Grady Hatton Dies at 90…Ending Mystery?

Cancer claimed Grady Hatton Thursday at age 90.


A crisp sig, until the end!

Hatton was a sure-thing signer. He added “1952 All-Star” on request.

Questions were questionable, however.

All I got was a crisp autograph when I wrote. The questions were ignored.

Reviewing the archives of www.sportscollectors.net, I saw that I wasn’t alone.

In 2004, Hatton wrote to one collector that he’d get in trouble with players if he answered questions.

I met Hank Bauer at a 1980s card show. A bubbly Boog Powell loved chatting with him at an after-hours reception for card dealers.

Powell would tell anyone anything. Bauer was more careful.

“We had a sign on the clubhouse wall,” Bauer said. ‘What happens here stays here.'”

Before the Las Vegas rules. You know, what happens in Vegas…

No more worries about keeping confidences, Grady. Thanks for the signature.

‘Pinstripe Empire’ Author Marty Appel Shares His New York Yankee Heritage

All that’s missing from the great Pinstripe Empire book is more of author Marty Appel. Ever the historian, Marty left himself out of his team history. However, the story of how an eager college kid could become part of a fabled franchise is worth another book. In today’s blog, Marty shares that story:

Q: You got your first Yankees job with a letter to public relations director Bob Fishel. We love good baseball letters. What did you write — and did you write other teams?

A: As I recall, it was just a one-pager explaining that I was editor of my college newspaper, a great baseball fan, had won a Yankees Scorecard contest the year before, and I was seeking a summer doing pretty much doing anything. I didn’t use the word intern. It was the only team I wrote to.

 
Q: I’ve read that you started in the front office by handling Mickey Mantle’s fan mail?

A: That was true; technically it was fan mail for the team, but Mick’s was 95% of it. This was 1968 – people didn’t realize we had a second “future Hall of Famer” on the roster, so Bobby Cox, our third baseman, got very little. Most of the letters just asked for an autographed baseball, and few included SASEs. The Yankees paid the postage, and most people got printed material back – a signature on a picture of Mick, folded.

Q: Did you collect autographs as a kid? Did you ever send fan mail?

A: I was never an autograph collector, although that first summer I worked there, I did get a few of people I came to know well. Ruben Amaro, Rocky Colavito, Horace Clarke, Ralph Houk, Frank Crosetti…..but I’m still not much of a collector.

Q: During your PR stint, fans and collectors saw you recognize ALL the members of the organization in publications and otherwise. What other fan-friendly measures are you proudest of?

A: I think I did recognize that people like Bob Sheppard and Pete Sheehy were important figures – I put Pete in the team photo, I put Bob in the yearbook. I did some other little things that still exist in baseball over my time in the game. For instance, media guides that show players year-by-year records – I put All Star Games as showing where played, as opposed to saying, “American, American, American, American….” under team. And for post-season series, I put “opponent” rather than “New York, New York, New York, New York,” to make it easier to say, “oh, THAT series.” Some of it has reverted back to old ways, but it was a nice innovation when I did it. One thing I never managed to make standard was my attempt to list “Raised” where it says Place of Birth, and Residence. A lot of guys were born in a city, moved at age 3, and their real hometowns are never shown. If fans knew where guys grew up, went to high school, etc., it would add new interest geographically.

Q: Did you see fan mail and the hobby market change during your work with the Yankees?

A: Fan mail never waned until this current age of electronic mail, and of course, mail being forwarded to “services” offering items for sale. It was always high in the ’70s and ’80s. It would increase as star players came in. Bobby Murcer got a lot of mail when he arrived.

One thing that sort of faded during my time there was “fan clubs.” SPORT Magazine used to list some you could join. I was in the Bobby Richardson Fan Club when I was young. Membership cards, newsletters, exclusive photos. It probably cost $3 a year, although I don’t remember for sure. Those were fun.

Q: Were you ever on a card, even by accident? When collectors find you, do they ask for autographs on things besides your books?

A: Occasionally I would be in the background of a photo as a team spokesman. I’m in a few of the shots at Catfish Hunter’s signing. Recently someone sent me a photo from a Baseball Writers’ Dinner Journal which had a picture of Ron Blomberg, me, and our wives seated at a table. I was happy to sign, but I am always a little bemused by why anyone would want my signature. In a book, I do understand that; I’ve gotten authors to sign books. I’m always happy to sign those; proud, in fact.

Q: For your latest book, how did you work with current and former Yankees?

8. Pinstripe wasn’t meant as an oral history, so I didn’t set out to get long form interviews. If there was an event that I was writing about, and I could find a player involved in that event, call him and get a fresh quote, that would be a mission for the day. But at 620 pages, it was long enough without adding interviews. Finding long buried quotes was good too, like many from people who were on the field for Babe Ruth’s “called shot.” I snuck in a few gems though. Roy White gave me the name of the street gang he was a member of in Compton, California. I said, “street gang? You? What were you, the recording secretary?”

Q: I met Hank Bauer at a Portland card show in the late 1980s. I asked him questions about clubhouse dynamics at a reception. The next day, the show organizer said Bauer was worried I was writing a book! Did you have former Yankees worried about what you knew — and might share?

A: Because I had nice personal relationships with almost everyone I spoke to, and because they DID know I was writing a book, I didn’t have any problems such as you describe with Hank Bauer. But I think you wound up better than the guy in the men’s room at the Copa who encountered Bauer there in ’57.

Q: What’s the next baseball book by Marty Appel?

A: Not ready to announce the next book project yet, hopefully soon

Thank you, Marty. Baseball history is a better place with you in it!

Coming Monday: The Tigers lose a “Champ.”

When an Oriole Tamed the 1956 Yankees

The sloping sig remains the same!

He didn’t do it in front of a home crowd. Maybe, it wouldn’t have been as much fun.

Don Ferrarese pitched the game of his life May 12, 1956. The Baltimore lefty sparkled in front of a Yankee Stadium crowd, handcuffing the Yanks on two hits.

Imagine hurling a no-hitter for eight innings against the Bronx Bombers. Ferrarese started the ninth by surrendering an infield single to Andy Carey (a college teammate), a sky-high chopper off the plate fielded by the pitcher. A broken-bat single over third base by Hank Bauer followed.

Ferrarese picked up the play-by-play, writing:

“The most intense moment was the ninth inning. After the first hit and the second broken-bat hit, Mickey Mantle came up with two outs. I said, ‘Oh, my God.’

He flied out for the final out.”

A 1-0 win, his first in the major leagues. Ferrarese was being followed on national TV, as was another nearby hurler. Across town, Carl Erskine was no-hitting the Giants.

(Thanks for the memory, www.retrosheet.org!)

Why Did Senators Catcher Steve Korcheck Choose Baseball Over San Francisco 49ers?

Same Artful Autograph!

College football star Steve “Hoss” Korcheck turned down the San Francisco 49ers for baseball. He wound up as a backup catcher for the 1950s Washington Senators. How did he choose his career? This mountain of a man offered a kind, thoughtful reply to my letter:

“I thought that I would have a longer career in baseball. Also looked at the long-term health of each sport, injury-wise and long-term effects.”

Remarkably, he remembers his days in baseball in relatively-painless terms, writing:

“Two collisions that stand out — one with Jackie Brandt of the Baltimore Orioles and one with Hank Bauer of the New York Yankees. Pretty much injury free — a few broken fingers.”

Korcheck, who praised the artistry of batterymates Jim Kaat, Pedro Ramos and Camilio Pascual during his tenure in D.C., reflected on his playing days and unique ties to this year’s post-season rosters.

“Enjoyed my time in baseball. Enjoyed the atmosphere and the many friends that I made. Roomed with Ed Yost, whom I am in contact. My best friend became Jim Lemon, who passed away a few years ago.


After baseball, went back to school and obtained my doctorate degree in education. Taught and coach baseball for many years. Coached Ron Washington, manager of Texas Rangers and Sam Perlozzo, 3rd base coach of the Phillies.


Finished my educational career serving as president of Manatee Community College (now State College of Florida) for 17 years (1980-97).


Good luck and God bless,


Steve Korcheck”

JUST “a few broken fingers?” That’s one huge optimist!

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