Showing posts with label Interview. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Interview. Show all posts

Friday, July 6, 2018

Baseball Happenings Podcast - Peter Kerasotis - Author of 'Alou: My Baseball Journey'

Peter Kerasotis, the co-author of Felipe Alou's new biography, "Alou: My Baseball Journey" appears on the latest edition of the Baseball Happenings Podcast to discuss how he finally convinced the 83-year-old Alou to tell his life story.
Alou: My Baseball Journey - University of Nebraska Press
Kerasotis illuminates Alou's status as a pioneer for Dominican baseball players, detailing how he persevered through Jim Crow segregation as the first player to leave the island and make it to the major leagues. He reveals Alou's tremendous character through the grace in which he handled the many obstacles throughout his six decades in baseball that ultimately led to him becoming the first Dominican manager in major league history.

Baseball Happenings Podcast - Peter Kerasotis Interview


Click here to listen on Spotify

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Baseball Happenings Podcast - Gaylon White Author of 'Singles and Smiles: How Artie Wilson Broke Baseball's Color Barrier'

On the latest Baseball Happenings Podcast, Gaylon White, author of the new Artie Wilson biography, "Singles and Smiles: How Artie Wilson Broke Baseball's Color Barrier," explains how a friendship that started in the 1970s spawned an unparalleled look into the life of an often overlooked pioneer of MLB's integration.

Wilson, who is regarded by many historians as baseball's last .400 hitter after posting a .402 average for the Birmingham Black Barons in 1948, had a career that went much deeper than his 22 major league at-bats in 1951. In this interview, White discusses how Wilson's narrative finally came to light 40 years from their initial meeting, and why for nearly a decade Wilson was one of the most popular players to grace the Pacific Coast League.


Baseball Happenings Podcast - Gaylon White Interview

Click here to listen on Spotify

White has previously authored two baseball works that focus on the 1950s era, "Handsome Ransom Jackson: Accidental Big Leaguer" and "The Bilko Athletic Club: The Story of the 1956 Los Angeles Angels."

For those who are interested in purchasing a copy of "Singles and Smiles: How Artie Wilson Broke Baseball's Color Barrier," Rowman and Littlefield is offering readers a 30% discount with the following code - RLFANDF30.




Saturday, June 23, 2018

Ed Roebuck, one of the last 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers World Series champs, dies at 86

Ed Roebuck, one of the last links to the Brooklyn Dodgers 1955 World Series championship team, passed away June 14, 2018 in Lakewood, California. He was 86.

The right-handed relief specialist made his major league debut in 1955 after breaking camp with the Dodgers out of spring training. Manager Walt Alston gave him the heavy task of being the team’s closer and for the first few euphoric months in the big leagues, Roebuck answered the call.

“The first half of the season I was in almost every save possibility there was,” Roebuck told me during a 2010 interview in New York. “I think I led the club in saves that year. You could come in the fifth inning or the ninth inning. There wasn’t [a] right or left hander specialist; you’re in the bullpen and you could go in the first or the ninth.”

1956 Ed Roebuck Dodgers Photo / Author's Collection

By the middle of July, Roebuck was firing on all cylinders. He led the team in saves and held an ERA that hovered around two; however, his good fortunes would change quickly. At the end of the month, he had two consecutive rough outings against the Milwaukee Braves and suddenly he went from Alston’s stopper to mop-up duty.

“[Clem] Labine took over and I didn’t get to pitch after that, and when I did, I got racked up,” he said.

Fortunately, for Roebuck, his rocky start did not exclude him from the postseason roster. He made one appearance in the 1955 World Series, pitching two scoreless innings in Game 6.

“I wasn’t expecting to pitch in the series,” he said. “I was just happy to be there.”

Growing up in Western Pennsylvania, the thought of Roebuck playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers was a remote one. After starring at Brownsville High School, Boston Red Sox local scout Socko McCary followed Roebuck so closely that most felt he would certainly sign with Boston once he turned 18.

“He moved in with us almost,” Roebuck said. “He would come out there every day and it was sort of a known fact that when I became eligible, that I was going to sign with the Red Sox.”

At the urging of his brother, Roebuck reluctantly attended an open tryout while awaiting his 18th birthday. Little did he know that day would alter the course of his professional baseball career.

“There was a tryout camp, and my brother who was sort of my guiding interest said, ‘Let’s go to the tryout camp,’” Roebuck recalled. “I said, ‘Gee, I don’t know, they want you to throw as hard as you can, run as hard as you can, and nothing ever comes out of it.’ He said, ‘Let’s go anyhow.’ So we go up there and apparently, I did pretty well and then I forgot all about it.”

The venerable Branch Rickey had his spies working to uncover baseball talent from every corner of the country. Unbeknownst to Roebuck, while McCary was cozying up to his family, Rickey’s charges had their eyes on the young righty the entire time.

“In 1948 while pitching for the coal mining team at that workout, the Bowen brothers had scouted me,” Roebuck recalled. “I didn’t even know anything about them. They did the hard scouting on me. I didn’t even know they existed because they were secretive about everything. I [never] talked to them before.”

Once he was on Brooklyn’s radar, nothing was going to get in the way of the Dodgers pursuit. They navigated muddy dirt roads deep into the rural community where Roebuck lived to convince him to go to Brooklyn.

“Jim Murray came over to where we lived,” he said. “We really lived in the boondocks. Most times, you couldn’t get a car back there; it was all lanes and muddy and so forth. One day this big Buick drives up there and the man says, ‘I want to take you to Brooklyn.’ I said, ‘It’s all right with me if you get the okay from my brothers and my mother.’ So he drove me there and I worked out at Ebbets Field. I had a good workout, they took me up to the office, and actually Branch Rickey signed me.”

At the tender age of 17, Roebuck had the intimidating task of sitting across the desk from Branch Rickey during his contract negotiation. He called his trusted brother for backup.

“He [Rickey] was a little scary really,” he said. “Actually, they didn’t want to make me a bonus player. The contract they offered me, I told them I’d have to check with my brother, who was going to have to check with the Red Sox to see if they were offering what [the Dodgers] were offering. My brother called back and said that the Red Sox couldn’t do that and to go ahead and sign with them, so that’s how I started.”

Immediately, the Dodgers placed Roebuck with their Class B team in Newport News, Virginia for the 1949 season. Rickey was so confident in Roebuck’s abilities that he debuted in a league where most of the players had a few years of minor league seasoning under their belts. It proved to be a rocky rookie experience for Roebuck, as he posted an 8-14 record with a 4.64 ERA.

“I think because of being signed in Brooklyn by Rickey, they put me in too high of a league to start,” Roebuck said. “There were 30-year-olds in that league and I was only 17. I had a hard time at Newport News.”

Not to be discouraged, Roebuck rebounded from another losing season in 1950 with 14 wins for Class A Elmira in 1951. His steady performance set him to go to their top farm club in Montreal, only one step away, although it was a big one, from the major leagues. For three seasons, Roebuck toiled with the rest of Brooklyn’s prospects eagerly awaiting his call to the show.

The Brooklyn Dodgers minor league system had a wealth of talent, primarily due to Rickey’s keen baseball eyes. With close to 30 minor league teams, their system was often a breeding ground for the rest of the league’s talent.

“There were just so many players in front of you in that organization,” he said. “When I first went with the Dodgers in spring training, there were 636 players. Many shortstops never made it because of Pee Wee [Reese] — Billy Hunter, Don Zimmer, Bobby Morgan, Chico Fernandez, etc.”

One of Roebuck’s Montreal teammates who was in this cluster of players awaiting one of Brooklyn’s All-Stars to vacate their position was Roberto Clemente. Playing together in 1954 after Clemente signed as a “bonus baby” prospect from Puerto Rico, he recalled the antics the Dodgers went through to try to hide his talents so another club would not draft him.

“He was one helluva good looking prospect,” Roebuck said. “They really messed him around because they didn’t want him to get drafted. The Pirates had their top scout follow us around in Montreal all year, Clyde Sukeforth. You knew it was going to happen.”

It happened for Roebuck too, as the Dodgers gave him his start in the major leagues the next season. From his seat in the dugout, the rookie hurler was thrilled just to be able to watch his future Hall of Fame teammate operate from field level.

“I remember in Ebbets Field sitting in the dugout and you would watch guys like [Gil] Hodges hitting, and you would have to look up,” he recalled. “Usually when you are that close to the action in baseball, it’s not all that glamorous, but it was glamorous for me. All those big guys were doing the ballet. There is so much balance and power at the same time. [Roy Campanella] was something to watch from the dugout. It was something to be associated with that outfit at the time.”

Roebuck solidified the Dodgers bullpen for the next three seasons, helping the team to return to the World Series in 1956 against the New York Yankees. An arm injury during the 1958 season put his career in jeopardy and subsequently caused him to miss the Dodgers 1959 World Series victory. The Dodgers sent him to their Triple-A team in 1959 to pitch and play first base while he recovered.

“The major league rule came in and I couldn’t play winter ball,” he said. “I never had a sore arm in my life. … Johnny Podres and I worked over at the Dodgers place and didn’t do any throwing. It was terrible. My arm was so fine-tuned and I hurt my arm by not pitching. I made a comeback and tore all those adhesions loose. The Dodgers told me I would never pitch again because I had too much scar tissue in there.

“A scout, Kenny Myers (who signed Willie Davis) told me that he thought we could do something, but it was going to be painful. By the time the summer was over, I went back to the big leagues. I would just get against the chain link fence and throw as much as it would let me. Then he would twist my arm and stretch it. He was paralyzed in the service and he had some experience with that. It was he who got me back to the big leagues. In St. Paul in 1959, I hit five home runs and gave up [only] four in 200-something innings.”

Roebuck followed the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, eventually making his home in Lakewood. He welcomed the change while other Brooklyn mainstays resisted.

“We as a family wanted to go, my wife and me, because it was new territory and new fertile ground,” he said. “I know Duke wanted to go. I don’t think guys like Hodges and some of the guys who had homes in Brooklyn wanted to go. I didn’t think O’Malley would do it. … My family was happy to go out there.”

While he found the Los Angeles Coliseum favorable as a pitcher, he lamented the challenge his teammates faced trying to hit there, especially Duke Snider.

“It was much tougher to pitch in Ebbets Field,” he recalled. “You saw some fluke home runs in the Coliseum, but you also saw some line drives hit to the screen that would be home runs somewhere else. You would have to bomb the ball to get it out in right field. It was a shame what Duke Snider had to go through when we went out there.”

Roebuck played with the Dodgers halfway through the 1963 season until he requested that they trade him to the Washington Senators. He wanted to join his old friend Hodges in the nation’s capital.

“In 1963, I didn’t pitch that much,” he recalled. “I went to Fred Patterson to tell Bavasi that I wanted to get out of there. I wanted to go with Hodges. Buzzie calls me in the office, tells me that I will always be part of the Dodgers, and the next day I was traded.”

While Roebuck got what he wanted by moving to the Senators to reunite with Hodges and pitch more often, he faced a clubhouse culture unseen with the Dodgers.

“It was a big disappointment going from the Dodgers to the Senators,” he said. “Almost all of the Dodger teams were winners. It dawned on you when you are there, that those guys are going for me. I’m going to have a good year and I don’t have to worry about winning or losing. We get a couple of hits, grab a couple of beers, and get ‘em tomorrow.

“Some of these young teams have a lot of talent but something always happens. They’ve not matured to where they know how to win. The first thing that you noticed was that the Dodgers or Yankees, they knew how to play the game. It was just a feeling. You know how to win or have been winning and take it for granted. The same thing goes the other way when you’re used to losing; you are going to play your best, but the Yankees are going to win.”

Roebuck's major league career continued through 1966 with the Senators and Philadelphia Phillies, which included being a part of the Phillies ill-fated collapse during the 1964 pennant race. He spent one more season in the Pacific Coast League with the San Diego Padres in 1967 before finally calling it quits.

He stayed in the game as a scout for the next 30 years, citing his most prized pupil as Bert Blyleven. He helped the Hall of Famer develop his legendary curve ball coaching him in a winter scout league.

“We had a winter team for kids in high school,” he said. “I was managing this team. We would invite all these people graduating the next year to play with us in the wintertime. I helped him. He didn’t have a real good spinning curve ball when he played there. It was more of a slider / slurve.”

Ed Roebuck (r.) with the author in 2008 / N. Diunte
Wrapping up our talk at a Westchester, New York hotel on the evening before a 2010 autograph show appearance, Roebuck admitted that this would be the last show he was going to attend. He was growing weary of the cross-country travel and didn’t enjoy it as much now that most of his Brooklyn Dodgers teammates were gone. As he further reflected on his place in baseball history, he humbly admitted that even though he spent 11 seasons in the major leagues, he felt he just blended in his entire career.

“I was just holding on most of the time,” he said. “You know, I never really had time to smell the roses because if you don’t do the job, you’re history. After I finished playing baseball, I realized I was one of the 25 people there.”

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Don Lund | Legendary University of Michigan baseball coach dies at 90

Don Lund, a three-sport star at the University of Michigan, and a major league outfielder for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Detroit Tigers, and St. Louis Browns for seven seasons, passed away Tuesday due to natural causes. He was 90.

Much of Lund’s acclaim comes from his status at Michigan where he was revered not only for his athletic prowess, lettering nine times in baseball, basketball, and football, but also for succeeding the legendary Ray Fisher as the head baseball coach at his alma mater. He coached there from 1959-62, winning the Big Ten Championship in 1961, and the National Championship in his final season.

Don Lund / Author's Collection

Mike Joyce, who went on to pitch two seasons with the Chicago White Sox in the major leagues, was one of the aces for Lund’s Big Ten Championship team in 1961. Speaking with Joyce shortly after the news of Lund’s death, he displayed tremendous pride to have played under his tutelage.

“While he was not a pitcher, he was a pretty good student of the game,” Joyce said via telephone. “He used to say, ‘The secret of pitching is to relax and concentrate.’ Fifty-four years ago he suggested that and I still haven’t forgotten that. He made the execution a lot simpler without trying to be the master of everything.”

Despite only coaching at Michigan for four seasons, Lund had a profound impact on the program, developing future major leaguers such as Bill Freehan, Fritz Fisher, and Joyce. Never during his playing days did he imagine that he would be the part of the link from Branch Rickey to Fisher.

“I never thought it [coaching at Michigan] would happen when I signed with the Dodgers,” Lund said in a 2009 interview. “Branch Rickey was the coach of the University of Michigan when he was in Law School, then it was Ray, and then I. It is such a small world; you would never think that it would happen.”

Lund almost went professional in another sports, as he was a first-round draft choice of the Chicago Bears, but turned down that offer to sign with the Rickey’s Brooklyn Dodgers. He signed for a $7,500 bonus right out of Michigan and three weeks later he was in Leo Durocher’s clubhouse. That three week delay included a few trips to New York, as well as his college graduation, which left him little time to be ready for his major league debut.

“Our college season ended and then there was graduation,” Lund said. “It was another two-to-three weeks before I played another game. I had gone to New York, signed a contract, came back home, and then went back to Brooklyn.”

He made his debut July 3, 1945, without stepping foot in the minor leagues. His first ride in with Brooklyn wouldn’t last very long.

“It was just a token thing,” he said. “I pinch hit, but they could see I wasn't ready to play and they sent me to St. Paul.”

He worked diligently in the minors, and was rewarded with another stay in Brooklyn at the start of the 1947 season, just in time to be on the bench for Jackie Robinson’s debut. About a week before Robinson made history by breaking baseball’s color barrier, Lund homered in a spring training game and was greeted by Robinson at home plate. The photo is immortalized on the cover of Lund’s 2009 biography, “Playing Ball with Legends”.

Lund played in the major leagues through 1954, with his best season coming in 1953, when he batted .257 with nine home runs and 47 RBIs in 421 at-bats for Detroit. After working with the Tigers as their farm system director from 1963-70, Lund returned to Michigan for a 22-year stay as an assistant athletic director until his 1992 retirement.

Spending nearly 50 years in a wide encompassing athletic career, Lund’s greatest accomplishment may not have been anything that he did on the field, but the impact that he left on the young men under his watchful eye.

“He was first and foremost a gentleman; somebody who made you proud to be associated with, whether or not you were a baseball player or a normal person,” Joyce said. “What I most appreciated was that he respected people that worked hard, he did not play favorites, and on top of everything else, he made it fun to play baseball.”

* - This article was originally published for Examiner.com on December 10, 2013.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Len Okrie, catcher for Washington Senators and Boston Red Sox, dies at 94

Len Okrie, former major league catcher and World War II veteran, passed away April 12, 2018 in Hope Mills, North Carolina. He was 94.

Okrie, like many baseball players of his era, put his major league dreams on hold during World War II. Drafted after one year in the minor leagues, Okrie set his sights on helping the United States Navy crack Japanese communications.

“I was drafted here in Fayetteville,” Okrie said during a 2008 interview from his home. “I served 1942-1945 in the Navy. I went to radio school to learn the Japanese code. We broke the Japanese code where we were stationed. We had to go to college to learn it all. To learn that stuff, it sure was complicated. I enjoyed it. I would have stayed in [college] if I [weren’t] bought by the Senators to go into the big leagues. I was playing softball in the war because that's all they had.”

Len Okrie / Boston Red Sox
He was able to shake off the playing rust quickly, emerging as the Senators top catching prospect after batting .314 at Fayetteville in 1947. His play on both sides of the ball impressed Washington Senators scout Mike Martin, accelerating his move from the Cubs organization to the nation’s capitol.

“I did pretty good coming back,” he said. “I was scouted by the Washington scout [Martin] and he said that I was the best catcher they had seen and I would be a good asset to the ball club. I only had a year and a half in the minor leagues and then went to the big leagues.”

Okrie debuted in 1948, pressed into action after both of Washington’s catchers went down with injuries. He hit .238 in limited duty and spent the 1949 season in AAA for more seasoning. When he returned in 1950, he found a new challenge in addition to deciphering big league pitching, a Cuban pitching staff.

“I caught [Conrado] Marrero, [Sandy] Consuegra, all of those Cubans,” he said. “With Marrero, he had a good slider. He could not understand the signs, so I used to tell [them], 'Go ahead and throw, I'll catch anything you throw.' They had a lot of Cubans; Joe Cambria brought all of those guys. Pretty good bunch of kids, they could throw well and were pretty smart.”

Now that Okrie was establishing himself as a fully-fledged major leaguer, he was also fulfilling a family legacy, as his father Frank pitched for the Detroit Tigers in 1920. His parents laid the foundation for his baseball aspirations.

“My father played big league ball,” he said. “He taught me a lot when I was a kid. [We played] every day in the backyard or on the ball field. Now there is not enough communication with the parents. My mom, dad, and sister used to chase the balls during practice. They were very proud when I made it to the big leagues; they used to sit in the stands. He told me to play hard and keep my nose clean. We never ran around; it was all baseball, period. [You] ate it, slept it, and everything else.”

Okrie last parts of four seasons in the majors, primarily with Washington, save for one game with the Boston Red Sox in 1952. While adequate defensively, his bat could no longer keep with his glove, posting batting averages well below .200 in his final few minor league seasons.

He quickly transitioned into the role of a minor league coach, eager to share his father’s teachings with the next generation of baseball players. He started in 1954 in the Red Sox chain and spent close to twenty seasons developing players in their farm system, as well as that of the Detroit Tigers. One of his prized pupils was Jim Leyland.

“I coached and managed in their chains,” he said. “I had Jim Leyland, he was my buddy. I kept him in baseball when he was in Lakeland. I needed a helper and I needed a coach, so I kept him in baseball. I knew he was a clean cut kid and I liked him very much. He is doing a good job. I told the Tigers that I would like to keep him. Wherever I went, he went. He was my little backup catcher.”

After stepping away from baseball, Okrie went into law enforcement working as a desk sergeant for the Cumberland County Sheriff's Department. While in retirement, he kept his full attention on the game. Despite the tremendous difference in salaries, over 50 years later, baseball still captivated his soul.

“I watch baseball everyday if I can get it,” he said. “It's a great game, but I don't see the money they make. Maybe they deserve it, I don't know. We never made that money back then. It's awful, [but] I don't blame the kids. If management wants to give the kids that much money, more power to them. We never got it, my highest salary was $5,000 per year and I finally got $18,000 when the Red Sox bought me.”

Turning his focus to modern major leaguers, he shared his father’s advice about professional conduct. Even though his father played in the majors almost a century ago, his advice still rings true to this day.

“If you are going to get paid, like my dad said, you give them 100 percent,” he said. “When you put that uniform on, it's all baseball; you run hard and you play hard. When you are off, you relax. Don't dissipate. Don't run around. I never did. That's how I stayed in it so long.”

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Baseball Happenings Podcast - Jim Allen explains Shohei Ohtani's meteoric rise

Shohei Ohtani dazzled Los Angeles Angels fans in his first home start, taking a perfect game into the seventh inning before Marcus Semien broke up his bid for baseball immortality with a one-out single. After an underwhelming spring training, Ohtani has silenced his critics by blasting three home runs in his first week as a DH, and pitching to near perfection to start his second.

Shohei Ohtani / Topps
Shortly after Ohtani’s epic pitching performance against the Oakland Athletics, we spoke with renown baseball author Jim Allen, who has been covering Japanese baseball for the past 30 years. Having followed Ohtani since high school, he explains during this interview why he isn’t the least bit surprised that a healthy Ohtani is putting on a show for MLB fans.

He currently writes for the Kyodo News and is on Twitter @JBallAllen.

Baseball Happenings Podcast - Jim Allen Interview

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Carl Scheib, 91, was a two-way phenom long before Shohei Ohtani

Carl Scheib, the youngest player ever in the history of the American League, passed away March 24, 2018 in San Antonio, Texas. He was 91.

Scheib first tried out with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1942 at age 15 and the legendary Connie Mack told him to come back the next spring for another look. With the encouragement of his father, Scheib left high school after spring break in 1943 to sign with the A’s as a batting practice pitcher.

Carl Scheib batting / Sunbury Press

As the World War II draft started to deplete the Athletics roster, Scheib’s prospects for being a major leaguer looked brighter. He started to travel with the team in the summer to away contests and after pitching well in an August exhibition game, Mack was ready to make history.

“Don't you think it's about time?” Mack asked Scheib.

On Monday September 6th, 1943, Mack signed Scheib to a contract right before they were to play a doubleheader against the New York Yankees. In the final inning of the second game, Scheib relieved with one out in the ninth, pitching two-thirds of an inning to close the contest. At the age of 16 years, 8 months, and 5 days, Scheib made history as the youngest player in the major leagues, a record he held until Joe Nuxhall took the mound for the Cincinnati Reds in 1944.

Scheib proved he was not a publicity stunt, pitching respectably in five more games with a 4.34 ERA to finish off 1943. Mack decided to make good on his investment and brought Scheib along slowly in 1944, pitching him exclusively in relief for all 15 of his appearances. As 1945 approached, he hoped for an expanded role, but now that he was 18, Uncle Sam had different plans for the young hurler.

“I was drafted,” Scheib told me during a 2009 interview from his home in San Antonio. “We had started the season in 1945 in Washington. A couple of guys came up from the Air Base there in Pennsylvania and picked me up in an airplane. They wanted me to [be] stationed with the Air Force. Evidently, I didn't have enough education to stick with them so I went in the Army. I did my basic training in Macon, Georgia.”

Once his base commander discovered he pitched in the majors, Scheib was put on the base team. He continued to pitch with the 60th Reigment when he went overseas.

“We played quite a bit after we got overseas,” he said. “The war was over and we were kind of occupation troops. There were was one guy who tried to get a baseball team together. I was in a good position there; I didn't want to get transferred. We won the European Theater championships over there. … Baseball was big there overseas. We had 50,000 people at one game. The Germans didn't play much baseball, but when we were done they were playing in the streets.”

When he returned to Philadelphia in 1947, he started an eight-year run as one of the most reliable pitchers on the A’s staff, appearing in 239 games as both a starter and reliever. As much as Mack valued Schieb on the mound, he also sparkled at the plate, batting a robust .298 in 1948 and a team leading .396 in 1951.

As Mack tinkered with his pitching rotation and the A’s struggled at the hit, he looked to Scheib to boost the team’s offensive production. Coming off the bench as a pinch hitter when he wasn’t pitching, Scheib had two game-winning pinch hits in 1948, giving Mack the idea to try him in the outfield. During the last two games in 1948, Scheib started in the outfield, plating one runner in six at-bats.

While the A’s continued to use Scheib as a pinch hitter, he never made another outfield appearance in the major leagues. He relished the opportunity to get another chance, but with pitching at a premium, the A’s could not afford to sacrifice his arm for his bat.

“I wanted to play the outfield so bad,” he said. “I done very good pinch hitting and I did play a couple of games in the outfield, but they always needed pitchers. [It was] back to the pitching mound. It was tough to get a good [rotation] of pitchers.”

In his 11 big league seasons, Scheib put up a 45-65 record in 267 games primarily for the A’s from 1943-1954, save for three games with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Carl Scheib (7th from left) at Bobby Shantz's field dedication in 2007 / N. Diunte

After his baseball career, he ran a car wash for 12 years and then worked in sales and installations for the same car wash owner according to his SABR bio until his retirement at age sixty-two.

In retirement, he was a fixture at the Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society reunions, and in 2016 he published his memoirs, “Wonder Boy - The Story of Carl Scheib” with author Lawrence Knorr.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Rusty Staub championed many with his tireless charity work

Rusty Staub, one of the most beloved players in New York Mets history, passed away on Opening Day, March 29, 2018 in Palm Beach, Florida. He was 73.

While Staub gained accolades for amassing 500 hits for four different Major League clubs, his greatest legacy was his tireless charity work, both on behalf of the Mets, and for the New York Police and Fire Widows' and Children's Benefit Fund. He helped to raise millions of dollars to support families of fallen police officers and firefighters during their times of greatest need.

Rusty Staub (r.) with 1973 Mets teammate Felix Millan (l) / N. Diunte
In this video below from 2012, Staub discussed how proud he was to be a representative for the Mets long after his playing days were over.


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

How Ed Charles experienced a social awakening playing in Canada

Ed Charles had his start in professional baseball in 1952 when the Boston Braves sent him to their minor league affiliate in Quebec, Canada. Charles, who passed away March 15th, 2018, shared in this interview how going north of the border was a social awakening for him after growing up under the laws of Jim Crow era segregation.

Ed Charles / N. Diunte


Monday, March 19, 2018

Why Bob Gibson told one of his St. Louis Cardinals pitchers that he should quit pitching

Bob Gibson never won any awards for having a friendly persona, especially when Joe Torre hired him as baseball's first "attitude" coach. In 1995, Torre brought Gibson along as his pitching coach with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Bob Gibson / Wikimedia Commons
Queens native Allen Watson was a starting pitcher on the staff and shared a story of when an irate Gibson told one of his pitchers to quit during his tirade.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Why Joe Presko faces his biggest mound challenge yet

Standing 5'9" and 165 pounds in his prime, Joe Presko could have easily blended in with the great St. Louis Cardinals fans that filled Sportsman's Park; however, Presko was far from ordinary. He stood tall on the mound alongside his Hall of Fame St. Louis Cardinals teammates Stan Musial, Red Schoendienst, and Enos Slaughter in the 1950s while he went toe-to-toe against the star-studded lineups of the National League in his era. Throughout his six major league seasons with the Cardinals and Detroit Tigers, "Baby Joe" went 25-37 in 128 appearances.

During a recent trip to my local baseball card shop, the owner just received a small box of vintage 1952 Topps baseball cards. I waited until the guy next to me was done looking at them, and shortly after I started my search, Presko's iconic 1952 card jumped to the forefront. A few dollars later, his card became the first from that landmark set to enter my collection. The next day, I sent it off to Presko with the hopes of his signature and a possible interview.

Joe Presko Signed 1952 Topps Card / Author's Collection
A week later, Presko returned the card boldly signed with a note that exemplifies the connection that the men of this generation made with their fans. At 89, Presko made time to sign the card despite taking chemotherapy treatments to battle an opponent more fortuitous than the likes of Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Duke Snider.

His desire to continue to reach out to his fans while battling cancer, speaks loudly to the close bond those who played during his era feel with the fans who keep their memory alive.


Note From Presko to the Author / Author's Collection

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Baseball Happenings Podcast - Breaking down Mets spring training with Bill Whitehead

Bill Whitehead, AP and MLB writer covering the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie, checked in with the Baseball Happenings Podcast to break down the hectic first week of 2018 Mets spring training.

Tim Tebow / Bill Whitehead
Whitehead gave us the inside scoop on Dominic Smith, and why his late arrival to practice was out of character for their young first base prospect. He covered Smith extensively during his 2015 season with the St. Lucie Mets.

During the 30-minute interview, Whitehead also provided updates on the myriad of injuries during the first week of camp, his thoughts on the Mets new manager Mickey Calloway, where Tim Tebow fits in the Mets plans, and why Peter Alonso and P.J. Conlon are two upstarts to keep your eyes on during the spring. 



Saturday, February 24, 2018

Baseball Happenings Podcast - Mike Trombley dishes out big league financial advice

Mike Trombley, an 11-year major league veteran with the Twins, Dodgers, and Orioles, came on the Baseball Happenings Podcast to discuss how professional athletes can best look out for their financial interests both during and after their careers. He is currently the head of Trombley Associates, a family-run financial management company in Massachusetts where he took over for his father Ray who started the company over a half-century prior.


In the wake of the recent news about Jake Peavy losing a reported $15 million due to his financial advisor’s involvement in a Ponzi scheme, Trombley explained the pitfalls that many major leaguers face trying to manage a sudden windfall of riches while keeping their attention on what is going on in between the lines of play.

“There were a couple of [Major League] friends of mine that [had] their agents paying their bills for them,” Trombley said. “They never even saw a bill.”

During the 20-minute interview, Trombley dishes out practical advice on what to look for in an investment professional, as well as his experiences of managing his money while living the hectic life of a Major League Baseball player.

Baseball Happenings Podcast on iTunes.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Baseball Happenings Podcast - Chris Carr and the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest

Chris Carr, runner-up to Kobe Bryant in the 1997 Slam Dunk Championship, recently discussed in our latest podcast going one-on-one against the future Hall of Famer in the dunk contest. In the 20-minute interview, Carr, who is now the assistant woman's basketball coach at Kansas State University, explains why he thought he had a better performance than Bryant, as well as gives an inside look of why guarding a young Bryant was an easier task than squaring up Michael Jordan.


Chris Carr 1997 Slam Dunk Contest Interview


Carr finished the first round with the highest score, giving him the opportunity to be the last dunker in the finals. Bryant scored a 49 with his first dunk, but left the door open by missing his second attempt. Carr saw his chance for victory.

"I knew I was going to have to come with something really good ... because he [Bryant] had a big game in the rookie game and wasn't the MVP ... so he was out to win something this weekend," Carr said.

Carr finished with a 45 on his final dunk, a potent attempt, but not enough to surpass the 49 that Bryant put up with the East Bay Funk. Looking back over 20 years later, Carr still feels like he got the best of Bryant in the contest.

"I still don't think that he beat me," he said. "I'm going to every year put out a tweet and copy him on it just to try to rile him up a bit."

Friday, January 26, 2018

Julio Navarro, pitched 22 seasons in Puerto Rico, dies at 82

Julio Navarro, one of Puerto Rico’s most celebrated pitchers, passed away Wednesday January 24th, 2018 in Miami, Florida due to Alzheimer’s complications. He was 82.

Julio Navarro 1960 Topps / Topps
Navarro was born in Vieques, but he spent the majority of his childhood in St. Croix. After developing his talents in high school, another standout from the Virgin Islands helped to position Navarro for a tryout in front of Santurce’s team owner Pedrin Zorilla.

“Al Gerard took me to Santurce,” Navarro told me via telephone in 2011. “My father moved to the Island and I was five years old. It helped me a lot. They had the Catholic school nuns and I learned how to speak English. When they played those exhibitions on the Island, those Puerto Rican teams would play. That’s when the Islands were developing well. When I pitched against Puerto Rico, Gerard told the owner that I was from Puerto Rico. He told them that I was from Vieques, but that my father moved there for work.”

Fortunately for Navarro, Zorilla doubled as a scout for the New York Giants and helped him along with Orlando Cepeda and Jose Pagan, to sign professional contracts in 1955. Almost immediately he became the de-facto spokesperson for his fellow Spanish speaking teammates because of his upbringing in the Virgin Islands.

“I was lucky, because of the few Puerto Ricans, unless they were from New York, I spoke English,” he said. “I knew what I was going on and I learned so quickly because I knew the language. In spring training, we had a lot of good prospects and they only knew Spanish, I had to keep them from trouble and intervene. They lived in a segregated area.”

While Navarro was buoyed by his ability to speak English, it didn’t help him on the mound. He flopped around multiple Class D teams in 1955 due to arm troubles, going 1-10 in the process. Despite his poor record, the Giants recognized his potential and brought him back for the 1956 season. He rewarded the parent club by winning an astounding 24 games on the mound. While he was only 20 years old, Navarro thought his successful season warranted a major league look.

“I won 24 games that year in Cocoa, and you know where I went after that, Class A!” he said. “If you win 24 games anywhere, you [should] go to the big leagues. … They had good players from A-ball that had experience playing. It was different then, those guys could play A or AA ball at any time, so many, that people don’t know about or didn’t know them.”

As the Giants moved to San Francisco, Navarro continued to inch closer to the major leagues. By 1959 he was at AAA, but his career stalled there. When it became clear that he was trapped in the Giants deep farm system with no clear path to their rotation, the Los Angeles Angels swooped in during the 1962 season to open a new door. He was relieved when the Angels called.

“After six years, I was in AAA ball and I was only 26,” he said. “They had a rule after six years they had to let me go or sell me to somebody. That’s when the Angels bought me.”

Navarro specialized as a reliever for the Angels, pitching 71 games out of the bullpen in three seasons until he was traded to the Detroit Tigers in April 1964. He found a supporter in Tigers manager Chuck Dressen.

“Charlie Dressen was a good man and got along with the colored guys,” he said. “He said to the Latins and Cubans, 'When you play with me, don’t worry!' When Dressen died, they got rid of us!”

While Navarro fell out of favor with the new regime in Detroit, that didn’t deter him from carrying on. The amazingly durable hurler pitched 22 seasons in the Puerto Rican Winter League, using the lessons that came from the old Negro League veterans he started with back in 1956.

“Those guys were great, I learned a lot from them, I’ll tell you,” Navarro said via telephone in 2011. “Each club had about nine imports. Most of them were colored guys from the states. Bill Greason, Sam Jones, and George Crowe were there. It was fantastic. … In those days, in Puerto Rico, you could have a team that could play in the big leagues that could beat the Yankees and anybody.”

One harsh reality the Negro League players taught him how to manage was the Jim Crow Laws in the United States. Some of his fellow Puerto Rican counterparts weren’t so fortunate and their careers were cut short by how they responded to their teammates’ taunts.

“I met a lot of white guys at that time that were good,” he said. “You don’t bother them and they don’t bother you. That’s what happened to [Carlos] Bernier. He had a white girlfriend, they tell him this and that because he had a white girl and they told him that shit and he beat the shit out of them. They were thinking he was going to be in the big leagues for ten years.”

Navarro threw his final major league pitch with the Atlanta Braves in 1970; however, he continued to play in the minor leagues, Mexico, and Puerto Rico until 1977. He then turned his attention to his son Jamie.

Jamie followed his lead on the mound, playing for 20 professional seasons, 12 in the major leagues. The elder Navarro credited his son’s longevity due to his father reinforcing flawless mechanics.

“Jamie very seldom had a sore arm in the big leagues,” he said. “I worked a lot with him on the mechanics.”

Navarro’s teaching extended beyond his own family, offering help to all comes from children up to the major leaguers in Puerto Rico. One of his last pupils was Javier Vasquez. After a disappointing 2010 season with the Yankees, Navarro met with him during the off-season to help him turn things around. The result? Vasquez lowered his ERA by almost two runs and ended his final major league season with a winning record.

“Javier last year had problems with the Yankees," he said. "Everybody knew what Javier was throwing. He didn’t have a good fastball anymore, but he still had that curveball. I went to a meeting in Ponce and he was receiving an award. I told him, ‘You don’t throw 95-98, you're now about 91-92. Throw at that speed, but throw it with movement. You are throwing at that speed and it doesn’t move. You ever see [Roy] Halladay with the Phillies? He doesn’t throw that hard, but everything is moving and is low. He throws strikes until he gets you. When the 9th inning comes around, you are strong. Mix it a little. Throw it like a sinker / slider.’ He asked me how to do it. You work a little and use your coconut head. You have to think!”

Friday, January 19, 2018

Baseball Happenings Podcast - The Other Boys of Summer Negro Leagues Documentary

Lauren Meyer, the executive producer and director of the upcoming Negro Leagues documentary, "The Other Boys of Summer," sat down with the Baseball Happenings podcast to explain a journey that has been over ten years in the making.

Meyer, an Emmy nominated director, began meeting with players in 2007, traveling all over the United States to interview the last surviving members of the Negro Leagues. She met with stars of the segregated league including Hall of Famer Monte Irvin, Minnie Minoso, John "Mule" Miles, and Mamie "Peanut" Johnson (all of whom are now deceased), to find out how they persisted in the face of social injustice to play the game they love.

Minnie Minoso / The Other Boys of Summer
With the film 98% completed, Meyer launched a Kickstarter campaign on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to raise the necessary funds to license rare footage and music that are critical to the completion of the project. In the first four days, Meyer has raised over $13,000 towards her goal, putting her in a position to finally be able to tell the stories of these players that she grew to love and cherish.

Baseball Happenings Podcast Interview with Lauren Meyer - 1/18/2018



To keep up with "The Other Boys of Summer," you can follow on social media via the following links:

Twitter - @NegroLeagueFilm
Instagram - @TheOtherBoysofSummer
Facebook - @TheOtherBoysofSummer

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Rudy Arias, member of the 1959 Go-Go White Sox, dies at 86

Rodolfo “Rudy” Arias, a member of the famed 1959 Go-Go Chicago White Sox, passed away on Friday January 12, 2018 in Miami, Florida according to a family member. The Cuban native was 86.

The lithe left-handed pitcher played only one season in the major leagues, but what a fine one it was. Signed by the White Sox in 1952, Arias fought injuries while working his way up to the American League pennant winners in 1959.

Rudy Arias Personal Photo

“I signed in 1952 and they sent me to Madisonville, Kentucky,” Arias told me in 2012. “My first year I came to the United States, I won 16 games. The owner of the Havana club came to my town in Santa Clara. They wanted me to go to Havana because Mike Gonzalez wanted to see me [pitch].”

While Arias was eager to make an impression for his spot on Cuba’s legendary Havana professional winter league team, his fortune changed quickly before he could even get on the field in front of Gonzalez. A freak accident while arriving at the ballpark derailed his chance for a spot on the Havana club.

“I broke my arm after I slipped on the concrete [at the ballpark] and they sent me home,” he said.

Despite his injury, Arias returned to the White Sox in 1954 and they promoted him to their minor league team in Waterloo, Iowa. He survived by only using his fastball for the next few years until his arm sufficiently healed to feature his signature curveball.

By 1958, he was knocking on the big league door at Triple-A in Havana. He impressed the White Sox brass when he threw a no-hitter against Rochester.

“The last out was a fly ball to the catcher,” he said. “They gave me $1,000 for that.”



In 1959, Arias got his big break with the White Sox, making their team out of spring training. His left-handed arm gave manager Al Lopez versatility in the late innings out of their bullpen. One of his first introductions to the unwritten rules of major league baseball was when Lopez directed the rookie to drill opposing New York Yankees pitcher Ryne Duren.

“Lopez called me on the phone and said, ‘Rudy, warm up real hard and when Duren comes to hit, hit him in the head,’” Arias recalled. ‘¡O dios mio! He had 20 pitchers and he used me, the small guy! When Duren comes to hit, I threw at his head and he moved. The next pitch, I knew he was going to move back, so I hit him right in the back. He came at me with the bat. I told Duren I didn’t mean to hit him. Kluszewski [ed. note - It was Earl Torgeson] stood right in front of me and told me not to run. He was a big guy!”

Rudy Arias with the author in 2012 / N. Diunte
He fondly recalled the rest of the battles that the White Sox had with the Yankees that season, citing them as their toughest competition en route to the American League pennant. He proudly told how he foiled Mickey Mantle on a bet from teammate Jim Rivera.

“Jim Rivera told me, ‘Rudy, when Mickey Mantle comes up, if you throw him a knuckleball, I will give you a six pack of beer.’ I throw it, Mantle waited and waited, and man he got a pop up to second base.”

Arias was on the roster for the 1959 World Series; however, he did not see any action against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He received a full share for his efforts. Over 50 years later, he marveled at both the spectacle of seeing over 90,000 people at the Coliseum, and the amount of his share if he played in the World Series now.

“I didn’t believe it,” he said. “All around, wow – 93,000 people! There was a lot of noise. It was different pitching there.

“Where’s the money now? Now they get a lot of money for that. They gave me $4,800. I didn’t believe it! That money is different now!”

In the off-season after the World Series, the White Sox traded Arias to the Cincinnati Reds. They sent him to Triple-A in San Diego in 1960. He spent three years in their minor league system and crossed paths with many of the Reds’ future stars including sharing a dugout with Pete Rose in Macon, Georgia.

“They sent me to Macon Georgia and I played with Pete Rose,” Arias said. “He was crazy!”

Arias had one last hurrah in 1961 while pitching for the Mariano team during the final season of the Cuban professional league. He had enough life in his arm to throw an 18-inning gem and lose! On the other side of the hill was a young Luis Tiant.

“Luis Tiant came in the 11th inning,” he said. “I pitched the whole game and lost it in the 18th inning. I do not believe it happened! Nap Reyes the manager, he never came to me and asked, ‘Rudy, how do you feel?’ I was throwing, throwing and throwing and he never told me nothing.”

Struggling with injuries, Arias never returned to his major league form; however, he played in the minor leagues and Mexico until 1967. He settled in Miami working in construction and later as a security guard before retiring.

He passed the family legacy to his son Rudy, who was a minor league catcher and a long-time major league bullpen catcher. One of his highlights included earning a World Series ring in 1996 with the New York Yankees.

In retirement, Arias received fan mail from fans all over the country, which he kept neatly in binders in his home. He marveled how they came from such far off places like Alaska.

“I get a lot of letters now from all over, more than when I played,” he said.



Saturday, January 6, 2018

What did Wally Backman enjoy the most during his New York Mets career?

Wally Backman, the New York Mets second baseman during their 1986 World Series championship, explains in this video what he enjoyed the most about playing in New York City, including his memories of the spirit of his late teammate, Gary Carter.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Bobby Doerr remembered as a calming influence on the Blue Jays franchise

Bobby Doerr built a Hall of Fame career as the “Silent Captain” of the Boston Red Sox from 1937-1951. The humble nine-time All-Star second baseman, died November 13, 2017 in Junction City, Oregon. He was 99.

Bobby Doerr / Blue Jays

An icon with the Red Sox organization as both a player and a coach, Doerr also helped to build the foundation of the Toronto Blue Jays organization. Starting with the Toronto franchise during their inaugural 1977 campaign, Doerr served as their batting coach for five seasons. His profound impact went well beyond their hitters, as former Blue Jays All-Star pitcher Dave Lemanczyk recalled just how vital Doerr was to their operation.

“He just gave us the opportunity to compete,” Lemanczyk said Thursday night at the Firefighters Charitable Foundation Dinner in Long Island. “That was the big thing. He never got excited, [he was] very low key. … Sometimes as a baseball player, you let your emotions get a hold of you, and you try to compete at a level you shouldn’t be at and you end up screwing the pooch a little bit. He probably had a calming, almost like a grandfatherly influence on most of the guys he came in contact with.”

In addition to his easy demeanor as Lemanczyk observed, he said that Doerr’s reserved nature kept him from boasting about his legendary career. Even though Doerr wouldn’t be elected to the Hall of Fame until 1986, few of the players knew of his standing among the greats of the game.

“He was just a class, soft spoken guy,” he said. “I don’t think any of us realized that he was a Hall of Famer. He was just a kind gentleman who absolutely knew the ins and out, especially hitting, of baseball. Somebody who could put up with Ted Williams his whole career had to be pretty in tune with everything.”

Upon reading the news of Doerr’s passing, Lemanczyk’s memory was triggered by visions of a photo shoot they shared for a local department store. He dug up the photo and was immediately filled with emotion confronting the permanence of his former coach’s death.

“As soon as I read it in the paper, [I remembered] Alan Ashby, Jesse Jefferson, Bobby Doerr, and myself did a photo layout for Eaton’s department stores for a father’s day catalogue,” he recalled. “I happen to have that catalogue in the house and just looking at that brought an eerie chill.”

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Al Richter | Former Boston Red Sox shortstop passes away at 90

The plight of baseball players like Allen Richter was an all too common theme in the 1950s. Labeled as one of the best shortstops of his era in the minor leagues, Richter treaded water in the Boston Red Sox farm system while Johnny Pesky cemented his position as a franchise cornerstone. Bound to the Red Sox by the reserve clause and his path effectively blocked by Pesky, Richter played his best baseball away from the Major League spotlight, appearing in only six games during two separate stints in Boston.

While Richter’s major league career never fully materialized, he outlived most of his Boston counterparts, remaining active by playing tennis a few times per week into his late 80s. Sadly, Richter passed away October 29th, 2017 at his home in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He was 90.

Al Richter / Author's Collection

The Red Sox signed Richter in 1945 from Maury High School, where they placed him with their team in Roanoke. His time with the club was short lived, as he only played three games before he fulfilled his military duties in the Army Air Corps.

“I went in 1945 right after high school,” Richter told me during a 2009 phone interview from his home in Virginia Beach. “I got out in 18 months. They allowed me to be discharged a month early. I was in Germany. I did my basic training in Kessler Field in Mississippi and shortly thereafter I went to Denver for photography school. From there I went overseas in the Army occupation after the war was won. I was coaching a baseball team that we organized over in Germany.”

Richter returned to the Red Sox in 1947 and he moved briskly through their farm system, reaching Triple-A by 1949. He impressed with his eye at the plate, walking 100 times in 1950, while only striking out 36 times in 589 plate appearances. He took pride in the fact that he consistently put the ball in play.

“When I hit the ball, I hardly ever struck out,” he said. “If I were up 400 times, I struck out maybe 18 times and some were called out.”

Richter had his breakout season in 1951 batting .321 with Louisville while carving a niche as one of the top shortstops in the American Association. His teammates took notice of his tremendous play, including Charlie Maxwell who was another young talent that later joined Richter in Boston.

“I felt sorry for him because he hit over .300 a few years in a row in Louisville,” Maxwell told me during a 2009 phone interview. “They would never give him the opportunity to go to Boston. Finally, he went up there and that's when they had the Coast League. … There was nobody else, outside of Don Zimmer at St. Paul, Richter was probably the best shortstop in the minors and nobody would give him a shot at the majors. … It was rare a shortstop would hit .300 in the minors but nobody gave him a shot. There weren't that many shortstops hitting .300 anywhere! “

Tearing up the American Association in 1951, Richter forced the Red Sox hand, as they called him up when rosters expanded in September. They were in the heat of a pennant race with the New York Yankees, so he had to wait until their fate was determined until he was able to make a start at shortstop.

“That was the best year for me,” he said. “I was a .260 hitter, which was okay for a shortstop, but I had a great year for Louisville, I hit .321. I was really on that year. I hit the best by far I ever had. I went up with the Red Sox at the end of the year at the end of ‘51. That’s when the Red Sox was battling with the Yankees until the last two games at Yankee Stadium to see who was going to be the champions of the American League. They kept Pesky at shortstop who was an All-Star.”

Manager Pinky Higgins placed Richter in the starting lineup during the last game of the season with many of the other Red Sox rookies. He responded by getting his first major league hit off of Eddie Lopat, a memory that was crystal clear more than 50 years later.

I was in the last game of the season that Harley Hisner pitched," he said. "That was the last [Major League] game other than the World Series for Joe DiMaggio. I got my only hit off of Eddie Lopat, a left-handed pitcher for the Yankees. … I always made contact and I hit that one up the middle of the diamond on the ground. The thing was, Phil Rizzuto was at shortstop and I thought he was coming close to it. I ran real hard down first base and I ran straight through just trying to beat out the hit. When I looked up running past first base, I discovered the ball went all the way through and it went out to center field. I should have made the turn and gone to second in case the center fielder missed it. That was the first time ever in my life I did that. That stood out in my mind and still does. I thought I had to beat it out because Rizzuto had gotten to it. I just had my head down and was racing hard to get first base.”

Richter’s lone hit capped a promising season, giving him a glimmer of hope for a return to Boston; however, those dreams were quickly dashed when they sent him to San Diego in the Pacific Coast League for the 1952 season. The Red Sox brought him back for one more appearance as a defensive replacement in 1953 and two years after that Richter was out of baseball at 28. During our 2009 interview, he explained how frustrating it was for players in his situation due to baseball's reserve clause.

“At that time when you were signed with a ballclub, they owned you for life,” he said. “It’s not like it is today. They had the reserve clause. For example, I was with the Red Sox. There was no three-year or five-year contract. When I signed with them out of high school, I belonged to them for life. I was like a slave for them. Even if they didn’t want to get rid of me, even if I did well or I didn’t do so well, if they didn’t want to get rid of me they wouldn’t let me go to any other club that wanted me.”

After his baseball career, Richter transitioned to becoming a television sports reporter in Virginia. He later moved on to careers in the real estate and food service businesses.

Richter was honored in 2012 by the Boston Red Sox when they invited him back to Fenway Park to take part in the franchise’s 100th anniversary celebration of the legendary stadium. Even though his time with the franchise was brief, he held the experience in the highest regard.

"It was just a privilege to have been around so many great players," Richter said to the Virginian Pilot in 2012, "and it will be a privilege to share a little in the history of a special place."