Roy Campanella, Rolling Stones, Superfans: Dodgers Coach Mark Cresse Remembers

Los Angeles Dodgers fans marvel at the years served by Bill Russell. Another overlooked team fixture during those many glory years was Mark Cresse.

Cresse served as bullpen coach for 22 seasons. A third-round draftee by the Cardinals in 1971, he went on to found the Mark Cresse School of Baseball.

I wrote to find out his views about Dodger Stadium, bullpen misadventures and his overlooked talent.

What did he remember most about Dodger Stadium? Interestingly, Cresse recalled the people before the sights:

“I enjoyed daily talks with the season ticket holders near me in the bullpen. I was always amazed with the passion they had for the Dodgers!”

What’s the craziest thing Cresse ever witnessed by relievers trying to amuse themselves?

“I promised Jesse Orosco that if we were ever ahead by 15 runs in a game, he could bring his stereo down to the bullpen. Sure enough, it happened and here came his giant stereo playing the Rolling Stones’ Satisfaction.”

During his years with the Dodgers, Cresse gained secondary fame as a baseball woodworker. He made lamps out of broken bats. Did any famous names ever collect his work?

“The best bat lamp I ever made was an eight-bat lamp that I made for Roy Campanella. He gave me eight bats from his last team in Brooklyn and I made him a cool table lamp.”

Coming Monday: Givings, and misgivings, by collectors at Christmas.

LOL: Baseball E-Mail Autographs?!?

Imagine ol’ Case’ saying:
“No autographs. But you
can find me on Facebook!”

Christmas is coming, not Halloween. Therefore, why are reply times for former players getting so scary?

I’m not giving up on old-fashioned U.S. Mail contacts with baseball’s past. I am simply pondering the non-replies and years-long delays from Rip Van Winkle-like retirees. We’re not talking Hall of Famers, but cup-of-coffee guys and those who left the diamond years ago.
That’s why I’m trying an experiment. E-mail. Websites. Social media. Any way to take the pulse of a former player before sending out my envelope of hope.

I’ve never imagined being a collector who would print out an e-mail to save in a scrapbook. I want a handwritten reply, proof that a person gave special thought to my question.

Then again, are retirees becoming so cynical that they’d delight in the lack of resale value in an e-mail? They could still transmit their memory, cyber-sending their thoughts without the fear of my selling an unsigned printout on eBay?

Additionally, I think the rush of E-immediacy may prompt some non-mail signers to reply. Have you ever been at a shop checkout counter, money in hand, only to be brushed aside by the person supposedly waiting on you? Why? The unknown caller and the ringing telephone seemed more important.

Of course, I’ll share whatever responses I receive, both from tortoises and hares.

Coming Friday: Did Mark Cresse witness the wildest day ever in the L.A. Dodgers bullpen?

Team Organists, Yankees Fans And More: Previewing Tom’s Latest “10 Most Wanted” List

Once, Mark Cresse
made and sold lamps
made out of Dodger
broken bats!

I decided to go off the field in search of 10 more eyewitnesses to baseball history.

Topping the list is Christian Lopez, the fan who caught (and gave back) Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit. I’m hoping I’m not too late. I see that Steiner Sports has offered signed LOPEZ baseballs. Does this mean that answering fan mail is taboo?

Two other Yankee-related names intrigue me, retiring trainer Gene Monahan and the first Christian Lopez, best known as Sal Durante. Durante caught the 61st home run ball hit by Roger Maris.

Other non-player notables on my list include:

Lon Simmons, Frick Award-winning announcer
Mark Cresse, long-time Dodgers bullpen coach
Terry “Talkin’ Baseball” Cashman
Oscar Leon, Artist
Lou Cella, Sculptor
(collaborators on Frank Thomas statue — loved their This Week in Baseball appearance!)
Gary Pressey, Cubs organist
Nancy Bea Hefley, Dodgers organist

Stay tuned. Meanwhile, check out this impressive feature about MLB team organists!