Two More Tributes to Yogi and Whitey
My nomination of Whitey Ford as the Greatest Living Yankee is up and running on the NY Times web site, as of Thursday morning:
Here are two memories of Yogi and Whitey. The first is by Bill Wakefield, who had a really nice season pitching for the Mets in 1964 but was overtaken by the Seavers and Ryans. Bill and I keep in touch. He sent me this memory of Yogi:
1950 - Yogi and a brash outfielder from the Detroit Tigers, Dick Wakefield, a tall lanky outfielder who liked to smoke cigars, played together with the Yankees. It was a brief overlap of careers and Dick was soon on his way to play for the Oakland Oaks in the PCL.
1964 - Yogi is the Manager of the Yankees and I was pitching for the Mets - -- and in an era before Interleague play -- the Mets and the Yankees played a Mayor's Trophy Game every summer in NYC. In 1964 the game was at Shea -- full house - Yogi puts himself in to pinch hit -- Casey Stengel puts me in to face Yogi. In the category of minor miracles Yogi hits into a 6-4-3 double play -- inning over.
1965 - Spring Training -- Yogi is now catching for the Mets. I am trying to make the team. I come in to pitch two innings -- Yogi is my catcher. He comes to the mound and says "Dick, you still pitching after all these years??" Yogi says, "I can't catch curve balls, sliders, two seams or changes anymore and throw anybody out so today we're throwing all fast balls." What do you say to Yogi?? With a limited assortment of pitches -- one -- and a modest fastball I got out of the two innings unscathed.
1974 - I go back to Shea Stadium for an Old Timers game. Yogi is managing the Mets - Yogi sees me.
"Hey Dick how old are you? You got me out in the Mayor's Trophy Game. Can you still get anybody out?"
I got my guy -- Joe Pignatano - out in the Old Timers Game.
I was thrilled Yogi remembered -- Yogi was a good man!!!
When the Times asked me to nominate a new Greatest Living Yankee today, I did not have room to include this personal tribute to Whitey Ford:
Sometime in the early 60’s, the Yankee charter flight came back from out west, after a night game. (In those days, writers flew with the team, for convenience.) It was nearly dawn when they landed at JFK. I had a car in the lot across from the United terminal and I told Whitey, who lived in Lake Success, and Hector Lopez, who lived in Lakeview, that I would give them a ride to their homes. I left my suitcase with them at the curb.
When I got to my car, a tire was flat. By the time I got back to the terminal, the sun was up and they were gone. So was my suitcase. No cellphones in those days. I drove home, slept a few hours, and wondered where my suitcase was.
Around noon, the phone rang. Whitey had the suitcase in his house, and I could pick it up whenever convenient, which I did on my next trip to the Stadium.
Given the busy lives of ballplayers, I’m not sure every player would have done that act of thoughtfulness. I marked Whitey down as a mensch, and still do.
9/24/2015 11:03:12 am
9/26/2015 08:18:03 am
Dear Altenir: Thank you. That is a lovely story, and, no, I did not know that Yogi had visited Rizzuto at the facility. I do know that Rizzuto befriended a blind kid in New Jersey named Ed Lucas, who wanted to be a writer and broadcaster, and took him around to places, and gave him tips, which led to a long involvement by Lucas in Yankee baseball. So Rizzuto got some good karma back from his teammate. Muito obrigado.
9/25/2015 09:01:26 pm
George, really enjoyed your NYT piece and your Whitey and Yogi memories above. What a different time. Whitey's son Tommy was in my high school graduating class. Oddly enough, his nickname was Whitey. He was a solid southpaw, too. Sadly, Tommy passed away not many years ago, way too young. We're fortunate to have Whitey, Sr. still with us. Thanks for sharing these rich stories.
9/26/2015 08:20:16 am
Peter, thanks for remembering Joan and Whitey's son. Obviously, the gifted stars we admire (Jackie Robinson,Mickey Mantle, Whitey) are not immune to sadness up close. Best, GV
Alan D. Levine
9/26/2015 03:53:04 pm
I will commit the oft-committed sin of talking about myself rather than the person being eulogized. But I did recall this week that I had been a Yankee fan from 1947 until 1964. But when the Yankees (I believe it still was Topping and Webb) fired Yogi after the 1964 World Series and hired Johnny Keane, the manager of the team that had beaten the Yankees in the World Series, I was done with them forever. I sat out the 1965 season, rooting for no one. Then, in October of that year, I met the woman my late first wife. She told me she was a Mets fan. "The Mets?" I remember exclaiming incredulously. But we went to a game at Shea early in the1966 season, and that was it--I was hooked. And lo and behold, Yogi came to manage them. However, although one should not speak ill of the departed, I still say he should have started Stone in the sixth game. Rest In Peace, Yogi.
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“I don’t think people understand how Covid affects older Americans,” Mr. Caretti said with frustration. “In 2020, there was this all-in-this-together vibe, and it’s been annihilated. People just need to care about other people, man. That’s my soapbox.”
---Vic Caretti, 47, whose father recently died of Covid at 85.
---From an article by Paula Span, who covers old age for the NYT, which currently has 2646 comments, the majority criticizing the American public – and public officials – for acting as if the pandemic is “over.”
Classic wishful thinking, at a lethal level.