Alan has been a close friend of my wife’s parents for 30 years. A native resident of New Jersey, Alan grew up just outside New York City. Born in 1930, Alan was introduced to baseball at an early age by his father. It is a passion he has carried ever since. Recently over lunch, Alan spoke about some of his memories. I have summarized some of what we talked about. Without a doubt, his baseball experience dwarfs anything I will ever know.
During his childhood, New York had three teams: Yankees, Giants and Dodgers. Alan also followed the local Newark Bears, the AAA club for the Yankees. Even though they followed all the teams, Alan and his family were primarily Giants fans.
Favorite Players: Mel Ott, Joe DiMaggio, Red Ruffing
Alan named three players as his favorites. First, Red Ruffing of the Yankees. Why Red? The answer is simple: Alan and Red shared the same birthday! Plus, as Alan said, it didn’t hurt the guy was a future Hall of Famer either.
The player Alan really loved to watch was Mel Ott, the great Giant. What originally drew him to Ott? It was the very unique way the Giant would hold his bat while hitting. As demonstrated below, Ott was fun to watch bat.
First Game: Babe Ruth Braves
Yeah, this is pretty cool. After the 1934 season, Babe Ruth left New York for Boston with the hope of becoming their manager. He had wanted to manage the Yankees, but he did not get along with the owner who refused to give Ruth this opportunity. Unfortunately, Ruth was misled in his move to Boston. Again, he did not get the chance to skipper a big league club.
The Braves played a three game set in New York against the Giants. Ruth only played in the first game. Alan’s dad took him to the game because he wanted his son to see the greatest player ever play in a game. Seriously, how cool is this? Babe Ruth (as a National Leaguer, too)! Alan doesn’t remember very much about the actual game, but he did recall that the Polo Grounds were packed full of people like them anxious to see the Babe.
Favorite Team: NY Giants and 1937 Yankees
As I indicated above, Alan was a Giants fan. However, his favorite team was the 1937 Yankees. At lunch, Alan recited the starting line-up of this squad – FROM 80 YEARS AGO! Just amazing. The only hesitancy came with naming the Second Baseman, but his initial recall of Tony Lazzeri was correct. Someday, that is going to be me naming off the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers lineup from the World Series.
First Game Remembered: Joe DiMaggio Rookie
While his memory of the Ruth game is somewhat fuzzy, Alan is very specific about the first time he saw Joe DiMaggio play as a rookie. He says that Joltin Joe is easily the best player he has ever seen.