AUG:THE BASEBALL GURU ARTICLE FROM
AN INTERVIEW WITH HARRY THE HORSE
IN OUR JULY ARTICLE WE TALKED ABOUT THE GIANTS HITTING FIVE HOMERUNS IN ONE INNING. HERE IS AN INTERVIEW ONE MORE INNING HAD WITH ONE OF THE HITTERS INVOLVED IN THAT, THE GREAT GIANT CATCHER HARRY THE HORSE DANNING
My dad was a great baseball fan, he loved the game. Dad would make a stockinged ball and my brother Ike and I would play with it all the time. My brother played in the Major Leagues too. He played for a few weeks with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Browns. I grew up during the Depression but our family wasnt really hurt by it. Dad was in the used and new furniture business and died in 1928 before I started playing baseball.
While playing in the game I would send money home to help out.
I developed my own style of catching. There was some coaching and we had some good ones but we only had two. I was lucky to be helped in the fundamentals by some good people. The game today has been taken away from the players. Now you have to look at the coaches to get a sign. You have to see if you should bunt, or hit away, or hit and run. When we played the hit sign was always on and you were on your own. Managers and coaches today tell you what to do and I think that has made the game slower.
I played with the Giants my whole career and loved playing in NY. Bill Terry was my manager for 9 years. Always thought he was a great one. Id say the best teams I played on were the 1933 to 1937 teams. The best teams I ever saw were the 1936 to 1937 Yankees. They had great players and good managing. I saw and met Baber Ruth ..saw and played against Lou Gehrig in the WS but never played the Yankees in spring training. Did play against them in the 1936 and 31 WS.
As a catcher I had tough times with any pitcher who threw wild. Carl Hubbell had great control and was a pleasure to catch. When I was a kid my idol was Babe Ruth. We didnt have TV or radio and so all we had to look up to was the Babe.
Unfortunately I dont see any of the players I played with nowadays. A good fiend of mine during those days was Lefty Gomez. He married some showgirl ..Anita Oday and they were always fighting and arguing. One day he was fighting with her and called me up and asked me to get him a room. I got him one at a hotel, but he wouldnt stay there because across the street was a sign of Yankee owner Jacob Ruppert and he hated him.
In 1940 I had a good year, hit ..300, and had 91 RBIs. Was picked as best catcher in the ML for that year. I was an ALL STAR 4 times and in the game that was held in St Louis I went 1-1. Got a hit off Feller. He was great. He had a terrific fast ball and dont underestimate his curve. Hubbell, Feller, Grove were all great pitchers. Some other great players then were Williams, Terry, Dimaggio, Medwick, Mize, Ott, Arky Vaughan, As far as catchers go I would say Hartnett, Jim Wilson, Lopez, and Dickey. A lot of these guys are in the HOF. In some cases though the HOF is unfair. Some people shouldnt be in there, Rose should be in for his accomplishments ..though if he were elected it would open a whole can of worms. Ill tell you someone else too. Terry Moore was the greatest outfielder I ever saw, He should be in for his fielding alone. Also JoJo Moore .very underrated, great leftfielder.
Ill tell you if we went back to 16 teams again wed see better ball. The players of today are stronger, healthier and in better shape. In our day nobody took exercise with iron. One thing though, there were no drugs, steroids or drinking. Terry didnt allow any of that
I was part of that terrific inning where we hit five homers after two were out. When I got up there were already three homers hit and at that point I kept thinking wouldnt it be nice if I hit one too and by golly I did. At first it didnt look like it was going out and I was more surprised than any one that it did.
Harry Danning died a few years back and is kind of forgotten these days. During his time though, he was one of the best all around catchers in the game. For his ten year career he batted .285, hit 57 homeruns, had 391 RBIs, made several ALL STAR GAMES, and was considered the best defensive catcher around then.