Sunday, November 25, 2012

Gail Harris - A 'Giant' gentleman until the end

Autographed photo of Gail Harris
Last week, I was presented with the unfortunate news of the passing of Boyd "Gail" Harris, one of the dwindling number of the remaining New York Giants. He just celebrated his 81st birthday a month prior.

Harris was a first baseman with the Giants from 1955-57, and holds the distinction of being the last player for Giants to hit a home run before their move to San Francisco. He was traded to the Detroit Tigers at the end of the 1957 season, and led the Tigers in home runs, hitting 20 in 1958.He played with the Tigers until 1960, but could not capture the success he had during his first year in Detroit.

I wrote to Harris in September and asked if I could interview him about his experiences playing in New York with the Giants. Two weeks later, I received a reply from Harris. To my surprise, Harris, on his own dime sent me an envelope filled with signed photos, copies of team photos, photocopied stories about his time with the Giants, and a short note offering to contact him via e-mail or phone to talk.

After delaying for a few weeks due to other projects, I e-mailed Harris at the end of October. After no reply for a few days, I called him at the number listed and left him a voice mail. Sadly, we never connected. Early last week, I received the notice of Harris' passing. Judging by Mr. Harris' generosity, I am sure that he was too ill to respond once I contacted him.

One of the letters he included shared his memories of actor Jeff Chandler, who was a tremendous baseball fan, working out with the Giants when they trained in Arizona. Harris formed a kinship with Chandler, as Harris was part Cherokee Indian, and was given the nickname of "Cochise," the name of the character Chandler played in Broken Arrow. Harris' letter recalling Chandler that he sent is pictured below, as well as a slideshow of all of the correspondence he sent.

While Harris was never the star that many of his Hall of Fame teammates grew to be, the generosity he displayed so late in his life, is another testament to the Hall of Fame character that so many men of his era shared. I have a feeling that if we would have been able to talk about his time uptown in the Polo Grounds, that it would have further confirmed the caliber of Gail Harris. Rest in peace.








Saturday, November 24, 2012

Chuck Diering, former outfielder for the Cardinals, Giants and Orioles, dies at 89

Chuck Diering, who spent nine seasons in the major leagues as an outfielder with the Baltimore Orioles, New York Giants, and St. Louis Cardinals, passed away Friday after taking a fall at his home in Spanish Lake, Mo. He was 89.

Diering, a brilliant center fielder, spoke vividly in a 2011 interview about his brief stop with the New York Giants, and his thoughts on the current state of the game.

Chuck Diering - 1951 Bowman - Wikimedia Commons
His expert outfield patrol was chronicled in Jason Aronoff's 2009 book, "Going, Going ... Caught!" which chronicles many of the flyhawks of baseball's Golden Era that were not captured on film, including a section devoted to Diering's marvelous catches.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

1962 Chicago Cub Tony Balsamo shares the gentlemanly spirit of Buck O'Neil 50 years later

Buck O'Neil - Wikimedia Commons
In 1962, Tony Balsamo was a 25-year-old rookie pitcher for the Chicago Cubs. One of his mentors that season was Buck O'Neil, a long time player and coach in the Negro Leagues who was a rookie of his own sorts, breaking the color barrier as a coach in the Major Leagues.

Last week, Balsamo, speaking at a charity dinner in Long Island, N.Y., reflected upon his experiences with O'Neil, whom he described as, "a true gentleman."

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Former Yankee Frank Tepedino leads off First Annual Firefighters Charitable Foundation Dinner

Frank Tepedino
Part of the valor of being a firefighter is accepting the responsibility that one might perish in the course of saving others. That same unselfish spirit was on display Thursday evening at the Chateau Briand in Carle Place, N.Y., for the First Annual Firefighters Charitable Foundation Dinner. The foundation, which serves to assist victims of fires and disasters, brought some much needed support to a region that was greatly impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

Over 200 dinner guests came together under the guidance of FFCF's president Frank Tepedino, a veteran of eight major league seasons with the Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers and New York Yankees.

Click here to see photos and read more about the wonderful affair which had close to a dozen former major league baseball players supporting the cause. 

 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Joe Ginsberg, original New York Met dies at 86

Joe Ginsberg - Baseball-Almanac.com

Myron “Joe” Ginsberg, a veteran catcher of 13 major league seasons and an original 1962 New York Met, passed away Friday November 2nd, at Sunrise Retirement Living in West Bloomfield, Mich. He was 86.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Pascual Perez ex-Yankee fatally stabbed in home invasion

Pascual Perez signed card - Baseball Almanac
Pascual Perez, former pitcher for the New York Yankees, was found dead at his home on Thursday in the Dominican Republic. His death was the result of an apparent home invasion, where he was fatally stabbed in the neck. He was 55.