Wednesday, July 19, 2017

REMEMBERING YOGI BERRA - By Harvey Frommer

REMEMBERING YOGI BERRA     
By Harvey Frommer

“Mr. Berra is a very strange fellow of very remarkable abilities.” –Casey Stengel           
“Talking to Yogi Berra about baseball, is like talking to Homer about the gods.” - Bart Giamatti
The kid who grew up in St. Louis eating banana sandwiches with mustard grew up to be one of the legends of legends of New York Yankees baseball. Born on May 12, 1925. Lawrence Berra was raised in --"The Hill" the Italian section of St. Louis. One of his neighbors and friends was future catcher big league catcher and broadcaster Joe Garagiola.  
Berra's parents were Italian immigrants. His father was a bricklayer and construction worker. The young Berra dropped out of school without completing the eighth grade. The story was he needed to work to help financially support his family. Of course, in his spare time he played American Legion baseball.

There are many versions that have been passed down explaining how Lawrence Peter Berra came by the nickname, “Yogi.” The Baseball Hall of Fame is on record with this one. After attending an afternoon movie that showed a “yogi” practicing yoga, his friend Jack Maguire noted how his buddy resembled the “yogi.” Maguire said: “I’m going to call you Yogi.” And as it turned out, so did millions of others.
He could have played for the St. Louis Cardinals, but Branch Rickey blew it. After a tryout, he offered Berra a $250 bonus, unsure if the youngster was big league material. His friend Joe Garagiola, Berra knew, was offered $500. For the canny Berra, it worked out well as most things in life did. He waited for a better offer.
Enter Yankees and $500. His first stop was the Norfolk Tars of the Class B Piedmont League.  There briefly, at age 18, Yogi left organized baseball and enlisted in the Navy.
“I was just a young guy doing what he was supposed to do back then, joining the Navy, serving my country, fighting the war. I wasn’t a baseball player on that boat. I was a sailor.”
As a second class seaman on a six man rocket boat, Berra took part in the D-Day invasion at Omaha Beach and manned a machine gun providing cover fire. He also served in North America and Europe and was awarded a Purple Heart.

War over, Berra was assigned in 1946 to a team in New London, Connecticut for a few games and then it was up to the top Yankee farm team the Newark Bears of the International League. In 77 games, splitting time between catcher and the outfield, he batted .314 with 15 homers, batted in 59 runs.  The Yankees had seen enough. They called him up.
 As the story goes, the first day Berra came into the Yankees clubhouse, he was still in is navy uniform. The clubhouse manager barely took notice of him. He “didn’t even look like a sailor no less a Yankee player,” said the clubhouse manager. When Larry MacPhail, Yankee president, spotted him for the first time he was also was not very impressed with the 5'7" squat rookie. MacPhail said Berra reminded him of "the bottom man on an unemployed acrobatic team."

Perhaps it was because of comments like one delivered by MacPhail and others that Berra played all the time in overdrive. In his first Major League game in 1946, he slammed a home run. The next day he hit another one.  He started that way and never let up. Although he shared time as Yankee catcher with others, he batted .280, slammed 11 home runs, and drove in 54 runs in 1947 his rookie season.
  Dogged, driven, determined, highly capable, the young Berra showed off what he was made of and what he would become in a game against the St. Louis Browns in 1947. An inexperienced catcher, he jumped out for a bunted ball, tagged the batter and tagged the runner coming home from third on a squeeze play, "I just tagged everything in sight, including the umpire," he explained.
       Manager Casey Stengel fell in love with him right from the start calling him "Mr. Berra" and "my assistant manager." When Stengel was asked why Yankee pitching was so excellent, he replied: “Our catcher that's why. He looks cumbersome but he's quick as a cat”.  

In 1949, Stengel’s “quick as a cat catcher” and “assistant manager” broke a finger. No matter. Berra played on. He played a part of that season with one finger outside of his catcher's mitt. Berra began that practice which would be adopted by most catchers.  
      The great Bill Dickey, a Yankee coach and former legendary catcher, put in much time with Lawrence Peter Berra as his mentor and his pupil observed uttering one of what would become one of his most famous of “Yogiisms” - - "Bill is learning me all his experiences." Yogi was a very quick learner, and he went on to become an accomplished heads-up catcher.
A celebrated bad-ball hitter, Berra swung at quite a few balls that were not strikes. He smashed them anyway.  
PHIL RIZZUTO: I saw him hit them on the bounce; I've seen him leave his feet to hit them.
“He had the fastest bat I ever saw,” said his one-time Yankee teammate Hector Lopez. “He could hit a ball late, that was already past him, and take it out of the park. The pitchers were afraid of him because he'd hit anything, so they didn't know what to throw. Yogi had them psyched out and he wasn't even trying to psych them out."  
He was a remarkable clutch hitter, highly intelligent and durable, incredibly productive. He was the engine, the force, the constant. He was always somehow obscured by the Yankee legends he played with. But Yogi had the goods.

        The stats are truly amazing: a record 14 World Series appearances and 10 championships, an All-Star 18-times, a three time Most Valuable Player. Berra caught 14,387 innings, 1,699 games behind the plate, throwing out almost half of those who attempted to steal on him.
     He had ten straight seasons with at least 20 home runs.  Five seasons he recorded more home runs than strikeouts.   From 1947 to 1965, Yogi averaged about 500 at bats a season, never striking out more than 38 times each year.  He played in 15 straight All-Star games, on 14 pennant winners, 10 World Champions, more than anyone in history. "Mr. World Series"—Mr. Yogi holds records for games played (75), at-bats (259), hits (71) and is tied with Frankie Frisch for the record in doubles. (10).
“Mr. Berra” for his career batted .285, slammed 358 home runs, batted in 1,430 runs. Incredibly, he averaged just fewer than 5.5 strikeouts per 100 at-bats, never striking out more than 38 times in a season, whiffed just a measly 414 times in 2,120 games.
          Berra played 15 seasons in which he took 300 plate appearances and received MVP votes in every one of them, once putting  together a six-year run of MVP finishes of first, fourth, second, first, first and second.. He is one of two players who hit 350 home runs without striking out 500 times. The other is Joe DiMaggio.
As one decade passed into history, the 1950s, and another came took its place, Yogi Berra was in his middle thirties, a tough time for most catchers.    
   Talented backstop Elston Howard was the future. Casey Stengel realized that as did Yogi. Always a team player, Berra returned to the outfield, winning two more World Series rings, playing the outfield more than he caught.
      In 1964, his momentous and remarkable playing career over, Berra replaced Ralph Houk as Yankee pilot. It was a team that had a great deal of talent that had ripped off a string of four straight pennants. But for Berra and his players, there were lots of struggles for a good part of the season. Rumors made the rounds that Yogi was disrespected by some of his players.
    It was dog days of August. The Yankees had dropped four straight to the White Sox and 10 of their last 15 games. They were on a bus headed to the airport.

           PHIL LINZ: I sat in the back of the bus which was stuck in heavy traffic. It was a sticky humid Chicago summer day. I was bored. I pulled out my harmonica. I had the Learner's Sheet for 'Mary Had a Little Lamb.” So I started fiddling. You blow in. You blow out.
          Yogi Berra came from the front of the bus and told Linz to tone it down. There was a slap directed either at Linz or the harmonica or both.      
     
       Whatever, that incident was a game changer for the Yankee season. Berra got new respect. Linz was elevated to starting shortstop due to injuries to Tony Kubek.
The “Harmonica Incident” momentum propelled the Yanks to a 22-6 record in September, victory in a close pennant race over the White Sox.  The only negative was a seventh game World Series defeat at the hands of the Cardinals. That cost Berra his job. Many, however, claimed the Yankee legend was already on the way out when the "Harmonica Incident" took place no matter how the season finished.  
        Bounce-back-Berra, never out of work for long, moved on to the woeful Mets in 1965. His first manager Casey Stengel was the manager, and at the very tail end of his storied career. By 1969, Stengel was gone, replaced by Gil Hodges as manager. Yogi Berra was still in place as the first base coach. The “Miracle Mets” defeated the Reds in the World Series and became the darlings of New York City baseball.
      In 1972, when Gil Hodges died, Berra became manager. In 1973, he brought the Mets within a game of winning another world championship.  In 1975, restless management pulled the trigger on their manager. On August 6th, with the Mets in third place, with the team having lost five straight, Yogi Berra was fired.
       Resilient, reliable, the workaholic Berra bounced back again as a Yankee coach in 1976. In 1984, George Steinbrenner moved him up as manager replacing Billy Martin, another dizzying move in a revolving door of Yankee pilots over those years.  The 1984 Yankees went 87-75 under Berra, good enough for third place.  Steinbrenner reportedly told Berra in spring training in 1985 that he was his manager that season no matter what happened.
       No matter what happened was forgotten as “the Boss” made it after just 16 games of the season had passed, “Good bye, Yogi” and “Hello again, Billy Martin.”
       More than the firing by Steinbrenner, what really infuriated Berra was that Steinbrenner sent general manager Clyde King to deliver the news of the termination.  Hurt, disgusted with the Yankee owner, the prideful Berra announced he would never to return to Yankee Stadium as long as George Steinbrenner ran the show. The promise was kept for fourteen years. Berra was not even on there in 1988 when plaques honoring him and Bill Dickey were added to Monument Park.

      Rapprochement finally was effected in 1999. Steinbrenner visited Berra in New Jersey, apologized, bringing the great Yankee back into the family. Reports were that “the Boss” told Berra:  “I know I made a mistake by not letting you go personally. It’s the worst mistake I ever made in baseball.”     
         I had two meetings with the unassuming and lovable Lawrence Peter Berra. One took place in the late 1980s when he was a coach for Houston working for his friend, Astros owner, John McMullen.
I was interviewing for Throwing Heat, my autobiography of Nolan Ryan. Entering the Astrodome very early, thinking no one else would be there, I moved into the dugout to organize myself for pre-game interviews.
Yogi Berra was already there, sitting silently, looking odd in the outlandish Crayola uniform of the Astros. We greeted each other and then he uttered a Yogism: “You know, if it rains, we won’t get wet.”  He had gotten off much better ones, but I laughed and agreed with him. We talked a little baseball and then got on with our day.  
I didn’t think of reminding him of another time we had met in a different dugout - at Shea Stadium in 1975 - when he managed the Mets. That time my publisher had given me a letter that said something about extending all professional courtesies to “Dr. Harvey Frommer” (a reference to my Ph.D.)
  Yogi looked at the letter and smiled and said, “It’s always good to have another doctor around. People get sick. What can I do for you?”
      He did so much for me and for so many others through all those Yogi Berra seasons. Number 8, was part of the “greatest generation,” real, wise, human, talented, truly one of a kind.

           Accolades and honors deservedly came Yogi Berra’s way.  He was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972. In 1988, he received a plague in Monument Park. The inscription carries the line: "It ain't over 'til it's over."
      It was over for him at age 90. He passed away on Tuesday September 22, 2015, the 69th anniversary of his Major League debut.
The above profile is excerpted from the author’s THE ULTIMATE YANKEE BOOK which debuts this fall. PRE ORDER from AMAZON: http://www.frommerbooks.com/ultimate-yankees.html .

About Harvey Frommer:  One of the most prolific and respected sports journalists and oral historians in the United States, author of the autobiographies of legends Nolan Ryan, Tony Dorsett, and Red Holzman, Dr. Harvey Frommer is an expert on the New York Yankees and has arguably written more books, articles and reviews on the New York Yankees than anyone.   In 2010, he was honored by the City of New York to serve as historical consultant for the re-imagined old Yankee Stadium site, Heritage Field. A professor for more than two decades in the MALS program at Dartmouth College, Frommer was dubbed “Dartmouth’s Mr. Baseball” by their alumni magazine.

Friday, July 14, 2017

REMEMBERING THE YANKEE CLIPPER By Harvey Frommer

REMEMBERING THE YANKEE CLIPPER
By Harvey Frommer




All the hype and histrionics over Aaron Judge and some of the over-reaching comparisons to Joe DiMaggio trigger the need to go back and re-visit what the Yankee legend was all about.
He was born Giuseppe Paolo DiMaggio on November 25, 1914 in Martinez, California, one of nine children of Rosalie and Giuseppe DiMaggio, a crab fisherman father, an émigré from Sicily. It was all planned for Joe to become a fisherman.
But the youngster’s real passion was playing baseball, a game his father called "a bum's game." On the sandlots of San Francisco, he developed baseball skills by hitting balls with a broken oar from a fishing boat. The kids he played with called him “Long Legs,” in Italian. He was always tall for his age.
With the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League in 1933, DiMag hit safely in 61 straight games.  The next year, playing shortstop, he batted .341, but hurt his knee. Yankee scouts Joe Devine and Bill Essick downplayed the injury in their reports to "Don't back off because of the kid's knee."
"Getting him," George Weiss said on many occasions," was the greatest thing I ever did for the Yankees." The deal contained the clause that DiMaggio be allowed to play one more season for the Seals. Oh, did he play! DiMag batted .398, recorded 270 hits, and drove in 154 runs.
In 1936, permission was granted for the young DiMaggio to drive cross-country with fellow San Franciscans Tony Lazerri and Frank Crosetti to the Yankee spring training camp in Florida. Lazerri turned to DiMaggio after the trio had concluded one day of driving and asked: "Would you like to take over and drive?"     
"I don't drive."  It was reported that those were the only words uttered by DiMag in that three day cross country trek.  
On March 2, l936 DiMaggio finally reported to spring training.  Red Ruffing greeted him with "So you're the great DiMaggio?"  

He played in his first major league game on May 3, 1936, at Yankee Stadium against the St. Louis Browns. In his first time at bat, he hit the second pitch into left field for a single. He had another single and then a triple to left field. Joe DiMaggio played 138 games in his rookie season, batted .323, with 29 home runs and 125 runs batted in. The Yankee Clipper was on his way.
He would step into the batter's box and stub his right toe into the dirt in back of his left heel. It was almost a dance step. His feet were spaced approximately four feet apart, with the weight of his frame on his left leg. Erect, almost in a military position, Joe Dee would hold his bat at the end and poise it on his right shoulder - a rifle at the ready. He would peer at the pitcher from deep in the batter's box with a stance that almost crowded the plate. He was ready.
In DiMaggio's first four seasons (1936-39), the Yankees not only won four straight World Series but they also lost only a total of three Series games.

"Joe was the complete player in everything he did," said his former manager Joe McCarthy. "They'd hit the ball to center field and Joe would stretch out those long legs of his and run the ball down. He never made a mistake on the bases and in Yankee Stadium, a tough park for a right-hander, he was a great hitter, one of the best."  
Secure in his feeling that he was the greatest baseball player of his time, Joe DiMaggio was fiercely concerned about his public image. Being silly in public was not for him. His shoes were always shined, all his buttons were always buttoned, his impeccably tailored clothes fit seamlessly. The great DiMaggio led the major leagues in room service. On road trips, no one ate alone in his hotel room as often as he did. It all fit DiMaggio’s personality which seemed placid, disciplined, calm.
Only those in the Yankee clubhouse saw the legs scraped and raw from hard slides or diving catches. Only those in the clubhouse saw him sit for a half hour or more in front of his locker after the Yankees had lost or when he thought he had played beneath his exceptionally high standards.

In 1941, the Yankee Clipper put together a season surpassing even his lofty standards. Batting .351, pacing the American League with 125 RBIs, smashing  30 home runs, he struck out just 13 times. He also put together the record 56-game hitting streak: some claimed it was  the main reason for his winning the MVP award, narrowly edging out Ted Williams who batted .406.
His career was one that most could only dream about. Yet, military service and injuries limited Joe DiMaggio to just 13 years in pinstripes. But what a time it was – in those 13 seasons the Yankees won 10 pennants and nine world championships.   
On Joe DiMaggio Day in 1949 the Yankee Clipper said:  “When I was in San Francisco, Lefty O’Doul told me: ‘Joe, don’t let the big city scare you. New York is the friendliest town in the world.’ This day proves it. I want to thank my fans, my friends, my manager Casey Stengel; my teammates, the gamest, fightingest bunch of guys that ever lived. And I want to thank the good Lord for making me a Yankee.”
Winner of three MVP awards, two batting titles, a 13-time All-Star, Joltin’ Joe slammed 361 career homers, struck out just 369 times, averaged 118 RBIs and had a .325 lifetime batting average.  The Yankee Clipper homered once every 18.9 at bats.
EDDIE LOPAT: (DiMaggio teammate) Those statistics don't even tell half the story. What he meant to the Yankees, you'll never find in the statistics. He was the real leader of our team. He was the best.
In 1951, the man they called the Yankee Clipper, retired at age 36. Management attempted to get him to perform in pinstripes for one more season. But he had too much pride, and too much pain and knew he was no longer the best.  

Joseph Paul DiMaggio left behind the imagery of a player who moved about in the vast centerfield of Yankee Stadium with a poetical grace. He was one who played when he was fatigued, when he was hurt, when it mattered a great deal, and when it didn't matter at all.  "I was out there to play and give it all I had all the time,” he said.    

Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1955, Joe DiMaggio passed away on March 8, 1999 at age 84.

      About Harvey Frommer:  One of the most prolific and respected sports journalists and oral historians in the United States, author of the autobiographies of legends Nolan Ryan, Tony Dorsett, and Red Holzman, Dr. Harvey Frommer is an expert on the New York Yankees and has arguably written more books, articles and reviews on the New York Yankees than anyone.   In 2010, he was selected by the City of New York as an historical consultant for the re-imagined old Yankee Stadium site, Heritage Field. A professor for more than two decades in the MALS program at Dartmouth College, Frommer was dubbed “Dartmouth’s Mr. Baseball” by their alumni magazine.
      His ULTIMATE YANKEE BOOK debuts this fall. PRE ORDER from AMAZON: http://www.frommerbooks.com/ultimate-yankees.html .

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

IBWAA NAMES CBS SPORTS’ DAYN PERRY HONORARY CHAIRMAN

IBWAA NAMES CBS SPORTS’ DAYN PERRY HONORARY CHAIRMAN


Los Angeles – In celebration of its eighth anniversary Tuesday, the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA) is proud to announce the naming of Dayn Perry, baseball writer forCBSSports.com, as Honorary Chairman of the organization.
 
At CBSSports.com since 2012, Perry has previously been a full-time contributor to FOXSports.com, ESPN.com, and SportsTALK.com. In addition to numerous freelance credits, he's also written three books about baseball, including a biography of Reggie Jackson. A Mississippi native, he lives in Chicago with his wife, son, and dog.
 
Perry, who succeeds ESPN.com’s David Schoenfield as the organization’s fourth honorary chairman, will announce the results of each IBWAA election via social media and generally champion the group’s efforts during a one-year term. His successor will be announced July 4, 2018. Previous honorary chairs include ESPN.com’s Jim Caple and Tom Hoffarth, of the Los Angeles Daily News.
 
The IBWAA was established July 4, 2009 to organize and promote the growing online baseball media, and to serve as a digital alternative to the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA). Voting for full season awards takes place in September of each year, with selections being announced in November. The IBWAA also holds a Hall of Fame election in December of each year, with results being announced the following January.
 
Among others, IBWAA members include Jim Bowden and David Schoenfield of ESPN.com; Tim Brown, Yahoo! Sports; Craig Calcaterra, NBC Sports Hardball Talk; Bill Chuck, GammonsDaily.com; Derrick Goold, St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Jon Heyman and Jesse Spector, Today’s Knuckleball; Danny Knobler, Bleacher Report; Kevin Kennedy; Kostya Kennedy, Sports Illustrated; Will Leitch, Sports on Earth; Bruce Markusen, Hardball Times; Ross Newhan; Dayn Perry and Matt Snyder, CBSSports.com; Tom Hoffarth and J.P. Hoornstra Los Angeles Daily News; Pedro Moura, Los Angeles Times; Tracy Ringolsby, MLB.com; Ken Rosenthal, FoxSports.com; Eno Sarris, FanGraphs; and Bill Arnold.
 
Association membership is open to any and all Internet baseball writers, with a lifetime fee of $75. Discounts for groups and scholarships are available. Members must be 18 years of age to apply.

For more information please visit 
www.ibwaa.com.

Contact:
Howard Cole
Founding Director, IBWAA
baseballsavvy@aol.com

Start Sending the News - Part II - By Harvey Frommer

Start Sending the News - Part II - By Harvey Frommer


Apocryphal: Story or statement of doubtful authenticity, although widely

circulated as being true.



“The Babe’s Age”

Born George Herman Ruth on February 6, 1895 in Baltimore, as the story

got around, was an orphan. That was not true. His mother died when he was 16,

and his father when he was in the big leagues. For almost 40 years, the Babe

thought he had been born on February 7, 1894. Only when he applied for a

passport to go to Japan in 1934 and had to produce his birth certificate did he

realize an error of one year had been made regarding his age.

The error became one of record in 1902 when Ruth’s father gave his son’s

incorrect birthdate date and year when the boy first entered St. Mary’s Industrial

School in Baltimore.

“Yogi Bear”

Yogi Berra never was paid for the character Yogi Bear even though it was

obviously named for him.

“Mickey Mantle’s Tape Measure Shot”

According to Marty Appel: "Red (Patterson) never got hold of a tape

measure; he walked it off with his size 11 shoes and estimated the distance."

“Centerfielders: Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Bernie Williams”

The popular perception is that Joe DiMaggio was a Yankee centerfielder for

13 seasons, His tenure was actually for 12.5 seasons. In 1936 the Yankee Clipper

started 54 times in center field. After that he made at least 113 starts almost every

year for the remainder of his playing career aside from 1949. Injuries limited him

to just 76 games. Service in WWII 1943-45 cut into his playing career.

After DiMaggio retired, Mickey Mantle became the next longest serving

center fielder. However, “the Mick” was not exclusively a centerfielder. In his

rookie season of 1951 DiMaggio was still there. The Commerce Comet played 84

games in right field and three games in centerfield. From 1952 for the next 15

seasons the Mick was fixture as the Yankee centerfielder. In 1967, Mantle moved

to first base for his final two seasons.

Bernie Williams was not the regular center fielder until 1993. He actually

played from in 1991-1992, but that was part-time. The graceful Williams manned

centerfield through the 2005. His 16 th and final year as a Yankee in 2006, he

splitting time between left field, center field and designated hitter.

Wally Pipp & the Aspirins

“"I took the two most expensive aspirins in history" has gone down in

history as one of baseball’s most famous quotes.” It is untrue.

Technically Gehrig's streak began a day earlier when he pinch-hit. The next

day he was positioned at first base and his long tenure began – 2,129 straight

games. Back in those days a mild headache would never keep a player out of a

game. They played on through pain and injury. That, in fact was what the Iron

Horse had to do to set his record consecutive games played.

The Baby Ruth candy bar

Introduced in 1921, the Curtiss Candy Company claimed that it was named

after Ruth Cleveland, the late daughter of ex-president Grover Cleveland. That

“naming” claim a legal ploy allowing Curtiss to name the candy the Babe and not

getting his permission. Diphtheria actually claimed Ruth Cleveland at age 12 in

1904, 17 years before “Baby Ruth” candy bar was introduced when the Sultan of

Swat was in his prime time years. A P.S. to the confection is that it originally

was named "Kandy Kake.” The name was changed after George Herman Ruth

became the star of stars

Joe Di, The Boss & Monument Park

The story was that Joe DiMaggio wanted a monument in his honor at

Yankee Stadium, one to take its place near other immortals in Monument Park.

In the 1990s, George Steinbrenner approached the Yankee Clipper and told

him of his plans for a monument to DiMag.

Joe said, 'I'm still breathing, still alive, I'm not going into a memorial park.”

He didn't want the honor until after his death. Joe DiMaggio died on March

8, 1999. His monument was unveiled April 25 of that year.

“Catfish

Jim Hunter's nickname was totally fabricated by A's owner Charlie Finley, who

invented a story for the media about Hunter catching fish in the backwoods creeks

of North Carolina and was dubbed “Catfish.” Truth be told, the name was briefly

applied to a very young Hunter when he caught a catfish.

Sheppard & Jeter

PAUL DOHERTY: Bob Sheppard was the Yankees public address

announcer from Tues April 17, 1951 through his last game in the Stadium on

Weds September 5, 2007, an unparalleled 57 seasons. Although Sheppard

never returned to the Stadium after September 2007, starting in 2008 the

Yankees played a recording of Bob introducing Derek Jeter, the well-known

“Now batting for the Yankees, Number 2, Derek Jeter, Number 2.” Hard as it

may be to believe this was the first time Bob ever introduced a batter by

saying “Now batting.” It was a true urban legend, used in countless Sheppard

impressions for years, that Bob introduced batters with “Now batting.” Well,

until the pre-recorded Jeter announcement, Bob never uttered such a phrase.

He announced pinch hitters with, “Batting for X” but never using “now.”

When a batter came to the plate for the first time in a game the intro was

always the same, “Number. Name, Position. Number.” For 57 seasons. When

a batter came to the plate for subsequent at bats Bob’s introduction template

was reduced to (post-1966, he only announced first at bats through the end of

’66). “Position. Name.” Period. Supposedly when Bob was recording at his

home the special Jeter intro he decided to add “Now batting” to it since this

was a unique “one-of- a-kind” introduction that needed to fit a Jeter at bat

whether he was playing shortstop or DH or he was pinch hitting. But Bob

never uttered that type of intro before…no matter who you heard

impersonating Bob before the 2008 season including Derek Jeter!

-------------------------------------------------------------------

About Harvey Frommer: One of the most prolific and respected sports

journalists and oral historians in the United States, author of the autobiographies of

legends Nolan Ryan, Tony Dorsett, and Red Holzman, Dr. Harvey Frommer is an

expert on the New York Yankees and has arguably written more books, articles and

reviews on the New York Yankees than anyone.   In 2010, he was selected by the City

of New York as an historical consultant for the re-imagined old Yankee Stadium site,

Heritage Field. A professor for more than two decades in the MALS program at

Dartmouth College, Frommer was dubbed “Dartmouth’s Mr. Baseball” by their

alumni magazine.

PRE ORDER from AMAZON: http://www.frommerbooks.com/ultimate-yankees.html

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

REMEMBERING JIMMY PIERSALL: ONE OF A KIND By Harvey Frommer

REMEMBERING JIMMY PIERSALL: ONE OF A KIND

By Harvey Frommer

The recent passing of the totally talented Jimmy Piersall made me go

to the Frommer archives and prepare the following excerpts from my book


Remembering Fenway Park.:

http://harveyfrommersports.com/remembering_fenway/


I spent a good deal of time interviewing him; Jimmy was honest,

unassuming and a terrific story teller. The passages bring his time and him

back to our consciousness. He was one of a kind.



JIMMY PIERSALL: My first day in the big leagues was

September 7, 1950. I was 20 years old. And we were playing

Washington and I was sitting on the bench. We’re down by four

runs and Steve O’Neil who had replaced Joe McCarthy as manager

said it’s time for me to pinch-hit. He called me “pierseraroll”— he

didn’t know what the hell my name was.


JOHNNY PESKY: A big left handed pitcher was going against

us. Piersall was going up for his first at bat. “Goddamn this guy’s

awful wild, God damn it, I’m afraid,” Jimmy said.

“If you’re afraid,” I told him, “you better get a lunch pail and

go home.”


JIMMY PIERSALL: I walked up. My hands were sweating. I

swung at the first pitch and the bat lands beyond the third base

dugout. And I’m standing there without a bat. The on deck circle

guy gives me another bat. The count goes to 3-2, and I hit a ball

between second and third for a hit.

==

Fighting at Fenway during the 1952 season seemed contagious.

Hyperactive Jimmy Piersall and Billy Martin got into a shouting match

before the Red Sox-Yankee game on the 24 th of May in the tunnel beneath

the stands. After the game they were at it again. As the story goes, Boston

pitcher Ellis Kinder accompanied Piersall and Bill Dickey accompanied

Martin as seconds. Martin sucker-punched,threw the first blow. They got

into a clinch. That ended the “fight.” Piersall supposedly changed his

bloody shirt in the clubhouse and was verbally on Martin from the bench

during the rest of the game.


JIMMY PIERSALL: It wasn’t a real fight, just pushing and

shoving. The only guy that got hurt was Bill Dickey. Heck, the way

the media played it up it was like a real brawl. You know, writers

would hang their mothers for the Pulitzer Prize.

Less than a month later on June 11 th in a game against the Browns,

Piersall led off the ninth inning against Satchel Paige announcing that was

going to bunt. He laid down one safely. Then the Sox outfielder began

imitating the ageless hurler’s moves yelling “Oink‚ oink‚ oink." An infield hit

moved Piersall to second base. Mimimcry and “oinks” continued.

Exasperated and unnerved, Paige walked the bases full. Another

walk to Billy Goodman scored a Red Sox run. Ted Lepcio singled, re-loading

the bases. Sammy White slammed a grand slammer. Then seemingly

influenced by Piersall’s behavior, the Red Sox catcher rounded third base,

crawled home and kissed the plate. It was a bizarre day at Fenway.

==

JIMMY PIERSALL: I was traded away but by 1953, I was

back with the Red Sox. At first, players on other teams would call

me “Gooney bird” and go “coo coo, coo coo.”

I finally said to myself, “I’m a pretty good player.” So if I hit

a home run or make a good play I’ll give them the finger.

On May 8 th , 1953 – Boston snapped a 13-game losing streak to the

Yankees . A Billy Goodman homer off Johnny Sain was the game winner in

the bottom of the 11 th inning. The next day the first-place Yankees nipped

Boston, 6–4. Mickey Mantle homered off Bill Werle. But the Mick’s bid for a

second home run was denied as Jimmy Piersall made a great catch in front

of the Sox bullpen in right-center field. There is no report of his giving the

finger.


DAVE HUTCHINSON: It was incredible how many times

Jimmy Piersall was able to do that. Defensively, for so many

years, he was something else.

Jimmy Piersall was truly something else.
--------------------------------------------

About the Author:   One of the most prolific and respected sports journalists and oral

historians in the United States, author of the autobiographies of legends Nolan Ryan,

Tony Dorsett, and Red Holzman, Dr. Harvey Frommer is a A professor in the MALS

program at Dartmouth College, Frommer was dubbed “Dartmouth’s Mr. Baseball” by

their alumni magazine.



His The Ultimate Yankee Book will be published fall 2017. Pre-order from

Amazon:https://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-Yankee- Book-Beginning- Today-

Essential/dp/1624144330

Sunday, June 4, 2017

SPORTS BOOKSHELF: Dinner with DiMaggio, Coach Wooden and Me. … and more By Harvey Frommer

SPORTS BOOKSHELF:

Dinner with DiMaggio, Coach Wooden and Me. … and mor
e


By Harvey Frommer



All kinds of new sports books. All kinds of interesting reading. What

follows if the pick of the pack. Enjoy


Dinner with DiMaggio by Richard Sandomir (Hatchette Books, $26.00,

350 pages) is a bit overblown and repetitive which more careful editing would

have fixed. There is also data on the Yankee Clipper that has appeared in print

before. That being said, if you are of a certain age, this tome will appeal to you.

Filled with gossip, opinion, stories, it worth spending a few hours with. A GOOD

READ



Coach Wooden and Me by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar focuses in on his half

century friendship with the fabled UCLA basketball coach. They first met in 1965

when Jabbar, then 18-year- old Lew Alcindor, showed up at UCLA. The rest, as

they say is the stuff of legend in basketball history as Jabbar led the way for the

Bruins to cop three NCAA national championships.

This is a book to read and savor and keep on your sports bookshelf. It truly

is an inside look at two legends and their special relationship. Wooden was coach,

mentor, friend, critic, father, all things to Jabbar who was a player and person who

helped shape the legacy of his great coach. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED



The Pride of the Yankees by Richard Sandomir (Hatchette Books, $27.00,

293 pages is the inside and sometimes never told story of the making of the classic

film about Lou Gehrig, Gary Cooper and so much more. Through the years I have

gone back and forth as to which sports film ranks Number One.

I have always come back to The Pride of the Yankees. This terrific tome is

filled with anecdotes galore, new information, elegant writing that matches

Sandomir’s prodigious research. ONE THAT BELONGS HIGH ON YOUR

SPORTS BOOKSHELF


About the Author:   One of the most prolific and respected sports journalists

and oral historians in the United States, author of the autobiographies of legends

Nolan Ryan, Tony Dorsett, and Red Holzman, Dr. Harvey Frommer is an expert on the

New York Yankees and has arguably written more books, articles and reviews on the

New York Yankees than anyone.   In 2010, he was selected by the City of New York as

an historical consultant for the re-imagined old Yankee Stadium site, Heritage Field.

A professor for more than two decades in the MALS program at Dartmouth College,

Frommer was dubbed “Dartmouth’s Mr. Baseball” by their alumni magazine.

Pre-Order from Amazon

 Pre-Order HERE!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Derek Jeter and the Yankees of New York, By the Numbers - By Harvey Frommer

Derek Jeter and the Yankees of New York, By the Numbers
                   By Harvey Frommer 



          All the hype and hullabaloo has now ebbed and Derek Jeter day and night is part of baseball lore and legend. He was and is one of a kind. Driven, dedicated, talented, the “Captain” deserves all the accolades, all the awards. He has earned them.
        The Yankees have always had a thing about Derek Jeter and also about numbers.  And if Jeter is the last Yankee to wear Number 2, the question begs to be asked: Who wore Number 2 first? 



The answer: Mark Koenig
       Back in 1929,  the New York Yankees introduced identifying numbers sewn on the backs of player jerseys, the first time that uniform numbers were used on a full-time basis. The "original" ten Yankee uniform numbers were:
            #1 - Earle Combs
            #2 - Mark Koenig
            #3 - Babe Ruth
            #4 - Lou Gehrig
            #5 - Bob Meusel
            #6 - Tony Lazzeri
            #7 - Leo Durocher
            #8 - Johnny Grabowski
            #9 - Benny Bengough
            #10 - Bill Dickey

          Since then, uniform numbers and all matter of numerology have affixed the lore and tradition of all things Yankees. Not to be accused of shameless pushing of my newest baseball tome: THE ULTIMATE YANKEE BOOK, coming fall 2017, http://www.frommerbooks.com/ultimate-yankees.html, what follows is a sampling of Yankees By The Numbers.   

                              Zero 
The 1927 Yankees made no changes to its roster all season long. They team began with 10 pitchers, three catchers, seven infielders, five outfielders, and ended that way.
Fewest passed balls in a season, 1931 
          In 283 innings in 1961, Whitey Ford did not allow a single stolen base.
Number of days Dave Winfield spent in minor-league baseball before reaching the majors.
         
  With Derek Jeter's No. 2 , the Yankees will be the only team with no single-retired  uniform numbers. Disclaimer – unless they issue and retire zero if that is considered a number.
The Yankees have never had player names on the back of any jersey, unlike most other MLB teams.

0002 
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.
.00009 
Difference between the batting average of George "Snuffy" Stirnweiss: .30854 and White Sox Tony Cuccinello: .30845 in the closest batting race in major league history, 1945. 
1 
Pitcher Clark Griffith, 1903-1907, was the first Yankee Captain
Number of times Babe Ruth was pinch hit for. (Bobby Veach on August 9, 1925.)
Joe DiMaggio was the only player to get at least one hit in All-Star Games at Yankee Stadium, the Polo Grounds and Ebbets Field.

       During Joe DiMaggio's record 56-game hit streak, he had just one hit in 34 of those games.
        Mickey Mantle hit for the cycle only 1 time in his career. He did it against Chicago at Yankee Stadium in 1957.
Billy Martin number retired August 10, 1986
          Derek Jeter is the only Yankees shortstop to win the Gold Glove Award.



   1.10   
       The major league rule banning a sticky substance such as pine tar on a bat beyond 18 inches from the bottom. That rule led to the "pine tar affair," Yankees against Royals in 1983.
1 1/2 
       When George Steinbrenner purchased the Yankees in 1973, he officially made Merrill the singing voice of the Yankees for as long as the baritone opera singer wanted. The team even gave him his own pinstriped uniform and number sewn on the back. For many years Merrill sang the national anthem at Yankee Stadium.

PAUL DOHERTY: Others sang the anthem in person after Steinbrenner took over, although Merrill’s recording was used primarily with Jerry Vale’s, The Boston Pops (of all Orchestras!!) and at times The New York Philharmonic’s.

1.64
          Top ERA in a season, Spud Chandler, 1943
 1.95
   Career earned-run average of Herb Pennock in World Series competition.
2     
  Shortstop Kid Elberfeld, second Yankee Captain, 1907-1909
 Babe Ruth, two days in a row, hit grand slam homers.
          Alex Rodriguez homered twice in the seventh inning at Yankee Stadium on September 5, 2007 against the Mariners giving him 48 home runs for the season.
The number of managerial tours of duty of Bob Lemon, Gene Michael and Lou Piniella.
      Fewest shutouts by a Yankee pitching staff in a season, 1994.
     Fewest times in a season grounded into a double play: Mickey Mantle, 1961, Mickey Rivers, 1977.
    Most grand slams in a game by a Yankee, Tony Lazzeri, May 24, 1936 at Philadelphia’s Shibe Park. 
2.45
          Bob Shawkey’s 1920 season league leading ERA title was the first ever won by a Yankee pitcher.
$2.50

         Prior to the second world war, box seats were regular wooden chairs that went back about two or three rows from third to first base. They cost about $2.50.” Red Foley, NY Daily News


2.57
 Lowest earned run average by a Yankee pitching staff, 1904. 
3
First baseman Hal Chase was the third Yankee Captain, 1909-1912. 
All three perfect games in Yankee Stadium history were seen by Joe Torre: Larsen's beauty as a 16-year-old fan, and the ones pitched by David Wells and David Cone from the dugout as Yankee manager. The Yankees have the most perfect games pitched by one club, all at Yankee Stadium.                      
            Babe Ruth's uniform number, retired June 13, 1948, second Yankee number. While the great Yankee was the first to wear it, he was far from the last. Seven other Yankees wore No. 3. Outfielder Cliff Mapes wore it in 1948 when it was retired. Mapes switched to No. 7 the next year. After he was traded to the Browns in mid-1951, No. 7 went to a rookie named Mickey Mantle.
Shortstop Joe Sewell struck out only three times in 503 at-bats in 1932.
Babe Ruth and Bob Meusel are two of the players in history to hit for the cycle three times.



The Yankee Clipper is the only player to earn a ring for winning the World Series in each of his first four seasons, 1936-1939. 
Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra each won three MVP awards.
Top number of perfect games by a franchise: Don Larsen, David Wells, David Cone.
          In September, 1998, Yankees outfielder Shane Spencer tied a Major League record by hitting three grand slams in one month.
            Paul O’Neill is the only player to have been in right field for three perfect games: Tom Browning of the Reds (1988), David Wells (1998) David Cone perfect game (1999).
3.1



          Record time Mickey Mantle  able to run from home plate to first base, fastest for any player in history

4
Most consecutive losing seasons for Yankees, 1912-1915 and 1989-1992
Shortstop Roger Peckinpaugh was the fourth Yankee Captain, 1914-1921
In 1923, Babe Ruth hit for his highest single-season average: .393. He came within four hits of batting .400.
Lou Gehrig's number, retired on July 4, 1ballpark.939, the first athlete in any sport. He is the only Yankee to have worn number 4. 
          Four straight Yankee MVP awards twice: Yogi Berra in 1954 and 1955, Mickey Mantle in 1956 and 1957. Then Mickey Mantle in 1960, Roger Maris,  1961, Mantle1962, Elston Howard, 1963.
Yankee Stadium on July 15, 2008 is the setting for the fourth All Star Game.
          All-time record for All-Star saves by Mariano Rivera
4.02
Lou Gehrig’s career RBIs for at bats, second to only Babe Ruth.           



4.88
          Highest ERA by Yankee pitching staff, 1930
5
Outfielder Babe Ruth was the fifth Yankee Captain, May 20 to May 25, 1922.
Lefty Gomez was a starter in five All-Star Games, winning 3 of them)
Number of times Mickey Mantle hit a ball into the copper facade that hung from the old stadium's roof. 
Joe DiMaggio's uniform number, retired in 1952
Yanks won the World Series a record five straight seasons – 1949-53 
October 16th, 2003 - Aaron Boone was the fifth player -- and second Yankee -- to end a post-season series with a walk-off home run. His solo shot in the bottom of the 11th inning capped a 6-5, Game 7 victory over Boston, giving the Yankees their 39th American League Pennant.



No team in baseball history matches the Yankees for five catchers the quality of Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, Thurman Munson, and Jorge Posada.
Playing fields for franchise:  Hilltop Park 1903-1912, Polo Grounds 1913-1922, Yankee Stadium (original)  1923-1973, Shea Stadium 1974-1975, Yankee Stadium (refurbished) 1976-2008, New Yankee Stadium 2009 –
Shortstop Everett Scott was the sixth Yankee Captain succeeding Babe Ruth, 1922-1925
On June 6, 1934 - Yankee outfielder Myril Hoag tied an American League record with six singles in six at-bats. 
Second baseman Joe Gordon, who played mostly in the 1940s, wore No. 6. He was inducted posthumously into Cooperstown in 2009.
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.
Number of times Billy Martin had a tour of duty as manager.
Don Mattingly hits a grand slam off Boston's Bruce Hurst at Yankee Stadium on September 29, 1987, setting a Major-League record with six grand slams in a season.
Joe Torre's Number retired by Yankees.

 About the Author:   One of the most prolific and respected sports journalists and oral historians in the United States, author of the autobiographies of legends Nolan Ryan, Tony Dorsett, and Red Holzman, Dr. Harvey Frommer is an expert on the New York Yankees and has arguably written more books, articles and reviews on the New York Yankees than anyone.   In 2010, he was selected by the City of New York as an historical consultant for the re-imagined old Yankee Stadium site, Heritage Field. A professor for more than two decades in the MALS program at Dartmouth College, Frommer was dubbed “Dartmouth’s Mr. Baseball” by their alumni magazine.

PRE ORDER from AMAZON: 

http://www.frommerbooks.com/ultimate-yankees.html