Good morning, all! I hope you had a terrific weekend!
It is 10 days until Opening Day of the baseball season. And unlike in 2020, barring any unforeseen incidents, the season will begin on time. So as we look ahead, it might be also a good time to look back; 60 years to be exact.
Sixty years ago, the New York Yankees were on the cusp of one of their greatest seasons. That was the year, when Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record with 61. Mickey Mantle slugged 54 home runs, as the M&M boys captivated a nation with their assault on Ruth’s mark. But 60 years ago was also the year the Yankees-Mets rivalry began. It started, even before the Mets were the Mets. They were still being referred to as the “New York National League club.”
The rivalry began on what would have been a quiet, innocent day in spring training; March 19, 1961. Yankees co-owners Dan Topping and Del Webb called a news conference to declare that the “New York National League club” better not expect to use Yankee Stadium for their home games, while their new stadium was being built in Queens. Mind you, the New York NL club had not asked to use Yankee Stadium, but the co-owners of baseball’s winningest club wanted to make it clear the “Big Ballpark in the Bronx” was not theirs for the asking. Go play your home games in the Polo Grounds, Topping and Webb suggested. (George Steinbrenner would have been proud.)
Just to be sure, Topping let it be known that since departed New York Yankees GM George Weiss had made the same declaration, when he was still with the Yankees: that Yankee Stadium was off limits to the new NL club. He doubted Weiss would change his mind, now that he was the new president of the New York NL club, but just to be sure, don’t even think about it.
Topping also reminded the media, he was not upset that Weiss had taken the job as president of the new team, even though the Yankees were on the hook to pay him $35,000 a year over the next five years, as part of an agreement when Weiss and the Yankees parted ways.
“If there’s a question of Weiss receiving payments from us, while also drawing salary on his new job, that’s something Commissioner Ford Frick will have to decide. We have no further interest in the matter,” Topping told the New York Times.
In other words, Topping was upset and the commissioner better look into it. Steinbrenner couldn’t have said it any better.
So 60 years ago, almost to the day, the Yankees-Mets rivalry began, even though the Mets didn’t have a name, nor a ballpark. Just don’t expect to play in Yankee Stadium.
Veteran made Veterans Stadium his apartment
There is a new book out entitled “The Secret Apartment,” by Tom Garvey and its story has been corroborated by two members of the Philadelphia Eagles Hall of Fame. It seems Garvey, a Vietnam veteran, was bouncing from one job to another after the war, before landing a job through his uncle as a parking lot attendant at Veterans Stadium, home of the Eagles and Phillies. Before too long, he was managing the parking lots.
Still Garvey needed a place to live. Unbeknown to most people, he turned a storage room off a concession stand into his own apartment. To disguise his ruse, he kept boxes at the storage room entrance piled high, so when the door was open employees would still think it was a storage room. But after walking down a long row of boxes, the room opened up into “one of the neatest apartments I think I’d ever seen,” said former Eagle Bill Bradley. What makes this story even more intriguing is Garvey got the apartment idea because of a visit by Pope John Paul II to the Vet.
Who needs a luxury box, right? Garvey, lived in the rent free apartment for three years, claims about 35 people knew of its existence but nobody said anything about it. If only the White House was that leak proof.
Garvey credited the entire experience with turning around his life. Now 78, Garvey is a retired real estate agent.
Amazon part of big NFL TV deal
The NFL made official what stories had been indicating for weeks, Amazon Prime is part of its new television deal, along with Fox, NBC, CBS, ABC and ESPN. In total, the broadcast entities will fork over $110B over 11 years to carry NFL games.
Amazon Prime will be the home to Thursday Night Football, a package the other networks had shunned. It will be 2023, before Prime starts carrying the games but expect a 21st Century television experience, when viewing primetime games on Prime.
Could be awhile before Cleveland abandons Indians nickname
Turns out it is not as easy to change a ballclub’s nickname, as one would think. It was thought the Cleveland American League club, which is going to change its Indians nickname, would have had a new name by mid-season. Now they may not have a name by 2022. It could even be 2023, before we know the new name. Indians owner Paul Dolan told a roundtable gathering in Akron, OH:
“There aren’t many words in the English language that somebody doesn’t own in some shape or form. Particularly in the sports realm, that’s a real challenge.”
Hey, they just might be the Cleveland American League club, after all. I know an NFL team that doesn’t have a nickname and WFT has worked out quite well.
That is it for today. I hope your week gets off to a splendid start. I am going to take a short break from publishing the newsletter over the next few days, but I hope to return on April 2. In the meantime, be well and as always, thank you for your support.
Ironic then that is was Steinbrenner who had to ask to play at Shea during the Yankee Stadium renovations in 1974 & 1975