Category Archives: Obituary

Tigers Star Catcher Bill Freehan Dies At 79 – Wrote One Of Baseball’s Best Books

Bill Freehan Dies, Tigers All-Star Catcher, Gold Glove Winner & Author

Detroit Tigers catcher Bill Freehan at Yankee Stadium 1969

Before Thurman Munson and Carlton Fisk arrived in the late 1960s and early 1970s there was no question as to who was the best catcher in the American League. It was the Detroit Tigers Bill Freehan.

I won’t recount Freehan’s excellent baseball career or personal story in too much detail here. Freehan told it himself while at the height of his playing days in a little known autobiography.

Author

Freehan’s terrific 1970 book, Behind The Mask: An Inside Baseball Diary (World Publishing) was written with editors Dick Schaap and Steve Gelman and was quickly forgotten.

It is one of the best books ever written about the nuances of baseball. Behind The Mask was overshadowed because it came out the same year as ex-Yankee pitcher Jim Bouton’s explosive tell-all Ball Four. Continue reading

A Superstar Who Knew The Yankees Bobby Brown Was A Special Player

Yankees Bobby Brown Dies At 96

Chose To Be A Great Doctor, Over Being A Great Baseball Player

Bobby Brown 1946 photo: Acme

Bobby Brown 1946. photo Acme

Bobby Brown (Oct. 24, 1924- March 25, 2021) the golden boy Yankee star whose brief career in pinstripes bridged two star-studded Yankee eras, died Thursday March 25 in Fort Worth, TX.

After batting .341 in 148 games at Newark in his only minor league season, Brown was a late September 1946 call-up to the Yankees, playing in only seven games for the big club that year. In this brief stint, Brown made quite an impression with his sure fielding and batting .333 by going 8 for 24.

There’s probably few players more qualified than Red Sox superstar Ted Williams to point out a rival’s strengths .

After playing the Yankees, Ted Williams honed in on how good Brown and another Yankees call-up, Yogi Berra were. In the September 26, Boston Daily Globe Williams wrote:

“Of the new Yankee players I’ve seen the last couple of days, the one who has impressed me the most as a bright prospect, is Bobby Brown, the shortstop. And I’ve seen quite a few of their new players: pitchers Al Lyons and Karl Drews, catcher Larry Berra whom the call “The Yogi,” and he has the facial appearance to fit the name; third baseman Joe Bockman and outfielder Frank Coleman.

Berra is a little man who seems to be all muscles. He looks like he can hit a ball a long way if he connects. The others didn’t show too much, except for Brown. He looks the part of a ballplayer. I thought so when I first saw him in uniform before he even made a play or hit a ball.

The thing I liked best about Brown is that he will make the right play all the time. He showed me something in two games I haven’t seen all season. Twice he came up with a hard hit ball and threw out one of our runners trying to make third from second base. That is one of the most difficult plays for a shortstop to make and he did it twice in as many games  as though he had been doing it all his life,

Bobby has a swell pair of hands. He can run well. Up at bat he reminds me of Red Rolfe. I think he hits at a ball the way the Yankee coach and old third baseman did. He takes a sharp cut at the ball.”

Bobby Brown played alongside the 1930s-40s  era Yankee greats; Joe DiMaggio, Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #102 – Sean Connery, Before He Was James Bond

Before Being Cast As James Bond, Sean Connery Was Determined To Be A Star

Sean Connery 1960 photo The Picturegoer

James Bond is dead. At least to millions of movie fans who associate only one man, Sean Connery, with the role of Ian Fleming’s secret agent 007. Continue reading

Eddie Van Halen and The Band At Their Peak, Live -1979

The Late, Great Eddie Van Halen Demonstrates What A Guitar Can Do In The Hands Of A Genius 1979

David Lee Roth, Michael Anthony and Eddie Van Halen on stage July 1979

To express the magnitude of the importance of the passing of Eddie Van Halen (January 26, 1955 – October 6, 2020)  in words is impossible.

It’s better to let Van Halen’s music speak for itself.

From Fresnomediarestoration is this live clip from March 25, 1979.  Eddie Van Halen and the band are juggernauts in their desire to wow the audience.

Anyone who was fortunate enough to attend this tour got to see what made Van Halen so special. And for those who only know David Lee Roth as a frontman who doesn’t stick to the proper lyrics, changes phrasing and sings haphazardly, then this will be a pleasant surprise.

The first four songs performed in this video are:
Light Up The Sky.
Somebody Get Me A Doctor.
Running With The Devil.
Dance The Night Away.

As a guitar player Eddie Van Halen Continue reading

Excepting Eddie Van Halen, The New York Times Continues To Ignore Rock Star Deaths

Bands Lose Key Members & The New York Times Neglects An Obituary

Steve Priest – The Sweet

Pete Way –  UFO

Paul Chapman UFO

Paul Chapman – UFO

The Grim Reaper has had a robust 2020 taking more than his normal share of victims.

Celebrities, especially rock n’ roll musicians who are all approaching the age of inevitable demise have been dying at an alarming pace.  But you would never know it if you rely on the New York Times for the obituaries.

Eddie Van Halen obituary placed below where the paper is folded in half NY Times October 7, 2020.

Mega-music stars are the exception and get some sort of recognition.

Eddie Van Halen was just too big to ignore. While the Times placed Van Halen on October 7th front page, it put him below the fold. Continue reading

Rooting Against Tom Seaver

If You Rooted For The Yankees, Could You Root For Tom Seaver?

Tom Seaver pitching two-hitter in the seventh inning as he makes a bid for his 15th win of the year. August 7, 1975 photo: Paul DeMaria (Seaver wound up with a 3 hit complete game 7-0 shutout over the Expos)

Hall of Famer and baseball great Tom Seaver died Monday, August 31 at age 75 and a piece of my childhood died along with him. The accolades, recollections and recounting of stats will continue to flow for the next few weeks.

But not everyone who saw Seaver play rooted for this consummate pro. Especially kids like me.

Being a Yankees fan in the late 1960s and early 1970s was not fun. A New Yorker has to choose teams. A real New York fan can’t root for both the Rangers and Islanders or the Jets and the Giants. You certainly cannot be a fan of both the Yankees and the Mets. So you make choices.

As a New York baseball obsessed kid who collected trading cards, I examined both teams carefully. I chose to be a fan of the on-his-last-legs Mickey Mantle led Yankees. Bad choice. Mantle retired immediately upon my declaration of loyalty.

The 70s Yankees teams featured players like Jake Gibbs, Jerry Kenney, Mike Kekich, Steve Kline, and Horace Clarke.

Arguments on the summer camp bus about who was better, the Yankees or Mets ended with the words Tom Seaver.

Rooting for the Yankees meant rooting against Tom Seaver. Comparing Tom Seaver to any Yankee player was a futile exercise in partisanship.

“The Yankees have Mel Stottlemyre.”

“We’ve got Tom Seaver.” Continue reading

Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson’s Memories of Producer Martin Birch

How Martin Birch Helped Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson

Iron Maiden 1982 (l-r) Clive Burr, engineer Nigel Green, Dave Murray, Martin Birch, Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris, Adrian Smith photo via The Walk of Fame

Martin Birch, the music producer who worked with more than a score of rock’s legendary groups died Sunday, August 9, 2020 at age 71. No cause of death was announced. He leaves behind his wife Vera and daughter Haley. Continue reading

Olivia de Havilland Dies At 104, The End Of An Era- Beginning Of A Book?

Olivia de Havilland Dies – Last of the Great Movie Stars

Olivia de Havilland 1943 photo: Ernest Bacharach

A couple of weeks ago Turner Classic Movies was showing Captain Blood. The 1935 Michael Curtiz directed adventure film stars Errol Flynn, Basil Rathbone, Donald Meek, Lionel Atwill, Guy Kibbee and a 19-year-old making her fourth film – Olivia de Havilland. Except for Flynn and de Havilland, the names are mostly forgotten except to the hardiest of film fans. Continue reading

Oh No. “Fats” Of The Little Rascals Is Dead

“Fats” Is Reported Dead And Little Rascals Fans Scratch Their Heads In Confusion.

The Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News, Philadelphia Inquirer were among the dozens of newspapers reporting the sad news of the passing of Don Law aka “Fats.” The Associated Press photo shows a rather glum grown-up Don.

You remember “Fats” from Our Gang a.k.a. The Little Rascals, right? Even serious fans of Our Gang may not exactly be sure which one Fats was. Probably the big fat kid.

Search your memory. You’ll come to the conclusion that you don’t remember anyone named ‘Fats’ in Our Gang. Continue reading

Rush Drummer Neil Peart Dies At 67 – Brain Tumor Diagnosis Kept Secret

Neil Peart Had Brain Cancer For Over Three Years…And Told Almost No One

Neil Peart Rush drummer 1978

Neil Peart of Rush – A Farewell To Kings tour book 1978

The surprising news that Rush’s extraordinary drummer and lyricist Neil Peart has died at age 67, comes as a shock to the world. While music lovers will try to absorb the stunning news, only Peart’s family, band mates and a few close friends knew this day was imminently closer than anyone realized.

Peart passed away quietly in Santa Monica, CA on Tuesday, January 7 of brain cancer. For over three years Peart was fighting the disease. His close circle of friends knew his predicament. Everyone else had no idea.

Peart’s survivors include his wife Carrie and daughter Olivia. Peart escaped a media frenzy of reporting on his illness, as doubtless there would be, had anyone known about his cancer. That’s the kind of man Neil Peart was. Ferocious on drums. Private, quiet and introspective in life. Peart did not want consolation from the world by sharing that he was ill. His reticence to speak publicly, well established.

Rush in limo 1978 Peart Lifeson Lee

Rush 1978 (l-r) Neil Peart Geddy Lee & Alex Lifeson

On tour in the early 1990s I met both Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee backstage shortly after a show at Madison Square Garden. We talked for a minute. Continue reading