Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Not So Amazin’ Mets by Frommer

The Not So Amazin’ Mets


             The first run they ever scored came on a balk. They lost the first nine games they ever played. Rumor has it they picked the name of the best pitcher (Tom Seaver) in their history out of a hat on April Fools' Day.
        They were supposed to be the replacement for the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants. They could have been the New York Continentals, Burros, Skyliners, Skyscrapers, Bees, Rebels, NYB's, Avengers or even Jets (all runner-up names in a contest to tab the National League team that began playing baseball in 1962).
        But as the press release dated May 8, 1961, announced, the name was "METS...just plain Mets." They have never been anything to their fans but amazing - the Amazin' New York Mets.
         In 1960 Casey Stengel managed the New York Yankees to a first-place finish as the team recorded a .630 percentage winning 97 games and losing 57. By 1962, Stengel was in place as the skipper of the New York Mets. They finished 10th in a 10-team league. They finished 60 1/2 games out of first place, losing more games (120) than any other team in the 20th century.
      Richie Ashburn batted .306 for the Mets that season and then retired. He remembered those days.
      "It was the only time I went to a ballpark in the major leagues and nobody expected you to win."
        Once they were losing a game12-1, and there were two out in the bottom of the ninth inning. A fan held up a sign that said "PRAY!" There was a walk. And ever hopeful thousands of fans started shouting at the Polo Grounds (where they played while Shea Stadium was being built) "Let's Go Mets!!" A bumbling collection of castoffs, not quite-ready-for prime-time major league players, paycheck collectors and callow youth, the Mets underwhelmed the opposition. But Casey loved the young players on the team who he called "the youth of America."
     They had pitcher Jay Hook who could talk for hours about why a curve ball curved (he had a Masters degree in engineering), but couldn't throw one consistently.
     They had "Choo-Choo" Coleman, an excellent low-ball catcher. The only problem was that the Mets had very few low-ball pitchers. They had "Marvelous Marv" Throneberry, a Mickey Mantle look-alike in the batter's box, and that's where the resemblance ended.
      Day after day Casey Stengel would watch the Mets and be amazed at how they could find newer and more original ways to beat themselves. In desperation - some swore it was on the day he witnessed Al Jackson go 15 innings yielding but three hits only to lose the game on two errors committed by Marvelous Marv - Casey bellowed out his plaintive query, "Can't anybody here play this game?"
     They were 100-1 underdogs to win the pennant in 1969, and incredibly came on to finish the year as World Champions.
     There are some who think it will happen again soon.
     There are many who think it will not happen until new ownership is in place.
     One  thing all agree on is that the Mets are no longer Amazin’.

BOOKENDS: CAP IN HAND by Bruce Dowbiggin ($32.95, 240 pages, ECW Press) is an argument made about how salary caps in pro sports have a highly negative effect and why the free market could save them.
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 has been a professor for more than two decades in the MALS program at Dartmouth College, Frommer was dubbed “Dartmouth’s Mr. Baseball” by alumni magazine. He’s also the founder of Frommer books may be ordered directly from the author:

Thursday, September 6, 2018

The Greatest Baseball Team  --Ever

By Harvey Frommer
There is always the debate among baseball aficionados, experts, fans - -what was the greatest baseball team of all time?
          In my book Five O’Clock Lighting, there is provided for all the definitive answer, the 1927 New York Yankees, hands down. You could look it up:

          When Yankee owner Colonel Ruppert's "Rough Riders," as some called them, were not going head to head against their American League competition, they were playing exhibition games in Buffalo, Omaha, Rochester, Columbus, Dayton, Indianapolis, all kinds of places.
            Everyone in the little cities and small towns wanted to catch a glimpse of the Babe, Lou and the others. Wherever the Yankees went, there were always packed ballparks and playing fields. The team was a magnet, a syncopated jazz band playing a baseball song with the Babe leading, striking up the band with his home run baton, his bat. Whole towns came out early and they stayed late studying the moves of "the Colossus of Baseball." How the Sultan of Swat walked, how he ran, how he swung a bat, how he caught and threw a baseball, how he joked and wrestled with kids in the fields of play, how many different kinds of home runs he hit. Demand for the Yankees came from all over.  
Murderers' Row even played exhibition games in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, National League cities.
          In Omaha, Nebraska, the King of Clouts, Ruth, and his protégé the "Prince of Pounders," Gehrig seemed genuinely happy to make the acquaintance of one "Lady Amco" who was known as the "Babe Ruth of chickens." She was a world champ at laying eggs. The morning the Babe and the Buster met her she produced on cue, laying an egg for the 171st straight day.
           In Indianapolis, the Sultan of Swat failed to homer or even swat the ball out of the infield in his first three times at bats.  Each time the smattering of boos and heckling became louder, all good natured, of course. According to reports, Ruth in his fourth at bat tagged the ball, and it leaped over the fence in right field into the street bouncing into box cars in a nearby freight yard. That was the story.
          And its punch line: "I guess I did show those people something, make fun of me, will they," the Big Bam boomed going into the dugout.  
        In a dilapidated park in Ft. Wayne, Indiana before 35,000 against the Lincoln Lifes, a semi-pro team, the scene was all too familiar. Hundreds of kids screamed, ached to ogle, to get an autograph or just to be close to George Herman Ruth, their idol.
         The Bambino, to save his legs, played first base, as was his custom many times during those exhibition games. Gehrig played right field. Going into the tenth inning, the score was tied, 3-3. Mike Gazella was on first base when Ruth stepped into the batter's box. Always the showman, signaling to the crowd that they might as well start going home, the Big Bam poked the ball over the right field fence giving the Yankees a 5-3 win. Hundreds of boys who had been relatively controlled and contained mobbed their idol as he crossed home plate. It took quite a while before Ruth and the Yankees could clear out of the park.
       Wherever the exhibition games were staged, overflow crowds sat in the outfield watching the action. Attendance records were broken. Mobs cheered. They roared and howled and jumped to their feet, marveling at the power and magic of the mighty Yankees and especially George Herman Ruth. "God, we liked that big son of a bitch. He was a constant source of joy, Waite Hoyt said. "I've seen them kids, men, women, worshipers all, hoping to get his name on a torn, dirty piece of paper, or hoping for a grunt of recognition when they said, 'Hi-ya, Babe.'
        He never let them down; not once. He was the greatest crowd pleaser of them all." In a game played at Sing-Sing, New York against the prison team, Ruth slugged a batting practice home run over the right field wall and then another over the center field wall. "I'd love to be riding out of here on those balls," one of the prisoners joked. During the game the Sultan of Swat turned to the crowd of cons in the stands and bellowed in that big booming baritone voice of his: "What time is it?" Many of the cons shouted back the answer.
      "What difference does it make?" the showman Ruth yelled. "You guys ain't going anyplace, any time soon."
          The Yankees were going anyplace they could play baseball. On May 26 they were at West Point. Entering the Mess Hall at noon to dine with the Cadets for lunch, the team from the Bronx received a standing and enthusiastic ovation from the 1,200 West Pointers. Before the baseball exhibition game began at West Stadium, "Jidge" Ruth presented members of the Army nine with autographed baseballs and a specially autographed baseball to the leading ball player of each of the twelve companies.
         The Yankees used virtually their regular lineup except that Ruth and Gehrig switched places in the field. Earle Combs walked to start the game. Mark Koenig singled. Babe Ruth was struck out by Army pitcher Tim Timberlake and that got a mighty rise from the Cadets.

       James Harrison later described the scene in The New York Times: "'Aw, he didn't try to hit the ball,' said one of the cadets. 'He was just trying to make us feel good.' “However, the truth of the matter was that the Big Bam was so eager to hit a homer for the Hudson folks that he went after bad balls which he couldn't have reached on a stepladder.
       No matter. A good time was being had by all until lightning, thunder and a soaking rain brought the festivities to a quick conclusion after just two innings. The Yanks, as usual, won another, 2-0. It was said that the Babe got a big kick playing in exhibition games. It was said that he liked that time to show off his skills, play without pressure, and have fun. That was what was said. But there was also the unpublicized financial benefit. At the beginning of his participation in exhibitions gigs, Ruth received 10 percent of the gate receipts. That arrangement ballooned later to a guaranteed $2,500 against 15 percent of gate receipts.
         Just how many became fans of the Yankees after attending those exhibition games cannot be measured. Just how many heard about the dramatic doings of the team and became lifelong fans of the team that were calling "Murderers' Row" is also beyond calculation.


Tigerland by Wil Haywood (Knopf, $27.95, 420 pages)is a highly relevant and rewarding flashback to a time and place in sports and cultural history.Detroit, 1968-1969. Eloquently written, carefully researched, the Detroit Tigers, the city, the memorable cast of characters...this is a keeper, a book that belongs on your sports bookshelf. Interestingly enough, one of my Dartmouth College graduate students did her thesis in a much more limited way on this topic some years ago.

 Baseball Cop by Eddie Dominguez (Hatchette, $28.00, 304 pages) is a real inside baseball book that focuses as its sub-title proclaims on the dark side of America’s national Pastime.
The author worked in MLB’s Department of Investigation and provides an anecdotal and fascinating story of self policing. Highly recommended.


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.
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. He’s also the founder of Frommer books maybe ordered directly from the author:

Monday, September 3, 2018


Featuring a Never-Before-Disvovered-or-Published Historical Connection Between The Kid and The Babe


As the baseball world rightly celebrates the 100th birthday of Ted Williams (August 30), it is natural to think about his remarkable career. As a baseball historian, I had the privilege of interviewing Williams in 1986 at Winter Haven, Florida, and it was a powerful experience. Not surprisingly, therefore, I have thought hard in recent days about both that interview and what Ted told me during that magical time.
Two compelling truths immerged as we talked. First, despite his slender frame, Ted hit the ball astonishingly hard and far. Second, although often regarded as somewhat self-absorbed, Williams showed profound respect and even affection for many of his former colleagues.
The list of those for whom he spoke most glowingly was a “Who’s Who In Baseball History.” Admittedly, I was totally entranced. That august group included Rogers Hornsby, Bob Feller, Joe DiMaggio, Lefty Grove, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and many others. Yet, although that was very select company, two names stood out above all others. They were Babe Ruth and Jimmie Foxx.
Ted teamed with Foxx for over three seasons, and spoke with such tenderness and warmth about the then, aging slugger that I became highly emotional myself. Yet, what about The Babe? Ted never even saw the man play. The explanation for that apparent conundrum came directly from Ted himself in that same memorable 1986 interview.
When the nineteen-year-old Williams toured up and down the West Coast’s Pacific Coast League in 1937, he left a trail of monstrous home runs nearly everywhere he played. He was that powerful with a bat in his hands. Yet, this is what Ted said to me about The Bambino:
When I first came up in the Pacific Coast League, I’d hear stories about long home runs. They’d point to a house across the street, and say that’s where Lou Gehrig hit one. Or a wood pile, and say that’s where somebody else hit one. And then they’d point to a factory across another street farther from the house, and say that’s where Babe Ruth hit one. I’d hear stories like that everywhere I went.
In that context, is it any wonder why Ted Williams was still in awe of Babe Ruth a half century later?
I have spent a lot of time thinking about those two guys ever since then, and I still marvel at the synchronicity of their combined careers. Statistically, there is little doubt that those two left-handed bombers were the greatest batsmen in the history of their sport. In slugging percentage, Babe is still number one at .690, and Ted is second at .634. In on-base-percentage, Ted is the all-time leader at .482 with Babe right behind him at .474. When you combine those two crucial numerical categories (so-called OPS), there they sit at the top: Babe Ruth at 1.164 and Ted Williams at 1.116.
Most baseball fans know that Ted passionately wanted to be regarded as his sport’s greatest hitter. The numbers tell us that, if he didn’t succeed, there was only one man ahead of him. Those two iconic individualists are forever linked as the best who ever swung a bat. Okay then, what about pure power?
To answer that question, we again refer back to that serendipitous conversation in the spring of 1986. We talked about all of Ted’s longest homers, but, most of all, we discussed the one for which he is most famous: his so-called Straw Hat home run. Recorded at Boston’s Fenway Park on June 9, 1946, it is also referred to as his “Red Seat” homer. The derivations of those two titles are easy to explain.
Ted’s astounding drive (estimated here at 522 feet) actually struck a fan on his head, plunking through his straw hat. Sobriquet number two derives from the fact that, in 1984, the Red Sox painted a seat which corresponds to the spot in the former bench rows where the ball descended from the heavens. The Sox chose the color red to commemorate the 1946 event, and selected the 37th row as the level where this historic drive landed.
In this particular detail, I respectfully disagree with the Red Sox. I feel that the evidence tells us that the likely landing point was the 33rd row. However, that difference is minor in the overall context of this tale. Either way, both fans and players still gawk at the approximate landing spot in breathless admiration mixed with understandable skepticism. For example, when I spoke with Reggie Jackson (another of baseball’s all-time longest hitters) during batting practice at Fenway back in the mid-eighties, we rated Ted’s shot based on it landing in either row 33 or row 37. Reggie was dumbstruck either way.
Historians can tell the doubters not to bother with their cynicism.  That blow has been researched to the point of overkill, and the available data holds up. Benefitting from a forcible wind at his back, Teddy Ballgame really did blast a ball well beyond the 30th row. He truly did. But, where does Babe Ruth fit into this part of the story?
The truth is that nobody compares with the Sultan of Swat in the matter of pure power. As strong as Williams was, not even Ted could challenge Ruth in this regard. Nobody could (or can). I have written three books on the topic of distance hitting, and have known for many years that The Babe smashed several drives at Fenway Park that rivaled Ted’s 1946 classic shot…the one that bonked a guy on his bean, right through his straw hat.
Yet, until I started thinking again about these two old warriors as a result of Ted’s forthcoming 100th birthday, it never occurred to me to link Babe and Ted in the matter of the “Straw Hat” home run. Recently, however, I began reviewing all my records on their combined mightiest homers in Boston. That brought me directly in touch with the twenty-fifth home run of Babe’s tremendous 1921 season. It was struck on June 23, and, predictably (at this stage of the story), was launched at Fenway Park.
According to multiple primary newspaper accounts (Boston Globe, Boston Herald, New York World, New York Times, and various wire services), the ball landed two-thirds of the way up into the right field bleachers. Those bleachers stood exactly fifty rows above the playing field. Using fourth grade arithmetic, we can conclude that the ball descended into the 33rd row (or very close to it). What about the exact direction of Babe’s drive? For that we got a little lucky.
Sadly, despite the fact that most of the Boston newspapers of that era included sketches of game highlights, there were no such drawings the day after Ruth’s home run. Happily, however, when Babe had crushed a stupendous game-winner back on July 9, 1918 as a Red Sox player, the Boston Post had published a sketch of the exact landing point. Three years later, when Babe smacked his shot to the 33rd row as a New York Yankee, that New York World stated that it was virtually identical to his 1918 bomb. And guess what? That 1918 drive had taken what appears to have been the precise line of travel as Williams’ subsequent “Straw Hat” homer.
Taking that information to its logical conclusion, we know that both drives landed in virtually the same place. Somewhat of a coincidence? Well, hold on. There’s more to it than that, a lot more. When I recently reread the account of Babe’s 1921 drive in the Boston Herald, in part, this is what I saw:
The count was two and two when he (Ruth) caught the next one and lifted it high toward right, with Peckinpaugh on first base. Shauno Collins (right fielder) turned his back, took a step or two and then joined all the other spectators and the most vitally interested person was a gent wearing a straw hat who had to duck to get out of the way…
That narrative got my attention. I couldn’t help wondering about the odds of two 500-foot-plus home runs (they are extremely rare: only one so far in the 21st Century) landing in the same place and tracking directly at the straw hat of male attendee. One in a million? How about one in a trillion?
It’s true that Ruth hit his homer into the old wooden bleachers which were replaced in 1934 by the newer concrete and steel stands. Those updated seats were erected in the same position as their predecessors, and retained the same fifty row size. The modern bleachers are thirty inches wide. In Babe’s day, they were twenty-four inches in depth. However, the new rows have six inch risers whereas the old ones were about ten inches in height, one above the other.
I’ve asked a couple of physicists to figure out the spatial relationship between the two sets of bleachers, and I have been told that a batted ball into the 33rd row of both would have tracked in almost the same flight path (Ted’s in the new bleachers being, perhaps, a few feet farther). In other words, Babe and Ted’s homers, hit almost exactly a quarter century apart, landed in, basically, the same place.
There were some differences in the two men. Babe was a renowned partier while Ted was a widely recognized loner. Yet, their similarities were remarkable. Both men loved to hunt and fish. Williams played his entire MLB career in Boston, whereas Ruth began and ended his playing days in Beantown. Most importantly, they shared an absolute obsession for hitting a baseball. Williams famously thought about little else during the season. In Ruth’s case, he gave up a budding Hall of Fame pitching career because he simply couldn’t wait to bash a baseball.
In their own distinctive ways, Babe Ruth and Ted Williams became the two best batters in the long years that the National Pastime had been played. As we honor Ted on his 100th birthday, it’s fun for me to think about how their paths intertwined. That is never more apparent than when I close my eyes to watch those two leviathan drives fly toward hats made of straw.
Bill Jenkinson, Baseball Historian-Copyright 2018

Friday, August 31, 2018

A Radical Pitch to Save Baseball

A Radical Pitch to Save Baseball
A pair of academics offer a dramatic rule to increase competitiveness—and cut almost a half-hour from a nine-inning game
Two academics created a rule change they believe will make baseball a more exciting sport—and cut almost a half-hour out of a nine-inning game.
Two academics created a rule change they believe will make baseball a more exciting sport—and cut almost a half-hour out of a nine-inning game. Photo: winslow townson/Reuters
Jason Gay
Aug. 29, 2018 1:09 p.m. ET
This has been the summer of throwing rocks at baseball.
Baseball is too long. It’s too slow. There are too many noncompetitive teams. The Baltimore Orioles are going to lose 2,000 games.
Baseball’s trying. It’s tinkering with breaks between innings and rules on intentional walks and pitcher’s mound visits, but it doesn’t feel like enough. It’s like waiting for your great-great-grandpa to put on his socks, shoes and suspenders.
In the meantime, fears are growing that the game is losing relevance.
Is it time for a radical proposal? Two academics—one a game theorist affiliated with New York University, the other a computer scientist—think so. They created a rule change they believe will make baseball a more exciting sport—and cut almost a half-hour out of a nine-inning game.
It’s called the Catch-Up Rule, and it’s the work of NYU game theorist and professor Steven J. Brams and computer scientist Aaron Isaksen. It’s pretty wild stuff, and I need you to keep an open mind. Let’s really think about it. No croaking at me like you’re a frog on a lily pad.
Here’s the deal. The Catch-Up Rule is actually fairly simple. When
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the game is 0-0 or tied, baseball is played exactly as it is today—three outs per side. But when the at-bat club has or takes a lead, it gets two outs instead of three.
For example: Your team is in a scoreless contest. Then your slugger hits a home run to go up 1-0. Now your inning ends at two outs. Not three. As long as you keep a lead, your at-bat innings are two outs.
That’s it. Tie game, three outs a side. Get the lead, play with two outs. If you take the lead with two outs, the lead stays, but the inning ends.
I know: it’s simple, but jarring. I don’t expect the old school types to like it. Baseball isn’t a sport accustomed to big changes. People still fight about the designated hitter, and that rule was introduced in the Middle Ages.
But the Catch-Up Rule offers everything baseball is asking for in 2018. Pace of play and competitive balance are the two biggest crises for the sport. Here’s a single, oddly basic innovation that addresses both.
This isn’t simply speculation. Isaksen, who now works in the private sector, took the Catch-Up Rule and applied it to more than 100,000 games over the last 50 years of baseball, both regular season and postseason games.
The results were eye-popping. Average margin of victory dropped from 3.21 runs to 2.15 runs—i.e., games got considerably more competitive. The Baseball Haves were not so advantaged over the Have-Nots.
Meanwhile, there was a dramatic reduction in the length of game. Because fewer outs are necessary, outs-per-nine-innings dropped from 52.5 to 45.9—a drop that Brams and Isaksen believe shaves 24 minutes off a nine-inning baseball game.
Twenty-four minutes! That’s, like, an entire episode of “Seinfeld.”
“We think this would be good for the league,” Brams said in a telephone interview the other day.
Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Billy McKinney, left, and third baseman Aledmys Diaz come up short as they try to catch a foul pop-up during a game against the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday. The Orioles won 12-5.
Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Billy McKinney, left, and third baseman Aledmys Diaz come up short as they try to catch a foul pop-up during a game against the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday. The Orioles won 12-5. Photo: Patrick Semansky/Associated Press
This is what Brams does. The NYU Department of Politics professor is known for his work applying game theory to subjects like voting reform and fair division. With Alan Taylor, he came up with the “Brams-Taylor Procedure” of “envy-free” cake cutting—i.e., the fairest way to divide a cake without humans mauling each other. The New Hampshire native has also turned his eye to numerous sports, from soccer to tennis to basketball.
With baseball and the Catch-Up Rule, Brams and Isaksen were hoping to improve in-game competitiveness. “We’re really talking about inhibiting blowout games,” Brams said.
The time cut, Brams said, was a happy side effect. They believe the Catch-Up Rule would accelerate the game more aggressively than anything baseball’s proposed—pitch clocks and so on. Ideas like seven-inning games can cut time, he said, but without the benefit of improving competitiveness.
I wondered: isn’t part of baseball’s pacing problem all the micromanaging, with relief pitcher changes and so on? Brams allowed that would likely continue, but “we think the micromanaging has gone about as far as it can these days…I don’t think it would have a major effect” on a game played under the Catch-Up Rule.
There could be other alterations to game strategy—a team with an advantage will want to quickly increase its advantage, since it’s playing with two outs. You will likely see fewer sacrifice bunts. (Journal baseball writer Jared Diamond predicts a team in a tied game may opt to walk in a runner with the bases loaded and two outs, rather than risk a bases-clearing hit.) But Brams and Isaksen maintain “the basic features of baseball are likely to stay the same.”
Brams knows he’s got an uphill battle to convince baseball’s gatekeepers. The aging pastime tends to be a stubborn enterprise.
“We’ve got a difficult task in convincing minds,” he said. “I’m not sure that we will be successful, but I think it should be discussed.”
The Catch-Up Rule would offer less reason to take a nap during a baseball game.
The Catch-Up Rule would offer less reason to take a nap during a baseball game. Photo: Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press
Could the Catch-Up Rule be interpreted as un-American? Are people going to be OK with penalizing a team for taking a lead? Powerhouse clubs are probably not going to like this. We’re not a country accustomed to tapping the brakes on those with an advantage.
“Winning will still matter,” Brams said. “Competition matters, too.”
So what about it, baseball? No one’s expecting you to implement the Catch -Up Rule for the 2018 World Series. But what about in winter league play? Experiment a bit? Just to see if it works?
On Tuesday, the Orioles defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 12-5 before 11,762 people at Camden Yards.
Come on, baseball. Everything should be on the table.
More by Jason Gay
Write to Jason Gay at
Appeared in the August 30, 2018, print edition.

Remembering Ted Williams: Selected Oral History

Remembering Ted Williams: Selected Oral History

                         Ted Williams and Yogi Berra at Fenway (FrommerArchives)

This is the centennial week of the birth of Ted Williams, August 30, 1918. The Splendid Splinter did it his way. From the Frommer archives please enjoy memories of those who had the pleasure of experiencing him.
JON MILLER:  "Geez," they said, “We have this great left-handed hitter and he keeps losing home runs out there so we’ll pull the bullpens in and make it a little easier for him.” They called the area Williamsburgh after  Louisburgh Square in Beacon Hill, a play on that phrase.
JAMES JIMMIE GREENE: We quickly found out where players parked their cars. Ted Williams used to put on such a show for us. He'd choreograph the whole thing, line us up and say “Now you girls get in front. Tall kids get in the back.”  He looked very Californian, always in a sport coat. He never wore a tie. 
DICK FLAVIN:  Ted used to say Dom DiMaggio was the smartest outfielder. Every time a ball was hit to left-center he’d yell, “You take it Dommie.”  
ROGER KAHN: Every once in a while, Williams would lose his temper and give them the finger. People out in left field would jeer. There was a constant clash between Williams and the customers.    
BOB BRADY:  But in those years he was the only reason to go to Fenway Park. As soon as his last at bat many would depart especially if the Sox were losing. 
ROGER KAHN: At that time, the Red Sox clubhouse  closed something like 40 minutes before a game at the request, no the demand of  Williams who called reporters the “Knights of the Keyboard.” 
IKE DELOCK:   He didn’t like the press. He wanted to ban them from the clubhouse. The players said, “You can’t do that.”  So he eased up.  But whatever he wanted he damn well got.
FRANK SULLIVAN:  I went up from A – ball in  ‘53. I was 23. I saw buck shot wounds all over the walls and learned that Ted Williams was out shooting pigeons. I heard Yawkey also shot along with him.
BILL LEE: The long-time guy in charge of the grounds keeping, Joe Mooney, told me that the cops came to Williams and asked: “Ted, didn’t you worry about your stray shots going to Kenmore Square?”
Ted was supposed to have said: “You know I was thinking about that.” 
IKE DELOCK:  Most of the time Ted Williams arrived very early for games. I was like two lockers away from him. He had so many bats in his lockers.   There was a certain respect for him from the other players. He was a good-looking guy. He could be loud; you couldn’t miss him.   Pleasant when he wanted to be but pretty scary when he wanted to be.  
BILL NOWLIN: Ted Williams was my favorite.  I thought he was going to hit a home run every time up.     I got to see a lot of great play by him as I sat in those bleachers.   I touched his home run ball - - I can’t remember if it was Number 494 or 497 -- after it had been caught by somebody else.
JERRY CASALE: My biggest thrill was being next to Ted Williams. How many times we sat in that little locker room and he would take off his pants coming in from a game, rip off his shirt, throw them and hit me with them.  Thousands of dollars right in my face. Who thought of it then?
BOB SULLIVAN: Dad wanted my brother Kevin and me to see Williams play before he retired. We were going to go in early and we were going to come back relatively late considering we were so young.
I, of course, was a young Williams fan.  And Dad was a World War II veteran, a Master Sergeant, and he was a Williams devotee.  There’s a myth now that all of the Boston fanship booed Williams. He was a prickly character.  But it was the sportswriters who had problems with him. The fans in left-field would heckle him and he’d spit and all the rest of it, but mostly the fans loved the guy.  And Dad, as a veteran was eternally devoted to this guy. His military background, his patriotism, his heroism.
CURT GOWDY (Game Call) "Everybody quiet now here at Fenway Park after they gave him a standing ovation of two minutes knowing that this is probably his last time at bat. One out, nobody on.
BOB KEANEY: Ted dug in, wiggled his fanny, and glared at pitcher Jack Fisher. Everyone stopped breathing. Ted swung as hard as he could, but he missed the fat pitch and nearly sprained his arms.    Some dreamers said later that Ted missed on purpose, so that Fisher would be fooled into throwing that fast ball again.
CURT GOWDY (Game Call)  Jack Fisher into his windup, here's the pitch. Williams swings -- and there's a long drive to deep right! The ball is going and it is gone! A home run for Ted Williams in his last time at bat in the major leagues!"

JERRY CASALE:  I was in the bullpen with  Bill Monbouquette and Mike Fornieles and others. We were all up front looking over the railing.  The ball went over our heads.

 Williams circled the bases as he always did in a hurry with his head down trotting out Number 521, his final homer. The crowd stood and cheered the man and the moment.

FRANK MALZONE: When he hit a home run, it was usually high—it wasn’t no line drive.  This time he got it all. When he hit a home run, he had a way of loping. This time his running was like a hop.  
       TED SPENCER:  Williams hits the  home run.  I hear it on the radio. I said to myself, “Damn, I should have been there.”  
BROOKS ROBINSON:  I was playing third base.   He went running around the bases, and I looked at him as he passed second base. I had my arms folded as he passed me. That was absolutely a magical moment.
STEVE RYDER: He had that regal trot around the bases.  Didn’t tip his cap, didn’t look at the stands, just right into the dugout.

The inning ended. Williams went out to play left field in the top of the ninth. Just before the inning began Carroll Hardy replaced him. “The Kid” ran in. The crowd had one more standing ovation in it.

 “We want Ted. We want Ted!" But he refused to come out for a curtain call. Later it was reported that players and umpires tried to get him to come out. No dice.

       FRANK SULLIVAN:  We all wanted him to stop and at least take his cap off but that sonofabitch, he just ran into the dugout.That was the way that Ted was.  He went down the dugout steps straight into the tunnel.  We didn’t know that that was his last game but we all suspected it.


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.
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. He’s also the founder of

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Seeking Old Yankees Team Photos


I am seeking official team photos of the Yankees from the following years...

1920, 1929, 1933, 1934, 1935, and 1940.

I am looking for the official team photos that were taken in September of each season. 

Most were taken by Cosmo-Sileo Co. 

1920 would of course be taken in The Polo Grounds.  The rest in Old Yankee Stadium.

In a perfect world, I am looking for a physical hard copy of the 8x10 photo.

I have searched the Internet quite extensively and have had no luck.

Thank you for any help.

Brad -

Wednesday, August 29, 2018


By Harvey Frommer

Owners come and owners go. Some have been hands on and others have tended to their own affairs and let the teams they owned function led by pros. The Jake, the man who created the New York Yankee empire was so involved that he even took a broom from time to time to sweep up Yankee Stadium. 
"For the most part, he was aloof and brusque.... He never used profanity. 'By gad' was his only expletive."- Rud Rennie, New York Herald-Tribune
Born in New York City on August 5, 1867, Jacob Ruppert, Jr. was the son and grandson of beer tycoons. They founded the Ruppert Breweries. Always a big baseball fan, always one in his growing up years who played and watched baseball, he managed a tryout with the New York Giants, but did not make much of an impression.
            Ruppert was heir to the family millions and his vast resources and connections opened the way for his serving as a four-time member of the House of Representatives from 1899 to 1907. He represented the "Silk Stocking" district of Manhattan. He also served in the National Guard in the 1890s and received an honorary "Colonel" title.
His various roles earned him various appellations. Called “Congressman” by some, “Colonel” by most, "Jake," was used by his closest friends. A dandy, a man who sat atop of the world, arrogant, aristocratic, there seemed to always be a different beautiful woman on his arm.         
          Jake Ruppert’s full-time residence was a fashionable 12-room apartment on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan close by the sprawling Ruppert Brewery that he was able to easily walk to. A man with five full-time servants at his beck and call, he changed his clothes several times a day and dressed in the latest and most expensive fashions. His valet was always at the ready.  Collecting fine art, raising thoroughbred horses and pedigreed dogs were but a few of the expensive hobbies of the “Colonel.”

  Despite being born in New York City, Ruppert spoke with a heavy German accent. He traveled in style in his own private railroad car in the comfort of his own drawing room, slept in a silk brocade nightshirt.           
          A man who was a lover of good times and many things –baseball among them, he rooted for the New York Giants. He wanted to buy them but was told by his friend manager John McGraw that they were not for sale. "I think the Yankees might be.”
 On January 11, 1915, Jake Ruppert teamed with a real Colonel, Tillinghast L'Hommedieu Huston, and purchased the Yankees of New York for $460,000. Making an impression at the time of purchase, Hustson peeled out 230 thousand dollar bills – his share of the money needed to make the purchase. A friend of Ruppert, Hutson was a civil engineer in Cincinnati who during the Spanish-American War made a fortune modernizing Cuba’s sewerage system and harbor.
Now the task at hand for the new owners of the Yankees was to turn around a franchise that had a 12 year record of 861-937, average attendance of just 345,000 each season.
Ruppert, the “Prince of Beer” also sought to re-name the Yankees to “Knickerbockers” - - after his best-selling beer. No deal. The reasoning was the name was too commercial, too long too long for newspaper headlines. It would not be too long, however, decades later for a pro basketball team in New York.
              Ruppert said of the team he bought: "I never saw such a mixed up business in my life… There were times when it looked so bad no man would want to put a penny into it. It is an orphan ball club without a home of its own, without players of outstanding ability, without prestige.”
          Then he got to work. Early moves included a Wally Pipp purchase from Detroit for $7500. Pitcher Bob Shawkey came from Philadelphia for $18,000.
As a beer baron, Jake Ruppert was hands on for every aspect of his business. That same behavior pattern came into play with the Yankees. He had a personal and deep interest in each player. He knew them all and was always up to date on their capabilities, shortcomings, foibles and performances.

         In his early ownership years Ruppert lost almost as much money as was paid to purchase the Yankees. But on the field there was some progress.  The team finished fifth in 1915, fourth in 1916, their first time out of the second division since 1910. 
Members of his team received first class treatment. For the Yankees this showed itself in the sleeping accommodations he mandated on trains. Most other teams had players, dependent on seniority, given berths, upper or lower. The players on the New York Yankees all slept in upper births.
        The whole traveling operation generally took up two cars at the end of the train. And there was many a summer day that the players only wearing underwear, lolled about, had extended conversations, played cards, enjoyed each other’s company and the food, rest and recreation that made them perform better on the playing field.
In a move that would change the course of baseball history, Jake Ruppert made the deal of his lifetime the day after Christmas 1919. He purchased George Herman “Babe” Ruth, 25, from Boston. It was a very smart business move. The young Ruth had talent and would become one of the greatest drawing cards in baseball history.  In his first season in pinstripes he blasted 54 homers. The team finished in third place.
            Angered and annoyed at the gate success of Babe Ruth & Company, the Giants told the Yankees who played as tenants at the Polo Grounds and now with the “Sultan of Swat” packing them in enabling the renters to outdraw the landlords – to find a new place to play.
Ruppert and Hutson suggested the Polo Grounds be demolished and replaced by a 100,000 seat stadium to be used by both teams and for other sporting events. The Giants were not interested. No matter. The Colonel dreamed big dreams and had the power and money to back them up.
          On May 21, 1922, two weeks after construction of a new ballpark for the Yankees was underway, Ruppert bought out Huston for $1.5 million.  "I am now the sole owner of the Yankees. Huggins is my manager,” Ruppert’s telegram read. The two had had a conflict over Ruppert’s hiring of Miller Huggins as manager. Ruppert won out as usual.
                   On April 18, 1923, a massive crowd showed up for the proudest moment in the history of the South Bronx.  The Yankee Stadium opened for business. The Colonel’s idea of a sublimely wonderful day at the ballpark was any time the Yankees scored 11 runs in the first inning, and then slowly pulled away. The Colonel was fond of saying, “There is no charity in baseball. I want to win every year. Close games make me nervous.”
 During the Great Depression, Colonel Jacob Ruppert was one of the few who prospered big time while the economy of the nation collapsed. He purchased New York City property at depression prices. By 1935, all his property holdings had more than doubled in value. As the decade of the 30s neared its end, his real estate holdings were valued at $30 million, his total estate at double that amount.
         Strangely and sadly, the normally vigorous Colonel attended just two games at Yankee Stadium during the 1938 season. He followed his beloved Yankees from a sickbed, listening to games on the radio for the first time. So impressed was he by the medium’s fit with baseball that he arranged for all Bronx Bomber home games to be broadcast on radio. That was his final official act.
          On Friday morning January 13, 1939, the master builder of the New York Yankees Empire passed away at his home from complications from phlebitis. He was 71 years old.
           On Monday January 16, 1939, the procession that resembled a state funeral started out from the Ruppert apartment on 93rd Street. More than 4,000 jammed inside the historic St. Patrick’s Cathedral including brewers, public dignitaries, the bosses of the Tammany and Bronx Democratic machines, more than 500 Ruppert employees, fans and family. Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Yankee manager Joe McCarthy, general manager Ed Barrow, farm system director George Weiss, members of the 1939 team including Tommy Henrich and Johnny Murphy, chief scout Paul Krichell, Boston Red Sox manager Joe Cronin and Chicago White Sox manager Jimmie Dykes, and former star players like Honus Wagner and Eddie Collins. 
             More than 10,000 people were outside the Cathedral. The service ran for about an hour. Dignitaries Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia, United States Senator Robert E Wagner and former New York State governor Al Smith sat in the front right pew. 
           Ruppert’s will left a fortune essentially to three women, twenty million dollars was for two nieces. A third of his estate went to Helen Winthrop Weyant, 37.  She was described in newspapers as a “ward,” as “formerly a chorus girl,” and by The Sporting News as "a former showgirl friend."
Weyant told reporters that that she had “no idea why he left her so much money."

          In two dozen years as the owner of the New York Yankees, the ambitious Jake Ruppert took a rag-tag franchise and transformed it into the most powerful team in all of baseball. He had the goods as an executive. He had the good sense to surround himself with top drawer and determined baseball people Ed Barrow, George Weiss, managers like  Miller Huggins and Joe McCarthy.
          Admitted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2013, 74 years after his death, Jacob Ruppert, Jr. was many things, but especially the man who built the Yankee Empire. 

Harvey Frommer is 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. Some of the material in this piece appears in Harvey Frommer’s THE ULTIMATE YANKEE BOOK which can be ordered on Amazon or direct from the author.