St. Louis Brown Ned Garver’s 1951 Book Is 2014’s Must-Have!

Ned Garver remains a winner.

He hasn’t taken the mound since 1961. However, his new book Catch 20…too! How one pitcher won 20 games on a team that lost over 100 will be remembered as one of his greatest accomplishments.
The fascinating 184-page book recounts how Garver won 20 games on a struggling St. Louis Browns club that lost 102 in 1951.
Authors Ronnie Joyner and Bill Bozman have preserved an overlooked slice of baseball history. Together with pictures from Garver’s personal collection, this is a book that’ll stun even the brainiest baseball fan.
Joyner and Bozman give a great recap of Garver’s season. “Ned’s Notes” allow Garver himself to offer detailed color commentary from every victory. He’s remembered it all, recapping conversations with teammates and foes.
This isn’t fluffy encyclopedic stuff. Garver interweaves episodes from his entire career, comparing them to 1951. For instance, he tells about his regret over accidentally beaning Brooks Robinson in 1957. 
Conversely, Garver isn’t shy about sharing his feelings from 1951 over Larry Doby and Early Wynn (the latter being the avenger who delivered a retaliatory fastball message at the Brown hurler’s head). Perhaps, Wynn knew how dangerous Garver was as a hitter. He accented his 20-win achievement with a .305 batting average.
The book’s end is priceless. Garver himself begins his memory of win 20 with, “If you were going to write a script for Hollywood, I think that scenario was as good as it gets:”. It’s a great story, told in all-star fashion by the man called “The Team” by St. Louis owner Bill Veeck. 
An introduction from Dodgers pitcher Carl Erskine and box scores from every Garver victory make this the perfect time capsule.
To get a postpaid copy autographed by the unforgettable Brownie, send a check or money order for $25 to:
Don Garver (Ned’s son)
113 Avalon Drive
Bryan, Ohio 43506

Yankee Bobby Brown, the real ‘Doc’ Graham?

Before there was a Field of Dreams and a “Doc” Graham, there was Bobby Brown.

DOCTOR Bobby Brown.

The character who gave up baseball to serve others? The real-life Yankee did such a thing.

He walked away from the game to continue his medical career, with “if only…” being a regular refrain from Yankees fans. In an eloquent response, Brown wrote:

“I only played two months after being discharged from the Army — May and June. I retired June 30, 1954, to begin my residency in internal medicine. When I returned to the Yankees, I had not really played any baseball for two years. I was just starting to get my hitting stroke when I retired.”

He left with credentials any player would be proud of:

Five-Time World Champion
Yogi Berra’s roommate

More than a teammate, Brown knew the man behind the myth. I asked him what the smartest thing was that Yogi ever said or did, on the field or off. What reporter would bother quoting Berra sounding un-Yogi-like?
Brown noted:

“Yogi’s brain has always worked extremely well. When you study his statements, they always make good sense.”

Lastly, I wondered if Brown knew what a potent bat he wielded in his abbreviated career. I found that future Hall of Famer Early Wynn was haunted by Brown: 12 hits (2 homers) and seven walks. I thought Brown was entitled to a bit of bragging. Nothing doing!

“I was unaware that I hit very well against Early Wynn. He was a tough pitcher and it was always a struggle when he pitched against us.”

Enjoy these well-chosen words about Brown from some devout Yankees fans at Bronx Baseball Daily!

Tomorrow: Billy Moran documents the “many ups and downs” of his career.

Ken Retzer: John F. Kennedy’s Batterymate

Many people catch the President, on TV, even at a rally.

Ken Retzer caught John F. Kennedy at a ballpark in 1963.

Retzer, starting catcher for the Washington Senators, received the 1963 season’s ceremonial first pitch from JFK.

The Illinois-born receiver enjoyed another milestone that year. Behind the plate for baseball’s 100,000th-ever game, Retzer handled the historic ball that would be displayed in Cooperstown’s Hall of Fame.

I was fascinated to see Retzer’s success in hitting knuckleballers like Hall of Famer Early Wynn. He wrote me:

“I was a line drive hitter,few strikeouts. Just 31 in 1961. So that helps to hit all pitchers. Knuckleballers were hard to catch, almost like catching a butterfly.”

He seemed to wear a different uniform number yearly. Why?

“Any time I veteran player would join the team, I gave up my uniform. The last was #14 for Gil Hodges the manager.”

Twins fans should know that Retzer played a role in the team’s 1965 American League championship. When catchers Earl Battey and Jerry Zimmerman held out, owner Calvin Griffith called Retzer as a bargaining chip. Signing Retzer, who performed admirably throughout spring training, convinced the other two catchers to ink new contracts. Unfortunately, Retzer was cut a day before the season began.

Retzer deserved a World Series. He’s a World Champion autograph signer, giving all-star treatment to every fan who writes. Ask any Senators fan.

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