Marty Appel is the author of 24 books, the latest of which, Pinstripe Empire, is widely recognized as the definitive history of the New York Yankees. His biography of Mike “King” Kelly, Slide, Kelly, Slide, won the Casey Award as baseball book of the year for 1996. The long time public relations director and television producer of the Yankees began his career answering Mickey Mantle’s fan mail in 1968, and then became the youngest PR Director in baseball. His new biography of Casey Stengel will be published by Doubleday in March.
Before there was an MLB Network, before there was ESPN’s Baseball Tonight, before local stations were able to run highlights from around the Major Leagues, there was the scrappy and much beloved This Week in Baseball.
The highlights and bloopers program was weekly, often running as a pregame show for Saturday afternoon local telecasts on the local station.
The 1970 New York Yankees were in the midst of their long drought between pennants (1964 to 1976 was the actual span), and despite the emerging stardom of Thurman Munson and Bobby Murcer, the team was challenged at the box office, especially since the retirement of Mickey Mantle, which he announced in spring training of 1969.
It was my third season as part of the team’s public relations team, and in the wake of the rival New York Mets’ 1969 world championship win, the challenge was substantial.
Warren Spahn died in 2003 at the age of 82, and his legacy in baseball not only remains strong, but some of his accomplishments may never be matched in our lifetime.
He is, for instance, the winningest left-hander in baseball history (363), a total so high that it remains the most wins by any pitcher in the last 100 years. As we are now in an era where 300 seems fairly unlikely to be achieved, it seems safe to say that we will pass the game on to future generations with that benchmark intact.
You would have liked Frank Scott.
On the list of things we love about baseball, player agents don’t rank very high.
But if you had known Frank Scott, it would have been different. He could charm anyone, except for the old Yankees General Manager George Weiss.
But eventually, even Weiss came around.
No baseball book hit the New York Times best sellers list in 2015, the first time that happened in 16 years.
Ten years after being fired by the New York Yankees (after 10 pennants in 12 years as manager), Casey Stengel was in no mood to accept their Old Timers’ Day invitations. He was still bitter, and he turned down all previous invitations from the team.
But the 1970 invitation was different. The team’s PR director Bob Fishel included a personal note suggesting that the team wished to retire his No. 37.
On January 11, 1973, about a month before spring training, the American League announced that it would begin using a controversial new rule for the ’73 season—“the designated pinch-hitter rule.”
It was implemented when Commissioner Bowie Kuhn broke a tie between the AL (which had voted approval) and the National League (disapproval), granting it to just the one league.