ball. "Honey Fitz" did not like the Highlanders. He was an active and ardent member of the "Royal Rooters" - a group of Red Sox fans who staged pre-game parades most of the time singing "Tessie" and "Sweet Adeline."

The game (opening day at brand a brand new park, New York against  Boston)would have been the stuff of front-page headlines in New England newspapers. But six days earlier the news of the sinking of the Titanic on its maiden voyage and the loss of 1,517 lives, was still eclipsing all other stories.

Owner General Charles Henry Taylor, a Civil War veteran and owner of the "Boston Globe," had decided back in 1910 to build a new ballpark in the Fenway section bordering Brookline Avenue, Jersey Street, Van Ness Street and Lansdowne Street. It cost $650,000 (approximately $14 million today), and seated 35,000.

An appealing red brick façade, the first electric baseball scoreboard, and 18 turnstiles, the most in the big leagues were all talked about.  Concrete stands went from behind first base around to third while wooden bleachers were located in parts of left, right, and centerfield. Seats lined the field allowing for excellent views of the game but limiting the size of foul territory.

Elevation was 20 feet above sea level. Barriers and walls broke off at different angles. Centerfield was 488 feet from home plate; right field was 314 feet away. The 10-foot wooden fence in left field ran straight along Lansdowne Street and was but 320 ½ feet down the line from home plate with a high wall behind it.  There was a ten foot embankment there to make viewing of games easier for overflow gatherings. A  ten foot high slope in left field posed challenges for outfielders who had to play the entire territory running uphill.

This was the Opening Day Lineup for the 1912 Boston Red Sox.

Harry Hooper

RF

Steve Yerkes

2B

Tris Speaker

CF

Jake Stahl

1B

Larry Gardner

3B

Duffy Lewis

LF

Heinie Wagner

SS

Les Nunamaker

C

Smoky Joe Wood

P

        The Sox nipped the Yankees, 7-6, in 11 innings. Tris Speaker drove in the winning run for the home team. Spitball pitcher Bucky O’Brien got the win in relief of Charles “Sea Lion” Hall. New York's Harry Wolter smacked the first hit in the new park.  

        Umpire Tommy Connolly kept the ball used in that historic game, writing “Opening of Fenway Park” and brief details of the game on it.        And that was how the storied and stormy Red Sox Versus Yankees Great Rivalry started. It has never ended.


IMPOSSIBLE DREAM RED SOX: 1967  (Part I & Part II)

                                 By Harvey Frommer

          (Excerpted from the author’s Remembering Fenway Park, autographed copies-mint condition available)    

 

     It is Cardinals versus Red Sox one more time in the World Series. The last time they met in the Fall Classic the guys from Fenway swept the Midwesterners. They also had a showdown in October in 1967.

      In 1966, the Sox lost 90 games and finished ninth. Attendance at Fenway Park was 811,172, an average attendance per game of 10, 095.  It was pitiful.

        LEIGH MONTVILLE: I was a sportswriter at the New Haven Journal Courier  and convinced my boss to send me to Opening Day of the 1967 season. “Okay,” he said, “you can take the train but you have to come right back after the game is over.  I don’t want you staying overnight.”

I had my matching sport coat and my tie and my new portable typewriter.  I took the train up and got off at Back Bay. It was cold. I tell the cab driver, “Fenway Park.”

 “Why are you going there?”

  “Because I’m a sportswriter and I’m covering Opening Day.” 

“The game is postponed. Too Cold,” he said.

 I had to get a story so I went in the locker room and talked to Dick Williams. I was terrified because I had read all this stuff about how gruff he was.

MIKE ANDREWS:  Dick was a tough manager, very, very tough.  He wasn't one who gave you a lot of accolades.

LEIGH MONTVILLE: I didn’t know they had a press room so I went across the street to a grille to type up my story while knocking back a couple of beers.

 Rookie BoSox pilot Dick Williams realized he had a tough job ahead. Coming off a 90-loss season, the Red Sox were a 100-1 shot to win the American League pennant in 1967.

The young, crew-cutted disciplinarian promised that the team would win more than it lost in 1967. He vowed changes, and said that if blowing up the Country Club atmosphere was what was needed, he would do that, too. 

"There had been tremendous teams at Boston,” Williams said, “but they had won just one pennant in twenty-one years. At home they were excellent, but they just could not win on the road because it was a team manufactured to play at Fenway Park."

        Williams said he would not allow the dimensions of Fenway to influence his managing style and the play of his ball players. "I made it clear," he said, "the Green Monster was not going to be a factor. I had seen too many players ruining themselves taking shots at the wall. I made my pitchers concentrate on pitching to right-handed batters who always came up there looking for the ball away thinking we'd get them to avoid pulling.  I knew that the way to pitch at Fenway is to get the ball inside and gradually back the batter up a little."

(BOX SCORE)       
Jose Tartabull                CF
Joe Foy                       3B
Carl Yastrzemski              LF
Tony Conigliaro               RF
George Scott                  1B
Reggie Smith                  2B
Rico Petrocelli               SS
Mike Ryan                     C
Jim Lonborg                   P
      

JIM LONBORG:  It started off as a typical Red Sox season. There were 8,324 fans on a cold and dreary  April  12th, Opening Day,  a cold and dreary one.  We beat the White Sox 5-4. Petrocelli hit a three-run homer.  And I got the win.

The next day there were only 3,607 at the ballpark.  And then we went on a road trip. We came back having won 10 straight games.  And when our plane landed there were thousands of fans waiting at the airport. That moment was the start of the great relationship between the fans and the players.

BOB SULLIVAN: I went to Dartmouth, and we used to road trip down to Fenway and get standing room without any trouble.   It was eight dollars for grandstand seats. But so  many seats were empty.  You would flip an usher  a quarter and you could move down into the seats. Then it changed. What happened was ’67.  

A lot of the buzz in Boston was about rookie Billy Rohr who on April 14th one-hit the Yankees and Whitey Ford at the Stadium.

ED MARKEY: Billy Rohr in the early part of that season became the symbol of our renaissance - the lefthander we so needed over all those years.

Markey and thousands of other Red Sox fans were at Rohr’s next start on April 21st. 

ED MARKEY:  Fenway Park was electric. This was our chance to vanquish the Yankees.  He won that game, too, 6-1, subduing the Yankees a second time, beating Mel Stottlemyre, 6-1.

Despite his promise, Rohr never won another game for the Red Sox and finished the season in the minors.  Although Rohr wasn’t in a Red Sox uniform for all of Boston’s “Impossible Dream,” he helped set the pace for it.

 “Billy Rohr was 1967,” Peter Gammons wrote, “even if he only won two games and was out of town by June.”

MIKE ANDREWS: My 1967 salary was 11 thousand dollars. And in July Tom Yawkey called me into his office and   gave me a four thousand dollar raise. I was told he was always doing things like that.

After the All-Star break, Boston took off on a 10-game winning streak. In July, crowds topped 25,000 a game.

 In August, they numbered 30,000 or more.

In  September, there would be  standing-room sell-outs.

        BISHOP JOHN D’ARCY: There was a tradition that every rectory in the immediate Boston area would get a free pass to Fenway. It was indeed a wonderful perk. The rectory was the priests’ home, but if somebody worked there and was not a priest, he could probably use it as well.  I think you had

to pay 50 cents or a dollar to get it. You would go in and find your own seat, but it was not hard to find a seat in those days.  In 1967, when the crowds came back, that was the end of that. 

A crowded Fenway Park in that era before ’67 was an anomaly. Weird weather conditions were not. Fans from the start of play in 1912 brought umbrellas, jackets, blankets with them – even in mid-summer. On  April 25,1962 the ocean breeze dropped the temperature at Fenway from 78 to 58 degrees in 10 minutes.  One August day in 1967 pea-soup fog caused a couple of stoppages of a game --  outfielders could not see.

But an even stranger sensation was at Fenway Park on the  18th of August - - pennant fever. The Red Sox were in fourth place,  were hosting the fifth place California Angels in a four game series.

Tony Conigliaro  singled his first time up off Angels starter Jack Hamilton. In the fourth  George Scott led off with a blooper to short left center field and was cut down trying to stretch the hit into a double. A fan in the leftfield grandstand tossed a smoke bomb onto the outfield grass delaying play. 

When play resumed, Reggie Smith stroked a line drive single. Conigliaro batted next.

DAVE MOREHEAD: I was sitting on the top step of the dugout, charting pitches, right there by the corner closest to the on-deck circle. I was talking to Fitzie, the clubhouse man. I was watching Tony. Jack Hamilton threw the pitch.

An inside and high fastball hit Tony C. him flush on the cheek below the left eye. Dropping to the ground, his cheekbone crushed, his eye ball imploded, Conigliaro writhed in pain.

DAVE MOREHEAD: He had to have lost sight of the ball. It was frightening. His left eye was closed before our trainer, Buddy Leroux, got to him.

 Coaches and players raced out to the unconscious young star. A silent and stunned crowd watched as one of their favorites was taken off the field on a stretcher.

 More than a year and half later, Conigliaro would return to play baseball for the Sox. He had some small successes. But the injury left him with some brain damage and vision problems and ended what should have been a brilliant career.

Two days after the “beaning” there was a doubleheader against California.  The Sox lost the first game 8-0. They won the second game, 9-8. Reggie Smith homered batting left and right-handed. Yaz popped two three-run homers‚ one in each game of the doubleheader.

On the 30th of September, Carl Yastrzemski slugged his 44th home run as the BoSox nipped the Twins 6-4 to tie  for first place.

BRUCE TUCKER: That 30th of September was my first time at Fenway, I was 18. I paid a dollar to an usher at the gate to get in. It was the end of the ‘67 season.  Fenway  was jammed with people. The “grown ups” in the stands. Guys wearing shirts and ties.

        We had no seats. We just went from place to place, sat on the stairs until some usher would come over and tell us to get out of there, and then we’d sit on the stairs somewhere else until another usher told us to move.  But we saw the game. 

Senator Ted Kennedy, his father Joseph P. Kennedy, his brother New York Senator Robert Kennedy and Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey were at the game. Winning pitcher Jose Santiago gave Senator Kennedy the game ball.

JIM LONBORG:  I was on the mound on October 1, the winning pitcher as we clinched the pennant. All of my teammates and thousands of Fenway fans seemed to run at me. It’s what you dream about in Little League.  I was trying to get back into the dugout. Thank God for the Boston police – they were able to control the crowd.

The Red Sox beat the Twins, 5-3, but the “The Impossible Dream'' was still a dream until Detroit lost to California to finish half a game behind the Red Sox. Listening intently to the radio in their locker room, Boston players and officials reacted with glee as California nipped Detroit, 8-5. Inside Fenway Park loyal fans rejoiced.

BRUCE TUCKER: The Sox finished 20 games ahead of the 9th-place Yankees.  Boston was going into the World Series.  People started tearing apart the scoreboard, ripping the sod off of the field, just trashing the place.

        The attendance at Fenway Park that “Impossible Dream” season jumped from 811, 172 in 1966 to 1, 727,832. Winning 20 more games than in ’1966, Boston was 49-32 at Fenway, 43-38 on the road.   

        BRUCE TUCKER: We went back for the World Series, all of us taking the day off from school, taking the bus into Boston, asking the usher to let us in.

        “How much you got?” he asked.

         “Well, we got change.”

        “Gimme what you got!”

         One at a time, we gave him whatever we had in our pockets and he let us through the gate.   

        The Fall Classic match up was Boston versus St. Louis. Cardinals Ace Bob Gibson irritated Red Sox management, fans and players. Looking around Fenway Park prior to the series, the power pitcher asked: “Where's the upper deck? Where are all the seats?''

Gibby was disappointed that Detroit was not the competition. "Their bigger ballpark would have meant more fans, more money,” he said. “I don't know about you, but $1,500 is a lot of money to me.''     

 Game one, the fourth day of October,  Lou Brock of the Cardinals collected four hits and Gibson fanned 10 Red Sox. Jose Santiago pitched a beauty for Boston and even homered. But St. Louis won, 2-1 scoring on two RBI ground balls from Roger  Maris.

Two home runs by Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Lonborg’s masterful pitching (no-hit ball for 7 2/3 innings) and a one hit 5-0 gem evened the series for Boston. Sal Maglie, Boston pitching coach, said that Lonborg’s performance was “a better pitching effort than Don Larsen's perfect game in 1956” against him and the Dodgers.

The next three games, two of which were won by the Cardinals, were played at Busch Stadium. That set up games 6 and 7 at Fenway Park on October 11 and 12th. The Sox won Game 6, 8-4.   setting up the decisive seventh game.

Jim Lonborg, with a lot of mileage on him from a long season, started with two day’s rest. He was ineffective. Bob Gibson was most effective. Fanning ten, yielding but three hits, the Cardinal ace led his team to a 7-2 victory and the world championship.


                                    Sports Book Reviews

                                    By Dr. Harvey Frommer

            “Football Nation,” “Their Life’s Work” and other fall tomes

            (HARVEY FROMMER IS AT WORK ON A BOOK ON THE FIRST SUPER BOWL, 1967. ANYONE WITH CONTACTS, STORIES, SUGGESTIONS, PLEASE GET IN TOUCH).

            It is the time of the year when baseball is going down the home stretch, football is coming on the sporting scene with a vengeance and the subject matter of all other sports is still a part of the publishing mix. So here is a very interesting collection for your reading pleasure.

            “Football Nation” by Susan Reyburn (Abrams, $30.00, 256 pages) is sub-titled “Four Hundred Years of America’s Game.” The sub-title is an exaggeration. For many, baseball is still the nation pastime. And the book is a gloss over in words and marvelous images from the Library of Congress of not exactly 400 year’s worth of football. Nevertheless, for football fans, for sports fans, for those interested in history and culture -  this is the book for you even though its grasp  is survey-like not in depth prose. RECOMMENDED       

             “Their Life’s Work” by Gary M. Pomerantz (Simon & Schuster, $28.00, 480 pages) is an opposite kind of book from “Football Nation.”   In depth, scrupulously researched, carefully edited, the work  focuses on the Steelers of the 1970s and updates the now. Pomerantz truly was into his subject, conducting as he says more than 200 interviews and traveling about to various research locales to flesh out his terrific tome.   “Their Life’s Work” is wonderful reading and should be required reading for all those who are part of Steeler Nation. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

             “Rising Tide” by Randy Roberts & Ed Krzemski (Twelve, $28.00,437 pages) is a detail loaded and academically tilted tome focused on Joe Namath, northerner and Bear Bryant, southerner and how their relationship forged at the University of Alabama culminated in creating something special for football, race relations and the two men. It probes how college football became big business, how early sports and TV partnered, how civil rights was an agenda item of both politics and football. MUST READ     

            “The Last Headbangers” by Kevin Cook (Norton, $15.95, 304 pages, paper)

Is a reprint of the raunchy weirdos, wacky villains, flat out football geeks. It is  also prime time NFL narrative 1970s style. It features Roger Staubach, Franco Harris, Terry Bradshaw, Ken Stabler and other “names” from that time who front and center in helping the world of pro football stake its claim as the true national pastime. WORTH A READ

            “Relentless” by Tim S. Grover (Scribner, $26.00, 256 pages) is sub-titled “From Good to Great to Unstoppable” and focuses on the work of a legendary  trainer who has worked with such as Jordan, Wade, Bryant and enabled them, in the author’s words, to become even greater than they thought they could be. Very interesting reading with applicable tips for all.

            “Going the Distance” by Michael Joyce (SUNY Press, $24.95, 236 pages, paper) is a novel about baseball and those who love the game. It celebrates the sport, the New York landscape. It also gives us a winning new fictional character – John “Jack” Flynn, pitcher filled with promise who must re-invent himself after an injury. Read on . . .

            “The World in the Curl” by Peter Westwick and Peter Neushul (Crown, $26.00, 416 pages) is a fascinating and unconventional historical narrative of the history of surfing. We are there from the Polynesian settlement of Hawaii all the way through the present time’s industry of global surfing. The book reveals the ins and outs, the magic and mystery of a fascinating sub-culture. (rrokicki@randomhouse.com)


          New York City Baseball: 1947-1957 the Golden Age - By Harvey Frommer

          Baseball in October in New York seemed like it never come to an end. That is why this October of 1913 it seems strange that the New York Yankees and the New York Mets are finished with baseball, not able to make the play-offs. And the old cry of the old Brooklyn Dodger fan “Wait ‘til next year” seems appropriate.

          Also appropriate for me is the re-issue of my New York City Baseball 1947– 1957. Published In 1980,my seventh book at the time, remains one of my favorites.

          It was written on a heavy IBM typewriter and the interviews were conducted with a big box cassette tape recorder. I transcribed the interviews by hand, slowly, painstakingly, with great respect for the memories and insights of so many people who were kind enough to pause, to think, to evoke, to bring back the time.

          It was a time when there were three teams, the Brooklyn Dodgers, the New York Giants and the New York Yankees. Each team was distinct. Each team boasted a fabled history. Each one had loyal and highly knowledgeable fans rooting for them. Except for 1948, each of the years from 1947 to 1957, a baseball team, sometimes two, from New York City was playing in the World Series.

          I interviewed owner Walter O’Malley in his box at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. He seemed so much less villainous than he had been painted.

          “If they had only given me the downtown Brooklyn location I wanted near the Long Island Railroad, I would have stayed,” he said. If only he could have known all these years later about the Brooklyn Nets playing in the billion dollar Barclay Center close by where he would built a new home for the Dodgers.

          I interviewed Rachel Robinson, widow of Jackie Robinson. She was gracious, generous in giving of her time and memories as was personable Monte Irvin who had the talent to be “the first” black major leaguer but it was not to be and he explained why.

          One of the great voices in this book (who later appeared in several other books I wrote  ) is that of the irrepressible Irving Rudd, a real New York City character who for a time was the public relations chief of the Dodgers. He told the tale of famed General Douglas MacArthur coming to Ebbets Field, of Branch Rickey planning the breaking of the color line no matter the personal cost, of talented players and fanatical fans, of special promo events, providing an over-the top enrichment to this work and incredible historical documentation.

          In New York City Baseball Mel Allen and Red Barber in their southern voices provide perspective, explaining the art and craft of baseball.

          One more time we hear Mel Allen’s home run call: ""Going. . . Going. . . Gone!"

           One more time we hear Red Barber sounding off “Oh, Doctor.”

          One more time we hear about the “Subway Series,” “Wait ‘til Next Year,” “Dat Day” and “the Shot Heard ‘Round the “World.”

          How wondrous it was to have those announcers, how much greater they seem when compared to the bulk of stat obsessed, non-stop talking, blowing their own horn, pretenders to the throne of big league broadcasters.

          Phil Rizzuto, Hank Bauer, Eddie Lopat and Jerry Coleman, who gave me the idea for the book, and others talk Yankees with pride and detail and even wonder.

            I did not know it then but I was working as the oral historian I would become, disguised even to myself. And the great strength of New York City Baseball and many of the other books I have created rests on the oral history, the multitude of voices and memories I was able to reach and record.

           The Duke, the Yankee Clipper, Oisk and Campy, Preacher, Westy, the Barber and Mandrake the Magician, Blacky and Whitey, Skoonj, Pee Wee and Newk, Yogi, Ellie, Old Reliable, the Peepul’s Cherce, the Old Redhead and Old Reliable and the Ole Perfessor, the Chairman of the Board, Scooter, the Mick, Ellie, Slick and Yogi, the Rifle, the Voice of the Yankees, Dem Bums ... are all in these pages – talking and talked about. 

          That is why it so rewarding for me that that this book of mine has another new life. It deals with a special time in the history of New York City. It was a time when you could walk down the street and the sound of baseball in spring, summer and fall was always on, always alluring, always special. It was a time when one could go to a butcher shop, a candy store, a laundromat, moving from one to another virtually without missing a pitch, the sound of New York City Baseball was always on.

          So come let us re-live one more time the golden age of New York City Baseball, 1947-1957.


REMEMBERING YAZ (Part I)   By Harvey Frommer

        A statue honoring Carl Yazstremski will soon be part of the environment outside of Fenway Park – and justifiably so. This piece and the one that will follow merge oral history with narrative to bring back some of the life and times of one of Boston’s greatest ballplayers.

     Ted Williams was gone but the talk was about the “new Williams” waiting in the wings and ready to become a new legend for the Boston Red Sox starting in 1961.

        Back on November 28, 1958, two days after receiving a $125,000 offer from the Cincinnati Reds, he arrived with his father in Boston to negotiate with the Red Sox.

        Scout Bots Nekola recalled the experience.

        "They drove up to Boston in the middle of this damn blizzard," Nekola said. "It was dismal, snowing like hell, and Fenway Park was the last place in the world you'd try to entice anybody with."

        The young prospect walked around the park while the veteran scout waited nervously. The youngster studied the fences; striding swiftly he came back to Nekola. “I can hit in this park," he said.

        Red Sox farm director Johnny Murphy offered the boy $100,000 plus college tuition. The father wanted $125,000 but dropped to $115,000.

 "We'll give you $108,000 plus a two-year Triple-A farm contract, a year plus the rest of your college expenses," Murphy made a counter offer.

        The contract was signed. They all went to meet general manager Joe Cronin who sized up the 5'11", 170-pound young man "He doesn't seem very big,” was the baseball legend’s reaction.

"He walked out shaking his head like a man who had met a midget when he expected a giant," the youth recalled.

TED SPENCER: Over the winter the story was about Carl Yazstremski, the new Ted Williams. “Well, I’m not going to miss this,” I said.  I missed Williams’ last game. Three guys in high school with me wanted to go, too. It was April 11th 1961, my 18th birthday.   I went down to the basement ticket window in Remick’s department store in Quincy, Mass. and bought four tickets, $3.50 each. Great seats - about four rows behind the on-deck circle behind the dugout on the visitor’s side. 

          Yaz hit a bloop single to left field in his first at bat and went 1-5 that day.  That first hit came off A's hurler Ray Herbert. The Sox lost to Kansas City, 5-2. .     

"I came to love Fenway,” Yaz said. “It was a place that rejuvenated me after a road trip; the fans right on top of you, the nutty angles. And the Wall. That was my baby, the left-field wall, the Green Monster."

   JOHNNY PESKY:  I think Yaz was as good as any outfielder that ever played there, and I’m not taking anything away from Ted.  Yaz was  like an infielder from the outfield.  He threw well; they couldn’t run on him.  And he knew how to play that Monster.

DAN SHAUGHNESSY: Yaz could decoy better than any outfielder and routinely pretended he was ready to catch a ball that he knew was going to carom off the Wall. Sometimes this would make runners slow down or stop altogether.

===============================

  DON ZIMMER: When Bucky Deny hit the ball, I said, “That's an out.” And usually you know when the ball hits the bat whether it's short, against the wall, in the net or over the net. I see Yaz backing up, and when he's looking up, I still think he's going to catch it. When I see him turn around, then I know he's going to catch it off the wall. Then the ball wound up in the net.

        "I was so damn shocked," pitcher Mike Torrez said. "I thought maybe it was going to be off the wall. Damn, I did not think it was going to go out."

BUCKY DENT: When I hit the ball, I knew that I had hit it high enough to hit the wall. But there were shadows on the net behind the wall and I didn't see the ball land there. I was running from the plate because I thought I had a chance at a double. I didn't know it was a home run until the second-base umpire signaled it was a home run. It was an eerie feeling because the ballpark was dead silent.

STEVE RYDER: It was just a pop fly off Mike Torrez. It  just made the netting. The crowd was just absolutely stunned, absolutely stunned.

Don Zimmer changed the Yankee shortstop's name to "Bucky F_____g Dent." Red Sox fans were even more vulgar in their language.

Yaz had two hits in that game, including a homer off Ron Guidry, but he also made the last out.

DAN SHAUGHNESSY: I was covering for the Baltimore Eagle Sun in the second or third row.   The old press box was down low.  I was downstairs later in the stands when Gossage got Yaz to pop up because we were getting ready to go to the locker room  and it looked like they were going down and that was interesting how Sox fans in those days had a sense of gloom, anticipating.  Whatever happened, it wasn’t going to end well. 

DICK FLAVIN:  I was in a box seat right behind the Red Sox dugout. You could put your beer right on the roof. So I had a great look of Yaz coming off the field right after he popped up.  He had his head down, anguish.

STEVE RYDER:    I saw that popup up close.  It was a fairly high one, you could say it was a homerun in a silo. It just ended the game ,and the people left in kind of a dejected attitude and demeanor.  Whipped.

        DON ZIMMER: Instead of going into the clubhouse, I sat in the dugout and watched their team celebrate.

DENNIS ECKERSLEY: Yaz was crying in the trainer’s room.  It was not as crushing for me because when you’re 23 you think, well, we’ll do it next year.  We have such a good team. But if I knew what I know now, I would have been devastated.  We never really got there again after that.


Remembering YAZ - Part II

                        REMEMBERING YAZ (Part II)

                                By Harvey Frommer

        A statue honoring Carl Yazstremski now is part of the environment outside of Fenway Park – and justifiably so. This piece and the one that previously appeared (hopefully you read it) merges oral history with narrative to bring back some of the life and times of one of Boston’s greatest ballplayers.

        WALTER MEARS (former editor at AP): Tip O'Neill went to Rome that fall and saw the Pope. When he came back he was at some function with Yaz and told him the Holy Father had spoken of him. Yaz wanted to know what the Pope had said.

" Tip,” he said, “How the heck could Yastrzemski pop out in the last of the ninth with the tying run on third? "

                BRUCE TUCKER(fan): We’re finally at Fenway. Carl Yastrzemski is getting close to his 3000 hit.   We'd bought tickets hoping he didn’t get that big hit before our game. Every time we went down to the bathroom, someone would yell, “Yastrzemski’s up!”  The bathroom would clear because even if he wasn’t really up, no one wanted to be the one that said, “I wasn’t there, I was in the bathroom!” 

NED MARTIN: (GAME CALL, WSBK-TV September 12, 1979:    “There goes a ground ball...base hit! Number 3,000...Yastrzemski's got it! And all hell breaks loose at Fenway Park!   

BRUCE TUCKER : In his third at-bat, he got a base hit up the middle. It almost looked like the guy just kinda let it go, like he didn’t bend down quite far enough.

        "I've been in pennant pressure, playoff pressure and World Series pressure situations and wasn't bothered by any of them," Yaz  said afterwards. "I think it was the way the fans reacted the last three days. I wanted to get that base hit for the fans..."

      With 34,000 plus fans chanting his name, the Red Sox favorite stepped up to a microphone with his son and father beside him, extended a lot of “thank yous” and made special mention of his "two biggest boosters," his mother and Tom Yawkey. For Yaz, 1979 was a dream season.

         BRUCE HURST (former Red Sox pitcher):I grew up with a picture of Yaz up over my bed and then I became a teammate of his. He was a phenomenal player at the end of his career. If he had a rough day or two, once the game was over he would wait for the stadium to clear out and he’d still take extra batting practice.  What a great worker he was, how much he loved to play the game.

               LENNY MEGLIOLA (veteran sports writer and editor): For Tom Yawkey, Yastrzemski was almost like an adopted son. And Yaz took advantage of that.  He was, after all, the best player on the team.  He had a director’s chair in the  Red Sox clubhouse with a glass holder on one side and ashtray on the other side and cigarettes. He sipped wine after the game and smoked.

He was king of the hill and he exercised that status.   But I always felt bad for him because he was uncomfortable with the camera on him.  Basically all he ever wanted to do was play the game.  He gave very few interviews and was  extremely private even in the unprivacy of a baseball clubhouse. 

 When he was in the mood, he could be expansive, charming --  even self-effacing. But if he went 0-4:  watch out. 

     There were a lot of people who didn’t like Yastrzemski because of his personality and some begrudged him his body of work, his great accomplishments.

       ART DAVIDSON: (sports editor of Boston area MetroWest Daily News): When I was still very new on the beat in the final years of Yaz’s career, he would be one of the first out in the trainer’s room sitting in his long underwear with a cigarette in one hand and a beer in another. He didn’t enjoy interplay with the media, but if you wanted an answer he would certainly provide you with one although it may have been brief.  By his last game at Fenway he at least knew my face if not my name. 

      HOWIE SINGER (TV Director MSG network):  There was Yaz bread, Yaz sausages.   There was a song about Yaz.   

I grew up as a Yaz guy. He started playing in 1961 when I was two.  I had watched him from elementary school through my college years and then my first year in the workforce. I was at his last two games. 

The day before his last game was Yaz Day.  They gave posters out and the Painter’s Yaz Day hats.

DANIEL MCGINLEY-SMITH(M.D.): I got a painter’s cap that day that had “Thanks Yaz” on it and a button with his picture and his signature.  I still have the newspaper headline: "One Last Fenway Go-Around for Yaz" hanging on my office wall.

     TED SPENCER (former Chief Curator of the Baseball Hall of Fame): October 2, 1983. I’m there for his 3,308th  game. As an officer of the Hall of Fame, I had a season’s pass allowing  me in the door with one guest.  The pass just got you in the door. I had to stand up behind home plate, behind about 4,000 other people who were watching or trying to.

    That October 2nd Yaz played left field for the first time all season and went 1-for-3.  His last hit was Number 3,419. In his last at he popped out against Dan Spillner and was replaced in left field by Chico Walker. The Red Sox icon took one more "final lap" at the end of the game. 

ART DAVIDSON:  Yaz signed a few baseballs and gave them over to media members, sorta like a thank you.   He also spent about an hour signing baseballs outside Fenway.   

        BOB SANNICANDRO(former Red Sox club-house attendant):    During the game I had knocked on that clubhouse door. “You know I worked in ’72. Any chance I could talk to Yaz after the game?” I was told. 

 “Come around the players’ parking lot after the game.”

Yaz came through the parking lot.  He still had his uniform top was on, it was unbuttoned. 

I said, “Yaz, you probably don’t remember me but I was a batboy in 1972 and you used to call me Blondie.”  I think he had a bottle of champagne in his hand. I got to talk to him a little bit.

Then he said, “I gotta run.  I gotta go upstairs.” We shook hands and off he went.   


New York City Baseball: The Golden Age, 1947-1957 Paperback – November 1, 2013

by Harvey Frommer (Author)


In the heady days after World War II, the nation was ready for excitement and heroes, and a city—New York—was eager for entertainment. Baseball provided the heroes, and the Yankees, the Giants, and the Dodgers—with their rivalries, their successes, their stars—provided the show.

New York City Baseball recaptures the extraordinary decade of 1947–1957, when the three New York teams were the uncrowned kings of the city. In those ten years, Casey Stengel’s Bronx Bombers went to the World Series seven times; “Joltin’” Joe DiMaggio stepped gracefully aside to make room for a young slugger named Mickey Mantle; Bobby Thomson hit “the shot heard ’round the world”; and the Brooklyn Dodgers achieved the impossible by beating the Yankees in the 1955 World Series. Over the decade, the teams averaged an astounding 90 wins against 63 losses a season, making it, according to The New York Times, “a helluva ten years.”

Including a new introduction to the 2013 edition and rare interviews with Monte Irvin, Rachel Robinson (Jackie's widow), Mel Allen, Duke Snider, Eddie Lopat, Phil Rizzuto, and many more, this book is a must-have for those who want to experience baseball’s golden age.


The Real Jake: Colonel Jacob Ruppert: the Man Who Built the Yankee Empire- (Part I) By Harvey Frommer - Posted 7/31/13

         This past Hall of Fame weekend that sadly saw the induction of three deceased baseball treasures was a true commentary on how steroids and other assorted fixations have poisoned the national pastime.

          Those who voted saw fit to vote in this trio who lived long before the age of enhancement. One of the inductees was long overdue for admittance - Colonel Jacob Ruppert: the Man Who Built the Yankee Empire

    "It was an orphan club," Ruppert said, "without a home of its own, without players of outstanding ability, without prestige." It was a team whose average annual attendance was 345,000, and dozen year record was a mediocre 861 wins and 937 defeats. But Jake Ruppert, the man they would later call "Master Builder in Baseball," would change all that.

On January 11, 1915, Jake Ruppert teamed with a real Colonel, Tillinghast L'Hommedieu Huston, and purchased the Yankees of New York for $460,000 from the original owners - -professional gambler Frank Farrell and ex-police commissioner William S. Devery. Huston impressed everyone by peeling off 230 thousand dollar bills – his share of the purchase price.   

Players and sportswriters referred to Huston as "Cap." There were others who called him "the Man in the Iron Hat" because of the derby hat, generally crumpled, that he wore. The hat matched his suits, always crumpled and rumpled.

A friend of Ruppert, “Cap” was a big bodied, self-made man who began his working career as a civil engineer in Cincinnati. A captain during the Spanish-American War, He made a fortune bringing the sewerage system and harbor of Cuba into the modern age.

The Farrell-Devery duo had milked and mismanaged the franchise for years. So owning the Yankees, who had a 12 year record of 861-937 and average attendance of 345,000 a season, would be a challenge for the new owners.

Ruppert and Huston, however, were up to the challenge. They had deep pockets and a great deal of business acumen and did they have connections.  Huston was a successful entrepreneur engineer, a rich contractor.  Ruppert always knew his way around a buck.  Baseball beguiled both men; making money did, too.

 All kinds of intrigue surrounded the purchase of the Yankees involving Tammany Hall wheeler dealers, other owners, and the American League President. All of them were very anxious to put in place new Yankee ownership and a successful franchise in New York City. To close the deal, American League owners and the League kicked in the rest of the half million dollars that Farrell and Devery insisted on before they would sell out.

"I never saw such a mixed up business in my life,” Ruppert complained right off the bat. “Contracts, liabilities, notes, obligations of all sorts. There were times when it looked so bad no man would want to put a penny into it. It is an orphan ball club without a home of its own, without players of outstanding ability, without prestige."

All of that would change. The “Prince of Beer” wanted to re-name the Yankees to “Knickerbockers” after his best-selling beer, but the marketing ploy failed. Besides, it was said, the name was too long for newspaper headlines. Years later it would be short enough for basketball’s New York Knickerbockers.

          Ruppert pressed on. As a beer baron, he was hands on for every aspect of his business. That same behavior pattern existed for him with the Yankees. He had a personal and deep interest in each player. He knew them all and was always up to date on their capabilities, shortcomings, foibles and performances.

         In his early ownership years Ruppert lost almost as much money as was paid to purchase the Yankees. But on the field there was some progress.  The team finished fifth in 1915, fourth in 1916, their first time out of the second division since 1910.

The Yankee owner rarely hung out with "with the boys," Rud Rennie wrote in the New York Herald-Tribune. "For the most part, he was aloof and brusque.... He never used profanity. 'By gad' was his only expletive." 
       A fixture at his Stadium, which he insisted on keeping so fanatically clean that sometimes he even swept it himself, Ruppert, had a private box to which he invited the celebrities of the day. He was not an owner, though, who came to the park to be seen. His interest was in seeing his tea, excel.

The Colonel’s idea of a wonderful day at the ball park was any time the Yankees scored 11 runs in the first inning, and then slowly pulled away. The Colonel was fond of saying, “There is no charity in baseball, I want to win every year.” 

“Close games make me nervous.” he said. “A great day is when the Yankees score a lot of runs early and then just pull away.”

He created the “Ruppert effect.” Those who worked for him at the brewery or on the ball club knew he was around and about and very interested in all that was going on.

Members of his team received first class treatment. For the Yankees this showed itself in the sleeping accommodations he arranged on trains. Most other teams had players, dependent on seniority, given berths, upper or lower. The players on the New York Yankees all slept in upper births.
        The whole traveling operation generally took up two cars at the end of the train. And there was many a summer day, that the players only wearing underwear (Babe Ruth, it was said, favored the silk kind), lolled about, had extended conversations, played cards, enjoyed each other’s company and the food, rest and recreation that made them perform better on the playing field.
         While the Yankees were high flying, Ruppert’s other business – his brewery was hurting.    Prohibition cut his brewery's annual production of 1.25 million barrels of real beer to 350,000 barrels of half-percent near-beer that nobody wanted to drink. In effect, the brewery treated water; producing, bottling, and selling "near beer". Elected President of the United States Brewers Association in 1925. Ruppert led the battle to repeal Prohibition.  Later, he was in the forefront in attempts to disassociate beer from saloons and promote its consumption in the home.

                 (To Definitively Be Continued)


The Real Jake: Colonel Jacob Ruppert: the Man Who Built the Yankee Empire - (Part II) By Harvey Frommer

***Harvey Frommer is at work on REMEMBERING SUPER BOWL ONE: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY.
He welcomes hearing from anyone with memories, perceptions, leads, memorabilia for his newest book. ****

A-Rod suspended but still playing. The “House That Ruppert Built” demolished and the new Yankee  Stadium built.  What would Ruppert think?  Who knows?

         The old Colonel was a dreamer but also a doer, always making the moves. In a move that would change the course of Yankee and Red Sox history, indeed, baseball history, Jake Ruppert on January 3, 1920 purchased George Herman “Babe” Ruth, 25, from Boston. The deal was a very smart business move – the young Ruth had talent and would become one of the greatest drawing cards in baseball history.  In his first season as a Yankee , he blasted 54 homers.  
        Ruth bragged “They’re coming out to see me in droves.” From 1920 to 1922, the Yankees with G.H. Ruth on board drew more three million fans into the Polo Grounds. Never had the New York Giants drawn a million fans in a season.

The Colonel was the only one to conduct salary negotiations with the “Sultan of Swat,” sometimes in the “Price of Beer’s” brewery office, sometimes in Florida when the Babe decided to hold out. George Herman Ruth was a valuable commodity and the Yankee owner treated him as such. The pair disagreed at times privately and publicly about contracts; nevertheless, Ruppert and Ruth were personal friends. Their relationship, though, could be described as love-hate.
        Frugal to a fault, Colonel gave orders that the Yankee front office should always keep an eye out for any out of line Ruthian expenses. Thus, a $3.80 train ticket for Mrs. Ruth and a $30 "uniform deposit" were not honored for the greatest single gate attraction of all time.
            Angered and annoyed at the gate success of Babe Ruth & Company, the Giants told the Yankees to look around for other baseball lodgings. 
The Yankees had been playing in the shadow of the Giants at the Polo Grounds since 1913, tenants of the National League team.  It was a very unsatisfactory arrangement; now with the Yankees outdrawing the Giants in their in their own ballpark, it was an embarrassment.         

The forward looking Ruppert and Hutson suggested the Polo Grounds be demolished and replaced by a 100,000 seat stadium to be used by both teams and for other sporting events. The Giants were not interested. So the search was on to create a new ballpark, not just a new ballpark but the  greatest and grandest edifice of its time, one shaped along the lines of the Roman Coliseum. The Colonel dreamed big dreams and had the power and money to back them up.

         “The Yankee Stadium,” as it was called at the start, was envisioned as a structure that exuded a feeling of permanence. That was absent  in earlier ballparks, like Fenway Park in Boston, Wrigley Field in Chicago, and Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. Unlike the builders of older ballparks, Ruppert didn’t have to fit his park to the lines of city streets. Girth and height were there for the taking.

             Public opinion in New York City was against the Yankees building a stadium. The government and the public claimed that there was a very severe housing shortage. It was felt that solving that problem was more important than building a new baseball park. “The Jake” did not care. He had his mind made up. He would find a place to build on.

Many sites and schemes were considered. One idea was to build a stadium or amphitheater over the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks along the West Side near 32nd Street. But the War Department nixed the idea. The space was reserved for anti-aircraft gun emplacements. The Hebrew Orphan Asylum, at Amsterdam Avenue and 137th Street, was a serious contender. A contract was actually drawn up, but the deal fell through. A lot in Long Island City in Queens was also given some consideration. 
         Finally,
  a site was selected, a former lumberyard in the west Bronx, City Plot 2106, Lot 100, a ten acre mess of boulders and garbage. The cost for the land obtained from William Waldorf Astor's estate and located directly across the Harlem River from the Polo Grounds, was $675,000, big money back then. One of the reasons the site was chosen by Ruppert was to irritate his former landlord. Another reason was that the IRT Jerome Avenue subway line snaked its way virtually atop the Stadium's right-field wall and provided ease of transportation for fans. 
         Ruppert was criticized for his choice. The site was strewn with boulders and garbage. It was far from the center of New York City. Some dubbed the plan "Rupert's Folly," claiming that fans would never venture to a Bronx-based ballpark. 
        "They are going up to Goatville," snapped John J. McGraw, manager of the Giants. "And before long they will be lost sight of. A New York team should be based on Manhattan Island."

        Ruppert never publicly responded to McGraw's criticism. But he did ask all newspapers to provide the address of Yankee Stadium in all stories.

A millionaire many times over, Ruppert enjoyed giving orders and having them followed to the letter.  Osborn Engineering Company of Cleveland, Ohio was charged with the design responsibilities. The White Construction Company of New York was given the construction job. The Colonel, a demanding taskmaster,  insisted the ambitious project be completed "at a definite price" $2.5-million, be built in just 185 working days and be up and running by Opening Day 1923.

The Yankee owners dreamed the dream of a new ballpark, one along the lines of the Roman Coliseum. Some 500 men turned 45,000 barrels of cement into 35,000 cubic yards of concrete. Building bleachers out of 950,000 board feet of Pacific Coast fir that came to New York by boat through the Panama Canal, the concrete structure, with its massive triple-deck stands the first in baseball history, featured 60,000 seats, about the same as the Roman Coliseum had once boasted.

   Some said the new baseball park should be named "Ruth Field"  since it was built by and for Ruth - - by his booming bat and iconic appeal. But Ruppert resisted. He wanted to have it named for his best-selling “Ruppert beer,” but that idea was resisted. So he insisted it be known as "The Yankee Stadium." It would be the first ballpark to be referred to as a stadium.  

On May 5, 1922, ground was broken for what would be the greatest and grandest edifice of its time, a structure shaped along the lines of the Roman Coliseum, Sixteen days later Ruppert would buy out Huston's share of the Yankees for $1,500,000. “Cap” Huston had supervised all aspects of the building of Yankee Stadium from the selection of materials to quality and quantity of concrete used.  Those talents, some said, were the reason Ruppert paired with him to buy the Yankees and build a ballpark.

       On April 18, 1923, a massive crowd showed up for the proudest moment in the history of the South Bronx. It was Red Sox versus Yankees.  Boston owner Harry Frazee walked on the field side-by-side with Yankee mogul Jake Ruppert.  The  teams followed the march beat of the Seventh Regiment Band, directed by John Phillip Sousa, to the centerfield flagpole, where the 1922 pennant and the American flag  were hoisted.

Many in the huge assemblage wore heavy sweaters, coats and hats. Some sported dinner jackets. The announced attendance was 74,217, later changed to 60,000. More than 25,000 were turned away. They would linger outside in the cold listening to the sounds of music and the roar of the crowd inside the stadium.

         It was one of Colonel Jacob Ruppert’s proudest moments.

           "Yankee Stadium was a mistake, not mine, but the Giants,” was one of Ruppert’s favorite sayings. 

  “The Real Jake” Colonel Ruppert’s End Game with the Yankees (Part III) - By Harvey Frommer (Posted 8/25/13)

       In the tenth year of the Great Depression, Colonel Jacob Ruppert, was one of the few who prospered big time while the economy of the nation collapsed.

         Part of that prospering came from his business acumen - -the good sense to buy New York City property at depression prices like the former Bank of United States Building, at Fifth and Forty-fourth in 1931, the Commerce Building, at Third and Forty-fourth, in 1932, a competing brewery in an area bounded by Second and Third Avenues, and Ninety-second and Ninety-fourth Streets, just east of his own.

         By 1935, all his property holdings had more than doubled in value. As the decade of the 30s neared its end , his real estate holdings were valued at $30 million, his total estate at double that amount.

         He still had the world by a string. Then the string snapped.

Strangely and sadly, the normally vigorous Colonel attended just two games at Yankee Stadium during the 1938 season. He followed his beloved Yankees from a sickbed, listening to games on the radio for the first time. So impressed was he by the medium’s fit with baseball that he arranged for all Bronx Bomber home games to be broadcast on radio. That was his final official act.

         On Friday morning January 13, 1939, the master builder of the New York Yankees empire passed away at his home from complication from phlebitis. He was 71 years old.

          Aside from close relatives and medical attendants, the last person to see Ruppert alive was Babe Ruth.  At 7 P.M. on January 12th, the Colonel was in an oxygen tent where he had been for several hours. After removal from the tent the first thing he said, according to his nurse, was: "I want to see the Babe."
       The dying man opened his eyes, reached out his hand to the “Big Bam.” He murmured only one word, "Babe."

           Ruth said: "It was the only time in his life he ever called me Babe to my face."
           On Monday January 16, 1939, the procession that resembled a state funeral started out from the Ruppert apartment on 93rd Street in Manhattan. More than 4,000 jammed inside the historic St. Patrick’s Cathedral including brewers, public dignitaries, the bosses of the Tammany and Bronx Democratic machines, more than 500 Ruppert employees, fans and family.

            Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Yankee manager Joe McCarthy, general manager Ed Barrow, farm system director George Weiss, members of the 1939 team including Tommy Henrich and Johnny Murphy, chief scout Paul Krichell, Boston Red Sox manager Joe Cronin and Chicago White Sox manager Jimmie Dykes, star players like Honus Wagner and Eddie Collins all were in attendance. 

           More than 10,000 people were outside the Cathedral. The service ran for about an hour. The family was represented by one brother, two sisters, two nephews, and four nieces. They sat in the front left pew. Dignitaries Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia, United States Senator Robert E Wagner, former New York State governor Al Smith sat in the  front right pew. 

           Honorary pallbearers included Baseball Commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, Yankee manager Joe McCarthy, Ed Barrow, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Yankee farm system director George M. Weiss, Senator Robert F. Wagner, Al Smith, President of the American League  William Harridge, and congressman "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, former mayor of Boston.

        After the ceremony a fifty car cortege headed to Kensico Cemetery in Westchester County where Colonel Jacob Ruppert’s burial was in the family mausoleum.

        A vast fortune was basically left to three women.

        Twenty million dollars was for two nieces. 

 And one third of the estate was left to a former chorus girl Helen Winthrop Weyant, 37.  Her name had never appeared in the press before. She lived on 55th Street in Manhattan with her mother. She was described in newspapers as a “ward,” as “formerly a chorus girl,” and by The Sporting News as "a former showgirl friend."

Claiming she had met the Colonel about 14 years before his death, Weyant told reporters that that she had “no idea why he left her so much money." 

The New York Yankees would play on through the decades under new ownerships. And it would not be until 2013 that Colonel Jacob Ruppert, the man who created the Yankee Empire, would finally and deservedly be admitted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

 


Sports Book Reviews - July 2013

                                    By Dr. Harvey Frommer

            (HARVEY FROMMER IS AT WORK ON A BOOK ON THE FIRST SUPER BOWL, 1967. ANYONE WITH CONTACTS, STORIES, SUGGESTIONS, PLEASE GET IN TOUCH).

                “The Cracker Jack Collection Baseball’s Prized Players” and Other Sporting Reads

            All types of sports books with all kinds of approaches are available for your mid-summer reading. Not all are all stars, but all have something for everyone going for them.

            Leading off as an all star section is  “The Cracker Jack Collection Baseball’s Prized Players” by Tom Zappala & Ellen Zappala with John Molori & Jim Davis (Peter E. Randall Publisher, $30.00, 177 pages). It is a lavish coffee table tome. From the fabulous art work through the vintage Cracker Jack baseball cards to the organization and lively essays - the book belongs on every baseball fan’s sports bookshelf. It will stay on mine. HIGHLY NOTABLE

            From Dutton Publishers comes “Trading Bases” by Joe Peta ($27.95, 368 pages). The author was a Wall Street market maker and head trader for a long-short equity hedge fund. This book is an inside look at the almost $400 billion sports gambling industry. Funny, poignant, insightful, entertaining and educational, this is a work of baseball analysis and risk.  WORTH READING

            "18 in America" by Dylan Dethier (Scribner, $25.00, 258 pages) is all about the  game of golf and the youthful author's drive across America and his playing a round of golf in every state side from Alaska and Hawaii.

            "Growing Up Gronk" by Jeff Schober (HMH, $25.00, 201 pages) is as its sub-title proclaims about a family and its raising of champs. Three of the Gronks play in the NFL, another is an on the rise football player and another played pro football.

            "Speak English" by Rafael Hermoso (Kent State University Press, paper $19.95, 187 pages) is a small book with a big topic and hefty price tag - -the rise of Latinos in baseball.

            "Cleveland Indians Legends" by Russell Schneider (Kent State University Press, $29.95, 87 over-sized pages) is a delight to look at. It showcases 40 legends from the franchise in amazing paintings created by Tom Denny. My favorite is page 8 which features "Shoeless Joe Jackson" in words by Schneider and image by Denny. The book is a must have for fans of the Tribe.

Coming in 2014!


		The Bucky Dent Home Run
		   By Harvey Frommer
Excerpt from Remembering Fenway Park: An Oral and Narrative History of the Home of the Boston Red Sox/Abrams 2011 - - now available in stores and on-line and direct from the author)
STEVE RYDER: Then all of a sudden: 
BILL WHITE (GAME CALL) "Deep to left! Yastrzemski will not get it -- it's a home run! A three-run home run for Bucky Dent and the Yankees now lead . . . Bucky Dent has just hit his fourth home run of the year and look at that Yankees bench out to greet him..."
CARL YAZSTREMSKI: I've always loved Fenway Park. But that was the one moment I hated the place, the one moment the wall got back at us. I still can't believe it went in the net.
BILL LEE: Torrez threw that horseshit slider that is still sitting there in middle of the plate, and Bucky Dent hit right near the end of the bat. I couldn't believe he hit it out, but he did. 
ROGER KAHN:  My memory is Dent slamming a foul ball into his foot and hobbling around and there was a delay of several minutes. During that whole delay Mike Torrez did not throw a single pitch.  Normally, you just throw to keep loose.  Dent got a new bat from Mickey Rivers.  And the first pitch Torrez threw after the break that may have been five minutes, was that shot to leftfield.  You could see Yastrzemski thinking he could play the ball and kind of crumpling when the ball went  out. 
LEIGH MONTVILLE: It was a ball that everyone thought was going to be caught, a nothing kind of hit.  
DON ZIMMER: When Bucky hit the ball, I said, "That's an out." And usually you know when the ball hits the bat whether it's short, against the wall, in the net or over the net. I see Yaz backing up, and when he's looking up, I still think he's going to catch it. When I see him turn around, then I know he's going to catch it off the wall. Then the ball wound up in the net.
MIKE TORREZ: I was so damn shocked. I thought maybe it was going to be off the wall. Damn, I did not think it was going to go out. 
BUCKY DENT: When I hit the ball, I knew that I had hit it high enough to hit the wall. But there were shadows on the net behind the wall and I didn't see the ball land there. I was running from the plate because I thought I had a chance at a double. I didn't know it was a home run until the second-base umpire signaled it was a home run. It was an eerie feeling because the ballpark was dead silent.
STEVE RYDER: It was just a pop fly off Mike Torrez. It  just made the netting. The crowd was just absolutely stunned, absolutely stunned. 
Don Zimmer changed the Yankee shortstop's name to "Bucky F_____g Dent." Red Sox fans were even more vulgar in their language. 
Yaz had two hits in that game, including a homer off Ron Guidry, but he also made the last out.
DAN SHAUGHNESSY: I was covering for the Baltimore Eagle Sun in the second or third row.   The old press box was down low.  I was downstairs later in the stands when Gossage got Yaz to pop up because we were getting ready to go to the locker room  and it looked like they were going down and that was interesting how Sox fans in those days had a sense of gloom, anticipating.  Whatever happened, it wasn't going to end well.  
DICK FLAVIN:  I was in a box seat right behind the Red Sox dugout. You could put your beer right on the roof. So I had a great look of Yaz coming off the field right after he popped up.  He had his head down, anguish. 
STEVE RYDER:    I saw that popup up close.  It was a fairly high one, you could say it was a homerun in a silo. it just ended the game ,and the people left in kind of a dejected attitude and demeanor.  Whipped. 
DON ZIMMER: Instead of going into the clubhouse, I sat in the dugout and watched their team celebrate.
DENNIS ECKERSLEY: Yaz was crying in the trainer's room.  It was not as crushing for me because when you're 23 you think, well, we'll do it next year.  We have such a good team. But if I knew what I know now, I would have been devastated.  We never really got there again after that.
WALTER MEARS:  Tip O'Neill went to Rome that fall and saw the Pope. When he came back he was at some function with Yaz and told him the Holy Father had spoken of him. Yaz wanted to know what the Pope had said. 
" Tip," he said, "How the heck could Yastrzemski pop out in the last of the ninth with the tying run on third? "
        After the game a Bucky Dent buddy called the Red Sox inquiring if the home-run ball was available. He was told that the net had been littered with balls from batting-practice home runs ­the  "Bucky Dent ball" could not be identified amidst all  the others.
JOE MOONEY: I got blamed for taking the ball Bucky Dent hit for the home run.  I never touched it. I never spoke to Bucky Dent, but later I  found out that he was accusing me. I know who took that ball he hit.  But I'd never say nothing.  We'll leave that to history. 

Willie Mays Is 80 (From the Vault)

The month of May was always Willie Mays' time. Willie Howard Mays was born on May 6, 1931 in Westfield, Alabama - 69 years ago today. 

The New York Giants called him up on the 15th of May in 1951 from Minneapolis in the American Association. He was bating .477 after 35 games. 

Garry Schumacher, publicist for the Giants at that time, recalled the first time he ever saw Mays. 

"The Giants were on their way from Chicago to Philadelphia to conclude the last three games of a road trip," Schumacher said. "I was by the front door of the Giants' office on Times Square. Suddenly, this kid comes in. There were always a lot of kids coming around; some of them wanted tickets and some wanted tryouts. He was carrying a few bats in one hand and a bag in the other that contained his glove and spikes. He was wearing the most unusual cap I ever saw, plaid colored. When I found out who he was, we bought him some clothes and then sent him to Philadelphia to join the club. He was wearing the new clothes when he left, but funny thing - he refused to take off that funny cap. 

He made his major league debut with the Giants on May 25, 1951. But his start in the majors after just 116 minor leagues games was a shaky one. He was hitless in his first 12 at-bats, cried in the dugout and said, "I am not ready for this". He begged manager Leo Durocher to send him back down to the minors. 

But "Leo the Lip" refused to listen to the pleas of the rookie center fielder just as another Giant manager John J. McGraw had refused to send a youthful Mel Ott to the minors. 

"You're my center fielder as long as I am the manager of this team," Durocher said. "You're the best center fielder I have ever seen." 

Mays' first home run was off the great Warren Spahn. He hit it over the roof of the Polo Grounds. 

"We had a meeting of the pitchers," Spahn recalls. "We knew Mays was having trouble. I'll never forgive myself. We might have gotten rid of Willie forever if I'd only struck him out." 

In Pittsburgh's old Forbes Field, Rocky Nelson blasted a drive 457 feet to deep dead center. Galloping back, Mays realized as his feet hit the warning track that the ball was hooking to his right side. The ball was sinking and Mays could not reach across his body to glove the drive. So just as the ball got to his level, Mays stuck out his bare hand and made the catch. It was an incredible feat. 

Durocher told all the Giants to give Mays the silent treatment when he returned to the dugout. But Pittsburgh's General Manager Branch Ricky sent the Giant rookie a hastily written note: "That was the finest catch I have ever seen ... and the finest I ever expect to see". 

There is that catch and so many others. There are also the images of Mays playing stickball in the streets of Harlem with neighborhood kids, running out from under his cap pursuing a fly ball, pounding one of his 660 career home runs, playing the game with a verve, a gusto, and an attitude that awed those who were around him. 

"Willie could do everything from the day he joined the Giants," Durocher recalled. 

"Everybody loved him," notes his former teammate Monte Irvin. "He was a rare talent. Having him on your team playing center field gave us confidence. We figured that if a ball stayed in the park, he could catch it." 

Mays was The Natural. He led the NL in slugging percentage five times. He won the home run crown four times. Twice, he won the NL MVP Award. 

"He lit up a room when he came in," Durocher said. 

The superstar of superstars, the man they called the "Say Hey Kid" was on the scene for 22 major-league seasons. He is all over the record book and in the memory of so many baseball fans. 

Happy Birthday, Willie Mays! 


#  #  #


2011 marks  Harvey Frommer's  36th consecutive year of writing sports books. A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 41 sports books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM, an oral/narrative history was published in 2008 as well as a reprint version of his classic "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball."

Frommer's newest work REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION (Abrams) is his 41st sports book. 

He is available for speaking engagements.

FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in the millions and is housed on Internet search engines for extended periods of time. 

FOLLOW Harvey on Twitter: http://twitter.com/south2nd. Web:  http://www.dartmouth.edu/~frommer.
FOLLOW Harvey on LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/profile/edit?trk=hb_tab_pro_top
*************************************************************************************************************
 REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: http://harveyfrommersports.com/remembering_fenway/
=================================================
      "Remembering'' has everything a fan could want: iconic images, funny stories, and a sense of reverence. - BOSTON GLOBE
    "A handsome coffee table book marks the centenary of the grand old park." -SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 
   "Gem of a book about a jewel of a ballpark -- --GEORGE F. WILL 
     "Worthy of its sacred subject.. Unforgettable." -DAN SHAUGHNESSY, BOSTON GLOBE 
     NEXT EVENT:
                                              Greenwich CT
Saturday May 14th 2-3pm Greenwich CT Library Talk/Book Signing 101 West Putnam Avenue, Greenwich, CT. Marianne Weill, Events Coordinator (203.622.7933, mweill@greenwichlibrary.org). (250)

Dr. Harvey Frommer received his Ph.D. from New York University. Professor Emeritus, Distinguished Professor nominee, and recipient of the "Salute to Scholars Award" at CUNY where he taught writing for many years, he was cited in the Congressional Record and by the New York State Legislature as a sports historian and journalist. The prolific Frommer was also selected by Major League Baseball to be an Expert Witness in 2006 in a case involving trademark infringement.

His many sports books include: Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball, New York City Baseball: 1947-1957, the New York Yankee Encyclopedia, and autobiographies of sports legends Nolan Ryan, Red Holzman and Tony Dorsett. The prolific Frommer is also the author of A Yankee Century, Red Sox vs Yankees: The Great Rivalry (with Frederic J. Frommer), and Five O'Clock Lightning: The 1927 Yankees. His REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM will be published in fall 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK is set for 2010 publication.

Along with his wife Myrna Katz Frommer, he also teaches in the MALS program at Dartmouth College the course Preserving the Past: Oral History in Theory and Practice. Harvey has also taught Sports Journalism in Theory and Practice at Dartmouth College.

The Frommers @ Dartmouth.edu - Myrna and Harvey are a wife and husband team who successfully bridge the worlds... more

Frommerluxurytravel-arts - They are travel writers who specialize in cultural history, dining, hotels and resorts, and Jewish history... More 


HARVEY FROMMER ON SPORTS

THE BOOK REVIEW

"YANKEE FOR LIFE" & other reads

As we round third base in 2008 and head for home and 2009, there are all kinds of sports books out there vying for one's attention. Some are by big name authors and publishers; others are more modest entries. All have something of value.

"Yankee For Life" by the late Bobby Murcer with Glen Waggoner (HarperCollins, $24.95, 322 pages) is the bittersweet tale of a 17-year-major leaguer who was looked upon by many as the next Mickey Mantle.

Murcer never met that promise but he was a fan favorite, especially Yankee fans. His post-career life was spent in the broadcasting booth where his sense of humor and Oklahoma drawl and knowledge of the game earned him three Emmys as one of the voices of the Yankees. Tragically, on Christmas Eve 2006, the affable Murcer was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. His recent passing saddened millions. "Yankee For Life" is his story told honestly, humorously and unflinchingly.

Josh Hamilton's "Beyond Belief" with Tim Keown (Faith Words, $23.95, 257 pages) is the uplifting story of one of the most talented players n the big leagues today who came back from four years of struggle with drug addiction, suspensions, very down times. The book's sub-title is "finding the strength to come back" and that is what Hamilton is all about.

Bill James is at it again and those into his kind of work will be elated. From Acta Sports, priced at $23.95, 506 pages, paper), the "Bill James Handbook" is a mother and father lode of relevant and up to date stats on every major league team, player and manager through 2008.

From Triumph comes two books focused on similar approaches with different subject matter. "Then Bud Said to Barry Who Told Bob..." by Jeff Snook (Triumph Books, $22.95, 284 pages, includes CD) is a collection of Oklahoma Sooner gridiron tales. "Then Osborne Said to Rozier..." by Steve Richardson (Triumph, $22.95, 200 pages, includes CD) is a slimmer collection of stories - these about Nebraska Cornhusker football. For fans of these teams - the books are a must.

HIGHLY NOTABLE: For fans of basketball comes new film "The First Basket" that carefully evokes the history of Jews and basketball at the beginning of the 20th century. Ossie Schectman, a Jewish kid from Brooklyn , made the first basket for the New York Knickerbockers back in 1946 in a league that preceded the NBA. The film showcases this and all kinds of other little known facts and events showing the unusual connection between Jews and basketball. Director David Vyorst has done a brilliant job. There are screenings in New York City at: http://www.villageeastcinema.com/angelika_index.asp?hiD=166> EAST CINEMA

In Los Angeles: <http://www.laemmle.com/> Laemmle's Town Center, Encino

<http://www.laemmle.com/viewtheatre.php?thid=8> LAEMMLE'S Fallbrook 7 in West Hills

======================================================================

Harvey Frommer is his 33rd consecutive year of writing sports books. The author of 40 of them including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM, an oral/narrative history (Abrams, Stewart, Tabori and Chang) was published in 2008 as well as a reprint version of his "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball."

Frommer sports books are available direct from the author - discounted and autographed.

FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in excess of one million and appears on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.


*REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM: OPENING DAY 1923

By Harvey Frommer

(As the games at Yankee Stadium dwindle to a precious few - -for your reading pleasure adapted from REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOUSE THAT RUTH BUILT, STC, ABRAMS)

Jacob Ruppert always insisted "Yankee Stadium was a mistake, not mine, but the Giants."

And in truth, had it not been for the Giants, there might never have been a Yankee Stadium.

Beginning life as the Baltimore Orioles in 1901, the franchise moved to Manhattan in 1903. Named the Highlanders, they played at Hilltop Park in Washington Heights for a decade. In 1913, the Yankees as they were now known were tenants of the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds. The landlord Giants and the tenant Yankees never got along.

Ruth's Yankees were a magnet drawing more than a million each season from 1920 to 1922. Never had the Giants drawn a million fans. Angered and annoyed at the gate success of Babe Ruth and Company, the Giants told the Yankees to look around for other baseball lodgings.

Ruppert and Huston suggested the Polo Grounds be demolished and replaced by a 100,000 seat stadium to be used by both teams as well as for other sporting events. Nothing came of the suggestion.

So the duo set about to create a new ballpark. Shaped along the lines of the Roman Coliseum, it would be the greatest and grandest edifice of its time. Many sites and schemes were considered. One idea was to build atop railroad tracks along the West Side near 32nd Street. The Hebrew Orphan Asylum, at Amsterdam Avenue and 137th Street, was a serious contender. Long Island City in Queens was also given some consideration.

Finally, on February 6, 1921, a little more than year after the Yankees had acquired Ruth from the Red Sox, a Yankee press release announced that ten acres in the west Bronx, City Plot 2106, Lot 100, land from the estate of William Waldorf Astor, had been purchased for $675,000 (just under $8 million in 2007 dollars). The site sat directly across the Harlem River, less than a mile from and within walking distance of the home of the New York Giants, at the mouth of a small body of water called Crowell's Creek.

Some noted the site was strewn with boulders and garbage. Others criticized the choice as being too far away from the center of New York City. Some dubbed the plan "Rupert's Folly," believing that fans would never venture to a Bronx-based ballpark.

"They are going up to Goatville," snapped John J. McGraw, manager of the Giants. "And before long they will be lost sight of. A New York team should be based on Manhattan Island."

Ruppert never publicly responded to McGraw's criticism. But he did request newspapers to print the address of Yankee Stadium in all stories. And for the first game at his new baseball palace, he included on each ticket stub:

"Yankee Stadium, 161st Street and River Avenue."

Design responsibilities for the new "yard" were handed over to the Osborn Engineering Company of Cleveland, Ohio. The White Construction Company of New York was awarded the construction job which Huston oversaw. Ever demanding and meticulous, Ruppert mandated that the massive project be completed "at a definite price" $2.5-million ( about $29-million in 2007 dollars) and by Opening Day 1923.

Ground was broken on May 5, 1922. Sixteen days later Ruppert bought out Huston's share of the Yankees for $1,500,000. "The Prince of Beer" was now sole owner, a driven and driving force behind the vision of the new home.

A millionaire many times over, Ruppert enjoyed giving orders and having them followed to the letter. He lived at 1120 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan in a 15 room townhouse. He also had a castle on the Hudson.

Some thought his new baseball park should be named "Ruth Field." Ruppert, however, was adamant that it be known as "Yankee Stadium." It would be the first ballpark to be referred to as a stadium.

Original architectural plans called for a triple-decked park roofed all the way around. An early press release explained that the new ballpark would be shaped like the Yale Bowl, enclosed with towering embattlements making all events inside "impenetrable to all human eyes, save those of aviators." Those without tickets would be unable to catch even a glimpse of the action.

However, that initial lofty design was quickly scaled down. It was thought those plans would create too foreboding a sports facility, being too much a tower and not a place to play baseball, being a place where the sun would hardly ever shine. Instead the triple deck would stop at the foul poles.

And Jacob Ruppert notwithstanding, action on the field of play would be visible from the elevated trains that passed by the outfield, from the 161st Street station platform as well as from roofs and higher floors of River Avenue apartment houses that would be built.

Fortunately, a purely decorative element survived the project's early downsizing. A 15-foot deep copper frieze would adorn the front of the roof which covered much of the Stadium's third deck. It would become the park's signature feature.

The new stadium, virtually double the size of any existing ball park, favored left-handed power; the right-field foul pole was only 295 feet from home plate (though it would shoot out to 368 by right center). The left- and right-field corners were only 281 feet and 295 feet, but left field sloped out dramatically to 460 feet. Center field was a monstrous 490 feet away.

A quarter-mile running track that doubled as a warning track for outfielders surrounded the field. Under second base, a 15-foot-deep brick-lined vault containing electrical, telephone, and telegraph connections was put in place for boxing events.

Three concrete decks extended from behind home plate to each corner. There was a single deck in left-center and wooden bleachers around the rest of the outfield. The new stadium had the feel of a gigantic horseshoe. The 10,712 upper-grandstand seats and 14,543 lower grandstand seats were fixed in place by 135,000 individual steel castings on which 400,000 pieces of maple lumber were fastened by more than a million screws. Total seating capacity was 58,000, enormous for that time.

The Yankee bullpen was in left center. The Yankee dark green dugout was on the third base side. Bats were lined up at the top of the dugout stairs. There was a record eight toilet rooms for men and as many for women.

As was usual in that era, each white foul line extended past home plate. There was also a dirt "pathway" leading from the mound to home plate.

On Wednesday April 18, 1923, "The House That Ruth Built" opened for business. It had been built on almost the same spot where baseball had begun in the Bronx, a place where the Unions of Morrisania had played and close to where the old Melrose Station of the Harlem Railroad was located. The original street address was 800 Ruppert Place.

"Governors, general colonels, politicians, and baseball officials," The New York Times reported, "gathered solemnly yesterday to dedicate the biggest stadium in baseball."

True to Jake Ruppert's mandate and vision - "The Yankee Stadium," as it was first called, had been constructed at a cost of $2.5 million in just 185 working days.

The reaction to the newest playing field in the major leagues was over the top. A Philadelphia newsman declared: "It is a thrilling thought that perhaps 2,500 years from now archaeologists, spading up the ruins of Harlem and the lower Bronx, will find arenas that outsize anything that the ancient Romans and Greeks built."

Opening Day was, appropriately, Red Sox versus Yankees. A massive crowd assembled for the most exciting moment in the history of the Bronx. The day was chilly. Many in the huge assemblage were bundled up with heavy sweaters, coats, fedoras and derbies although some, in the spirit of the moment, wore dinner jackets.

The announced attendance was 74,217, later scaled back to 60,000. The Fire Department ordered the gates closed and 25,000 were denied entrance. Those unable to get inside soldiered up outside against the cold listening to the noise of the crowds and the martial beat of the Seventh Regiment Band directed by the famed John Phillip Sousa.

Red Sox owner Harry Frazee walked on the field side-by-side with Jake Ruppert who always claimed that his idea of a great day at the ballpark, was when "the Yankees score eight runs in the first inning, and then slowly pulled away." Yankees and Red Sox were escorted by the band to the flagpole in deep centerfield, where the home team's 1922 pennant and the American flag were raised.

Ruppert then took a seat in the celebrity box where Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, New York State Governor Al Smith, and New York City Mayor John Hylan were waiting for the game to begin.

At 3:25 Babe Ruth was presented with an oversized bat handsomely laid out in a glass case.

At 3:30 Governor Al Smith tossed out the first ball to Yankee catcher Wally Schang.

At 3:35 home plate umpire Tommy Connolly shouted: "Play ball!"

The temperature was a brisk 49 degrees. Wind blew dust from the dirt road leading to the Stadium and whipped away at pennants and hats.

In the third inning with Whitey Witt and Joe Dugan on base, George Herman "Babe" Ruth stepped into the batter's box. He had said: "I'd give a year of my life if I can hit a home run in the first game in this new park." Boston pitcher Howard Ehmke threw a slow pitch. Bam! Ruth slugged the ball on a line into the right-field bleachers - the first home run in Yankee Stadium history.

The New York Times called it a "savage home run that was the real baptism of Yankee Stadium."

Sportswriter Heywood Broun remarked: "It would have been a home run in the Sahara Desert."

Crossing home plate, removing his cap, extending it, Ruth waved to the standing, screaming crowd.

LEIGH MONTVILLE: Babe Ruth always said that of all the home runs he hit, his favorite home run was the one he hit the day they opened Yankee Stadium, the ballpark that was kind of built for him.

The game moved on. Yankee stalwart "Sailor" Bob Shawkey, a red sweatshirt under his jersey, fanned five, walked two, allowed but just three hits, and pitched the Yankees to a 4-1 victory.


HARVEY FROMMER ON SPORTS

*YANKEE STADIUM FIRSTS (a very partial list)

As the days draw closer to a precious few for Yankee Stadium, herewith some "firsts" on the big ballpark in the Bronx that has been with us since 1923.

First regular season game at Yankee Stadium, April 18, 1923, a 4-1 win over Boston.

First pitch thrown in Yankee Stadium, Bob Shawkey, Yankees, April 18, 1923.

First batter at Yankee Stadium, Chick Fewster, Red Sox April 18, 1923.

First hit at Yankee Stadium, George Burns, Red Sox April 18, 1923, second inning single.

First Yankee hit at Yankee Stadium, Aaron Ward April 18, 3rd-inning single.

First error, Babe Ruth, April 18, dropped fly ball in 5th inning.

First home run in Yankee Stadium, Babe Ruth hits a two-run shot in third inning off Boston's Howard Ehmke in a 4-1 Yankee victory, April 18, 1923.

First Yankee winning pitcher in World Series, Joe Bush, October 14, 1923.

First loss at Yankee Stadium, 4-3 to Washington , April 22, 1923.

First World Series game in Yankee Stadium, first one heard on a nationwide radio network, October 10, 1923.

First World Series home run at Yankee Stadium, Casey Stengel of the New York Giants hit an inside-the-park shot in Game 1 of the 1923 World Series.

First player to have his number retired, Lou Gehrig, #4, on Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day, July 4, 1939.

First night game at Yankee Stadium, May 28, 1946, a 2-1 loss to Washington.

First World Series pinch-hit home run, Yogi Berra against the Brooklyn Dodgers, Game 3 of the 1947 World Series.

First Yankee Stadium day game completed with lights, August 29, 1950.

First Yankees game behind the microphone for Bob Sheppard, April 17, 1951, New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox.

First home game outside of Yankee Stadium since 1922, April 6, 1974, as the Yanks begin playing the first of two seasons at Shea Stadium.

First home run at refurbished Yankee Stadium, Dan Ford of Minnesota, April 15, 1976.

First Yankee winning pitcher at refurbished Yankee Stadium, Dick Tidrow, April 15, 1976.

First home run by a Yankee at refurbished stadium, Thurman Munson, April 17, 1976.

First championship series game at Yankee Stadium, October 12, 1976, a 5-3 win over Kansas City.

First World Series game played by Yankees at night, October 17, 1976, at Cincinnati, a 4-3 loss to Reds.

First night World Series game at Yankee Stadium, October 19, 1976, a 6-2 loss to Cincinnati.

First team to host both the All Star Game and World Series in the same season, 1977.

First pitcher to throw a regular-season perfect game at Yankee Stadium, David Wells May 17, 1998.

First time a U.S. President visits Yankee Stadium during the World Series, George W. Bush, who threw out the first ball, Game 3, October 30, 2001 First November World Series Game, November 1, 2001, Yankees beat Arizona Diamondbacks, 3-2, at the Stadium.

First team in postseason history to win two straight games when trailing after eight innings, 2001 World Series, games four and five.

*Adapted from the just published REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOUSE THAT RUTH BUILT Harvey Frommer is his 33rd consecutive year of writing sports books. The author of 40 of them including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM, an oral/narrative history (Abrams, Stewart, Tabori and Chang) was published in September 1, 2008 as well as a reprint version of his "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball.".

Frommer sports books are available direct from the author - discounted and autographed.

FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in excess of one million and appears on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.


Harvey Frommer on Sports

*Yankee Stadium Prisms and Sidebars

                              (A Very Partial List.)

 

As the days draw closer to a precious few for Yankee Stadium, herewith some oddities, factoids and singular information on the big ballpark in the Bronx that has been with us since 1923.

Ron Guidry was a good drummer and once kept a trap set at Yankee Stadium. He played in a post-game concert with the Beach Boys.

Outside the stadium is a 120-foot high baseball bat with Babe Ruth’s signature and the Louisville slugger logo. Its purpose is to cover a boiler vent.

A Letter to Don Larsen:
"Dear Mr. Larsen: It is a noteworthy event when anybody achieves perfection in anything. It has been so long since anyone pitched a perfect big league game that I have to go back to my generation of ballplayers to recall such a thing ­ and that is truly a long time ago.
    "This note brings you my very sincere congratulations on a memorable feat, one that will inspire pitchers for a long time to come. With best wishes,  
            Sincerely,
            Dwight D. Eisenhower
            President of the United States

  Bob Sheppard’s Favorite Names:

1. Mickey Mantle

2. Shigetoshi Hasegawa

3. Salome Barojas

4. Jose Valdivielso

5. Alvaro Espinoza

Yankee World Series Game-Ending Homers

 Tommy Henrich, New York Yankees vs. Brooklyn, 1949, Game 1, 9th, 1-0.

 Mickey Mantle, New York Yankees vs. St. Louis, 1964, Game 3, 9th, 2-1.

 Chad Curtis, New York Yankees vs. Atlanta, 1999, Game 3, 10th, 6-5

Derek Jeter, New York Yankees vs. Arizona, 2001, Game 4, 10th, 4-3

Bob Sheppard's Favorite Stadium Moments:

  Don Larsen's perfect game.

 Roger Maris belting his then-record 61st regular-season home run in 1961.

Chris Chambliss blasting a homer leading off the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 5 of the 1976 ALCS against Kansas City that gave the Yankees their first American League pennant in 12 years.

 Reggie Jackson's three home runs against the Los Angeles Dodgers on three consecutive pitches in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series.

Babe Ruth never homered into the right field upper deck. The grandstand in right field ended at the foul pole and was not extended until 1937 three years after the Sultan of Swat was no longer a member of the Yankees.

        The outfield wall at Yankee actually was always of uniform height. It was the ground beneath it that sloped. At the original Stadium, there was a sharp pitch to the outfield grass uphill to the fence , just three feet high. 

                                       FIRSTS

 

First World Series home run at Yankee Stadium, Casey Stengel of the New York Giants hit an inside-the-park shot in Game 1 of the 1923 World Series.

First player to have his number retired, Lou Gehrig, #4, on Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day, July 4, 1939.

First night game at Yankee Stadium, May 28, 1946, a 2-1 loss to Washington.

First World Series pinch-hit home run, Yogi Berra against the Brooklyn Dodgers, Game 3 of the 1947 World Series.

First rookie to get two hits in one inning, Billy Martin, in a nine-run, eighth-inning rally at Fenway Park, April 18, 1950.

First Yankee Stadium day game completed with lights, August 29, 1950.

First Yankees game behind the microphone for Bob Sheppard, April 17, 1951, New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox.

First home game outside of Yankee Stadium since 1922, April 6, 1974, as the Yanks begin playing the first of two seasons at Shea Stadium.

First home run at refurbished Yankee Stadium, Dan Ford of Minnesota, April 15, 1976.

First Yankee winning pitcher at refurbished Yankee Stadium, Dick Tidrow, April 15, 1976.

First home run by a Yankee at refurbished stadium, Thurman Munson, April 17, 1976.

First championship series game at Yankee Stadium, October 12, 1976, a 5-3 win over Kansas City.       

First night World Series game at Yankee Stadium, October 19, 1976, a 6-2 loss to Cincinnati. 

 

*Adapted from the author's forthcoming book -


REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOUSE THAT RUTH BUILT


HARVEY FROMMER ON SPORTS

                *YANKEE STADIUM BY THE NUMBERS

1

 Joe DiMaggio, only player to get at least one hit in All-Star Games at Yankee Stadium, the Polo Grounds and Ebbets Field.

1 ½ - Uniform number worn by opera star Robert Merrill, the man who for many years sang the national anthem at Yankee Stadium.

3

 All three perfect games in Yankee Stadium history were seen by Joe Torre: Larsen's beauty as a 16-year-old fan, and the gems spun by David Wells and David Cone from the dugout as Yankee manager.

Don Zimmer was Torre's bench coach for the last two and he played in the first one as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956.  The Yankees have the most perfect games pitched by one club, all at Yankee Stadium. 

 

Babe Ruth's uniform number, retired June 13, 1948.

4

 Lou Gehrig's number, retired on July 4, 1939, the first athlete in any sport. He is the only Yankee to have worn number 4. 

5  

Mickey Mantle reached the copper facade that hung from the old stadium's roof five times.       

   Joe DiMaggio's uniform number, retired in 1952

6

 Stadiums:

Hilltop Park 1903-1912

Polo Grounds 1913-1922

Yankee Stadium 1923-1973

Shea Stadium 1974-1975

Yankee Stadium 1976-2008

New Yankee Stadium 2009 -

 

 On June 6, 1934 - Yankee outfielder Myril Hoag tied an American League record with six singles in six at-bats at the Stadium.  

The number of Yankee starters: Bill Dickey, Joe DiMaggio, Joe Gordon, Red Rolfe, Red Ruffing, and George Selkirk in the 1939 All-Star game at Yankee Stadium.

Mickey Mantle's rookie uniform number, changed by equipment manager Pete Sheehy to #7 after Mantle was recalled from Kansas City.

 

7     

Mickey Mantle's number, retired June 8, 1969. He wore it from 1951 on.  

8     

        The only number to be retired twice by the same team is Number 8 of the Yankees. It was retired in 1972 for Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra, both catchers. Berra took number 8 in 1948 after Dickey retired but before he was a coach.  

Dwight Gooden's no-hitter on May 14, 1996, the eighth in Stadium history. 

9     

Joe DiMaggio's rookie number.

Roger Maris' number, retired, July 13, 1985

Most hits in an inning yielded by Roger Clemens, August 2, 2007

 

10

        The Yanks used a record 10 pinch hitters on September 6, 1954 in a doubleheader against the Boston Red Sox. They won the opener 6-5, and the BO Sox took the second game, 8-7.

 

Mickey Mantle homered from both sides of the plate in the same game for a record 10th and final time on August 12, 1964.  OR 1965

11 

 June 3, 2003, the Yankees named Derek Jeter their 11th captain.

12

 Billy Martin's rookie uniform number.

13 

 Home plate was moved 13 feet forward in 1924, to eliminate the "bloody angle" in the right field corner

14

 Yogi Berra stayed away from Yankee Stadium for 14 years, unhappy with the treatment he had received from George Steinbrenner.

$15.00

  Bob Sheppard's per game earning in 1951 when he began working for the Yankees.

15

  July 18, 1999 -- David Cone’s  perfect game against the Montreal Expos was the 15th regular season perfect game.

 Thurman Munson's Number 15 jersey and catching gear remains in his locker as it was the day he was killed in a 1979 airplane crash. His uniform number 15 is retired.

16

         Whitey Ford's Number retired 1974. The slick southpaw wore number 19 in his rookie season. Returning from the army in 1953, he wore number 16 for the rest of his career.

        Dallas Green becomes George Steinbrenner's 16th  manager to be fired on August 16, 1989.

18

    Joe DiMaggio's original uniform, number given to him by equipment manager Pete Sheehy and later changed to 5 for historical significance reasons, Ruth wore number 3 and Gehrig 4.    

19

  Whitey Ford's  rookie uniform number.

21

Paul O'Neill's number 21. Since O'Neill retired after the 2001 World Series, no Yankee has worn that number.

23

Don Mattingly's number retired, August 31, 1997.

24

In 1927, 24 of Lou Gehrig's 47 home runs were hit at Stadium.

25

 Gene Michael was  the 25th Yankee manager in history.

Uniform number selected by Jason Giambi upon his signing with New York. The significance: the digits add  up to 7, the number worn by Giambi's dad's idol, Mickey Mantle.

26

Thirty World Series have been played at Yankee Stadium, with the Yankees winning 26.

28

 Thurman Munson's rookie uniform number.

 Of the 60 record-setting home runs hit by Babe Ruth in 1927, 28 of them are hit at Yankee Stadium.

29

 Of the 61 home runs hit by Roger Maris in 1961, 29 were hit at Yankee Stadium.     

 Mel Allen was a Yankee broadcaster for 29 seasons.     

33

Yankee Stadium has hosted 33 World Series,

37

 Of the 37 players who performed for the 1949 Yankees, only Yogi Berra still played for them in 1960.

40

  Phil Rizzuto spent parts of 40 seasons as a Yankee broadcaster

 42

Mariano Rivera, last player to wear No. 42, which has been retired from Major League Baseball in honor of Jackie Robinson. 

44

 Reggie Jackson's number, retired 1993.

46

 Don Mattingly's rookie number.

49

 Ron Guidry's number, retired 2003.

50

 On  June 1, 1999 at Yankee Stadium, Derek Jeter had reached base in all 50 Yankee games.

56

 Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak included 56 singles and runs scored.  It covered 53 day games 3 night games, 29 at Yankee Stadium, 27 road games.

Dave Righetti's rookie number.

58

Mariano Rivera's original number.

88

 Number of pitches David Cone tossed in perfect game, July 19, 1999 - 68 strikes and 20 balls.

89

 The Yankees and the Orioles played to a 1-1 tie in 15 innings, the 89th tie in franchise history. It was Cal Ripken's last game at Yankee Stadium.

97

 Don Larsen used this number of pitches to hurl his perfect game against the Dodgers at Yankee Stadium in the 1956 World Series.

100

Babe Ruth on September  24, 1920 hits his 100th home run off Washington's Jim Shaw.

120

In his perfect game pitched on May 17, 1998, David Wells threw 120 pitches.

126

  The number of games that Cal Ripken played at Yankee Stadium - more than any other opposing player (June 18, 1982 - September 30, 2001).

174

 The number of pitches Doc Gooden threw in his no-hitter on May 14, 1996.

185

Number of working days it took for the original Yankee Stadium to be built.

266

 Mickey Mantle hit 266 homers at Yankee Stadium 1951-68, most ever.   

300

 Roger Clemens becomes the 21st pitcher in Major League history to win his 300th game, June 13, 2003. He is first Yankee to win it in front of the home fans.

413

Smallest home attendance for a game, September 25, 1966

500 

The number of workers who built the original Yankee Stadium.

        Alex Rodriguez his his 500th home run August 4, 2007.

536

 On September 20, 1968, Mickey Mantle hits his 536th and final home run.

1903

For the first time since 1903,  two teams played two games in different stadiums on the same day, July 8, 2000. Game One was at Shea Stadium and the second game was at Yankee Stadium.

2,385

 The number of backless seats spread over 27 rows behind the right-field fence in the bleachers.

3,654

Number of home runs Yankees hit at old Yankee Stadium,1923-1973

$5,000

 The reward promised to the one who caught the 61st home run ball of Roger Maris.

$6,000

The amount Don Larsen received for being on Bob Hope's TV show after he pitched his perfect game in 1956. 

20002

After Allie Reynolds pitched his second no-hitter for the Yankees in 1951, the Hotel Edison where he along with some teammates lived changed his room number from 2019 to 0002.

 20,000

Letters that Mickey Mantle never answered were not bid on in the old Yankee Stadium fire sale in 1974.

32,238

 Attendance at Final Game at old Yankee Stadium, September 30, 1973. 

51,800

 Capacity of new Yankee Stadium scheduled to open April 2009

64,519

 Number of people in attendance at Yankee Stadium in 1956 when Don Larsen pitched the Perfect Game

$451,541

The uniform Lou Gehrig wore during his Farewell speech in 1939 sold for this amount in 1999.

 

*Just a nosh adapted from the author’s forthcoming book –

REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOUSE THAT RUTH BUILT (The Definitive Book, September 2008)


 HARVEY FROMMER ON SPORTS

                        THE  BOOK REVIEW:

 "The Greatest Game" and other Very Interesting Reads   

Yankees Versus Red Sox makes for always interesting reading. In the interests of full disclosure that was the subject of what many call the definitive book on the subject "RED SOX VS YANKEES: THE GREAT RIVALRY written by yours truly and his son Frederic Frommer.

So it was with great interest that I read "The Greatest Game: The Yankees, the Red Sox and the Playoff of '78'" by Richard Bradley (Simon and Schuster, $25.00, 286 pages).

Even though the book is focused on one aspect of the "Rivalry," it does not disappoint. It is in fact riveting reading. Bradley interviewed so many to create this montage of wonderful memories. Even some of those who were actually on the field that fateful October 2, 1978,a warm day at Fenway when "Bucky hit the tin" are here telling the old stories with vivid recall: Bucky Dent, Fred Lynn, Lou Piniella, Goose Gossage, Carl Yastrzemski, et al.

"It's going to be Yaz, Goose Gossage thought. In the bottom on the ninth, it's going to be me against Yaz," that is how "The Greatest Game: The Yankees, the Red Sox and the Playoff of '78'" begins and it never lets up.

Still in a Yankee vein is "Rumor in Town" by Matt Dahlgren (Woodlyn Lane, California, $24.95, 300 pages). It is a grandson's paean and homage and keeping of a promise to his grandfather – former pinstriper Babe Dahlgren.    Matt Dahlgren completed the book his grandfather who passed away in 1996 was working on. Rich in anecdote, filled with perceptions of players and long ago days of the national pastime, "Rumor in Town" is a winner.

"FAR FROM HOME" by Tim Wendell and Jose Luis Villegas (National Geographic, $28.00, 159 pages) is all about as its sub-title proclaims "Latino Baseball Players Chasing the American Dream." Fusing excellent narrative, interviews with top name former players like Orlando Cepeda, Minnie Minoso, Luis Tiant, Sammy Sosa and 100 full color and black and white photos – the book begins in 1878 when Cuba was the host to the first league in Caribbean.

In the same vein from the University of Illinois comes "Viva Baseball" by Samuel O. Regaldo (paper) all about Latin major leaguers and their special hunger in the words of the sub-title. The book does not shy away from controversy, from racism directed against Latino players even today.  

For those into the history of the national pastime expounded by an expert "Baseball: A History of America's Game" third edition by Benjamin G. Rader (University of Illinois Press, paper) is the book for you. 

"The Smart Girl's Guide to Sports" by Liz Hartman Musiker (Plume, $15.00, 332 pages) is as its sub-title cleverly declares "an essential handbook for women who don't know a slam dunk from a grand slam." Recommended.

MOST NOTABLE: "Netherland" by Joseph O' Neill (Pantheon, $23.95, 256 pages) is not exactly a sports book but a brilliant and lyrical and inventive novel set against the backdrop of post 9/11 New York City and the game of cricket. It is a joy to read and just a perfect treat for hazy and humid summer days evoking a time and a place so expertly.  

        WORTH OWNING: The 2008 Hank Greenberg 75th Anniversary Edition of Jewish Major Leaguers Baseball Cards. Contact info: JML,104 Greenlawn Avenue  Newton, MA 02459, 617-969-6244, Martin_Abramowitz@yahoo.com

Harvey Frommer, now in his 33rd consecutive year of writing sports books, is the author of 39 of them including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Red Sox Vs Yankee: The Great Rivalry."  Frommer's  REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM (Abrams, Stewart, Tabori and Chang) an oral/narrative history will be published in September as well as a reprint version of his SHOELESS JOE AND RAGTIME BASEBALL.

Frommer sports books are available direct from the author - discounted and autographed.

        FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in the millions and appears on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.

"BOOK TOUR" for REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM  (as of July 11) *****************************************************************************

September 3 Wednesday/talk/signing 7:30 PM Barnes & Noble, 396 Ave. Americas NY (8th St.) (212) 674-8780 

=======================================================

September 4, 7:45 PM Varsity Letters 302 Broome St. NYC 212-334-9676 

====================================================

September 5th, 7pm  Friday  Book Revue 313 New York Avenue  Huntington, NY  11743   Ph. 631-271-1442

=========================================

Sept. 20, 2008 / 7 p.m. Northshire  Bookstore 4869 Main Street  Manchester Center, VT 05255   802-362-3565

=========================================

September   26  afternoon  Fall for the Book Festival  George Mason University Fairfax, VA 22030 Phone: (703) 993-3986  FftB@gmu.edu www.fallforthebook.org

===========================================================

October 11th.  Dartmouth Bookstore, Hanover, NH (afternoon)   bksdartmouth@bncollege.com   

==========================================================

November 1 Saturday 11:30 AM  Books & Greetings 271 Livingston St., Northvale,NJ 201-784-2665

===========================================================

December 4   Thursday  7PM /RJ JULIA, Madison, CT   800  747 3247  talk and signing

============================================================= 


                HARVEY FROMMER ON SPORTS

(MARCH  1927, EXCERPT)    FIVE O’CLOCK LIGHTNING:

BABE RUTH, LOU GEHRIG AND THE 1927  NEW YORK YANKEES, THE  GREATEST BASEBALL TEAM EVER.

 

Comfortable among the high and mighty or the ordinary, friendly with the press, moving around all over without body guards, Babe Ruth basked in his superstar status in spring training. Getting a close shave in the downtown barber shop, telling a few jokes each morning, visiting hospitals and cheering up the sick especially children, patiently signing autographs at the dog track, posing for photos, followed by fans on the St. Petersburg streets, wending his way from bar to bar, boating and fishing for migrating king mackerel or chasing grouper in the Gulf of Mexico, prevailing upon a hotel cook to prepare the fish for supper, the Babe was having the time of his life.  A Yankee bridge game began in spring training. And the Babe plunged himself into that, too. The extroverted Ruth and the shy Gehrig were pitted against Mike Gazella and Don Miller, a young hurler from the University of Michigan.

The Yankees were quartered at the Beaux Arts style Princess Martha Hotel, built in 1923. Babe Ruth was supposed to be registered there, too. But no one really saw much of him. The word was that he had meals in his rooms, leaving when he wanted to from a side door in the hotel.

  Rising early before baseball practice, he would play golf at the two-year-old Renaissance Vinoy Resort and Golf Club in downtown St. Petersburg.  Catcher Benny Bengough, pitchers Waite Hoyt and Bob Shawkey were also good golfers  and would play there, too. Ruth could drive the ball further than many pros and had scores in the mid-70s. However, the short game was not his forte. A lousy putter, the Babe would disgustedly toss his club when he hit the ball too hard causing it to roll past the cup.

Much was made of the time a man came around that spring of 1927 and said he was the uncle of Johnny Sylvester. He made a big deal about telling all about how well Johnny Sylvester was doing.  The Bam graciously made a big deal out of sending regards.

But moments after the uncle departed, Ruth bellowed: "Who the hell is Johnny Sylvester?" 

Johnny Sylvester had been the subject of much newspaper attention. He was a sick kid who the Yankee slugger had promised to hit a home run for during the 1926 World Series.

        Babe Ruth just could not remember names, not even the names of teammates. Most people were called “kid,” by the Babe. Others had variations like “sister” for young women and “mom” and “pop” for those with seniority.

Others got nick-names, some logical, others totally illogical. The Babe called Waite Hoyt “Walter” and no one could explain why.  Pitcher Urban Shocker was dubbed “Rubber Belly” and no one not even the Babe could explain why. Those who did claimed it had something to do with the flabbiness of Shocker’s mid section, but they wouldn’t swear to it.   Catcher Benny Bengough, who coined the name “Jidge” (German for “George” ) for Ruth, was called “Googles," a kind of affectionate corruption of part of his surname. Catcher Pat Collins was “Horse Nose,” a derogatory reference to his most prominent facial feature.  Railroad station redcaps were “Stinkweed.”

Beer baron Jake Ruppert could remember names but never addressed anyone by a first name. The Yankee owner was characterized in Ed Barrow's memoirs as an "imperious" man, one who "in all the years I knew him, always calling me ‘Barrows,’ adding an 's' where none belonged.

Ruppert “was a fastidious dresser," Barrow remembered, "who had his shoes made to order, changed his clothes several times a day, and had a valet."

Arriving in style with his secretary Al Brennan for spring training in St. Petersburg in his own private railroad car, it was said that the honorary Colonel savored the comforts of his own drawing room and sleeping in a silk brocade nightshirt.  Ruppert was particularly interested in and impressed with the man he had sunk all that money into.

“Ruth looks great,” he announced. “Watch that boy. In fact, he may set another home run record. The team as a whole is in fine shape, shows real fighting spirit and looks like a winner, although I admit I'm not much of a prophet." 

Harvey Frommer is his 33rd consecutive year of writing sports books. The author of 39 of them including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball,"  his REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOUSE THAT RUTH BUILT (Abrams/ Stewart, Tabori and Chang) will be published in 2008 as well as a reprint version of his "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball.". 

Frommer sports books are available direct from the author - discounted and autographed.

FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in excess of two million and appears on Internet search engines for extended periods of time. 


Remembering Bobby Murcer

Bobby Murcer became a Yankee just after the glory times of the franchise, 1949-64, and I followed his baseball exploits along with millions of others. There was always a pleasing presence about the man.

It was a stunner when he was traded on October 21, 1974 to the San Francisco Giants for Bobby Bonds, Barry’s dad. That was where I entered the story.

The summer of 1975 I was traveling about with the Philadelphia Phillies (The Mets had informed the League Office that they could not host me) writing my first book - A Baseball Century: the First Hundred Years of the National league.

It was a very interesting experience going from city to city and interviewing players, managers, coaches, owners. I used a big boom box tape recorder and an even bigger briefcase to store my tapes, credentials, media guide and notes. I truly was a “beginning author.”

I arrived at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park and interviewed the long-time owner of the Giants Horace Stoneham and his long-time publicist Garry Schumacher and other Giants.

Then I came upon Bobby Murcer. He was not a part of the National League story, not a part of the subject matter of the book I was writing and was so honed in on.

But I decided to talk to him anyway and get some of his thoughts. Affable, smiling, a bit out of uniform in the garb of the Giants, Murcer was a pleasure to be with.

I thanked him for his time and continued on in my relentless pace interviewing in the locker room and on the field. I must have stopped for a snack or something and came back to where I thought I had put my tape recorder and tapes.

They were not around. Weeks of work ­ not around. I started to panic. I asked everyone ­ no one had seen them. I re-traced my interview steps ­ no luck.
I was out on the windy Candlestick Park field and spied Bobby Murcer and explained my plight. He said something about never letting things important to you out of your sight. He suggested we go back into the dressing room to look.

He reached up and into his locker. “Here they are,” he smiled “Someone must have put them there,” he continued in that distinctive Oklahoma drawl. “Let me autograph a baseball for you to make your day a little better.”

I always suspected that Bobby Murcer was the “someone.” He was always the practical joker. I’ll never forgot that day and that moment of panic and the lesson Bobby Murcer taught me.

=================================================================

Harvey Frommer, now in his 33rd consecutive year of writing sports books, is the author of 39 of them including the classics: “New York City Baseball,1947-1957″ and “Red Sox Vs Yankee: The Great Rivalry.” Frommer’s REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM (Abrams, Stewart, Tabori and Chang) an oral/narrative history will be published in September as well as a reprint version of his SHOELESS JOE AND RAGTIME BASEBALL.
Frommer sports books are available direct from the author - discounted and autographed.

FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in the millions and appears on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.


Remembering Yankee Stadium: EIGHTIES

(For your reading pleasure adapted from REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOUSE THAT RUTH BUILT, on sale everywhere, buy it now)

The 1981 World Series was Yankees versus Dodgers, the third match-up between the two storied franchises in five years. A 9-2 win at Yankee Stadium in Game Six gave the world championship to Los Angeles.


KEITH JACKSON (GAME CALL, ABC-TV):
Watson hits it high in the air for the center fielder Ken Landreaux, this should do it...and the Dodgers are the 1981 champions of baseball.

PRESS RELEASE (BOX)
I want to sincerely apologize to the people of New York and to the fans of the New York Yankees everywhere for the performance of the Yankee team in the World Series. I also want to assure you that we will be at work immediately to prepare for 1982. –George Steinbrenner


FRED CLAIRE: Steinbrenner’s apology came in the form of a release which he passed out after we won the series. I though it was strange. The Yankees had given all they could to win. There was really no need to apologize for an all out effort by your team.


“The Boss” did much more than apologize. He kicked ass and rolled heads. He demeaned Dave Winfield, who had managed but one hit in 21 at-bats in the Series. Having signed him to a huge contract, Steinbrenner was furious at "Winny," dubbing him “Mr. May,” a sarcastic reference to Winfield’s peak performance in May and poor performance in the Fall Classic.
On January 22, 1982, Reggie Jackson irritated by Steinbrenner putdowns,
signed as a Free Agent with the California Angels.

The commencement of the 1982 season at the Stadium was a hard time coming and as far as Yankee fans were concerned – largely not worth waiting for. Bob Lemon, who had managed the final 25 games in 1981 last only through 14 games in 1982.


On April 6th, almost a foot of snow cancelled Opening Day against Texas and the next game, too. It was April 11th before the ballpark was finally in shape for playing baseball. In recognition of how hard the grounds crew worked to make the field ready, crew chief Jimmy Esposito was given the honor of throwing out the first ball. The Yankees lost both games of an Easter Sunday doubleheader to Chicago. But at least their season was finally underway.
The roster had what Yogi Berra would call “deep depth” with a pitching staff featuring splendid southpaws Ron Guidry, Tommy John, and Dave Righetti. Goose Gossage was a flame-throwing stopper. Still, even with all that talent, the Yankees could not get it going. In June, they were 9 1 /2 games out.


On August 3rd, the White Sox took two from the Yankees at the Stadium and “the Boss” fired Gene Michael, who had replaced Bob Lemon, replacing him with Clyde King.
All season long Steinbrenner kept his circus jumping, seeking quick fixes. Beyond a trio of managers, he went through a merry-go-round of three hitting coaches, five pitching coaches, and 47 players. The chaos and the musical chairs did not make for an environment that suited a winning ball club.


The 1982 Yankees were not a winning club. They ended the season in fifth place, 16 games behind Milwaukee. They would not return to post-season play for the next 13 years. From that season until 1991, with George Steinbrenner having his say and having his way, the Stadium would become a mix and match of players and pilots. Highlighting the mayhem of the era were eleven managerial changes including the hiring and firing of Billy Martin six times. “They know what the bottom line is,” Steinbrenner said. . . .

Harvey Frommer is his 33rd consecutive year of writing sports books. The author of 40 of them including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM, an oral/narrative history (Abrams, Stewart, Tabori and Chang) was published September 1, 2008 as well as a reprint version of his "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball.". Frommer sports books are available direct from the author - discounted and autographed. FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in excess of one million and appears on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.

Harvey Frommer "Dartmouth's own Mr. Baseball" Dartmouth Alumni Magazine//

REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM (Definitive Book)

hear and see http://www.hnabooks.com/images/sites/9/redirects/yankees/

Harvey Frommer on Sports

*Remembering Yankee Stadium: NINETIES
(For your reading pleasure adapted from REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM: AN ORAL AND
NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOUSE THAT RUTH BUILT, on sale everywhere, buy it now)

 

Back when he assumed principal ownership of the New York Yankees on January 3, 1973, Steinbrenner had said, "We plan absentee ownership as far as running the Yankees is concerned. I won't be active in the day-to-day operations of the club at all. I've got enough headaches with my shipping company.”

          As things turned out, however, he was anything but hands off. That is, until July 30, 1990, when he was forced to surrender control of the Yankees. He was banned from baseball for life by Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent for alleged payments he made to a gambler in New York City seeking to gain damaging info on outfielder Dave Winfield.  
          When the news of the banning reached the fans that day in Yankee Stadium, they chanted: “No more George.”  They had had enough of “the Boss” for a while. 

Denied access to his spacious office at Yankee Stadium where a favorite pillow proclaimed: “Give me a bastard with talent,” Steinbrenner in exile was “the Big Guy in the Sky,” the man who wasn’t there but who really was watching things play out through the 1990 season.

          His presence or absence seemed to make little difference to the 1990 team whose season was largely a disaster. There were some high points like the time during an August 2nd game when rookie first baseman Kevin Maas hammered his 10th home run in just 77 at bats, the fastest  any player reached that mark. The Stadium’s short right-field porch seemed tailor-made for the southpaw swinger, and Maas finished 1990 with 21 home runs in only 254 at-bats. But he was the exception for that squad rather than the rule - -the team finished dead last in batting average, a pathetic .241. 

        The 1990 Yankees had but one starting pitcher who won more than seven games, nine-game winner Tim Leary. But he also lost 19 before Stump Merrill showed some pity and took him out of the rotation. When the season mercifully came to a close, the Yanks wound up 21 games behind Boston in the AL East, the first time during Steinbrenner’s time that his team finished in last place. One had to go back to 1913 to find a Yankee team with a lower winning percentage. Only the Yankees of 1908 and 1912 lost more games.  Ironically, the Stadium box office registers just kept on ringing.  The Bombers drew a healthy 2,006,436 to the big park in the Bronx. 

A survivor, “Stump” Merrill lasted through 1991 as field boss of the Yankees.  Among the dubious and memorable moments of the season was the 479 foot homer Seattle's Jay Buhner hammered over  the left-field bullpen, the shelling of Oakland outfielder Jose Canseco by  Yankee fans who pelted him with assorted objects like an inflatable doll‚ a cabbage head, and a transistor radio among other objects, and the honoring of Joe DiMaggio on the 50th anniversary of his 56 game hitting streak.

        RICH MARAZZI: During the pre game introductions players were brought out to the first and third base lines, and I, as one of the four umpires working the Old Timers’ game, was called out to the home plate area. I remained there through the introductions.  When the national anthem ended, I walked over to DiMaggio.

“Joe, thanks for the memories,” I said.

Whenever DiMaggio saw me with a press tag around my neck, he was tentative. But whenever he saw me in my umpire’s uniform, he would put his hand out to me, like we were old buddies.  And that's what he did this day.

I met my childhood heroes - Ned Garver, Mickey Mantle, Mike Garcia -- the former top pitcher. I always wanted to meet Mike. I found him in a locker stall, giving himself dialysis treatment. He was half the size he was when he pitched. I had a nice interview with him.

I umpired second base most of the time but did get to umpire the plate three times. I made sure my son would warm me up during the week so my arm would not turn on me when I had to throw the ball back to the pitcher.

        The 1991 Yankees finished with a 71-91 record, 20 games behind the Toronto Blue Jays, in fifth place. The team results were less pathetic than the ’90 season, but still underwhelming.  Attendance at the Stadium dropped to 1,863,733, placing the Yankees 11th out of 14 American League teams. Average attendance per game was just 23,009.

9

 

By 1992, Stump Merrill was gone, replaced by 36-year-old Buck Showalter. He had progressed from “Eye in the Sky” to third base coach to hitting coach to manager. The losing ways continued for the fourth season in a row. Ten games below .500, the Yanks finished 20 games behind first place Toronto in the AL East, but there was some incremental progress - for the first time since 1987, they finished (tied) in fourth place.  .  .  .

=

Harvey Frommer is his 33rd consecutive year of writing sports books. The author of 40 of them including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball,"  his REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM, an oral/narrative history (Abrams, Stewart, Tabori and Chang) was published  September 1, 2008 as well as a reprint version of his "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball.". 
Frommer sports books are available direct from the author - discounted and autographed.
FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in excess of one million and appears on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.   

 

Harvey Frommer "Dartmouth's own Mr. Baseball"   Dartmouth Alumni  Magazine/  HARVEYFROMMERSPORTS.COM

REMEMBERING  YANKEE  STADIUM (Definitive Book) "New & Notable" Amazon.com   http://www.hnabooks.com/images/sites/9/redirects/yankees/

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Harvey Frommer on Sports

Remembering Yankee Stadium: THIRTIES

(For your reading pleasure adapted from REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM: AN ORAL AND  NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOUSE THAT RUTH BUILT, on sale everywhere, buy it now)         

 

The tradition of honoring their legends at Yankee Stadium started on Memorial Day of 1932 when a monument for Miller Huggins, the little manager who had passed away at age of 51 on September 25, 1929, was placed in deep center field, Its inscription reads  "A splendid character who made priceless contributions to baseball.” Monuments would later be erected for Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth. Others would follow.

Located in straightaway centerfield, they were part of the playing field, standing near the flagpole about ten feet before the wall. There were times when long drives rolled behind the monuments, and retrieving the ball became an odd and “ghoulish” task for an outfielder jockeying around the “gravestones.” 

On June 23, 1932 Gehrig had played in his 1,103rd straight game.  Less than a year later the streak was at 1,249 straight when he and manager Joe McCarthy were tossed out of out of the game for arguing with the umpire.  The Yankee manager was given a  three game suspension. Gehrig played on. On August 17, 1933 Gehrig broke the record of playing in 1,308 straight games set by Everett Scott. 

 October 1, 1933 was the final game of the season.  Attempting to draw fans for a meaningless contest in the depths of the Great Depression, the Yankees gave Ruth a pitching start. Babe’s appearance attracted 20,000 fans, more than doubling the attendance of the day before. The thirty-eight-year-old pitched a complete game, nipping his old Boston team, 6-5. He also batted  cleanup, went 1-for-3 with a home run. It was the last game he pitched, his fifth since he joined the Yankees 13 years earlier.

During the 1934 season, Lou Gehrig’s failing health became evident to all. The problem was diagnosed as lumbago. On July 13, 1934, his pain became so severe in the first inning of a game against Detroit, he had to be assisted off the field. The next day, listed first in the Yankee batting order and penciled in to play shortstop, the "Iron Horse"  singled in his first at bat but was then replaced by a pinch runner.

 September 24, 1934 was the Babe’s last game as a player in “the “House That Ruth Built,“ a sad and poignant day for him and his many fans. Twenty-four thousand were there, including many youngsters in “Ruthville.”  In three at bats, he went hitless. Disappointed and dejected that his fabulous career in pinstripes was over, he could never imagine how his name and legend would gain more and more luster as the years passed. Today a Google search for "Babe Ruth" results in millions of hits.  A Sotheby's auction of his 1919 contract netted $996,000. . . .

 

Harvey Frommer is his 33rd consecutive year of writing sports books. The author of 40 of them including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball,"  his REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM, an oral/narrative history (Abrams, Stewart, Tabori and Chang) was published in  September 2008 as well as a reprint version of his "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball.". 

Frommer sports books are available direct from the author - discounted and autographed.

FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in excess of one million and appears on Internet search engines for extended periods of time. 


Harvey Frommer on Sports

Remembering Yankee Stadium:

                              TWENTIES 

(For your reading pleasure adapted from REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOUSE THAT RUTH BUILT, on sale everywhere, buy it now)

        BOB SHEPPARD: I went a bit in my early teens to Yankee Stadium with a group of fellows from my neighborhood in Queens. And believe it or not the one player who played first base for the St. Louis Browns caught my eye – his name was George Sisler. Left-handed, graceful and a phenomenal hitter. And since I was a first baseman myself, I thought 'That’s my idol: George Sisler.'

The man who would become the idol of Japanese baseball fans, Babe Ruth gave some of their navy officers a thrill in the spring of 1927. Their ships were docked in New York harbor and some of the officers were invited up to the Bronx as guests of the Yankees. Babe Ruth popped two homers, one a bases-loaded job.  The officers were much taken with the huge slugger; they had never seen anyone before hit a baseball the way the Babe did. 

Seven years later when in 1934, the Sultan of Swat tooled about in Japan, he was a super hero. Some called him “Father of Japanese baseball." Others called him “Baby Roos!” And it all started at Yankee Stadium.

It all started for Bill Werber at Yankee Stadium, too.                  

BILL WERBER: The great Yankee scout Paul Krichell gave me a good deal to become a member of the Yankees after my freshman year at Duke in 1927. I had a uniform and a locker by myself. I stayed downtown at the Colonial Hotel with a coach by the name of O'Leary.  I took the train uptown and got off across from the Stadium at the 161st  Street stop. It was maybe a half an hour ride. 

Yankee Stadium was enormous.  It was immaculate. I was somewhat awed. I was told by Paul Krichell to stay as close to the manager Miller Huggins as I could.   Sometimes I was very close . He was really hands on. He didn’t miss a trick.

The clubhouse didn't have any food, and there wasn't anything to drink other than water. The secretary Mark Roth used to come in and place an envelope on the seat in front of every player's locker. One of the players would usually get Ruth's envelope, slit it open, and paste the check which was for about $7500 on the mirror where the fellows combed their hair.  The Babe was usually the last player to arrive for a game, and he would take the check off the mirror and put it in his pocket and take it out onto the field with him.

I was a stranger in their territory.  They were rough, a hard-nosed, tobacco-chewing crew. If I got in at shortstop to field a ball in batting practice they would run me out.  Some player would say: "Get out of here kid." When I would go to the outfield,  some player would yell: "Get out of here kid." And I never had a chance to get into the batting cage.

The whole experience in 1927 was not that much of a thrill for me. After I was there for about a  month, I told Mr. Barrow, the general manager, that I had made a bad decision and I was leaving the Yankees. One that I felt bad about leaving was Pete Sheehy; he was a good fellow, not much older than me, maybe younger.

RON SWOBODA: Pete Sheehy had started in the clubhouse as a boy working with the 1927 Yankees.  He told me how Babe Ruth would come in and say: “Petey, give me a bi (bicarbonate of soda)." 

A Yankee culture created by manager  Miller Huggins was always in place. The little pilot was like a school teacher, training each member of the team. Players had to report for games at 10:00 at the Stadium - - to sign in, not to practice, a move designed to reduce late night ribaldry.  Blackslapping was frowned upon as were  flamboyant displays, noisemaking, razzing of opponents.  

The 1927 Yankees were a symbol of their time – power and dash. But a rival to their throne was Charles Lindbergh, the daring aviator who had flown solo round-trip across the Atlantic.

On June 16th he was scheduled to be an honored guest at Yankee Stadium. Three field boxes were painted and primed for him and other dignitaries.  Extra police patrolled the aisles all over the park. But game time approached, and there was no “Lucky Lindy.”

Fifteen thousand fans who'd come to see the game with St. Louis were antsy. Umpire George Hildebrand held up the first pitch for almost a half hour. Finally, at 3:55 P.M., he decided he could and would wait no more and yelled out: “Play ball!”

"I feel a homer coming on,” Babe Ruth said. “My left ear itches. That’s a sure sign. I had been saving that homer for Lindbergh and then he doesn't show up. I guess he thinks this is a twilight league."

First at bat of the game, the Babe hit his 22nd homer, half way up in the bleachers in left centerfield. It came off 31-year-old southpaw Tom Zachary. The Bambino would hit a much more significant shot late in the season off that same Zachary.

The Yankees romped, 8-1, over the sad sack Browns 

        The next day’s headlines in The Times declared :

“LINDBERGH GOT TO PARIS ON TIME BUT WAS MORE THAN AN HOUR LATE TO SEE BABE RUTH HIT A HOME RUN YESTERDAY” ….

Harvey Frommer is his 33rd consecutive year of writing sports books. The author of 40 of them including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball,"  his REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM, an oral/narrative history (Abrams, Stewart, Tabori and Chang) was published in  September as well as a reprint version of his "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball.". 

Frommer sports books are available direct from the author - discounted and autographed.

FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in excess of one million and appears on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.   


Harvey Frommer on Sports
Remembering Yankee Stadium: 90's
(For your reading pleasure adapted from REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM: AN ORAL AND
NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOUSE THAT RUTH BUILT, on sale everywhere, buy it now)
 

                21ST CENTURY!

        “I believe we have some ghosts

                  in this stadium that have helped us out."

                                        - -  - DEREK JETER 

The greatest  baseball team of the 20th century began the 21st century and their 77th season at Yankee Stadium with a tip of the cap to tradition and to history.

BOB SHEPPARD: The Yankees called me to give me the news that they were going to hold a “Bob Sheppard Day.” And frankly I was speechless. That rare honor, started in 1932, had been reserved for Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Berra and a select few others, not for the public address announcer.                                                                                

The day arrived: May 7, 2000. The Stadium was packed. My family, including my wife Mary, was there. I delivered the lineups from out of doors  for the first time since September 30, 1973. 

That I should have a plaque out in Monument Park in centerfield . . . It was an incredible, memorable moment in my life.

My saddest moments have been the eulogies that I had to write for those who died and had been Yankees in their time.  

They’ll say: “We lost Thurman Munson. Write something about it before the anthem is played.” And I'll sit down and write something briefly and I hope touchingly. And deliver it sincerely. 

I go to Yankee Stadium two hours before game time and check the lineups. At one o'clock or seven o’clock, I get a signal from the sound man and he says: “Mr. Sheppard, the lineups.” And that starts it.

I know every name and uniform number and work diligently to pronounce each name correctly. My favorite name to pronounce?  Mickey Mantle. For many reasons. It is a great name for a baseball player and for a speech professor to say. “Mickey Mantle” -- it has alliteration. It has the good quality of “M” and “N” and “T” and “L”  It runs very nicely.

          BROOKS ROBINSON: Doing Baltimore’s games on television from ‘78 to ‘93, I made a lot of trips to Yankee Stadium and got to know Bob Sheppard.  “Bro oks Rob in son” is how he said my name.

          PAUL DOHERTY: Bob would pronounce it, "Brooks RobINson." However, if Frank Robinson was also in the lineup with Brooks (which he usually was from 1966 to71) Sheppard may have pronounced it, "BROOKS RobINson" to differentiate it from "Frank RobINson." That's the sort of careful attention Bob paid so the fans could differentiate between the players who shared the same last names.

        ROLLIE FINGERS: He pronounced my name "RAW-lee Fin-gers."   It was a great to hear your name on the loudspeaker there – that’s for sure.

          BOB SHEPPARD: For years and years, nobody knew my face and I could walk around the stadium with 50,000 people and never be recognized.  But after a few television shows and movies, such as Billy Crystal’s ‘61*,’ wherein my voice was heard, I became better known.

On July 8, 2000 , the Yankees and Mets met in an unusual day and night doubleheader. Game one was at Shea Stadium, and the second game was scheduled for Yankee Stadium.

In the second inning, Rogers Clemens beaned Mets’ catcher Mike Piazza in the head, sending him to the ground with a concussion and onto the disabled list.  That turned up the heat in an already heated New York-New York baseball rivalry.

Clemens-Piazza was topic “A” for fans of both teams as the Yankees and Mets met for the first time ever in the World Series. It was the first Subway Series in New York City since 1956. Billy Joel sang the national anthem before Game One on October 21st at Shea Stadium, and Don Larsen threw out the first pitch. The Yankees won in 12 innings, 4-3. The next day, Robert Merrill sang the national anthem, and Phil Rizzuto and Whitey Ford threw out the first pitches.

Roger Clemens started Game two. With what happened earlier in the season between him and Piazza, the media buildup made the mood at Yankee Stadium electric with anticipation as to what would happen when they faced each other.

Clemens versus Piazza. Two quick inside strikes on the Mets’ catcher. The next pitch was also inside – backing Piazza off the plate. The noise level rose throughout the Stadium.

Clemens threw again and Piazza fouled off the ball, shattering his bat. The ball skipped into the Yankee dugout. Piazza, unaware of where the ball had gone, began to run down the first base line. Clemens picked up a piece of the shattered bat and threw it, it seemed, at Piazza.  The wood almost made contact with an angered Piazza, who headed slowly toward Clemens.

--GARY COHEN(WFAN)

Broken bat, foul ball off to the right side. And the barrel of the bat, came out to Clemens and he picked it up and threw it back at Piazza! I don't know what Clemens had in mind!!

RUSS COHEN: Met fans screamed that Clemens threw at Piazza.  Yankee fans screamed that he didn’t. People were pretty charged up. There was a moment when I looked at my wife and thought I hope nothing happens here. Tempers were going in the bleachers. But nothing did happen.

The Yankee and Met benches cleared. There was some cursing, some milling about, some posturing. No fighting. Later, Piazza said he approached Clemens. “I kept asking him, ‘What’s your problem; what is your problem?' I didn’t get a response. I didn’t know what to think.”

        Clemens later said he was "fielding" the broken bat, that he had mistaken for the baseball.

The umpires ruled that there was no intent on the part of Clemens to hit Piazza and the game continued. Piazza grounded out.

Clemens and the Yankees ruled that night. “The Rocket” wound up hurling eight scoreless innings. The Mets did rally for five runs in the ninth inning against the Yankee bullpen, but came up just short. The home team were 6-5 winners and moved on to win the Series in five. The Yankees joined the 1972-1974 Oakland Athletics as the first team to be World Series victors three straight years.

The burly Clemens would be one of the big Yankee stories throughout 2001. He was salaried at $10,300,000.00, the third highest on a Yankee payroll for the season of $109,791,893.  On August 15th he became the first hurler in 32 years to post a 16-1 record. Then on September 5th the “Rocket” won his fifth straight, setting a Yankee record and becoming baseball's first 19-1 pitcher in 89 years.    

 New Baseball Hall of Famer Dave Winfield, who had enjoyed his time in the spotlight, was honored at the Stadium on August 18, 2001; however, his number was not retired.

 In one of those ironies of baseball, Mike Mussina took the mound on September 2nd against David Cone who had pitched a perfect game for the Yankees and now toiled for their hated rivals, the Red Sox. Through eight innings, the “Moose” was doing what Cone had done two years before -- pitch a perfect game. No hits, no walks. Just a lot of tension.

        Top of the ninth, Mussina and the Yanks clung to a 1-0 lead. Troy O'Leary, hitting for Shea Hillenbrand, smacked a liner that Clay Bellinger, playing first base, dove for. The toss to Mussina. One out. 

        Later Mussina said, "I thought maybe this time it was going to happen considering that I thought that ball was through for sure." 

        Mussina then fanned Merloni.  Carl Everett pinch hit for Joe Oliver.  He was all that stood in the way of the perfect game. The moody vet fouled off the first serve. He swung and missed the second pitch. The third pitch was a ball. Everett lifted the fourth pitch, a high fastball, to left-center.  Running at full speed Chuck Knoblauch and Bernie Williams did their best to try and catch it. But the ball dropped in – base hit.

        Trot Nixon grounded out to end the game. And Mussina, with the one-hitter and the win, pumped his fist less than forcefully. His teammates ran out onto the field celebrating what he had done. 

“I've never been part of a no-hitter before as an opponent,” Everett said. “It was very satisfying to get the hit. It was very satisfying to hit the high fastball.”

 “It was just a phenomenal game,” said Mussina. “I was disappointed, I'm still disappointed. But the perfect game just wasn't meant to be.”

Harvey Frommer is his 33rd consecutive year of writing sports books. The author of 40 of them including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball,"  his REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM, an oral/narrative history (Abrams, Stewart, Tabori and Chang) was published  September 1, 2008 as well as a reprint version of his "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball.". 

Frommer sports books are available direct from the author - discounted and autographed.

FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in excess of one million and appears on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.

 

Harvey Frommer "Dartmouth's own Mr. Baseball" Dartmouth Alumni  Magazine  HarveyFrommerSports.com/ Remembering Yankee Stadium  http://www.hnabooks.com/images/sites/9/redirects/yankees/

"Outstanding "ROGER KAHN/"Spectacular "FOX SPORTS.COM/"Essential keepsake "TIMEOUT NY/ "Stunning "NY ONE/"A must.  Grandslammer "ESPN/ "Frommer delivers."NY DAILY NEWS/"One of the finest."BRONX BANTER/ "Glorious "WFAN/"Best one."XM RADIO/"Nostalgic "BOOKPAGE/"Must Have "PINSTRIPE PRESS/"Masterpiece."BOY OF SUMMER/"Classic, Bible of Yankee Stadium books "CBS RADIO/"Beats any Yankee Book hands down." "BEHIND BOMBERS.com/"Brilliantly, beautifully documents."BLOG RADIO/"Amazing "SPORTSOLOGY/"Marvelous "NJ JEWISH NEWS/ "Definitive "ST.PAUL PIONEER PRESS/  "Rewarding prose "SPORTS ILLUSTRATED/"Photopanorama" HISTORYWIRE/"Best book by best writer."SARS.FM "Spectacular."MSN/"Frommer has outdone himself" BLEACHER REPORT/"Most notable." OKLAHOMAN/"Great gift Book"/RIVER AVE. BLUES/"Definitive "DUGOUT CENTRAL/"A holiday gift book of year's USA TODAY/

 

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