Manny Sanguillen–A Baseball Ambassador

Recently, I was asked to take former Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Manny Sanguillen to the train station to catch his train back to Pittsburgh.  The previous evening, Manny had been at the Sports Legends of Delaware County museum at a celebration honoring Chester's own Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh and his three History-Making Moments in baseball.     Manny had been a part of two of those moments:  He was a member of MLB's first all-minority line-up and he was the catcher on the 1971 World Champion Pirates.      While we were waiting on the train platform for the train to arrive, a middle-aged lady recognized him and went crazy with a show of admiration.  She was a Pirates fan from his era and was beside herself with joy at this unexpected encounter, jumping up and down while clapping her hands and shouting over and over again, "I love you, Manny.  You were my favorite player."   She couldn't believe that she had run into her old hero!      The whole scene was so unexpected--One of the greatest displays of affection I ever saw.  After being a witness to this event, it occurred to me that Manny could be one of the sport's greatest ambassadors--perhaps major league baseball should give him that title.   I can only say that I wish I'd had a camera to record the entire event.   Jim Vankoski, Curator, SLDC Museum

Recently, I was asked to take former Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Manny Sanguillen to the train station to catch his train back to Pittsburgh. The previous evening, Manny had been at the Sports Legends of Delaware County museum at a celebration honoring Chester’s own Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh and his three History-Making Moments in baseball.
Manny had been a part of two of those moments: He was a member of MLB’s first all-minority line-up and he was the catcher on the 1971 World Champion Pirates.
While we were waiting on the train platform for the train to arrive, a middle-aged lady recognized him and went crazy with a show of admiration. She was a Pirates fan from his era and was beside herself with joy at this unexpected encounter, jumping up and down while clapping her hands and shouting over and over again, “I love you, Manny. You were my favorite player.” She couldn’t believe that she had run into her old hero!
The whole scene was so unexpected–One of the greatest displays of affection I ever saw. After being a witness to this event, it occurred to me that Manny could be one of the sport’s greatest ambassadors–perhaps major league baseball should give him that title. I can only say that I wish I’d had a camera to record the entire event.
Jim Vankoski,
Curator,
SLDC Museum

Roberto Clemente Portrait

 As part of the Sports Legends of Delaware County museum's Danny Murtaugh History-Making Moments gala, James Corcoran, the SLDC's resident artist, unveiled an extraordinary portrait of Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Fame member Roberto Clemente. Roberto was the only Pirates player to play a part in all three of Danny's history-making moments: He was a member of the 1960 World Champion Pirate Team as well as the right fielder on Danny's September 1, 1971 first all-minority lineup and the World Championship Team of 1971. This Roberto Clemente Portrait is currently on display in the All-Star Atrium of the SLDC museum, located in the Radnor Township Municipal Building at 301 Iven Avenue in Wayne, PA. More information on this portrait and other aspects of Delco sports history can be found on the museum's website www.sportslegendsofdelawarecounty.com or by calling 610-909-4919.

As part of the Sports Legends of Delaware County museum’s Danny Murtaugh History-Making Moments gala, James Corcoran, the SLDC’s resident artist, unveiled an extraordinary portrait of Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Fame member Roberto Clemente.
Roberto was the only Pirates player to play a part in all three of Danny’s history-making moments: He was a member of the 1960 World Champion Pirate Team as well as the right fielder on Danny’s September 1, 1971 first all-minority lineup and the World Championship Team of 1971.
This Roberto Clemente Portrait is currently on display in the All-Star Atrium of the SLDC museum, located in the Radnor Township Municipal Building at 301 Iven Avenue in Wayne, PA.
More information on this portrait and other aspects of Delco sports history can be found on the museum’s website www.sportslegendsofdelawarecounty.com or by calling 610-909-4919.

Pirates Alumni step up to the plate to honor Danny Murtaugh’s History-Making Moments

Rennie Stennett was a Pittsburgh Pirates rookie in 1971, playing for manager Danny Murtaugh, a Chester High graduate who had played for the Phillies and Pirates during his career in major-league baseball.

Stennett’s name was one of the nine Murtaugh wrote on his lineup card for the Sept. 1 game against the Phillies at Three Rivers Stadium. The Pirates won, 10-7, and that lineup made history because it was the first major-league lineup that included all minority players.

“I was so lucky to be a part of all that happened that year,” Stennett, who helped the Pirates win the 1971 World Series, said Saturday night at the Danny Murtaugh’s History-Making Moments Gala at the Sports Legends of Delaware County Museum in the Radnor Township Municipal Building. “It was a great feeling knowing that I was in the first lineup with all minority players, even though I didn’t realize it at the time. It really meant a lot to me.”

Manny Sanguillen was the Pirates’ catcher in 1971. He hit a two-run homer in the historic game against the Phillies, and he made the trip from his Pittsburgh home to help honor the memory of his former manager Saturday night.

“He didn’t see color,” Sanguillen said of Murtaugh. “He saw you as a person. When I was coming up, I thought I might end up going back to Panama, but he told me I was going to be a big-league player.”

Sanguillen was a good friend of Pirates Hall of Fame outfielder Roberto Clemente, and he spent three days deep-sea diving in the Atlantic Ocean searching for remains after the New Year’s Eve plane crash in 1972 that cost Clemente his life.

Bob Friend, who pitched for Murtaugh’s 1960 Pirates team that defeated the New York Yankees in the World Series, and Pottstown native Bobby Shantz, who pitched for the Yankees in that World Series, also were special guests at Saturday night’s event.

Bruce Markusen of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, who has written a book about the 1971 Pirates, spoke of how Murtaugh “got the most from the players on his teams, and how those teams rarely underachieved.

“There was a newspaper strike in 1971, so there was little publicity when he wrote that (all-minority) lineup,” Markusen said. “Danny Murtaugh had changed the culture in the Pirates’ clubhouse back in the 1970s and took what had been a divided clubhouse and made it so that there was no more tension.”

Markusen quoted former Pirate Dock Ellis, the starting pitcher for the all-minority lineup in the 1971 game, as calling Murtaugh “a beautiful dude” and mentioned how Hall of Famer Willie Stargell said “he doesn’t demand respect, he commands it.”

Tim Murtaugh Jr. recounted the story of how his father was offered a scholarship by Holy Cross College, but his grandfather – Danny Mutaugh – told the school to give the scholarship to someone who might not be able to afford to go to college.

“My grandfather went to a St. James High football game, and when they announced that he was there he was mobbed by fans and had to leave so that people could see the game,” Murtaugh Jr.
said. “He never forgot where he came from.”

By Delco Times Reporter Harry Chaykun

Pitcher Poem

pitcher

Memory of Mickey Vernon

There has never been a better ambassador for baseball than Mickey Vernon. A recent Maryland visitor to the Sports Legends of Delaware County museum in Radnor, Pa illustrates that point and confirms that Mickey's memory still brings credit to Delaware County: At the 100th anniversary banquet of the Delco Baseball League in 2007, HOF pitcher Robin Roberts was asked why Mickey was not in baseball's Hall of Fame. His response was that " Mickey did not need Cooperstown; he is his own Hall of Fame". When we read stories like the one below, we get a better understanding of what Robin Roberts meant. In the spring of 1954, when I was 11 or 12 years old, my parents took me to Griffith Stadium to see the Senators play. I can appreciate now that the trip was not easy at that time....we lived more than 60 miles away. The players' parking lot was right outside the stadium and fans could gather to get autographs after the game. I remember having written to Mickey Vernon inviting him to come visit and eat some of my mother's fried chicken. He wrote back thanking me for the invitation and asked for a "raincheck for now." One of the first players out of the dressing room was pitcher Bob Porterfield who, like Mickey Vernon, had a great season in 1953. Their pictures were on the 1954 Yearbook cover. Mr. Porterfield did not give me his autograph and went to his car. Mickey Vernon came out almost immediately. I approached and introduced myself and reminded him of the chicken dinner invitation. He made me feel like he remembered and enthusiastically gave me his autograph. Then he asked if I had Mr. Porterfield's autograph. When I told him no, he asked my mom to hold the infant he was holding, took me by my the hand and walked me over to Bob Porterfield's car. He introduced me to Mr. Porterfield as "a friend of mine" and got me the autograph. I think this episode is indicative of the kind of person Mickey Vernon was. I had a chance to chat with him on subsequent occasions but this 1954 meeting was the highlight. Bill Burroughs

There has never been a better ambassador for baseball than Mickey Vernon. A recent Maryland visitor to the Sports Legends of Delaware County museum in Radnor, Pa illustrates that point and confirms that Mickey’s memory still brings credit to Delaware County: At the 100th anniversary banquet of the Delco Baseball League in 2007, HOF pitcher Robin Roberts was asked why Mickey was not in baseball’s Hall of Fame. His response was that ” Mickey did not need Cooperstown; he is his own Hall of Fame”. When we read stories like the one below, we get a better understanding of what Robin Roberts meant.
In the spring of 1954, when I was 11 or 12 years old, my parents took me to Griffith Stadium to see the Senators play. I can appreciate now that the trip was not easy at that time….we lived more than 60 miles away.
The players’ parking lot was right outside the stadium and fans could gather to get autographs after the game.
I remember having written to Mickey Vernon inviting him to come visit and eat some of my mother’s fried chicken. He wrote back thanking me for the invitation and asked for a “raincheck for now.”
One of the first players out of the dressing room was pitcher Bob Porterfield who, like Mickey Vernon, had a great season in 1953. Their pictures were on the 1954 Yearbook cover.
Mr. Porterfield did not give me his autograph and went to his car.
Mickey Vernon came out almost immediately. I approached and introduced myself and reminded him of the chicken dinner invitation.
He made me feel like he remembered and enthusiastically gave me his autograph.
Then he asked if I had Mr. Porterfield’s autograph.
When I told him no, he asked my mom to hold the infant he was holding, took me by my the hand and walked me over to Bob Porterfield’s car. He introduced me to Mr. Porterfield as “a friend of mine” and got me the autograph.
I think this episode is indicative of the kind of person Mickey Vernon was.
I had a chance to chat with him on subsequent occasions but this 1954 meeting was the highlight.
Bill Burroughs

Yogi is 90

Most fans remember Yogi Berra wearing a large number 8 on the back of his pinstriped uniform. The historic photo above, taken from the outstanding dvd Ballfield to Battlefield and Back from FDR to JFK, by Mickey Vernon--copied from film taken by Mickey during the 1947 season--clearly shows Yogi wearing number 35 while taking batting practice sixty eight years ago. Why Mickey, an established player at the time, bothered to take shots of Yogi, then an unknown player of uncertain potential, was no accident, and is an interesting story in itself: According to Mickey, Walter Masterson, his roommate at the time, told him while he was filming to be sure he got some shots of Yogi. It seems as though Walter spent some time with Yogi on the ballfield during World War II and mentioned to Mickey that “Yogi is going to be a future star, so make sure you don't miss the chance to get him on film.” That dvd, put together by George Case and Mickey, contains action images of 140 players, with Yogi being one of only eight still living. The dvd, truly a national treasure, can be obtained by contacting George Case III at 215-493-6407. For more information on the dvd, visit the website www.mickeyvernonsportsmuseum.com.

Most fans remember Yogi Berra wearing a large number 8 on the back of his pinstriped uniform. The historic photo above, taken from the outstanding dvd Ballfield to Battlefield and Back from FDR to JFK, by Mickey Vernon–copied from film taken by Mickey during the 1947 season–clearly shows Yogi wearing number 35 while taking batting practice sixty eight years ago.
Why Mickey, an established player at the time, bothered to take shots of Yogi, then an unknown player of uncertain potential, was no accident, and is an interesting story in itself:
According to Mickey, Walter Masterson, his roommate at the time, told him while he was filming to be sure he got some shots of Yogi. It seems as though Walter spent some time with Yogi on the ballfield during World War II and mentioned to Mickey that “Yogi is going to be a future star, so make sure you don’t miss the chance to get him on film.”
That dvd, put together by George Case and Mickey, contains action images of 140 players, with Yogi being one of only eight still living. The dvd, truly a national treasure, can be obtained by contacting George Case III at 215-493-6407. For more information on the dvd, visit the website www.mickeyvernonsportsmuseum.com.

mv museum

1950 Trenton Giants Team Signed Ball

 In an article that appeared in Sports Collectors Digest, Larry Canale reported that a baseball signed by the 1950 Trenton Giants team sold on E-Bay for $14,995. No doubt this eye-popping figure was due to the fact that the ball included the signature of Willie Mays. Mays had been signed by the Giants as a 19-year old and sent to Trenton to begin his legendary career. On the above signed ball you can pick out Willie's signature. Perhaps of more interest to the Delaware County Sports fan is the signature of Ace Bell on that same ball. In 1950, the former Springfield High School baseball coach was a teammate of Mays. Ace is better known in local circles as the coach of Mike Scioscia when the former Dodger all-star catcher and present LA Angels manager was a first-round draft pick as a high school player playing for Springfield High.

In an article that appeared in Sports Collectors Digest, Larry Canale reported that a baseball signed by the 1950 Trenton Giants team sold on E-Bay for $14,995. No doubt this eye-popping figure was due to the fact that the ball included the signature of Willie Mays. Mays had been signed by the Giants as a 19-year old and sent to Trenton to begin his legendary career. On the above signed ball you can pick out Willie’s signature.
Perhaps of more interest to the Delaware County Sports fan is the signature of Ace Bell on that same ball. In 1950, the former Springfield High School baseball coach was a teammate of Mays. Ace is better known in local circles as the coach of Mike Scioscia when the former Dodger all-star catcher and present LA Angels manager was a first-round draft pick as a high school player playing for Springfield High.

 

                              PoloGrounds Monument dedicated in honor of Eddie Grant.

Polo GroundsBy Brad Nau
I grew up in a small suburb of Philadelphia. Souderton, Pennsylvania, most notably known as the town where Phillies pitcher Jamie Moyer baffled hitters while pitching in the Bux-Mont League for Souderton Area High School.

I was always a baseball fan. I loved the Phillies teams from the late 1960’s and early 1970’s and for some reason I always gravitated towards the mediocre players of that era. Players like Denny Doyle, Dick Selma and Mike Rogodzinski. These guys took a majority of my time in the summer months. I hung on every pitch, winced at every loss but continued to follow them everyday.

I didn’t have one of those father and son baseball relationships that are talked about in every baseball fans memoir. My father was a product of the Great Depression, he was a musician, not much of a sports fan, but he did follow the St. Louis Cardinals of that time and gave me my first real baseball discussion when he told me about Enos “Country” Slaughter and his mad dash to beat Boston and win the 1946 World Series.

What my Dad did give me was my sense of curiosity. “How do you think this was made? What do you think this is? Where did this come from? “ He would ask. We used to check out flea markets, yard sales and house auctions before they were popular. It was a chance for him to take his kid on a trip down memory lane. Though I think back on these days as a great time in my childhood, it was the game of baseball and not yard sales that always connected me to history.

Like most kids, I collected baseball cards when I was younger. No my mother didn’t throw them away, I sold them for a partial down payment on my first house nearly 20 years ago. Today, card collecting and sports memorabilia is big business. No longer can you wrap a rubber band around those bubblegum cards and put them in a shoebox and put them away. These days condition is key. Cards need to be graded with terms like “Gem mint” “Fair to VG” and slabbed away in hard plastic for the next buyer.

I visited the 98th Philadelphia Sports Card and Memorabilia Show at the Greater Reading Expo Center in Reading, PA. I went with a couple of bucks in my pocket. I wasn’t there to bring home a big find or empty my daughter’s college fund just to own a piece of baseball’s past. I was there just to browse and capture some memories and to satisfy my curiosity, the yard sale in my mind. I can’t compete with the big dealers and spenders at this show. Like I said before this is a business and these dealers mean business.

As I walked through maze of dealers surrounded by stacked boxes and glass display cases filled with those plastic encased heroes of both my father’s and my childhood, I moved to one area where a man was arranging his fortunes. Most of his stash had Philadelphia flair. I saw pristine cards of Ashburn, Roberts and Ennis. All graded and all securely tucked neatly in their plastic holders. “Are any of these cards you collected as a kid?” I asked. “No, “ he said. “ I acquired all of these over the last ten years.” By today’s prices, his cards were not that bad, but they were still out of my price range. I kept looking. Behind him, on a separate table in a beat up cigar box I found something that only later I would consider priceless. The box contained a handful of beat up tobacco cards from the early 1900’s. In today’s collecting world, these cards would never have made the grade. Literally, too poor to be graded, cardboard castaways, not worth too much more than they were nearly a century ago, when they were “subjects” included in a pack of smokes.

Sifting through the pile one card caught my eye. A dog-eared portrait of a player from Philadelphia. When his picture was taken he stared into the camera, not knowing what was in front of him. His white high collared uniform matched his angelic stare. At the bottom of the card, “Grant, Philadelphia.” I never heard of him. For me, he might as well have been Lowell Palmer or Ron Stone. He would be another forgettable player that I would always remember. At the time I didn’t realize how right that would be.

I bought the card for 10 bucks. I figured anything that was 100 years old would be worth at least that much. Now I needed to know who he was and what I found made me glad I asked. Through the marvels of the Internet and one of my favorite research sites, baseball-reference.com. I discovered that the pale man with the angelic looks played ten seasons in the Major Leagues, with stops in Cleveland, New York, Cincinnati while playing four years in Philadelphia. To describe his service in the big leagues, let’s put it this way, he would fit right in with the Palmers, the Stones and the Rogodzinskis of my era. Owning a .249-lifetime batting average, Grant was described as “a typical player in the dead ball era, defensively reliable, particularly against the bunt.” In 990 games this 3rd baseman hit just 5 home runs.

This is a case where stats tell none of the story. “Harvard” Eddie Grant left the ball field for the battlefield during World War I, becoming the first major leaguer to enlist (Hank Gowdy was the first active major leaguer). As part of his biography states “Arriving in France…Grant was commissioned as captain of Company H of the 307th Infantry Regiment…On October 2, 1918…General John Pershing had launched an attack and ordered the troops to move forward against the Germans in their trenches…Grant’s commanding officer had died and Grant was put in charge of his battalion…”

The fighting continued and on the morning of third day of the attack, October 5, 1918, Captain Eddie Grant was exhausted…he hadn’t slept in three days…but he assumed command of the 307th and continued to march. While Captain Grant was ordering more stretchers for his wounded men, a shell fell from the sky and killed the former third baseman.

On Memorial Day in 1921 at the Polo Grounds, a monument was dedicated in Eddie Grant’s honor. “His memory will live as long as our game may last.” Baseball’s first commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis said.
Today, I have that beat up old dog-eared baseball card encased in an inch thick plastic holder, sitting on my desk, in my office and I look at it everyday. I think I will tell my dad about Eddie Grant, he’d be curious to know.

Mickey Vernon Museum Receives Ted Williams Letter

The Mickey Vernon Sports History Museum, through Jim Vankoski, curator of the museum, received a surprise donation from Morris ” Moe” Bergman of Worcester, MA and Alan Langsner of Needham, MA. The gift was a letter that Mickey Vernon wrote to Ted Williams on January 24th, 1966. Mickey, winner of two American League batting titles, member of seven all-star teams, and a resident of Delaware County until his death, was a long-time friend of Williams.
Alan purchased the letter at an estate sale of Ted’s property. Through his and Moe’s generosity, the public is now able to view this wonderful piece of baseball memorabilia from a time when such hand-written letters were a more common form of communication between friends than they are today.

The purpose of the letter was to congratulate Ted on being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. In its two pages, Mickey fondly remembers the two years during which he was Ted’s teammate (1956 and 1957) as two of his most enjoyable years in baseball.
The careers of Mickey and Ted paralleled. They broke into major league baseball in 1939 and completed their major league playing careers in 1960. During that time, they became friends and Mickey often mentioned what a good teammate Ted was. The museum volunteers hope that the fans of both Mickey and Ted can visit the museum and view this classic artifact for themselves. For more information regarding this item or the museum, contact vankoski21@comcast.net.

Ted Williams #1
Ted Williams #2
Ted Williams #3

 

The above image is a 1954 Menu from Shibe Park

The image above is a 1954 Menu from Shibe Park

"My Favorite Player" by Dick Heller.

“My Favorite Player” by Dick Heller.

Click here to read the entire story at The National Pastime Museum website.

LaRussa

The Saga of Hall of Famer Tony LsRussa’s Traveling Pants by John Lavin

Tony LaRussa’s traveling pants have ended a long journey, coming to rest as a sports rarity in the Mickey Vernon Sports History Museum. It’s a journey that began over fifty years ago:
In 1961, Marv Thronebury, playing at the time for the Kansas City A’s, was issued two sets of home uniforms at the beginning of the season, just as was every other player. As the season ended, players would return them, receiving new ones the following year.
It was typical for the used uniforms to began an annual odyssey that would take them through descending levels of minor league affiliates, beginning with Triple A. Oddly enough, as players careers flourished and faded, they could possibly inherit the old uniforms that they had worn in their salad days of fleeting major-league glory.
In 1963, Tony LaRussa–a most recent Hall of Fame inductee–was with the A’s. He subsequently descended into the minors for five seasons (in at least one of those seasons, he was managed by Mickey Vernon) but resurfaced with the A’s in 1968. While in the minors, LaRussa inherited Marv Thronebury’s old A’s pants from the 1961 season.
Now for another Delaware County connection: Joe Grace, a record-setting St. James High and St. Joe’s College third baseman and a draft pick of the A’s in !967, wore those very same much-traveled pants as he played in a rookie league in Florida.
Now those same pants have finally found a home as one of the many sports rarities now on display at the Mickey Vernon Sports History Museum Granite Run Mall Media, PA. For more information on them or other museum artifacts, contact Jim Vankoski at 610-909-4919 or vankoski21@comcast.net.

Mickey Vernon The” Southern” Gentleman First Baseman

 

In 1953, when I was nine years old, I “fell in love” with Mickey Vernon. My family would go to my uncle’s country store where people from the neighborhood gathered in the evening and watched the old black and white TV. Living about 125 miles south of Washington, DC, we could get the Senators baseball games, and since Mickey was the best player on the team, he immediately became my favorite.

In 1955 when he was traded to Boston, I was devastated, as I thought I would never see Mickey on TV again. In 1956 while visiting my relatives in northern Virginia, I was able to see a game in Griffith Stadium with the Senators playing against the Red Sox. I got to see Mickey during infield practice. He did not play that night, but I saw “my hero”.

Later when he managed the Richmond Braves, I got to meet him and get his autograph. He was so gracious and kind as he patiently signed autographs.

In 2006 I had colon cancer and just before my chemo treatments my son asked me if there was anything I wanted to do, and I said “Yes, I want to go to Pennsylvania and get Mickey Vernon to autograph my book, “Gentleman First Baseman”. I got Mickey’s number, called him, and he agreed to meet with us. He was so nice. I will never forget our evening with him, and we have wonderful pictures we took there at the place where he was staying. The next day we went to Marcus Hook and saw the little league baseball field and took more pictures.

He was an all around nice guy, and I hope one of these days to get back to Pennsylvania and see the museum.

Barbara McCrea
Kinsale, Virginia

 

Top 10 Moments in My Career

by Rich Westcott

I was once asked to give a talk about my most memorable moments during five decades of covering sports. Do a David Letterman and rank your top 10 in reverse order, it was suggested.

Although realizing the difficulty of such an assignment, I readily agreed. That would be an enjoyable task, I thought. By the same token, it would be virtually impossible to narrow all my experiences down to the 10 best ones. Of all the people I’ve met, games I’ve covered, interviews I’ve done, and special events I’ve seen, ranking them would be extremely difficult.

After all, we’re talking about a career during which I saw among others Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Hank Aaron, and Joe DiMaggio play. I covered the performances of Wilt Chamberlain, Mike Schmidt, Willie Mays, Julius Erving, Jimmy Brown, and Jack Nicklaus.

Once, I covered an 18-hole golf exhibition round that included Arnold Palmer, Doug Sanders, Bob Hope, and Dwight David Eisenhower. I saw Joe Frazier’s first professional boxing match, a one-sided, three-round skirmish at the Arena. Was there for no-hitters pitched by Terry Mulholland and Roy Halladay. Covered the 76ers in the playoffs in 1966-67 when they had one of the greatest teams in NBA history. Even saw Super Bowl and Rose Bowl games.

I’ve met Connie Mack and Jimmie Foxx. Interviewed Johnny Unitas and Indianapolis 500 winner Roger Ward. Saw Reggie Jackson playing football and Earl Monroe playing basketball as high school kids. Often when he was an NBA referee, I traveled with Ed Rush to games in Baltimore or New York where he was officiating. And I tried to teach former NBA player and Olympic gold medalist George Wilson how to water ski.

Another good friend was former basketball All-American Bill Mlkvy—the Owl without a Vowel. I often played golf with Bill, as well as with Art Mahaffey and also some other sports stars such as Chuck Bednarik, Tom Brookshier, Joe Watson, Bobby Shantz, and even once with pro golfer J. C. Snead. And in my most memorable outing on the links, I played in a foursome with members of the Phillies’ 1950 Whiz Kids, Andy Seminick, Stan Lopata and Bubba Church with Putsy Caballero tagging along as a non-player.

A few players from the long-departed Negro Leagues have answered my questions, including the popular Bill (Ready) Cash at his home. These interviews peaked my interest in Negro League baseball, a subject that I have studied extensively and in which I have developed a certain amount of expertise.

Another interviewee was Edith Houghton, then 95 years old and sharp as a tack. A Philadelphia native who then lived in Sarasota, Florida, Edith, a one-time professional women’s baseball player, was the first full-time woman baseball scout, working for the Phillies from 1946 to 1952. She still had the stub from one of her paychecks that showed she earned $150 a month.

Many years ago, while trying to learn where Geoff Petrie was going to college, I drove past his house one night. Geoff a standout three-sport star at Springfield High School, could’ve played football, basketball, or baseball at the big-time level. Standing in front of his house that night, he told me he had picked Princeton and would play basketball there. In fact, he said, Bill Bradley was at that very moment sitting in his living room. I broke the story. A few years later, after a brilliant career at Princeton, Petrie became an NBA Rookie of the Year.

Currently, I have gone to spring training with the Phillies 27 out of 28 years starting in 1984. My first jaunt to Clearwater came in 1957 when a classmate and friend, Frank Weichec, whose dad was the Phils’ trainer, and I went south during spring break. We hung out on the ball field, talked to the players, and eventually I drove Robin Roberts’ car back to Philadelphia.

I saw Veterans Stadium imploded, a sad experience for me because I’d spent much of my life there and knew every nook and cranny in the place. I’ve visited major and minor league ballparks all over the country. I saw the Baltimore Orioles, led by the astonishing fielding of Brooks Robinson, play in the 1970 World Series. In the 1960s, I covered the Eagles when Joe Kuharich was coach. That was an unforgettable experience made especially so by Kuharich’s often-inane replies to questions. Once when he didn’t want to answer, he replied, “Well, that’s a horse of a different fire department.”

Late in his life, Whitey Witt and I became good friends. Whitey had broken into the majors with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1916, then gone on to play with the New York Yankees and became the first Yankee player to bat in Yankee Stadium when it opened in 1923. After interviewing him several times and hearing his stories, I often visited him at his home in South Jersey, sometimes taking friends and a batch of cookies that my wife, Lois, had baked. Whitey played golf three times a week when he was in his 90s.

Watching my first major league game when Sam Chapman hit three home runs to lead the last place A’s to a 5-3 win over the first place Boston Red Sox in 1946 at Shibe Park ranks high on my list of memorable experiences. Little could I have realized at the time that about 40 years later, I would not only interview Chapman, but about 150 other former big league baseball players.

My ranking of these experiences would go like this:

10 – Once, I interviewed Steve VanBuren. The greatest Eagles running back of all time told me about his experience on the day of the NFL championship game in 1948 between his team and the Chicago Cardinals.

It had snowed heavily the night before and near blizzard conditions existed on the morning of the game. “I didn’t think there was any way they could play,” VanBuren remembered. “I couldn’t have gotten my car out of the drive anyway.”

About two hours before game-time, VanBuren got a phone call from Eagles coach Earle (Greasy) Neale. “Where the hell are you?” he said. “We’re going to play.”

VanBuren, who lived in Lansdowne, ran out of his house and a few blocks to a trolley stop. He rode to 69th Street, then boarded the el down Market Street to City Hall where he hopped on the subway that took him up Broad Street to Lehigh Avenue. “From there, I walked the seven blocks to the stadium, and arrived about a half hour before the start of the game,” he said.

Although players and stadium workers had shoveled off the field before the game, the field was covered with snow throughout the contest, and conditions were so bad that players could barely see where they were going. In the fourth quarter, VanBuren scored a touchdown to give the Eagles a 7-0 victory and the club’s first NFL championship. It was a good thing he got there.

9 – While writing my 300-game winners book, both Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux were approaching that special mark. I decided to interview them for the book.

When the Yankees came to town to play the Phillies, I went to the visiting team’s clubhouse where I told the media relations man that I’d like to interview Clemens. He’s back in the weight room working out, he said, but you can talk to him when he comes out. When Clemens came out, he claimed he couldn’t talk then because he was headed to the bullpen to throw some between-starts pitches. “We’ll get him when he comes back,” said the PR guy. But when Clemens came back, he said he had to do calisthenics on the field with the rest of the team. No problem, he’ll talk after that, I was told.

After the exercises, I was all set to talk as Clemens came off the field. But wait a minute. “He doesn’t want to talk today,” said the Yanks guy. “Why don’t you come up to New York, and we’ll set it up.”

Right. I’m really going to go to New York so I can talk for 10 minutes to someone who probably won’t cooperate, anyway. No thanks. Altogether, I’d waited one hour and 40 minutes for an interview that never happened. I wasn’t going to get suckered again.

A few weeks later, the Atlanta Braves came to town. I went down to the clubhouse where I spotted Maddux playing cards with some other players. I told him what I wanted. “Give me a couple minutes to finish this hand, then we can talk,” Maddux said agreeably. “I’ll meet you in the dugout at 5 o’clock.”

Ten minutes later, at exactly 4:55, Maddux appeared in the dugout looking for me. We sat down on the bench to do the interview. Greg was great. He answered every question amiably and thoroughly. Twenty minutes later, I had all the material I needed.

As I got up to thank him for his time, the thought kept dancing through my mind.
Who was that chump who kept giving me the brush off? He sure wasn’t in the same league as Greg Maddux.

8 – For three years, I had a part-time job handling the press relations for the IVB Golf Classic, a PGA tournament that stopped every year at Whitemarsh Valley Country Club. Along with writing press releases, one of my other jobs was to run the press tent during the week of the tournament.

As part of that duty, I was responsible for going down to the scorer’s table and driving the leaders in a golf cart to the press tent where they would be interviewed by the media. In that capacity, I transported Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, and a number of others from one spot to the other, often chatting with them as we rode.

That in itself was quite a memorable experience. But so was hearing them dissect their rounds before the press. “I hit a 285-yard drive off the tee down the left side of the fairway, hit a seven iron about 175 yards that landed about 20 feet from the cup, then two-putted for a four.” It was the same for every hole. The club used, the approximate distance the ball was hit, where it landed, the number of strokes per hole. A blow-by-blow description of the entire round. It was amazing to hear how precisely professional golfers remember so many details that most of the rest of us try to forget.

7 – Quite obviously, being a baseball writer has its advantages. But add to that being president of the Philadelphia Sports Writers’ Association, and the advantages multiply. A good example of this occurred at our 107th annual banquet, held on January 31, 2011.

As always, a list of sports celebrities gathered at the head table, many of them there to receive awards for their performances the previous season. One of the top honors is called The Pro Athlete of the Year Award, which, as the name suggests, goes annually to the most successful player on one of the five major professional teams in the area.

Winners in past years have included Mike Schmidt, Wilt Chamberlain, Steve VanBuren, Bobby Clarke, Joe Frazier, and Pete Rose. It is a distinguished group to say the least, one that ranks at the top of the list in Philadelphia’s legendary sports history (In earlier years, the award went to nonPhiladelphia players, too.)

The 2011 winner was Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay. In 2010, Halladay had pitched both a perfect game and a no-hitter, and had posted a 21-10 record with a 2.44 earned run average and 219 strikeouts in a league-leading 250.2 innings pitched. In recognition of those glittering numbers, Halladay had been voted the winner of the National League’s Cy Young Award.

The winner had been announced in New York, but now it was time to present the award in Philadelphia. The presenter would be the president of the PSWA, and he would do it at our banquet.

That meant that I would present Roy Halladay with the 2010 National League Cy Young Award. Not only did I do that, but I got to sit next to Roy throughout the entire affair. It was one of those nights that one could only have ever dreamed about having.

6 – After writing a book about the life of Mickey Vernon, many noteworthy experiences followed. Signing books for about 300 people who stood in a line nearly one block long one night at a park in Marcus Hook was one of them.
Another was the trip Mickey and I made to Washington, D.C.

A series of events had been scheduled. One was lunch and an appearance at the National Press Club where I spoke briefly about Mickey and the book and then spent the rest of the time basking in the notion that I was surrounded by some of the most prestigious journalists in the world.

Another event on the schedule was a session with the cast and crew of Damn Yankees, the renowned show that was then appearing at a major playhouse in the nation’s capitol. The meeting was held so that the actors and crew members could ask us questions about baseball and what it was like in the era in which the show was set and in which Mickey played. Joined by former baseball star, Frank Howard, we sat for more than one hour, answering questions posed by the theatrical group.

The highlight of the trip came when we attended a Washington Nationals game against the Phillies at RFK Stadium. A heavily-attended book-signing took place
before the game. Then Mickey and I each threw out the first balls to start the game.

What a thrill! Realizing that I never had or never would again get that close to a big league pitching mound, I decided to make my pitch from the rubber. I looked down from the mound, 60-feet, 6-inches from home plate where Nationals catcher Brendan Harris crouched. Then I wound up and threw my pitch. I watched ecstatically as it reached the plate, a bit low and inside perhaps, but nonetheless making it all the way in the air to Harris’s glove.

5 – Few people get the chance to interview their boyhood idols. I was one of the lucky ones. I got to interview the great Ted Williams.

Ted had been my favorite player since I was a little kid and first realized that there was an enormously appealing game called baseball. I closely followed his career, clipped pictures of him from newspapers and magazines, and once even wrote to him for an autograph, getting in return a signed photograph.

Many years after his retirement, Williams was scheduled to appear at a sports memorabilia show in King of Prussia. I arranged for an interview and a few weeks later drove out to the place where the session was being held.

He’s not here yet, I was told after I arrived, but should be here soon. I waited for what seemed to be an exceptionally long time. Eventually, a limo pulled up, and out hopped Ted.

He was extremely apologetic. “I was asked by Tommy Lasorda to go watch a kid hit and give him some tips,” Williams explained. The father had placed a batting cage in the back of the family’s house in nearby Valley Forge. The family, according to Ted, seemed to be pretty high on the economic scale and lived in a home that was rather lavish.

The kid was only 15 years old Williams explained, but was already a very good hitter. “I didn’t need to give him many tips,” Ted said.

Ultimately, we drifted into the interview. Unlike he was during his playing days, Williams had become a splendid person to interview. The session went smoothly. He gave well-informed and interesting answers to every question. At the end, I could hardly believe my good fortune, not only in being able to meet my boyhood idol, but to get such an excellent interview.

Oh, and about the kid Williams had visited. His name was Mike Piazza. You might learn more about him when he enters the Baseball Hall of Fame.

4 – For as long as I can remember, I have argued that Wilt Chamberlain is the greatest player in basketball history. It’s a view that I have held for more decades than I care to count.

My opinion about Wilt began one day when I was a teenager. A couple of friends who were twin brothers played on the local high school team in Roxborough. They were each 6-feet, 5-inches and shared the team’s center position.

I didn’t go to the same high school, but had played with and against the twins in church leagues, recreation centers, schoolyards, and various other places. They were really good. So good, in fact, that none of the rest of us could really offer much competition.

One day, one of the brothers said to a couple of us, “Hey, we’re playing Overbrook High School next week. That guy Chamberlain is pretty good. Why don’t you come to the game?”

And so, the following week, a couple of us piled into a car and drove to West Philly to watch the underdog Roxborough team battle the mighty Overbrook Hilltoppers.

Chamberlain sure lived up to his rapidly growing reputation. With 33 points in the final quarter, he scored 90 points in the game—that’s 90 points in a 32-minute game—while leading his squad to a 123-21 victory over the hopelessly overmatched Roxies. Chamberlain hit 36-of-41 from the field and 18-of-26 from the foul line for an incredible total, made even more so by his having sat out five minutes of the game and Roxborough at times trying to hold the ball. The 90 points represented a state record (that has since been broken).

Later, I saw many of Wilt’s games in the NBA. But the sight of him scoring all those points is a vision that has stuck with me all my life. It was the greatest individual performance I have ever seen or ever will see on a basketball court.

3 – One of the extra benefits of interviewing former athletes is that you get to know some of them pretty well. Sometimes, they even become good friends.

Over the years, I have enjoyed the special privilege of becoming good friends with some former players. Mickey Vernon, Paul Arizin, Danny Litwhiler, and Robin Roberts, all top-rate gentlemen, head that list.

Mickey, of course, was the subject of a book I wrote. I had known him for about 30 years before then, and had written several lengthy articles about him. But I didn’t know the two-time American League batting champion real well until I did the book. After that, we traveled to book-signings together. One in Mickey’s hometown of Marcus Hook drew about 300 people and lasted for about three hours.

Long after the book was published, we remained good friends. Occasionally, I took him to a Phillies game. He especially enjoyed going to the clubhouse to say hello to Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, who had been a player with the Los Angeles Dodgers when Mickey was the team’s hitting coach.

Sometimes, we had lunch or dinner together. We often talked on the phone. Vernon was one of the nicest people I ever met, and being able to call him a friend was an honor of the highest degree.

Arizin, a college All-American and two-time NBA scoring champion who many years later was named one of the 50 greatest players in the league’s history, was another good friend. I had watched Paul play with the Philadelphia Warriors, and because we lived in Springfield, had occasionally seen him around town.

Again, though, it was a book that really brought us together. Arizin was one of my best sources when I wrote the book on Eddie Gottlieb. We talked about the pro basketball pioneer and Paul’s old coach for hours at a time. Eventually, Arizin wrote the foreword for the book.

Sadly, he passed away just after he’d written the foreword. Paul was a wonderful person and I can surely say I’m honored to have called him my friend.

Litwhiler was another dear friend who I got to know after I’d interviewed him for an article I wrote about his career. An 11-year major league player who began with the Phillies and in 1942 became the first outfielder to play a full season without making an error, Danny was also a successful college coach, an innovator, author, and inventor.

For many years, I visited Danny each time I went to spring training. We’d go with our wives out to dinner, then come back to his apartment in Clearwater where we’d spend the rest of a most enjoyable evening. During the rest of the year, we kept in touch by phone.

Danny was guiet and one of the kindest people I ever came across. Like the others, he never bragged, never acted like a big deal. When he passed away at the age of 95, his absence left a big hole in my life.

Roberts, the great Phillies pitcher, was the first pro player I ever met. That happened when as a 12-year-old I heard him speak at my church. As a budding pitcher, I approached him for some advice as he was leaving the church. “Mr. Roberts, would you show me how to throw a curveball?” I asked. The gentlemanly hurler then proceeded to give me a five-minute clinic on the art of pitching.

About eight years later, I went to spring training with my friend Frank Weichec.
In those days, team’s played exhibition games on their way home, so the players had to find people to drive their cars home. I drove my all-time favorite pitcher’s 1957 Chevvy back from Florida.

Many years later, I got to know Robbie personally. I interviewed him for stories, he wrote blurbs for a couple of my books, I played at the golf course he and Curt Simmons owned, and I sat with him for some spring training games. Altogether, it was a truly great experience.

2 – The greatest interview I ever had was the one I did with Warren Spahn in a hotel room in Ocean City, New Jersey. The interview resulted in an article that was 18 typewritten pages, the longest article I’ve ever composed.

Five years earlier, I had approached Spahn about doing an interview, but he declined, saying he was out of baseball, hence was no longer a public figure, and his life was now nobody’s business. As debatable as that position was, I couldn’t convince the former pitcher that as a Hall of Famer he was still fair game for an interview.

Eventually, though, Spahn returned to baseball and this time he readily consented to an interview. He was signing autographs at a memorabilia show, and said that when he was done, we could go back to his hotel and talk.

We began at 10 p.m. Spahn was magnificent. He was articulate, thorough, and answered every question fully, sometimes even rising to demonstrate a point.
The interview lasted until 2:30 a.m. It might’ve gone longer, but I still had to drive back to Philadelphia and my wife, Lois, had been waiting all this time in the car. Warren had to be picked up at 5:30 a.m. and driven to Philly for a 7 o’clock flight back to his home in Oklahoma where he had a 1 p.m. golf match.

So we reluctantly ended the session, and then went our separate ways. But I will forever be thankful for that glorious night when I got to spend time with the greatest lefthanded pitcher of all time.

1 – When rating a subject, it is sometimes very difficult to pick a number one.
Not so here. This one was easy.

Attending all but one Phillies home World Series game since 1950, and watching the club clinch both its Series championships easily ranks as my greatest experience in sports.

It began, when, as a 13-year-old, I played hooky from school and then stood in line for more than five hours to purchase a ticket for the first game of the 1950 World Series between the Phillies and the Yankees at Shibe Park. I got there at 7 a.m., stood in a line that was originally six blocks long, and finally reached the gate a little after noon. Then I bought a ticket for a seat in the upper deck in left-center field for $1. No, that is not a misprint. The price was $1.

I saw the Phillies and surprise starter Jim Konstanty, a reliever all year long and the eventual National League Most Valuable Player, lose, 1-0. It was the first Yankees win in a four-game sweep, the second game being the only Phillies World Series home game that I didn’t attend over a 60-year period.

Thirty years later, I saw the Phillies win their first World Series. Sitting with my friend Don Paine in the upper deck behind home plate at Veterans Stadium, we watched the Phils beat the Kansas City Royals in the first two games, then were among the 65,838 celebrants who were there when the locals won the clinching sixth game, 4-1, with Steve Carlton pitching seven-plus spectacular innings and Tug McGraw striking out Willie Wilson for the final out as policemen, some on horses, and guard dogs surrounded the field to protect it from the crowd that might come crashing down out of the stands.

The Phillies returned to the World Series in 1983 against the Baltimore Orioles. Now, with my newspaper, Phillies Report having started, I was at Veterans Stadium to cover the third, fourth, and fifth games, all of which the Phils lost by scores of 3-2, 5-4, and 5-0 in the five-game Series. I also covered the Phils’ losing effort in the 1993 Series when the club bowed to the Toronto Blue Jays in six games. I saw the Phils lose the third game, 15-14, Curt Schilling pitch a five-hitter as the home team won the fifth game, 2-0, and then Joe Carter’s legendary ninth inning home run off Mitch Williams that gave the Blue Jays an 8-6 victory and the championship.

I was back to the press box for the three home games in 2008 when the Phillies won their second World Series in five games over the Tampa Bay Rays. Home runs by Carlos Ruiz, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard led the Phils to a 4-3 win in Game Three. Then two homers and five RBI by Howard and winning pitcher Joe Blanton’s unlikely four-bagger gave the club a 10-2 decision in the fourth game. And finally in a game that started one night and because of rain wasn’t completed until two nights later, the Phillies captured the Series with a 4-3 victory. Pat Burrell doubled and scored the winning run on a single by Pedro Feliz in the seventh inning, and Brad Lidge finished a magnificent season with his second save of the Series.

In 2009, the Phillies advanced to the World Series again, this time facing the Yankees. In home games, the Phils lost the third game, 8-5, after an 80-minute rain delay at the start, bowed in Game Four, 7-4, and won the fifth game, 8-6, as Utley smacked two home runs and collected four RBI. The Yankees won the sixth game in New York to clinch the Series.

Along the way, I also saw many of the Phillies National League Division and Championship Series as well as their East Division pennant clinchers. Each was a very special event that will never be forgotten.

The World Series games were the highlights of my long association with sports. But all the others were very special, too. In fact, if I’d have dreamed as a kid that I would someday have so many wonderful experiences, I’m not sure if I could have dealt with such an astonishing possibility.
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Favorite Delco Baseball Lore–Here’s Mine, What’s Yours?

One of the many pleasures of being the volunteer curator of the Delco Athletes Hall of Fame’s Mickey Vernon Sports History Museum is the trivia that comes my way as a result of my association with other sports-minded fans. Since the summer season is upon us, and baseball is in the air, I would like to share with you some of the stories that are an inherent part of Delaware County baseball lore:

From Barry Sparks, author of the book Frank ‘Home Run’ Baker, come two pieces of information:

A baseball field in Upland–it may be the oldest field in continuous use in the United States, but that’s another story–is named the Bris Lord Field.  How many of the many people who pass this field every day actually know the background of this once proud Upland resident?  Well, it happens that the incomparable Shoeless Joe Jackson, a prominent character in the movie Field of Dreams, was traded even-up for Upland’s own Bris Lord in 1910–Jackson going from the Philadelphia As to Cleveland for Lord.  A sidebar to this little piece of trivia is that former Upland resident Bob Hannum, now living in Florida, has donated original box scores from the 1880s to the Borough of Upland.  These box scores on games played on this very field have the name of Bob’s great-great-grandfather playing for the Upland nine as well as Bris Lord’s dad. I can’t think of any other field currently in use where that type of history can be documented.

Next from Barry is the wonderful story about how Hall of Famer Frank ‘Home Run’ Baker, in the middle of his career, played for Upland–leading them to the 1915 Delco League championship.  The following year, 1916, Baker was back in the American League playing for the New York Yankees.  An entire chapter of Barry’s book is devoted to this wonderful story.

From Delaware County’s baseball historian Kyle Barrett comes another piece of Upland’s baseball lore.  He has in his possession a box score of the 1917 Delco Baseball League’s championship game between Chester and Upland.  Pitching for Upland is Hall of Famer Chief Bender.  Pitching for Chester is a future major leaguer by the name of Oscar Tuero.  Chester won the game by a score of 4 to 3, with Tuero defeating Bender in 9 innings of what must have been one of the more interesting games in the county’s history.  Oscar Tuero was born in Havana, Cuba.  Playing in the majors in 1918, he has to be one of the majors’ first Latin-American players.  By the way, the box score reveals that good old Bris Lord was in the line-up for Upland that day and future major league player John Ogden, a Chester High and Swarthmore College graduate, played for the Chester team.  Ogden is perhaps better known as the scout that signed the Phillies great Dick Allen.

From Rich Pagano, author of the book Delaware County Sports Legends, comes information regarding Haverford High School’s Jimmy Dykes.  Dykes, a WW I veteran and  Delco League alum, was the only player in major league history to have played for over 20 years in the majors and then had a managing career that also lasted over 20 years.  If that is not Hall of Fame material then I don’t know what is.

Here’s a story with a personal slant:

Joe Grace and his daughter Jackie gave me and my wife of 40 years, Barbara, a most memorable afternoon a few years ago.   When Joe invited us to lunch at his Brandywine Prime restaurant in Chadds Ford, we didn’t realize that we would be sharing a table with the painter Mr. Andrew Wyeth, his son Nick, and Helga–another Chadds Ford resident, famous for being a subject of several of Andrew’s paintings.  It turns out that Joe was a friend of Mr. Wyeth, and when we entered the restaurant the Wyeth party, already seated, asked us to join them.

I don’t know where I got the nerve, but during our meal I asked Mr Wyeth if he followed any particular sport.

He replied that he wasn’t much of a sports fan but added that his father, NC Wyeth–the founder of the Wyeth art dynasty–was a big baseball fan and, as a matter of fact, he remembers when NC got his good friend, Hall of Fame pitcher Herb Pennock, to pitch for the Chester County team in a gruge match game against a Delaware County team made up of players from Concordville.  This game occurred when Pennock was still under contract with the New York Yankees!  I don’t know what the final score was, but with that kind of talent on the mound against it,  I doubt if the Concordville team stood much of a chance!

As we were about to leave the room, being the consummate gentleman that I am, I helped Helga on with her coat.  Now do you believe that as I was about to put on my coat, one of the greatest artists in the history of the United States actually helped me on with it.  I am so glad that Joe’s daughter Jackie and my wife Barb were there to witness the event.  Nobody would believe me or Joe.  WOW, what a day!

That supreme sports writer Harry Chaykun once reminded me that since the major league baseball draft was instituted in 1965, Delaware County has had dozens of high school and college players drafted in an effort to make it to the bigs.  Harry, who has followed every one of those drafts, reflects upon the fact that there has been only one African-American from Delaware County selected–Reds Canada from Chester High.  Reds was drafted in 1965  by the LA Dodgers, with his first manager being none other than Tom Lasorda.  As an aside, it’s interesting to note that Chester High has produced more major league players than any other high school in the state.

From Tim Murtaugh, son of Danny Murtaugh, one of baseball’s greatest managers, comes the information that not only was his father the first manager to field an all-minority team (the 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates) but that his father actually was color blind–literally, as well as figuratively!  The elder Murtaugh found this out during his flight school candidacy during WW II.  Being color blind disqualified him from flying, so his time in the Army was spent in the infantry.

Rich Westcott, in his book Mickey Vernon The Gentleman First Baseman, has documented much valuable information about Delaware County’s favorite son.  Chapter 19 in the book,  For the Record, gives hundreds of facts about Mickey’s great career.  Each reader will have a favorite, but for me, I marvel that Mickey still holds the major league record for career double plays by a defensive first baseman–a record that has lasted for over 50 years!

So there they are–some pieces of Delaware County baseball trivia that–at least to me–aren’t trivial at all.  Maybe you have some favorites of your own.  If you do have a special sports-related story that you would like to share, contact the Mickey Vernon Sports History Museum.

For more information, contact

Jim Vankoski 610-909-4919 or vankoski21@comcast.net.

 

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