50+ Years Of Highlights From A Well-Traveled Baseball Writer


Always gracious with his time, Cal Ripken, Jr. talks baseball with President Ronald Reagan in 1981.Photo byWhite House photograph

By Dan Schlossberg

My colleague, friend, and fellow author Marty Appel is out with a book detailing his half-century inside the clubhouse, dugout, and press box of the New York Yankees.

Called Pinstripes by the Tale and published by Triumph, the well-crafted hardcover consists of anecdotes from the author’s career as publicist, confidante, and chronicler of all things Yankees. He is best-known for Pinstripe Empire but there are two-dozen other books bearing the Appel byline.

I’ve known and respected Marty for more than 50 years — a fact that made me think about mentioning some of my most memorable moments (many of them off the beaten track). Here are a few:

  • Stopping an interview with Hank Aaron in the Braves clubhouse because Georgia governor Jimmy Carter stopped by to wish him well. The next day, after the peanut farmer announced he was running for president, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran a headline that said, “Jimmy Carter is running for WHAT?”
  • Witnessing an argument between Aaron and Satchel Paige over 75 cents. The Braves had signed Paige so that he could get the days needed to qualify for a major-league pension.
  • Meeting Gennifer Flowers, made famous by Bill Clinton, at a piano bar in New Orleans during the Baseball Winter Meetings many years ago.
  • Getting a signed thank-you note from Ted Turner, then owner of the Braves, after interviewing him for a magazine article.
  • Also getting a signed thank-you note from Bill Veeck, another maverick owner whose entry to Cooperstown came too late for him to enjoy it (what a speech he would have given).
  • Having Steve Garvey thank me for interviewing him; I said I should be thanking him but he said “You did your homework” in preparing for the interview.
  • Asking a player on the Washington Senators whether temperamental manager Ted Williams would come out of the dugout to pose for a picture, getting a “Take your chances” answer, and finally taking a photo that still hangs on my office wall.
  • Enjoying the company of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, Roger Craig, Pepper Paire-Davis, Carl Erskine, Bob Feller, Ernie Harwell, Monte Irvin, Ferguson Jenkins, Jim Kaat, Jay Johnstone, Clem Labine, Eddie Mathews, Stan Musial, Fritz Peterson, Brooks Robinson, Red Schoendienst, Art Shamsky, Enos Slaughter, Jeff Torborg, Billy Williams, and even Johnny (Double No-Hit) Vander Meer on baseball theme cruises I created, coordinated, and hosted since 1981.
  • Beating Brooks Robinson in ping-pong, 23-21, on a rocking ship as it passed the coast of Cape Hatteras, NC. The ball took some very strange bounces.
  • Helping Stan Musial fly a kite on a moving steamboat.
  • Arranging and receiving an exclusive one-on-one interview with Cal Ripken, Jr. for 45 minutes in the otherwise-empty visitors clubhouse at West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium after I promised in advance not to ask about The Streak.
  • Interviewing Bobby Bragan, manager of the Milwaukee Braves, at Shea Stadium on May 9, 1965 — three days after my 17th birthday.
  • Appreciating Dusty Baker always providing a warm greeting and telling everyone in sight that I wrote the first article about him — even though he never lived up to my billing him as “the next Hank Aaron.”
  • Signing books I wrote — and signing contracts for future books.
  • Ignoring the cold and wet conditions at Atlanta’s Truist Park while celebrating the 2021 Braves world championship win over the Houston Astros in person.
  • Interviewing John Smoltz on a live BRAVES BANTER podcast while he was in the middle of a golf tournament; he would leave to take a shot and then return.
  • Having the Hall of Fame display my posed photo of Hank Aaron and Eddie Mathews, taken in West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium one month before Hank broke Babe Ruth’s record of April 8, 1974.
  • “Doing an inning” with Milo Hamilton during an Astros-Dodgers exhibition game and having a friend in Los Angeles hear it by accident and tell me about it.
  • Toiling with Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo to produce autobiographies I was proud to co-author and getting to spend considerable quality time with all three.
  • Beating Suzie Torborg, Jeff’s wife, in SCRABBLE, a word-game I love.
  • Knowing Ernie Harwell, one of the finest gentlemen I ever met in the game.
  • Serving as “seeing-eye person” for Ed Lucas, a blind sportswriter who was tough to stump in baseball trivia and loved laughter and one-liners better than most.
  • Receiving media credentials to cover the World Series, winter meetings, spring training, All-Star Game, the Hall of Fame inductions, and regular-season games.
  • Writing anything about baseball, especially during the winter. There’s never an off-season for America’s national pastime.

    Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ is the author of 40 baseball books, including this year’s Baseball’s Memorable Misses (Sports Publishing). The Syracuse University graduate now covers the game for forbes.com, Latino Sports, USA TODAY Sports Weekly, Sports Collectors Digest, Memories & Dreams, and other outlets. E.mail him at ballauthor@gmail.com.

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