Tag Archives: New York Mets

Yogi Berra Remembered In Photos

Yogi Berra Dies At 90 – A Remembrance In Rarely Seen Photos Of The Yankee Great

Yogi Berra during the 1960 World Series - photo Marvin E. Newman

Yogi Berra during the 1960 World Series – photo Marvin E. Newman

Lawrence Peter “Yog”i Berra died Tuesday, September 22, 2015 at the age of 90 in West Caldwell, New Jersey where he had been living in an assisted-living facility.

While countless obituaries will appear over the next few days recounting Berra’s storied baseball career, business acumen and quotable life, we thought it best not to dwell on Berra’s passing or try and tell all about his amazing life in just a few paragraphs. Yogi’s life story will be be well covered by his former teammates, friends, journalists and colleagues.

We will tell you that Yogi was not a great catcher when he first arrived in the majors. Yogi worked hard with former Yankee catcher Bill Dickey to make himself into a great defensive catcher. Also three American League MVP awards tell you that Yogi was extremely valuable to the Yankees. What those awards will not tell you was that Yogi was one of the best bad ball hitters ever – whether the ball was up by his eyes or literally in the dirt – Yogi could do massive damage on a pitch that most batters would not be able to do anything with.

We decided the best way to remember this Hall of Famer was with some old press photos that appeared long ago in magazines and newspapers and mostly have not been seen since.

Spec Shea Yogi Berra 1947 first start in World SeriesFrank “Spec” Shea and Yogi Berra before game 1 of the 1947 World Series at Yankee Stadium. 1947 marked the first of a record 10 world championships for Berra.

Berra Rizzuto 5 15 50 photo AcmeYogi Berra and Phil Rizzuto enjoy playing cards on a Yankees charter flight from New York to St. Louis, May 15, 1950 – photo Acme

clockwise - Yogi Berra (without cap), Mickey Mantle, Vic Raschi and Allie Reynolds celebrate 3-2 World Series game 6 victory over Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field - October 6, 1952

Clockwise – Yogi Berra (without cap), Mickey Mantle, Vic Raschi and Allie Reynolds celebrate 3-2 World Series game 6 victory over Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field – October 6, 1952. Berra homered in the seventh inning, Mantle homered in the eighth, Raschi got the victory and Reynolds the save.

Yogi Berra Batting sequence 1955 9 6September 6, 1955 – Yogi’s Off And Running – Yogi Berra the New York Yankees formidable catcher, shows the wrist action that provides the power that makes him one of the club’s long ball hitters. Berra currently hitting .273 has pounded out 23 homers and driven in 94 runs. He has hit 18 doubles and two triples. – AP wirephoto  Continue reading

One Big Reason Baseball Is Dropping In Popularity

Catering To The Next Generation Of Baseball Fans

You may have read that one of the 2014 World Series games was competing for viewers with a Thursday night football game. The television audience for the World Series ended up being less than half of that of the football game.

No surprise there as football has become the dominant televised sport in America. So besides letting World Series games be played at night when the next generation of fans is going to bed, what else is MLB doing to discourage young people from getting to like baseball?

This photograph below will clue you in:

Group Seating Citifield September 2013

Group Seating Citifield September 2013

This photo taken in mid-September 2013 shows a class trip of 12-year-olds at Citifield, the New York Mets ballpark.

It was a beautiful sunny weekday and the Mets and San Francisco Giants were playing for nothing, nada, zilch. Both teams had been eliminated from any playoff possibilities weeks earlier.

Obviously with group seating the Mets gave the kids the best possible seats in the house to get them engaged and interested in the game, right?

Well of course not. Group seats are usually in the farthest reaches of the ballpark and these were no exception, in the corner of the upper deck in right field in section 503.

Now I understand why the Mets and most other teams put group seats in generally undesirable places. These are seats that will usually never be sold, because who wants to pay $15 or more and sit in the stratosphere. The Mets are not going to give $75 seats away for $15 to a group.

But this photograph below shows the kids view of the game and the reality of how many fans were at the ballpark just 10 minutes before starting time.

Citifield 10 minutes before game time

Citifield 10 minutes before game time

It never got much more crowded than this when the game got underway. The announced attendance was 22,897. Everyone there knew that there was no possible way that there were even 12,000 people at this game. The ballpark remained as you see it: thousands of empty seats in huge clusters.

There were schoolgirls sitting on either side of me and both were attending their first baseball game. Being a chaperone on this trip, they asked me questions and tried to watch from our birds-eye vantage point. As the game progressed, with the exception of the few boys who follow baseball, most of the children lost interest rapidly.

For many of the kids who were in attendance this would be the only game they would ever go to because they had no interest in baseball before the game, and were not going to have any interest after the game.

What could the Mets have done?

They should have taken the thousand or so children that were in the four to five large groups seated in the far reaches of the upper deck and moved them to seats anywhere closer to the field. When I actually mentioned this to the Mets personnel man in charge of groups in our section he looked at me like I was crazy and said that was not possible.

It was indeed possible if someone from the Mets ticketing, marketing or publicity department could have had a bright idea and made an executive decision and said something like, “Hey, the season’s virtually over and our ballpark is pretty empty today. You know what might get us more fans in the future? Let’s move these kids down to decent seats so that they will be close enough to be involved in the game. Maybe some of them will come to appreciate and love baseball if they can actually see what is going on up close, rather than watching the jumbotron screen or straining to see the ant-size ballplayers from their mile away seats. This would be a good way to develop a new generation of Mets fans.”

Well that never happened and it probably never will happen. Unless MLB and their teams realize that they are rapidly losing a huge part of their future baseball audience, baseball  will be as popular here as cricket.

The Stress of Hank Aaron Breaking Babe Ruth’s All-Time Home Run Record

Before Breaking Ruth’s Record, Hank Aaron Had So Many Death Threats, He Had A Security Team Appointed To Protect Him

Willie Mays (l) and Hank Aaron at Shea Stadium June 3, 1972 – the two true #1 and #3 career home run leaders

Forty years ago today, on April 8, 1974, Hank Aaron, under incredible duress, hit his 715th career home run, breaking Babe Ruth’s record.

Aaron finished his career in 1976 with 755 home runs and is now second all-time on the career home run list to Barry Bonds. In my mind and many others, Aaron is still the legitimate home run champion due to Bonds strange physical transformation in which his body became gargantuan and slugged more and more home runs as he aged.

What Aaron had to endure with the constant death threats and pressure is poignantly told in an excellent article by USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale which is reproduced below.

Hank Aaron has the letters tucked away in his attic, preserved these last 40 years. He’s not ready to let them go.

He almost has them memorized by now, but still he carefully opens them up and reads every word, as if he wants to feel the pain.

“You are (not) going to break this record established by the great Babe Ruth if I can help it,” one of them reads. “Whites are far more superior than jungle bunnies. My gun is watching your every black move.” Continue reading

Mets In Spring Training – 1970

Tom Seaver Instructs Duffy Dyer, Ken Boswell And Cleon Jones -March 1970

Dyer Boswell Seaver Jones March 1970

The World Champion Miracle Mets of 1969 were looking forward to 1970. During spring training in March 1970, Tom Seaver has some instructions for Duffy Dyer, Ken Boswell and Cleon Jones.

The Mets would have a disappointing season going just 83-79 and finishing in third place in the National League Eastern division.

Five Things You Didn’t Know About Ralph Kiner

Ralph Kiner, Mets Longtime Announcer And Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famer Dies At 91

Ralph Kiner (r) holds several bats while watching the Braves young slugger Eddie Mathews (l) before a game - 1953

Ralph Kiner (r) holds several bats while watching the Braves young slugger Eddie Mathews (l) before a game – 1953

For many New Yorker’s who grew up watching or listening to baseball, a part of their childhood ended today February 6 2014, with the death of Pirates slugger and Mets broadcaster Ralph Kiner.

Ralph Kiner had a brief, yet great playing career followed by a long TV and radio career where he had been with the Mets broadcast team since their inaugural season in 1962.

Besides announcing Mets games, many baseball fans enjoyed watching Kiner through the Mets post-game TV show Kiner’s Korner.

The obituary writers will surely cover Kiner’s career thoroughly, but here are five things you might not have known about Ralph Kiner:

Ralph Kiner slides safely past Phillies catcher Andy Seminick at Shibe Park May 7, 1949

Ralph Kiner slides safely past Phillies catcher Andy Seminick at Shibe Park May 7, 1949

1. In the 1940’s Chicago Cubs scout Dutch Ruether found two bright prospects he wanted to bring to the Cubs. He got Ralph Kiner and Ewell Blackwell to agree to be signed for what he thought were bargain price bonuses. The Cubs didn’t sign Kiner saying it was too much money. The cost? $3,000!  Blackwell wanted only $750 and the Cubs passed on him too!

2. Ralph Kiner came up with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1946 and had one of the most extraordinary starts to a career, leading the National League in home runs for seven consecutive years.

3. In 1947 Ralph Kiner became just the fifth player in the history of baseball to hit 50 or more home runs in a year.

4. In his short career which spanned only ten years (1946-1955) Kiner hit 369 career home runs and walked 1,011 times, but struck out only 749 times.

5. According to Pirate teammate Joe Garagiola, Kiner was one of the great practical jokers in baseball. Kiner’s frequent victim was Pirates trainer Doc Jorgensen. One day Kiner removed all of the bottles and bandages out of Jorgensen’s medical kit. Later during a game when a player got spiked, Jorgensen ran out to the field and opened his bag to treat the player, and found that it was filled with sandwiches courtesy of Ralph Kiner.

Jack Klugman, Odd Couple’s Oscar Madison, Dies At 90

Last Of “12 Angry Men” Cast Passes Away At Home

Jack Klugman with son Adam Klugman promoting Tony and Me 2005 © stuffnobodycaresabout.com

Jack Klugman with son Adam Klugman promoting Tony and Me 2005 © stuffnobodycaresabout.com

When Jack Klugman decided to write a book he insisted it would not be an autobiography. He was too modest for that. Instead he wrote a book about his close relationship with his Odd Couple co-star Tony Randall. The book, Tony and Me A Story of Friendship, published in 2005 by Good Hill Press, was short on details about Klugman’s life, but very illuminating about Randall and Klugman’s close relationship.

After Klugman was treated for throat cancer he thought his acting career might be over. It wasn’t. With the encouragement of Tony Randall, Klugman returned to the stage and began his career anew, re-learning how to use his new voice, a scratchy rasp that pained some people to listen to. Klugman insisted it didn’t hurt him at all to talk, it just sounded that way to others.

The star of one of the best written and best acted television programs of all-time, The Odd Couple, Jack Klugman died on December 24, 2012 at his home in Woodland Hills, CA at the age of 90. He had been in declining health for the past year. He leaves behind his sons Adam and David and his second wife Peggy. His first wife actress Brett Somers died in 2007, they had been separated since 1974, but had never divorced.

I spent quite a bit of time in 2005 with Jack Klugman helping to promote his book. One of the things I asked him was why he didn’t write an autobiography. He said, “This is all there ever will be. I’m the sort of of person who likes to keep things private. I’ll write about Tony because our relationship was special and that story should be told, but that’s it.”

Our conversations about life and acting made me believe that this was a mistake, and I told Jack Klugman he could have told the world so much more about his career and recollections and many people would be fascinated.

He politely replied that it wasn’t that interesting.

I disagree. His full life story would have been very interesting.

Some things people may not have known about Jack Klugman:

Klugman had an incredibly sharp mind and he attended the prestigious Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon University).

On The Odd Couple, Klugman portrayed Oscar Madison, a sloppy sportswriter who was a New York Mets fan. In reality Klugman knew little about modern baseball and his knowledge after the DiMaggio era of baseball was lacking. I arranged an appearance on the New York Mets pre-game radio show with Gary Cohen to promote his book. After some initial nervousness and hesitancy on Klugman’s part, he did the interview and both Klugman and Cohen were very satisfied with the results and Cohen said it was one of his favorite interviews that he had ever conducted. Klugman’s real love was the track. He loved the horses. But for that interview you would not have known that Jack Klugman was not a real life New York Mets fan.

He worked with some of the most famous actors of their day, such as Humphrey Bogart, on live television. Most of those appearances are now lost forever.

Klugman’s role as Juror #5 in of one of the all-time greatest movies, 12 Angry Men was a breakthrough part for him, leading to many more acting offers. He discounted his importance to that film as being “small.” It wasn’t small. Klugman’s portrayal may have had the most authenticity of all the actors based on his rough and tumble upbringing.

On a bright day in late June 2005 in the midst of the book publicity tour in a chilly New York office building, we had some spare time alone between interviews. Klugman was wearing his trademark V-neck sweater and cap.  I asked Klugman what he remembered about working with Henry Fonda and Lee J. Cobb and rest of the stellar cast of 12 Angry Men. Klugman grew wistful, saying, “I never really liked acting in the movies, the pace was too slow. I always preferred the stage and television. But that cast…that was amazing. It was a privilege to be a small part of that movie.”

We talked about John Fiedler (the voice of Piglet from Winnie The Pooh) who had co-starred with Klugman on a couple of episodes of The Odd Couple and appeared in 12 Angry Men as Juror #2.  I told Klugman he just passed away.

Klugman was surprised and said, “I just spoke to John a few months ago.” Apparently no one had told him about Fiedler’s very recent death. He was silent for a moment or two, looked out toward the window and said slowly, “They’re all gone. Fonda, Balsam, Cobb, Warden. I’m the last of the 12 Angry Men.”

Wayne Garrett And Roger Metzger

Close Play At Third

Photo © Louis Requena

It looks as though Mets third baseman Wayne Garrett was going to apply the tag and get Astros shortstop Roger Metzger out, before he gets to third. But I don’t know for sure if that is what happened, because I don’t have information on exactly when this photo is from.  An educated guess: 1971 or 1972.

Regardless it is a good action shot.

On November 29, 1979 Metzger lost the tips of four of his fingers on his right hand in a freak power saw accident. He tried to play the following season with the Giants saying, “I don’t want people feeling sorry for me. I want to win a job on the Giants because someone thinks I can play. I just have to adjust to that fact. I have to go on living. The world doesn’t stop because something happens to you.”

Metzger played only 28 games in 1980, mostly as a defensive replacement, batting just .074. He was released on August 16 that year ending his career prematurely at age 32.

On other interesting factoid on Metzger:  During his 11 years in the majors with 4201 at bats, he hit just five home runs.

“The Stork” – George Theodore

New York Mets Official George Theodore Publicity Photo 1974

George Theodore looks more like an accountant than your accountant looks like an accountant.

True, the glasses and mustache he sported did not make Theodore look like much of a ballplayer. But “The Stork,” as the six foot four Theodore was known during his two brief years playing for the New York Mets from 1973 -74, got to play alongside Willie Mays. Can your accountant say that?

The New York Mets 50th Anniversary: A Look Back At Casey Stengel

Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game?

Casey Stengel photo © Niels Lauritzen

Writer Jimmy Breslin claimed that “Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game,” was Casey Stengel’s lament during Casey’s first year managing the Mets in 1962. Breslin later admitted he made up the quote. But it would have been an apropos summation of the Mets first season. Continue reading

Baseball Theme Songs

When Baseball Teams Had Their Own Unique Songs

Dodge Dart radioWhen my Dad and I would drive places at night in the 1970’s, my father would put on the Baltimore radio station, WBAL-AM to hear the Orioles games. At night the radio signals were stronger and you could pick up most of the bigger radio station’s broadcasts within a 400 mile range, so he would listen. I vividly remember the upbeat song that used to be played to start the O’s broadcast. I searched the internet and have had no luck finding “Orioles Baseball” which is what I believe the title was. But I have collected a number of baseball theme songs and thought I would share them.

For every baseball fan who can remember…

(click on link to hear the mp3 of the song)

Yankees Theme Song

In the 1970’s when I was listening to the radio, before the start of every ball game, the New York Yankees would have their theme played. The Yankees announcers, Phil Rizutto, Frank Messer and Bill White would eventually talk over the song and it would fade out. At the end of the game they would play the theme again. The Yankees still play a truncated version of the song at the beginning and conclusion of games on the radio, but they rarely play this version with the lyrics.

Mets Theme Song

Musically well constructed and simply the best song ever written for a team with its catchy lyrics. The “Meet The Mets” song still holds up nearly 50 years after the Mets introduction to New York. This version is the original version. (ed note: strangely enough I wrote this article on June 30 and originally scheduled it to be posted on July 5. I moved it up to July 3 after seeing that the writer of the Mets theme song Ruth Roberts passed away Friday, July 1 at age 84.)

Cubs Theme Song

If you grew up in Chicago you may remember “Hey, Hey Holy Mackarel” which was the Chicago Cubs song.

White Sox Theme Song

Now, if you were a Chicago White Sox fan, the song dear to your heart would be “Let’s Go, Go, Go White Sox.”

Tigers Theme Song

In the late 1960’s this is what the Detroit Tigers were playing – “Go Get ‘Um Tigers.” Continue reading