Tagged: Reggie Jackson

An All-Star Break….But Never a Shortage of Yankees Stories

Since there were no games tonight, I finally finished reading Marty Appel’s just-published Munson: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain, which Doubleday was kind enough to send me for review.

Written by former Yankees PR director Marty Appel, who had collaborated on Munson’s by-the-numbers autobiography in 1977, the new book is a more thorough, objective and insightful portrait than the earlier effort.
I remember Munson as the anti-Reggie from the “Bronx Is Burning” years – the un-glamorous, blue-collar guy who was gruff with the media but won the hearts of the fans with his gritty play and stoic leadership as the Yankees catcher and captain.
Now, thanks to Appel, I have a more fully realized take on him, beginning with his childhood in Canton, Ohio. His father, Darrell Munson, badmouthed Thurman at every opportunity – even on the day that two Yankees executives arrived at the Munson home to sign the 21-year-old draft pick from Kent State to a pro contract.
Said general manager Lee MacPhail: “It was the strangest thing. There was his father, on what should have been a joyous day, lying on the couch in the living room. He barely said hello and didn’t join us at all for the signing. At one point he just hollered into us, ‘He ain’t too good on pop fouls, you know.'”

Thurman Munson found happiness with his wife, her family and their own children, and went on to great success with the Yankees – all of which is documented in the book. I enjoyed reading about his relationships with Steinbrenner and his teammates, as well as his interest in flying his own planes, which he shared with Tony Kubek.
“I think it’s great,” he told Tony, “the feeling of being alone for an hour or two by yourself. You’re up there, and nobody asks any questions. You don’t have to put on any kind of an act.”

On August 2nd, 1979, at the age of only 32, Munson crashed, burned and died in the plane he was piloting.
In one of the book’s most moving passages, Appel reprints the transcript of an ESPN interview with one of the two survivors of the crash. It’s fascinating and heartbreaking at the same time, as is the case when Appel goes around the horn, getting reaction to Munson’s death from his teammates, some having heard about it from strangers on the street. Even Carlton Fisk, with whom Munson had a fierce rivalry, was grief stricken.
“Carlton Fisk said, ‘People always said Boston-New York was Fisk vs. Munson and there was a personal rivalry. If we were, as people said, the worst of the best of enemies, it was because we had the highest amount of respect for one another…..I respect the man so much…And I’ll really miss him.'”
The story of how the Yankees came together and played the game of their lives right after Munson’s funeral is beautifully told.
If anyone’s looking for a complete, unvarnished look at Munson, Appel’s book gets it done. I highly recommend it.
On a MUCH lighter note
Rich Mullins of the Tampa Tribune passed along a story he’s been tracking about Derek Jeter and the gargantuan house he’s building on Davis Islands – 30,000 square feet of English manor-style architecture. The seven bedroom, nine-bathroom waterfront manse is “roughly the size of a Best Buy,” says Mullins. 
Apparently, the neighbors on Davis Islands, an exclusive enclave accessible only by a bridge connecting it to downtown Tampa, are not amused. Jeter’s home-to-be dwarfs their own mansions and, pending approval from city hall, will have a six-foot privacy fence surrounding it.
Seven bedrooms? Are Derek’s parents and assorted other relatives moving in? Or is he planning to have a wife and kids share the space with him?
Unfortunately, he hasn’t picked up the phone and confided in me. But after looking at pics of the construction, I’m thinking he’s either starting a family or hosting an an awful lot of parties.
Here’s the link to the photos
Could this…
…soon take on the look of this?

CC Ran The Bases And The Earth Moved

He threw 98 mph. He didn’t walk a single batter. And he struck out eight en route to the Yankees 9-1 victory over the Mets. He also had an RBI single and scored during the Mets’ error-filled meltdown in the second. I could feel the ground shake as he chugged home. He’s as big as The Fridge, isn’t he?
Anyway, it was a masterful performance, marred only by Sheffield’s blast, and I hope he doesn’t catch the bug that claimed Jeter, the birthday boy, who was scratched from the lineup with a bad cough.
Other than CC, the hero of the night was Brett the Jet, who is insanely fast and could probably win a race with this guy.
Five-for-five with a homer, a triple and a stolen base? How hug-worthy was that?
Damon continued to excel (great dive/slide on that catch of Cora’s pop up in the first). 
Cano played good ball in spite of his various ailments. And Pena had a couple of doubles, subbing for Jeter. But how about A-Rod. He’s looked like a different player in the last few games. Maybe it’s the day off he had during the week or the hip that’s finally healing or the fact that Kate Hudson is following him around the country and bringing him luck instead of jinxing him.
All I know is he made several nice plays at third and passed Reggie on the all-time home run list.
I wonder why the Mets’ defense goes all loosey-goosey when they face the Yanks. That second inning was like a bloopers reel. Maybe it’s because of their lame old theme song. Here’s Bob Costas singing it. Not good at all.
P.S. I’m sad about Nady. I thought he’d have a big year for us. And now he’s done.
Goodbye, X-Man. It was fun while you lasted.

Day Three In Tampa (With The She-Fan Cam)

Saturday was a day game after a night game. Good thing I didn’t have to play shortstop or even DH. I was really dragging. When I spotted the Marriott’s bellman on my way to the ballpark, I was tempted to ask him if he knew where I could score some boli. Instead, I bonded with him after he complimented me on my garb (Mo T-shirt/Yankees visor).

There was a packed house at Steinbrenner field for Yankees/Braves, and the weather couldn’t have been more cooperative.
Even George was present and accounted for, as was Reggie Jackson.
I got a stiff neck looking up at his box every few minutes, waiting to see if Hal would appear. Only Hank did. You can’t have everything.
On my way to buy bottled water, I ran into a Red Sox fan and felt compelled to ask why he was attending a Yankees game.
And as I walked by the woman in charge of the Customer Service booth, another urge to whip out the She-Fan Cam overtook me.
See how much we can learn through baseball? If we want a happy, 50-year-marriage, it can be ours – if our spouse is never around.
The game got underway and Wang looked sharp (well, except for the non-sinker stinker he threw to Kotchman that put the Braves on the board). He covered first and managed to avoid another Lisfranc injury, and there was a collective sigh of relief.
Hideki was the DH and seemed to be stroking the ball well.
But the Yankees offense was anemic. I mean, come on. Men on first and third with no outs and nobody scores? I hate that.
Wang was pulled for Brett Tomko, who promptly served up a Bombko. Phil Coke gave one up too.
Rather than sit in my seat behind home plate and stew about the 3-1 score, I worked off my frustration by roaming the stadium. I encountered a couple of hardcores from New York.
(I really do want that robe. Memo to self: Go shopping on the MLB web site.) He also mentioned that he was getting married soon and that he was not only planning to wear the Mantle robe at the wedding but to stick the Yankees N-Y logo on the back of his fiancee’s gown. Excellent idea. 
I was returning to my seat when I spotted a she-fan in training. I don’t care what team you root for; her smile will melt your heart.
(Full disclosure: Her slightly older brother is a Red Sox fan, and they got into a fight after I shut off the She-Fan Cam. He didn’t punch her, but he pinched her really hard.)
Random game notes….I continue to be impressed by Ramiro Pena, who played second while Ransom took over shortstop duties and Justin Leone played third. I’d never heard of Pena before, but the kid is slick with the glove. Damon looked sluggish on an attempted steal. Get those legs in shape, Johnny. Opinions about A-Rod’s hip echoed throughout the game – from the guy who said A-Rod should play with a torn labrum for an entire season to the woman who insisted that surgery should be performed immediately to the kid who wanted the Yankees to trade for Adrian Beltre.
As we were exiting the stadium after the 3-1 loss, I chatted up one of the Yankees security officers. Her ears were pierced in places I didn’t know you could pierce an ear, and her tongue had a silvery thing embedded in it.
Later, Michael and I had dinner with John Sterling, the radio voice of the Yankees, at a swanky restaurant overlooking Old Tampa Bay. He’s a regular there and was given the royal treatment – as well as the “15% Yankees discount.” I figured it would be gauche to bring the She-Fan Cam, but I wish I had.
Looking forward to another great day on Sunday. The Yankees will be in Lakeland playing the Tigers, so we’ll be driving to St. Pete for some sightseeing and a drink with bestselling author Peter Golenbock. (I will definitely bring the She-Fan Cam to that.)

A-Rod/Tex Rift? Does It Matter?

The Yankees blog “Was Watching” posted about the supposed tension between A-Rod and Teixeira when both were with the Rangers. Maybe there was a rift back then, but Tex said during his press conference that A-Rod was one of the players who got in touch to congratulate him on becoming a Yankee.

There’s a long history of teammates not getting along, even hating each other. But in most cases, the strained relationships didn’t affect the success of the ball club.
For instance….
Babe and Lou, despite mugging for the camera together, were said to be polar opposites who felt genuine enmity toward each other. Did it hurt the Yankees? Nope.
Neither did the resentment between Thurman
and Reggie.
Jorge and El Duque had a dustup in the dugout after a game
but the Yankees more than managed.
Turning to other teams, the Dodgers did just fine in spite of bad feelings between Don Sutton
and Steve Garvey. (Did anyone like Steve Garvey?)
The Red Sox didn’t suffer just because Carl Yazstremski
wasn’t thrilled about sharing the spotlight with Tony Conigliaro.
When Torii Hunter was with the Twins, he threw a punch at Justin Morneau
but they kissed and made up.
Even last year’s Cinderella, the Rays, had two players who got in each other’s faces.
But Garza and Navarro patched things up and won the Al pennant.
Baseball teams are like families – there’s a good chance someone won’t get along with someone else. But the teams that push through to the playoffs find a way to make even negative chemistry work.
It all comes down to being able to put aside petty differences, recognize the greater good, and go like this….

My Imaginary Christmas Guest

There I was, spending Christmas with loved ones, thinking of all the things I was grateful for, feeling truly blessed, when a friend offered me some of this.

I can’t stand eggnog, but I drank it just to be polite – all of it. And you know what? It wasn’t as bad as I thought. So I drank some more.
Suddenly, my legs got a bit wobbly and I developed a little buzz. And before I knew it, I was imagining objects that weren’t really there. Like the presents under the tree – they started moving, as if they were people.
Which led me to wonder….What if one of them sprang to life – as a baseball player? What if I could have a Yankee drop in at my Christmas Day celebration? Which one would it be? In this eggnog-induced fantasy world of mine, it could be any living player from any era – someone I’d just die to pepper with questions. So who would it be? Who?
Yes, of course, Yogi would be on my list. I would ask him to act out those Aflac commercials and tell me juicy stories about The Mick and encourage him to come up with funny, incomprehensible Yogisms.
On second thought, the Yankee who probably has the juiciest stories about The Mick (Billy Martin too) is Whitey.
What a great Christmas guest he’d be. In addition to dishing up the Mantle anecdotes, he could talk about what it was like to be a pitcher back in the day. I know I’d be fascinated.
But is there anyone more enigmatic than Reggie?
He was a big-time free agent long before the likes of Sabathia and Teixeira. I can easily see myself sitting him down and asking him if he really was the straw that stirred the drink and which current player stirs the drink now.
Having Paulie over at Christmas would be interesting.
He’s a non-stop talker so there would never be a lull in the conversation. The only drawback would be his temper; I’d have to watch what I said or else he might kick the bowl of eggnog onto the floor, smashing it in a million pieces.
I wouldn’t be a Yankee fan with a pulse if I didn’t want Captain Jeter to stop by.
I’d have a million questions for him. Like what did he really say when he called Sabathia to recruit him? Does it hurt his feelings when people say his skills as a shortstop have deteriorated? Does he have any intention of settling down with a wife and kids or will he be a swinging bachelor forever?
Speaking of bachelors, I suppose I could invite A-Rod over. Maybe I could ask Reggie to bring him since they’re pals.
But do I want to hear about Madonna all afternoon? On Christmas? Not so much.
And that’s when it hit me – the Yankee I want for the holidays more than any other.
Mariano Rivera-1.JPG
I don’t speak Spanish, so we’d have to improvise. But the truth is, I love Mo the best. From everything I’ve read or heard, he’s the most thoughtful, kind, generous guy on the team – a truly outstanding person. There’s a scene in my book where someone close to the Yankees shares an amazing story about him. It’s a tear-jerker, no question, but it shows the measure of the man.
So it’s settled. Mo is my imaginary Christmas guest. Who’s yours? Oh, come on. You know you have a favorite player that you’d kill to have over. Tell me who it is. I promise not to laugh.
Before I sign off, I just want to say thanks to everyone for stopping by and reading my posts since I joined the MLBlogs community at the end of last season. I never expected to become so bloggy, and yet here I am, being bloggy right now.
Merry Christmas to one and all.

In the End, It Was All About Amber

Say what you will about the negotiating skill of Cee Cee’s agent, the persistence of Brian Cashman, the bank accounts of Hank and Hal, the shock and awe aura and mystique of the New York Yankees, and the willingness of Reggie Jackson to be dragged into this soap opera. We all know the truth: It was Amber Sabathia, forevermore known as A-Sab, who got the deal done.
While Cashman was making nice to the couple at their house yesterday, Amber slipped away from her husband and the kids.
She placed a phone call to me. She’d read my blog post about Scarsdale and wanted to ask me a few more questions about the town. So instead of going on and on about the school system and the real estate market and the fine, upstanding community members, I told her about the things she really cared about: the best hair salon, the best place for a mani/pedi, the best masseur, the best store for Jimmy Choos. (They’re shoes, people.)
jimmy choo oopshi.jpg
She hurried back into the meeting, gave her husband a furtive wink, and Cee Cee clasped Cashman’s hand.
“I’ll do it,” the pitcher said with a wide grin.
A-Sab called me back later. “You totally eased my mind, She-Fan. Thank you.”
“No, thank you,” I said and wondered if I’d be getting a call from Mrs. Sheets next.