Posts Tagged ‘Marty Appel’


Lest we forget: Ray Robinson

Posted on: November 2nd, 2017 by Ron Kaplan

Ray Robinson was among the last of his generation of sportswriters and authors. I had the pleasure of speaking with him on several occasions in my capacity as sports editor for the NJ Jewish News. He passed away yesterday at the age of 96.

Among his many books, Robinson published High and Tight: Hank Greenberg Confronts Anti-Semitism in Baseball in 2012.

Marty Appel, shown with Robinson (right) at the dedication of a plaque at Lou Gehrig’s birthplace, was kind enough to allow me to use his tribute, posted on Facebook yesterday.

A special friend….and a New York treasure, author/editor Ray Robinson passed away at 5 pm today at New York Hospital, a day after suffering a stroke at his apartment on East 90th Street, where he lived for 63 years. As some of you may recall, his wife Phyllis died on March 13 at 92. Ray’s devotion to her care as she suffered through Alzheimer’s Disease was perhaps his finest hour. They were married for 68 years. Ray would have turned 97 on December 4.

Ray was sharp to the end, and he looked forward to every phone call that kept his mind alert and active. Loved to talk politics, media, and of course, baseball. He was a Columbia graduate and graduation day was the day Lou Gehrig died in 1941. Gehrig was special to him — he met Lou, and wrote a classic biography of him, as well as books about Knute Rockne, Will Rogers, Yankee Stadium, Christy Mathewson, Tim McCarver, and many more. He was the editor of the great annual paperback, “Baseball Stars of 19XX” which were must-have books back in the day. There, he employed the likes of Jimmy Breslin, Dick Schaap, George Vecsey, Al Silverman, Arnold Hano, Al Silverman, Charles Einstein, and many more – often for $20 an article! He was, improbably, the editor of Seventeen and Good Housekeeping magazines for many years, as well as the long defunct Pageant and Coronet.

He was an EIGHT DECADE author, published from the 1940s to the 2010s. He did an ebook on baseball and US Presidents in this decade. Everyone wanted a column from him each year on Gehrig — he was in the bleachers on Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day in 1939. (He probably wrote a dozen Gehrig guest columns for the Times). He was on the Board of Directors for the New York (Lou Gehrig) Chapter of the ALS Association.

I knew him for some 45 years. We used to have lunch at Billy’s (no longer there) on First Avenue. He was a vital part of our monthly “Larry Ritter Lunch Group” which is now in its 26th year and we have met in recent years near his home — so he wouldn’t be away from Phyllis for long. Otherwise he was always happy to walk to wherever we met.

We did events at Columbia together and attended a plaque dedication at Lou Gehrig’s birthplace some years ago. Ray was old enough to have lived through and experienced the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor, World War II, the Kennedy assassination, a few more wars, 18 presidents, and the computer/internet age (which he managed to ignore, still working his typewriter).

I take pleasure in believing that there were no questions I neglected to ask him. Remarkable to get first hand accounts of almost everything that has mattered in the US for the last century.

Bob Costas texted me today: “What a life. What a good man.”

Ray and Phyllis had three children – Nancy, Tad and Steve ….. plus his family of admirers who had the pleasure of his company on a monthly basis — at least — for all these years.

Rachmones for the underdog?

Posted on: May 11th, 2016 by Ron Kaplan

Baseball has always  had supreme rulers. The New York Yankees, with 27 world championships, are generally acknowledged as baseball’s most dynastic franchise, beginning with their rush to greatness in the early 1920s. Even teams more known for their ineptitude — the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs — once dominated the national pastime. But are baseball dynasties dead?


A quartet of Jewish sportswriters will participate in “Reign Men,” a debate of baseball’s greatest dynasties, at the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center on Sunday, May 22, at 2 p.m. The Museum is located on the campus of Montclair State University in Little Falls.

The panelists include:

Baseball historian, author, and former Yankees PR director Marty Appel will moderate the discussion.

Admission is $6, $4 for students, and free for Museum members. Each author’s most recent book will also be available for purchase. For more information, contact 973-655-6891 or david.yogi@montclair.edu.

JML update, Hot Stove League, Jan. 12, 2015

Posted on: January 12th, 2015 by Ron Kaplan

CHASING DREAMSThe curious case of Ryan Kalish. Supposedly Kalish had been signed to a minor league contract by the Toronto Blue Jays. But late last week, news came that this was not the case, that “for reasons that are unknown, the deal has fallen through and the outfielder must now search for yet another suitor that is willing to sign him,” according to this article on the Fansided site.

Speaking of Blue Jays, a belated happy birthday to their outfielder Kevin Pillar, who turned 26 on Jan. 4. Guess he and Kalish aren’t going to be teammates after all.

I hope you had a chance to visit the marvelous baseball-season-long “Chasing Dreams” at the National Museum of American Jewish History. It did wonders for their bottom line.

MLB Official Historian John Thorn recently wrote a three-part series about “All the record books are wrong.” Veteran baseball PR guru and author Marty Appel sent this in about the difficulties in keeping accurate numbers for the one and only season of the Israel baseball League in 2007.,

And because I’m desperate for just about any Jewish-related baseball news, I’m including this piece about the end of an engagement between a Jewish Bachelorette  and her baseball-playing fiance.


What if…

Posted on: January 17th, 2014 by Ron Kaplan

Saw this on Marty Appel’s Facebook page:

Ok, so I thought of this last night. It’s September 29, 2014. Yankees and Red Sox have tied for first in AL East and need to have a one-game playoff to see who wins the division. But wait, it is game #163…..A-Rod has served his 162 game suspension, and although the decision says no post-season — this ain’t post-season. It is game 163 of regular season, and he shows up and insists he is eligible. And, well, he is. And, well, without joy, Girardi sends him out to pinch hit in the 11th inning, since he is out of players. Having swallowed a gummie just 4 hours and 9 minutes earlier, A-Rod is ready……John Sterling and Michael Kay are talking all about Bucky Dent and Aaron Boone…..and here’s the pitch……


Where does the time go? The DH at 40

Posted on: May 14th, 2013 by Ron Kaplan

Can it really be 40 years since the advent of the designated hitter?

The Red Sox honored Ron Blomberg and Orlando Cepeda, who had the honor (dubiously or not, depending on your opinion of the DH) in a pregame ceremony at Fenway on May 8. While Cepeda may be in the Hall of Fame, Blomberg has done all right for himself, serving as a public speaker and good-will ambassador for the game.

Hat tip to Marty Appel for the photo.


Posted on: March 20th, 2013 by Ron Kaplan

So the entitled Yankee fans are turning their backs on the Bronx Bombers because of a few injuries? Welcome to the world of every other baseball fan.

Landsman Richard Sandomir chronicled the last time the Yankees fell so low — 1965 — which “No current Yankees player was alive to witness.” He gives a nod to Marty Appel, who, out of necessity, had to include the sorry mid-sixties in his recent team history, Pinstripe Empire.

Appel said that the former Yankees he interviewed for [the book]  preferred to ignore those years. “They were still championship caliber and were still wearing World Series rings,” Appel said. “It was like a blight on their record. They were almost embarrassed that this happened on their watch.”

Sorry, but you get no sympathy from this Mets fan. Or that KC Royals fan. Or that Pittsburgh Pirates fan. Or that…


American Jewish Historical Society hosts ‘Night of Jewish Baseball’

Posted on: February 7th, 2013 by Ron Kaplan

Night of Jewish Baseball invitationWhile baseball’s spring training for 2013 unfolds in Florida and Arizona, the American Jewish Historical Society will host “A Night of Jewish Baseball” on Wednesday, Feb. 27, at its Manhattan headquarters from 6-9 p.m. I’ll definitely be at this one, so if you see me, don’t be a stranger.

Sportscaster Len Berman will moderate a panel featuring Ira Berkow and Jane Leavy, authors, respectively, of Hank Greenberg: The Story of My Life and Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy (P.S.); Franklin Foer, editor of The New Republic and coeditor of the recently published Jewish Jocks: An Unorthodox Hall of Fame; author John Thorn, the official historian of Major League Baseball; and former Major Leaguers Ron “The Designated Hebrew” Blomberg (Designated Hebrew: The Ron Blomberg Story) and Art Shamsky (The Magnificent Seasons: How the Jets, Mets, and Knicks Made Sports History and Uplifted a City and the Country), both of whom played for New York franchise and managed in the short-lived Israel Baseball League.

There will also be a silent auction for such items as a private behind-the-scenes tour of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown; second row dugout tickets to a Yankees-Mets game with Legends dining; tickets to a Mets-Brewers game (featuring Jewish players Ike Davis and Ryan Braun); and lunch with Shamsky and author Marty Appel (Pinstripe Empire: The New York Yankees from Before the Babe to After the Boss) who is helping to coordinate the evening’s program.

All the panelists will have signed books available for sale at the event, where a lithograph by artist Ron Lewis, featuring more than two dozen Jewish baseball players assembled together, will be unveiled.  Signed copies of the lithograph, which includes Koufax, Al Rosen, and the newest Yankee, Kevin Youkilis, will also be available for purchase.


Prior to the discussion — which begins at 7:30 — guests can enjoy kosher stadium-style refreshments and view displays of Jewish baseball memorabilia including autographed game-worn uniform jerseys of Greenberg, Koufax, and the recent Team Israel from the World Baseball Classic. Shlomo Lipetz and Nate Fish, two members of the team which lost the championship game of the WBC qualifier last September, will be on hand to talk about their experiences.

Tickets are $50 for “reserved seat level” and $150 for “box seat level,” which includes a gold-trimmed set of 142 Jewish baseball cards for the first 100 guests.

For more information or to order tickets, contact Deborah Grossman at 212-294-6166 or dgrossman@ajhs.org.

People of the (baseball) book, continued

Posted on: January 16th, 2013 by Ron Kaplan

With Martin Abramowitz, left, and Lawrence Ruttman at the "Judaism & Baseball" retreat.

Some recent news about Jewish authors and their baseball output.

Lawrence Ruttman publishes American Jews and America’s Game:Voices of a Growing Legacy in Baseball, from University of Nebraska Press, this spring. UNP is the same outfit that’s releasing my (shameless plug) 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read before They Die.

I met Ruttman, a New England attorney, at last year’s Judaism & Baseball weekend program at the Isabelle Freedman Retreat Center. He’s a marvelous storyteller and I’m looking forward to reading his work.


With Rabbi Rebcca Alpert at the Retreat.

Also that retreat was Rabbi Rebecca Alpert, author of Out of Left Field: Jews and Black Baseball, published in 2011 by Oxford University Press. She recently discussed her book at the Germantown Jewish Center.

Another Jewish-oriented book about to hit the stores and to which I’m greatly looking forward: John Rosengren’s new bio, Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes (NAL, March).

Finally, as part of my (shameless self-promotion) 501 Baseball Book website, I have posted audio interviews with Marty Appel (Now Pitching for the Yankees and Pinstripe Empire) and Jonathan Mayo (Facing Clemens). They appear on the Author Q&A page, which you can access here.

Alpert’s Out of Left Field is also included in 501, and I hope to be speaking with her at some point soon.


Marty Appel, Harvey Araton among finalists for baseball book award

Posted on: November 13th, 2012 by Ron Kaplan

Spitball Magazine announced the finalists for the publications annual CASEY award for best baseball book of the year.

Among the books under consideration are two “Yankee-centric” titles:  Driving Mr. Yogi: Yogi Berra, Ron Guidry, and Baseball’s Greatest Gift by Harvey Araton, and Pinstripe Empire: The New York Yankees from Before the Babe to After the Boss, by Marty Appel.

Appel won the publication’s award in 1996 for Slide, Kelley Slide, a biography about Michael “King” Kelly, a popular star in the 19th century.

Book review: Pinstripe Empire

Posted on: July 2nd, 2012 by Ron Kaplan

My review of Marty Appel’s new definitive history of the New York Yankees is up on Bookreporter.com.


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