I was trying to land an 18-year-old strapping first baseman from Blanco, Texas, population 200. His name was Willie Upshaw. It turned out there were only three scouts who knew about Willie - Dave Yocum and I working for the Yankees, and Al LaMacchia from the Atlanta Braves.
My first baseman is George "Catfish" Metkovich from our 1952 Pittsburgh Pirates team, which lost 112 games. After a terrible series against the New York Giants, in which our center fielder made three throwing errors and let two balls get through his legs, manager Billy Meyer pleaded, "Can somebody think of something to help us win a game?" "I'd like to make a suggestion," Metkovich said. "On any ball hit to center field, let's just let it roll to see if it might go foul."
The populist zeal to seek revenge on those who make a lot of money is targeted almost exclusively at corporations. I haven't heard outcries about Hollywood actors who make millions per film, even when those movies are a bust at the box office and the talent at issue has none. There's no outrage over athletes like New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez's $33 million salary or Celtic power forward Kevin Garnett's $25 million. Nor should there be. These are exceptionally talented individuals whose teams' owners think they're worth every penny.
George Bowering doesn’t play fair. Baseball Love is so good there is no memoir in the league that can go up against it. Bowering has a sense of story and an eye for detail that eliminate the possibility that he was a lousy second baseman. Reading a home run is fun.
I played from the time I was seven years old. My father was my first baseman coach. I had opportunities that I never really pursued - with some Miami teams and a few larger colleges, and then I ended up bailing and began cooking.
'This is America,' my father used to say to me, 'and in this country, a smart young fellow like you can grow up and do just about anything.' My dad, no doubt, was thinking doctor, lawyer, teacher, scientist or businessman. I was thinking second baseman, New York Yankees.
(Mike) Schmitty provided what the relief pitchers need most, home runs and great defense. He's the best third baseman that I ever played with, and maybe of all-time. Obvious Hall of Famer, even then. He retired while on top of his game. I thought for sure he was going to hit 600 home runs.
I used to soak my mitts in a bucket of water for about two days. Then I'd put a couple of baseballs in the pocket and wrap it up with a rubber band. Today you don't have to do that, because catchers' mitts are more like first baseman's gloves.