30 Minutes Of Baseball Bliss As The Audio System At Yankee Stadium Fails – September 14, 2017
They say if you go to a baseball game there’s always a chance you’ll see something you’ve never seen before.
But it’s not only what I had never seen before, but what I didn’t hear. What happened Thursday, September 14, 2017 during a Yankees – Orioles game was unusual.
For the first time in my life, I attended a major league baseball game and the national anthem was not played before the start of the game. No, it wasn’t the second game of a real doubleheader (remember those?)
Not only was the national anthem not played, no sound was heard in the ballpark except the cheers of the crowd, calls of the vendors and crack of the bat. Continue reading →
Gene “Stick” Michael Was More Responsible For The Yankee Championship Teams In The Late 90s Than Anyone Else
Gene Michael awaits the throw to second base as Chicago White Sox shortstop Luis Aparicio makes his slide (1970).
Former Yankees shortstop, manager and general manager Gene Michael died today September 7, 2017 at the age of 79 of a heart attack at his home in Oldsmar, FL.
Michael was a slick fielding light hitting shortstop who played on Yankees teams from 1968 – 1974, that were a shadow of the former Yankee teams. From 1921 -1964 the Yankees had appeared in 29 World Series, winning 20 of them.
If The New York Yankees futility of the late 1960s and early 1970s was epitomized by their second baseman Horace Clarke, then Gene Michael would unfairly be attached to that failure with his double play partner. Horace Clarke, was a career .256 hitter and average fielder who hit a total of 27 home runs with the Yankees from 1965 – 1974. Because Clarke’s career coincided with that of Michael’s the two were paired together unfairly as the face of Yankee ineptitude.
But there was never any question that Gene Michael was a decent ballplayer and a great competitor.
The “Stick,” as the six foot two skinny shortstop was nicknamed, had baseball smarts and could execute the plays a lot better than an average player. That is what kept Michael on the team. A .229 lifetime average usually won’t ensure your spot on a major league roster unless you can hit thirty or more home runs a year. Yet Michael was valued by teammates and some fans as a hard-nosed, crafty ballplayer.
One thing that Michael did that you rarely see anymore was pull the “hidden ball trick.”Michael said he would only pull it if his pitcher was in trouble.
Michael would have the ball in his glove as the pitcher would be getting ready to pitch and Michael would sneak up on an unsuspecting runner as he began to take a lead off second base and apply the tag. It’s called a bush league play today. Completely unprofessional. I disagree. It showed smarts and initiative to pull it off and I question why it is not tried more often today. I once witnessed Michael do this in person and didn’t realize what had happened.
Michael was smart in other ways. In a May 25, 1973 game against the Texas Rangers Continue reading →
Why The New York Yankees Old Timer’s Day Has Become A Joke
1955 Old Timer’s Day (l-r) Frank Home Run Baker, Ray Schalk, Dazzy Vance, Ted Lyons, Gabby Hartnett and Joe DiMaggio (photo: Acme)
Sunday June 25, 2017 the New York Yankees will hold their 71st Old TImer’s Day.
There was a time when baseball’s immortals and Gods showed up at Old Timer’s Day games. Take a look at this video below and you can understand my disappointment at what passes today for Yankees Old Timer’s Day. If you have any sense of the history of baseball, this assemblage of players at Yankee Stadium taped on the field by Greg Peterson in 1982 will blow you away.
Maybe the disappointment stems from the fact that with a few exceptions there are almost no former Yankee players of the Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Lefty Gomez, Waite Hoyt; Allie Reynolds; Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra caliber still living. The pomp and ceremony of recent Yankees Old Timer’s Day is now somewhat revolting to watch.
Old-Timers Day started with a gathering unlike any other. In 1939 former Yankee teammates of Lou Gehrig gathered to honor him after he had stopped playing due to contracting the illness, (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) that would eventually take his life and now bears his name. It was at this occasion that Gehrig made his “luckiest man on the face of the earth,” speech.
Starting in the 1940s, Yankees Old Timer’s Day became an annual event where former baseball stars from other teams squared off against former Yankee greats. The players who graced the field at Yankee Stadium to play in a spirited and fun exhibition game were among the best to ever play the game. Over the years other teams held their own Old Timer’s Day. Now the Yankees are the only team in baseball that still holds an Old Timer’s Day .
At previous Old Timer’s Day fans would see opponents such as; Ty Cobb; Lefty Grove; Dizzy Dean; Al Kaline; Stan Musial; Ted Williams; Warren Spahn; Hank Greenberg; Bob Feller; Bill Terry; Pee Wee Reese; Duke Snider; Willie Mays and dozens of other “real” stars.
A collection of Hall Of Fame participants at the 1968 Old Timer’s Day at Yankee Stadium (l-r) Red Ruffing; Bill Terry; Luke Appling; Bill Dickey; Joe Medwick; Frankie Frisch; Pie Traynor; Joe DiMaggio; Bob Feller and Lefty Grove.
As the Hall-of Famer’s and greats started passing away the names showing up at Old Timer’s Day gradually became less glamorous, until they started delving into quasi-stars and then marginal players.
I am not certain when exactly it ended, but the Yankees stopped inviting players from other teams to participate in Old Timer’s Day.
Over the last 15 years, you may have noticed Old Timer’s Day has become a Yankee love-fest of a few former stars such as Paul O’Neil, Roy White, Willie Randolph, Joe Pepitone and a lot of what can best be described as one season wonders or ordinary ex-Yankee players.
There are still some great former Yankee players who show up to participate in the festivities most notably Whitey Ford, Reggie Jackson, Ron Guidry, Goose Gossage and this year a rare visit by Sparky Lyle.
Many of players the Yankees invite to Old Timer’s Day are nondescript. Yankee management must feel that today’s fans prefer seeing some of these “greats” that have participated in Old Timer’s Day over the last few years:
Brian Boehringer; Scott Bradley; Homer Bush; Bubba Crosby; Chad Curtis; Brian Dorsett; Dave Eiland; John Flaherty; Bobby Meacham; Jerry Narron; Matt Nokes; Dan Pasqua; Gil Patterson; Andy Phillips; Aaron Small; Tanyon Sturtze; Marcus Thames and others of that ilk. Continue reading →
October 6, 1950 World Series, Game Three – Yankees Hold off The Phillies in the Top of the Ninth
Remember when the World Series used to be played and concluded by early October? Of course you don’t unless you are over the age of 50.
The endless rounds of playoffs, a 162 game season and the elimination of scheduled doubleheaders during the regular season have lengthened baseball’s post-season to an interminable length. Baseball’s fall classic is moving closer to becoming a winter classic. If there is a game seven this year, the World Series will conclude November 2.
Maybe that’s okay if the game is played in Los Angeles, but if it ends up in Cleveland, Chicago or Boston you can rest assured the players will not be playing under the best possible conditions and the attendees will not be warm.
Let’s look back to a simpler time. The year was 1950. The date – October 6 and game three of the World Series was played at Yankee Stadium. The Philadelphia Phillies lost the first two games of the series to the New York Yankees by scores of 1-0 and 2-1. The sequence of photos from above capture exciting action that would probably be against the rules today Continue reading →
New York – May 13 – ON THE DOUBLE – Mickey Mantle of the New York Yankees is force out victim at second base and Detroit Tigers’ shortstop Chico Fernandez gets off throw to first to complete double play in fourth inning at New York’s Yankee Stadium today. Behind Mantle is Tigers second baseman Jake Wood, who fielded Bill Skowron’s grounder and started the twin killing by tossing to Fernande. Tigers won 8-3 (AP Wirephoto – 1961)
This is a play you may never see again.
Mickey Mantle is nowhere near second base and certainly does not look like he is sliding. No, the Mick is definitely trying to take out Chico Fernandez and stop a double play. It was a legal play in 1961, but soon it may not be.
After the 2015 playoff injury to the Mets Ruben Tejada when the Dodgers Chase Utley steamrolled him in a violent collision, Major League Baseball decided to review the rules governing taking out a fielder during a slide. There is a strong possibility of introducing a rule in the near future to stop a runner from barreling into a fielder.
There is already a rule in the books, Rule 5.09(a)(13), which states:
A batter is out when — A preceding runner shall, in the umpire’s judgment, intentionally interfere with a fielder who is attempting to catch a thrown ball or to throw a ball in an attempt to complete any play. Comment: The objective of this rule is to penalize the offensive team for deliberate, unwarranted, unsportsmanlike action by the runner in leaving the baseline for the obvious purpose of crashing the pivot man on a double play, rather than trying to reach the base. Obviously this is an umpire’s judgment play.
I don’t believe that any player should intentionally hurt another player in sliding, but taking out the fielder who is trying to complete a double play should not be made illegal or penalized with the threat of suspension if the fielder gets hurt. Continue reading →
Yankee Stadium On Edge As Waite Hoyt Pitches To Cardinals Slugger Rogers Hornsby
And The Story of The Strangest End To A World Series
It is October 10, 1926 and it seems everyone is wearing a hat at game seven of the 1926 World Series at Yankee Stadium. Although the stadium looks packed, rainy, gray and chilly weather kept the attendance for the deciding game down to 38,093.
In this rare photo, Yankee star pitcher Waite Hoyt is unleashing a pitch to the Cardinals Rogers Hornsby. The Yankees would lose this game 3-2 and the game would include one of the most dramatic moments in World Series history and one of, if not the strangest play to end a World Series.
The drama occurred when Cardinals starter Jess Haines had loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh with two outs and was lifted for the veteran pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander. Old Alex had pitched a complete game victory the day before and was tired, but relaxed as he came into the game to face Yankees slugger Tony Lazzeri. The crowd fell silent as Alexander demonstrated his mastery and struck out Tony Lazzeri ending the threat. Continue reading →
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
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.
Frank “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.
Yogi 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. Berra homered in the seventh inning, Mantle homered in the eighth, Raschi got the victory and Reynolds the save.
September 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 →
A Dying Babe Ruth In Memorial Hospital July 29, 1948
New York – Babe’s Most Recent Picture – This picture, taken at Memorial Hospital here July 29, is believed to be the last picture of the baseball idol. It was made just before the Babe’s most recent relapse. With him is Steve Broidy of Allied Artists movie studio, who is presenting Ruth with a check for the Ruth Foundation for underprivileged children. The homerun king’s condition today was critical. photo – AP, August 11, 1948
Babe Ruth June 13, 1948 in Yankee locker room
On June 13, 1948 just six weeks prior to the above photograph being taken, Ruth made his final appearance at Yankee Stadium and put on his old uniform for the last time as his number three was retired by the Yankees. After the ceremony the uniform would be shipped off to Cooperstown to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The day was hailed as Silver Anniversary Day at Yankee Stadium officially marking the 25th anniversary of “The House That Ruth Built.” Sixteen members of the 1923 Yankees came to the ceremony and even participated in a two inning old-timers game against a team of Yankee all-stars from other years. But everyone was there to see the man himself, Babe Ruth.
Friends and old teammates lined up and approached Babe before the ceremony and he obligingly signed autographs for everyone. After others had spoken, Ruth emerged from the dugout to a huge ovation and made a short speech in a raspy voice telling the crowd how happy he was to be present, how proud he was to be the first man to have hit a home run at Yankee Stadium and how glad he was to be with his old friends again.
Babe Ruth, William Bendix and a studio executive on the set of The Babe Ruth Story
Returning to the story of our original photograph, the last one of Babe Ruth, the emaciated Babe was probably happy to receive a check for the film The Babe Ruth Story, based on his life . But he could not have been pleased with the film which starred William Bendix. Continue reading →
Mantle swung the bat literally as hard as anyone who ever played the game. You would see his forearms and biceps bulge as he whipped the bat through the strike zone on a slight incline. Watching Mantle swing you could literally see that every muscle in his six foot frame was converging to pulverize the baseball.
When Mantle connected cleanly with the ball, the sound was unique. There was a sharp crack that resonated through the entire ballpark and that ferocious swing would drive countless baseballs deep into the gaps or frequently farther, with balls settling in the outfield stands or bleachers for a home run. There was no home run, like a Mickey Mantle home run.
Mickey Mantle steals 2nd base and slides hard 1950s. photo: Marvin Newman
In his prime there were few fielders like Mickey Mantle, who could come out of seemingly nowhere to snag a drive hit in the gap, that when first hit, was thought to be uncatchable. Mantle’s arm could throw bullets, so runners had to think twice about taking an extra base or tagging up when the ball was hit to Mickey.
Mantle played hard breaking up double plays and stealing bases when necessary, even though he was playing on notoriously bad legs which would hamper his entire career. Continue reading →
After graduating college Corman was working on the fringes of advertising and with the encouragement of a friend, Herb Gardner (A Thousand Clowns; I’m Not Rappaport; etc), he took a stab at writing a book. That effort was published as Oh God! A Novel (1971). After that hurdle Corman never looked back and he became a full-time novelist. Oh God! was eventually made into a very popular movie in 1977 starring George Burns and John Denver.
Some of Corman’s other acclaimed novels include The Bust-Out King (1977), The Old Neighborhood (1980); 50 (1987); Prized Possessions (1991); The Boyfriend from Hell (2006) and his most famous work, Kramer vs. Kramer (1977) which was adapted into a movie in 1979 and was the winner of five Academy Awards including Best Picture.
Avery Corman’s success must partially stem from his middle-class upbringing in the Fordham section of the Bronx during the 1940’s and 50’s, where he admits he was not the best student when it came to math and science, but did well in the humanities and was surrounded by a loving, extended family.
My Old Neighborhood Remembered A Memoir is more a series of vignettes rather than a straight autobiography and that style comes off well. Corman shares his memories of childhood during World War II up until he becomes a successful author in the late 1960’s. He paints beautiful word pictures, sometimes tinged with sadness, of growing up in a wondrous place that no longer exists. Most of the stories offer short bursts of family life, games, food, education, sports and all the things that contributed to making the Bronx a special place to grow up in.
Corman’s stories resonate with a tender glow of friendships, family and the feeling that neighborhoods were once really neighborhoods, where the familiarity of rituals, people and places were ingrained in the surroundings.
Here are parts one and two of an exclusive interview with Avery Corman.
Part I, Avery Corman talks about what made the Bronx a special place during the war. His unique living situation and school life.