What I Forgot to Say About the Yankees
I recently did a riff in the Times about missing the Boss and his high-spending demands that the Yankees dominate. This was formed by childhood traumas like Billy Martin catching Jackie Robinson’s pop fly, forever.
In case you missed it:
However, mea culpa, I forgot to add that it has been an honor to be around the past generation -- Joe Torre and the core five, Jeter, Rivera, Williams, Pettitte and Posada. They were all gentlemen and came through at the highest level.
It is not easy to watch Rivera gear up for his last season (and the last season for No. 42.) And it is downright painful to see Jeter trying to come back from a broken ankle. I take the doctors’ word that this is normal stiffness, but players break down at much younger ages.
One of these days Jeter will not be there, making a shovel pass to home to catch some opponent too lazy to slide. Remember that?
(This just in: my man in Salvador found the clip with a photo of Posada tagging Giambi.)
There is a human side to the Yankees, including the son-and-heir Hal, who found a place he could avoid his dad, by piloting a plane. That great piece by David Waldstein has brightened this spring.
This past generation of Yankees only existed because Gene Michael held the Yankees’ farm system together while the Boss was suspended for nefarious activities. That needed to be said, too.
One more season of Rivera and Jeter? That’s not too much for an old Brooklyn Dodger fan to ask, is it?
3/25/2013 02:34:51 am
I seem to recall the 19 year old rookie in the picture. We always said that he looked good in his uniform. Did anyone ever look better? I didn't see him in 1951. My Mantle consciousness began in earnest in the late 50's. For the next ten years, he was a large part of my life. People who saw him play tend to talk about the mammoth moonshots from both sides of the plate and I do too. But do they remember how fast he could run, full blinding speed from the first step. When he drag bunted from the left side, he was halfway to first before the ball hit the ground! Note to Mr. Vecsey: do you recall a certain catch he made on Gil Hodges to preserve Larsen's perfect game? 18 homers in the Series (18 more than Mays), three more than Ruth, that's pretty strong, no? When the Mick was healthy and Whitey was on the hill in October, we just felt we could take it to the bank.
3/25/2013 02:47:33 am
Mr. Al: I have no memory of that (as witnesses say in court).
3/25/2013 02:53:54 am
Mr. V., I'm surprised you do not remember that catch. Mr. Triple Crown took off like a deer and ran that ball down 430 feet from the plate. Could not agree more on Jeter and Mo, the greatest without a doubt. But what of Yogalah? I wanted to ask you a question I have never posed to you. How great was Yogi Berra?
3/25/2013 03:05:44 am
Al, stop it.
3/25/2013 03:20:07 am
George, I understand you remember nothing. It's because you're blocking. I would be happy to send you films of Mr. Berra. I believe that Newk, Oisk, Preach, Black and Labine remembered Yogalah and the Mick. I know you didn't follow baseball in the forties and fifties. You even told me you don't remember a homer that Old Reliable, Tommy Henrich, hit off Newk in the 49 Series, to beat him and win it for the Superchief, Allie Reynolds. What was it that Henrich said to you when you spoke to him about that searing memory? I'm sure he was cordial.
3/26/2013 12:04:46 am
That was Steve Jacobson in the press room of the old Stadium, on old-timers' day. He saw Henrich walk past, and told him he had ruined Steve's childhood with that home run because Steve couldn't study after that. Henrich said, "Tough s---. What were you going to do, be a doctor?" Growing up, we all knew Henrich was a good guy -- and that proved it. GV
3/26/2013 01:34:02 am
My Mom was from the Bronx as you know George and she saw them all, starting with Ruth, Gehrig, Lazzeri, etc as a child. She was very partial to Old Reliable. Sitting in Shea Stadium watching the great Koufax pitch, she observed a nineteen year old rookie named Swoboda fumble and bumble his way around leftfield with a particular smile on her face, having already witnessed some forty years of Yankee dominance. I recall her saying "Keller, DiMaggio and Henrich, that was an outfield." Note to Blogmaster George: Ron Swoboda developed into a terrific rightfielder and nobody who loves the game will ever forget his catch in the 1969 Series. In addition, he is a great guy.
3/27/2013 02:17:09 am
Roger Kahn, Sport Magazine, November 1957:
3/27/2013 02:35:48 am
Dear Mr. E: Don't encourage Big Al (above). He is always sending me emails about Newk and Yogi. Newk is one of the great people of that business -- an absolute mensch, as addiction example to players, voice of reason (spoke up for our friend Campanis when Al made some dumb remarks) and institutional memory.
3/27/2013 02:35:32 am
Roy, Newk was a great pitcher and George always tells me he is a great guy as well. Yogi hit everybody well in the clutch, particularly in October in the late innings of a close ballgame. He is a small, stubby man (or was stubby), but as a kid watching him, he always looked very big in the box with a bat in his hands and he was fast too. In my opinion, Newk's problem with Yogi was exacerbated by Manager Dressen's inability to handle pitchers. If manager Stengel was Heifetz with pitchers, manager Dressen was Henny Youngman. Recall that Chuck brought in Branca to face Thompson in 1951, not Erskine, knowing full well that Bobby T. beat Branca like a drum. Dressen over-used and tired poor Newk during the seasons he managed him. Newk threw the high hard one well, but it wasn't a good idea throwing them to Yogi while a little tired. "If I can see it, I can hit it" said Mr. Berra. He did so often and tattooed all the Brooklyn hurlers. This is the likely reason Mr. Vecsey will not answer my question "How great was Yogi Berra?". After all this time, George is still blocking.
3/27/2013 02:42:21 am
Mr E; You see what I mean? GV
3/27/2013 08:27:49 am
Actually, the Sports Illustrated story of the time is also genuinely interesting on all the levels of all the great comments here:
3/27/2013 11:31:47 am
Brian, Big Al put you up to that, didn't he.
3/27/2013 12:40:09 pm
Fins, fins!! (Does anyone know what that means? Clue: It relates to the very old game "Fox in the bush.") Given Big Al's latest post, I accept your verbal spanking. Still, my Father was called by some friends "Big Al" and so your friend can't be all that bad in my view. In fact, the name Big Al makes me think of some of the great beers my Dad ran into the ground working for NY breweries (Ballantine, Rheingold). Big Al's comments also makes me think of Yoo-hoo. (Yogi's favorite.)
3/27/2013 12:04:56 pm
Mr. Creamer was great guy and a fine writer. George, I'm glad your memory is returning so I will give it a test. Do you remember where you were when the the 20 year old Mantle hit moonshots of Loes and Joe Black in Games 6 and 7 respectively of the 1952 Series in Ebbetts Field? I've seen the films. The one off of Black went over the wall in right crossed the street on a fly and landed in the gas station that was there. I know it's a tough question, so I will give another. Do you recall the homers Mantle clubbed off of Preacher Roe in Game 2 of the 1953 Series and the grand slammer off of Russ Meyer in Game 5 that went way into the upper deck at E. F. in left center? I know enough not to mention #8 in pinstripes and his best friend, Big Newk. We can discuss the homers the Mick hit off Koufax, Barney Schultz and Bob Gibson a decade later on another occasion.
3/27/2013 01:20:13 pm
Al, maybe it's good for me to discuss this. I was in fact sitting in deep CF on that Sunday in 1953, the ball getting bigger and bigger. When Russ Meyer coached for the Yankees in the 80's, I mentioned it to him. He was cool.
3/27/2013 02:14:25 pm
Allright already, come up for air! 1955, lefty Johnny Podres pitches and the Mets win 2-0 to beat the Yanks in the Series. TA DA!
3/27/2013 02:43:52 pm
If only it were the Metropolitans, Ed! I don't give a gosh damn about those other prodigals unless and until they return.
3/27/2013 02:50:09 pm
Mantle didn't play, he was hurt. He crushed Podres and Podres knew it. Johnny was very happy the Mick was not sitting in the 3-hole, I heard him say so. Amaros was playing Yogi way out of position in left but had the glove on his right hand and I will give credit where it is due. Pee Wee made a fine relay to Hodges who cheated by at least two feet to nip McDougald, if you don't believe me watch the play. Did I mention Robinson was clearly out stealing home. He slid right into Yogi's glove and Yogi knew where to put it. Still Brooklyn deserves credit for 55. Pay-back of course was only a year away. The Yankees had to lose occasionally to prove they were human, albeit barely human. The played Brooklyn seven times in the Series and won six. I guess it was just luck. By the way, Sandy was my only non-Yankee hero.
3/27/2013 02:59:25 pm
Big Al, please say the last line of your post isn't so! I hated Koufax. He was an upstart. I remember every time he was scheduled to be matched against Warren Spahn, I would look for the box score the next day before I read the front page -- hoping the old master would kick the bejesus out of that bounder.
3/28/2013 01:15:05 am
Brian, sorry, I loved Koufax. When he first got good. we couldn't even pronounce his name, when some kid in the schoolyard in Queens told us Sandy was from Brooklyn and did not pitch on the Jewish High Holy Days. He completely dominated the game for five years and is still the best I've ever seen. He was beautiful to watch. I loved Spahnnie, perfect motion, great control. My guy was Whitey.
3/28/2013 01:47:22 am
My recollection as a kid was that Spahnnie would pretty much match him inning for inning, but would generally be taken out after the sixth and the game would be lost at the end with Moneyball-defying bunts, steals and ground ball outs.
3/27/2013 04:35:22 pm
While we’re appreciating Robert Creamer’s fine piece, including the part about Don Larsen’s perfect game, let’s not forget what Murray Kempton did that day after the game: instead of going, with everyone else, to interview Larsen, he went to the loser’s (how it pains me to write that word; born a mile from Ebbets Field, I’ll match George any day on being a diehard BROOKLYN Dodgers fan) clubhouse and interviewed Sal Maglie. See that wonderful column (“Maglie: Gracious Man With Dealer’s Hands”) at http://www.bronxbanterblog.com/2012/12/05/the-banter-gold-standard-the-barber-and-the-dim-time-guy/
3/28/2013 02:17:36 am
Murray Kempton was the best. I read him as a kid and got to know him as a reporter. Gracious person. Once in a great while you could spot him in Manhattan, a man in a suit riding his bike down to City Hall. How cool was that. That would be Kempton, going to see Maglie. (He was with the real NY Post then? He would have known that Milt Gross and others were going to the Yankee side. I learned from my mentors that the losing clubhouse can be better copy than the winning clubhouse.) I never covered a trial or hearing that I didn't think about Kempton. Nobody in the city ever did it better. GV
3/28/2013 02:58:49 pm
3/28/2013 02:57:32 am
Apropos of NY sports, a headline in the Times this a.m. Reads, "Dolan goes behind bars to commune with inmates.". I thought at first it was Jimmy going to visit BB players.
3/28/2013 10:48:57 am
Ed, your feelings, hopes and dreams must not go unacknowledged. When I read that headline as you did I wished they'd closed the door behind him and threw away the key! The Knickerbocker "resurgence" is incomprehensible to me given their personnel. The NBA seems finally to have given in to Dolan the Incompetent. I don't like sports where the refs essentially determine the outcome --in this case, perhaps, for the perceived greater good of the overall business. This is pretty much the same gang who couldn't shoot straight for years.
3/29/2013 10:55:09 am
4/2/2013 07:39:05 am
4/2/2013 08:10:18 am
Alan, I am in complete agreement with you about Yogi. He was the best catcher of all-time, sorry fans of Johnny Bench. He could do everything. Nobody called a game like Yogi Berra. He was the best clutch hitter I ever saw and I saw Munson, Piniella and Mattingly, not to mention the Mick. I'm younger than you, so I saw Yogi at the tail-end of a magnificent career. I will never forget a game against the Tigers I was at in 1962, bottom of the ninth, tie score and Houk summoned Yogi from the bullpen to pinch hit. My buddies and I up in seventh heaven looked at each other and said, "game's over." Watching this squat, small man waddle in, with that unique gait, grab a bat and walk into the box, he no longer looked small. He looked armed and dangerous. The Tigers reliever fired the first pitch shoulder high and perhaps six inches outside, big mistake. Yogi hit an absolute rope just to the left of second base, base hit, game's over. I always ask George "How great was Yogi Berra?" He won't answer. After all these years, he is still blocking.
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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.