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.

Pitcher Ron Negray ‘Sold’ On All Sports

Is the smile same since 1956? Signature is!

Although the bulk of his career came as a Phillie, pitcher Ron Negray began and ended in Dodger blue.

That meant having Roy Campanella as a batterymate in 1952. Negray’s assessment of Campy?

“He had a great arm and personality.”

On April 5, 1957, Negray was traded back to the Dodgers. His reaction upon learning that the team was headed to Los Angeles isn’t what you might guess.

“I thought it was a good move for the Dodgers, financially.”

Most importantly, Negray spelled out how it feels to be featured on a baseball card, especially when someone wants that card autographed.

“I still feel the same today as before. It’s always nice to be thought of.”

 As a bonus, Negray added a letter recounting his life in sports — on an off the diamond.Most importantly, Negray spelled out how it feels to be featured on a baseball card, especially when someone wants that card autographed.

“I played pro baseball for fourteen years plus five years playing winter baseball. I played in Havana, Cuba; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Caracas, Venezuela and Dominican Republic, a total of eight winter seasons.


I played in the majors only a few years and spent most of my time in class AAA. Pacific Coast League, International League and American Association.


I had a great fourteen years playing pro ball and made many friends.


I was an athletic goods salesman for 34 years, traveling Ohio and Michigan.


I sold most of all the colleges and pro teams in my area. I also sold my products to sporting goods dealers. I sold uniforms, helmets, shoulder pads, training supplies, tape, etc.


Sincerely,
Ron Negray”

Tomorrow: Will Chris James take 16-20 years to sign for you?

Reds Pitcher Ed Erautt Shined In 1949



At age 86, he’s still signing!

 Pitcher Ed Erautt proved one of my basic beliefs about baseball.

Sometimes, the game isn’t about a hit, play or even pitch. Sometimes, baseball is all about a feeling.

On May 29, 1949, Erautt spun a four-hitter against the Cubs. What memory stays with him?

“The confidence I could do it.”

Thanks to http://www.retrosheet.org/, the day lives on.

Although August 5 of that same season didn’t produce a win or save, Erautt struck out six Brooklyn Dodgers in a four-inning HITLESS relief stint. What K was most satisfying?

“Striking out Campanella.”

Erautt’s father played semi-pro ball in Saskatchewan. He trained his two boys as batterymates. Brother Joe Erautt (born in Canada three years before Ed) wound up as a cup-of-coffee catcher with the White Sox in 1950-51. How could two boys avoid the lure of hockey, that call from north of the border?

“My brother and I did play semi-pro hockey. My brother saw me play in the Majors. Dad did not, but my Mother did.”

Although this feature interview from accomplished Pacific Coast League historian Bill Swank is 15 years old, it’s a great look at the years Erautt spent in the high minors.

Tomorrow: What did pitcher Ron Negray pitch after baseball?


 

Enjoying Brooklyn Dodger Joe Landrum’s Humor

Pitcher Joe Landrum had a lot of laughs in his brief baseball career. With gratitude and grins, he answered questions by mail recently.

“Tom!

You had to come to the park EARLY if you wanted to see me pitch!

[Fellow southerner] Red Barber made it a point to come talk to me and his advice was ‘Don’t let those yankees [not the team] bother you. They love the ‘southern drawl.’

Somebody asked Roy Campanella the same question [what’s it like having him for a batterymate]. His answer was that, so far, I had thrown nothing that had gotten past the plate.

Bill [Joe’s son] was a big improvement over the ‘old model.’ He loved relief pitching and I hated it. Just never did enjoy the game from that standpoint. wish I could have a little more time to get used to the ‘bigs.’

In retrospect, I have come to the conclusion that it was just a big thrill to have played the sport in sandlots, American Legion, college at Clemson [where he earned All-American honors!], GOOD minor league records at all levels, and at least a shot with the Dodgers.

Good health to you,
Joe”

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