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Sunday, June 24, 2012

MORE YANKEE HISTORY WITH MARTY APPEL

As you know, I'm a nut for Yankee stories and Yankee history, so we did what we knew we had to do to get more knowledge, we reached out to former Yankees PR Giant Marty Appel again and asked him more questions about the Yankees for this lovely Sunday morning.  Don't forget, Marty is the author of the new book, Pinstripe Empire which is now on sale, click HERE and order a book today. It's great.
So here it is, more fantastic info from the guy who knows the Yankees better than anyone, Marty Appel. Enjoy this...Happy Sunday.

BYB: Phil Rizzuto doesn't get enough credit as a Yankee ballplayer, but many suggest his speed and defense really helped the Yankees in the years he manned SS. Tell me about your experiences with Rizzuto, the man, one on one, years after he played...he's not talk about enough...

Marty Appel: He was an instinctive student of the game and could see things no one else could.  A joy to listen to as an analyst, but he always did play-by-play as a broadcaster, rarely color.  Reason?  If he was doing color, he'd lose his concentration, he'd start chatting with people in the press box and we'd be unable to fully use his skills - for the seven innings we had him, until he left to beat the traffic.  He was a real pro as a broadcaster, who didn't start the playful stuff until around the time Fran Healy joined the broadcast team.  But he could read copy in one take, pre-recorded openings and commercials effortlessly.  And he was just a joy to be around.

BYB: Out of all the Yankee first basemen you've actually seen play through the years, who was your favorite and why? Not personality, but raw talent.
Marty Appel: Don Mattingly.  Largely because he was a thrill to watch, as he broke records set by the likes of Lou Gehrig, Earle Combs and others, and because he was the favorite of a generation of fans who fell in love with baseball because of him.  A throwback player, a great team player.

BYB:  If possible, describe those turbulent Billy Martin, Ed Whitson times. A lot of young fans don't know the friction there.
Marty Appel: Ed Whitson and Billy Martin could both be provocative and if they were in the same room at the time, look out.  I once thought it would be a great find to get a single-signed Clint Courtney ball - as a minor league manager, he must have signed some - and then add to it all the names of people Billy subsequently fought with, including traveling secretaries, players, marshmallow salesmen, sportswriters, and more.  That would be quite a collector's item.  

BYB: I have always been fascinated with Lou Piniella's toughness as player and manager. Describe for me how Sweet Lou handled himself and others during those Bronx Zoo years?

Marty Appel: He had the gift of intensity and sweetness.  Like the flame on a stove, he could be on and off in a flash.  He was a voice a reason during the Bronx Zoo years, but was becoming an elder statesman in the process, which led to his managing career.


BYB: Where were you when Dave Righetti pitched his no hitter on July 4, 1983?

Marty Appel: It was a brutally hot day, and I was with my family in the backyard - I kept running into the house to see how the game was going, and of course, stayed in for the last few innings.  I remember my amazement at Mel Allen calling the game for Sports channel - one more Yankee highlight for Mel, 19 years after his celebrated firing.

BYB: What made the combination of Phil Rizzuto, Bill White and Frank Messer in the Yankee booth so great?

Marty Appel: Frank was the underrated one, the consummate pro.  Scooter and Bill developed this "act" at which they would pick at each other in a respectful, loving way.  And Frank never appeared as the guy left out - he was more the solid performer who kept the broadcast smooth.  The three of them were wonderful together.

(In photo: Bobby Richardson)
BYB: If you could play ball for the Yankees, what team would you want to be apart of the most and why? 

Marty Appel: Second base was always my position in Little League and Bobby Richardson was my hero.  I wore number one.  I certainly wouldn't have wanted to take Bobby's job.  Anyone else would be fine of course.  But I would have loved to have been a teammate of Mickey's.

BYB: Throughout the Yankees rich history, if there was 1 player that you'd want to have a beer with, living or passed, who would it be and why?  I know, a tough one.

Marty Appel: Lou Gehrig.  Babe would not have remembered my name, so I would have felt let down.  I have a feeling Lou would have, and we might have had a real friendship.  Of course, he played before there was Lite Beer, so I would have put on a lot of weight in the process.

BYB:  I've always suggested Robinson Cano should be the next Yankee captain, but I also know it's not that easy. Do you know the process involved in picking a Yankee Captain? How does the process work? Was is just a simple choice by George Steinbrenner?

Marty Appel: Mr. Steinbrenner acknowledged that sometimes the captain isn't the obvious choice - not necessarily the loudest or the most talented player.  He knew that from his football assistant coaching days.  Teixeira, Cano, Granderson could all be candidates if the position opened tomorrow.  I know Ron Guidry was once a co-captain but it sometimes doesn't feel right for a pitcher.
BYB: How far off am I in suggesting that Alex Rodriguez was handpicked to help bring the all-time home run record back to the Bronx. My theory is simple, at the time of his signing, he was probably the only player to break the record. Was it strategic or am I being ridiculous?

Marty Appel: It was a nice by-product of the process, but not critical.  Even if he does break the Bonds record, a lot of those homers came with Seattle and Texas anyway.  I wish the fans at home would ease up a little on him when he fails.  He's one of the greatest players in baseball history; we ought to appreciate that more.  We see the outs with men on base, and the old time greats - we only see their heroics.  Not every at bat was on television.  I know his body language sometimes suggests, "whatever," but he really seems to work very hard, and I admire his talent a lot.

BYB: Share a nugget with us from your new book Pinstripe Empire that the readers don't know about.

Marty Appel: It's a small thing, but here you go - during World War II, fans would receive instructions on what to do, where to go, in the event of an air raid.  At the end of the instructions, it said, "In the event of an air raid or an enemy attack, whichever team is leading after five innings shall be declared the winner."  Like a rain-out.  I thought that was pretty odd.  End of life as we know it, but let's get the standings right.

I'm blown away by Marty Appel.  He's knowledgeable, his answers are thoughtful and he's just full of true Yankee history.  I hope you enjoyed this second installment of my interview with Marty Appel and, in case you missed it, check out: YANKEE STORIES REVEALED BY PR GIANT MARTY APPEL.

Thanks again Mr. Appel!

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