BY GREG KLEIN
Jamming 110 seasons into a book, even one 600-plus pages, can’t be easy.
That’s the task Marty Appel, 1970 Oneonta State graduate and longtime head of public relations for the New York Yankees, had for his book “Pinstripe Empire: The New York Yankees from before the Babe, to after the Boss.”
Judging by his speech Tuesday at the Baseball Hall of Fame’s summer Authors’ Series, Appel found a way to be entertaining and informative in his latest book.
Calling his work a piece of history, Appel stressed to a nearly packed Bullpen Theater of just under 50 people that his book was meant to appeal to non-Yankees fans as well as diehard fans of the Bronx Bombers. “This is a historical perspective, not a Yankees media guide,” he said. “I should know that as the guy who published the Yankees media guide for many years.”
Appel touched on all the Yankees favorites, from Ruth to Gehrig to DiMaggio to Mantle to the modern era, but he also told tales of lesserknown, but still historic figures such as Miller Huggins, Urban Shocker, George Mogridge and Jacob Ruppert.
The last, owner of the Yankees from 1915-1939 was similar to George Steinbrenner, Appel said. “People don’t always know of him, but he built Yankee Stadium, he bought Babe Ruth and he set up the dynasty that we know today.
“Both were similar in the way they ran the Yankees and that’s why they had success. Steinbrenner and Ruppert both put the money back into the team,” Appel said.
Appel worked for the Yankees during the bleak CBS years and said he remembers the mood when Steinbrenner bought the team.
“The thing we all felt, after being relieved to be keeping our jobs, was that almost immediately you could sense how important winning was to him, and what lengths he would go to win.”
Appel has enjoyed the success up close, but he also cautions Yankees fans that winning isn’t a birthright.
“If you grew up in the late ‘50s or were born in the 1970s, you might have waited a generation to have a championship,” he said. “It might ring true to some of you here, that didn’t see the Yankees win until you were in your 20s.”
Appel got to see firsthand not only the Yankees winning, but most of the greats around the franchise. He said he particularly had a good relationship with Mickey Mantle.
“My first job with the Yankees was answering Mickey Mantle’s fan mail. And it was awful because every letter was the same, ‘Dear Mr. Mantle, you are my favorite player.
Please send me an autographed ball.’ You could see why Mickey no longer answered it himself. But (Yankees management) believed that every letter unanswered was a potential future Mets fan.”
When he was in charge of the Yankees’ Old-Timers’ Game, Appel said he inadvertently caused a huge controversy by introducing Mickey Mantle after Joe DiMaggio.
“The first year after Mickey retired, we introduced him second to last, and he was so popular then, you couldn’t hear DiMaggio’s introduction at all. So the next year, we introduced DiMaggio second to last and that way you could hear his accomplishments, you could hear us call him the greatest living player in the game. It made sense to us to do that, but it didn’t make sense to Joe.”
DiMaggio famously swore never to attend another Old Timers’ Day, a vow he graciously did not keep. “He missed those cheers. He couldn’t stay away from those cheers,” Appel said. “As it turned out, from 1951 to when he died in 1999, he only missed one, and that was when he had a pacemaker put in.”
Appel said he is looking forward to another Yankees run this season, and even favors a certain opponent. “As much as it pains an old Yankee guy to root for the Dodgers, I hope to see it because of Don Mattingly,” he said. “I just want it to come out right for the Yankees at the end. But to see Donny Baseball finally make the World Series, that would be special to me.”
The Authors’ Series is designed to help preserve stories about baseball history. There are four more lectures this summer:
July 20: Rick Ferrell: Knuckleball Catcher, by Kerrie Ferrell, 2 p.m.
July 24: Banzai Babe Ruth: Baseball, Espionage & Assassination During the 1934 Tour of Japan, by Rob Fitts, 1 p.m.
Aug. 14: Fenway Park: The Centennial, by Saul Wisnia, 1 p.m.
Aug. 28 : Fenway Park: A Salute to the Coolest, Cruelest, Longest- Running Major League Baseball Stadium in America, by John Powers and Ron Driscoll, 1 p.m. Admission to the series comes with a ticket to the BBHOF, however seating is limited.
For more information on Hall of Fame’s Authors’ Series programs, visit www.baseballhall.org.
BY GREG KLEIN
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