SEPT: THE 151st ARTICLE FOR BASEBALL GURU
PART TWO OF MY BASEBALL INTERVIEWS OVER THE YEARS
Dick Bartel's (Rowdy Richard) claim to fame was that he was the initial shortstop to play in the first All Star Game. He also played in the third game.
His stats include a lifetime BA OF.284, 2.615 HITS, and 710 RBIs. He was known as a troublemaker and a rabble rouser. He was considered difficult to manage and that may have hampered him from Hall of Fame consideration. He compares well enough against Phil Rizzuto and Pee Wee Reese who are in the Hall.
During his career he played with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, the New York Giants, Chicago Cubs, Detroit Tigers, and ended his career playing for the Giants once again.
His career lasted for 18 years.
In 1994 I called his home and managed to speak to his wife. I told her about One More Inning and asked if I could interview him. She said of course but mentioned that after the interview I should get back to her.
I spent about an hour on the phone with him but something was disconcerting about our talk. It was fun listening to his stories about his career and hearing about many of the arguments he had with management and not only players in the game but his own teammates. The information was terrific but some of his answers seemed to be rehearsed, as if he were reading them off a paper.
When I finished with him I asked to talk to his wife again. She got on the phone, went into another room, and spent time with me. She then mentioned that Dick was suffering from Alzheimer's disease for a year now and it was getting worse as time went by. She also asked me to please call whenever I could. Dick felt he was being ignored by baseball and he really looked forward to talking to people about the game.
For the next 6 months or so I called just about every two weeks. Over time I was touched by him. Rowdy Richard was changed. He was now soft spoken, quite complimentary of everyone he spoke about, and kept mentioning that based on his lifetime statistics he should be in the Hall of Fame. If you check them out he has a strong case. He has better overall stats than Rizutto and he just about equals Reese.
He knew Ruth, Cobb, Gehrig, Speaker, Greenberg, Hubbell, Simmons and just about every great player from that period. and the stories about them were priceless.
As time went by he began to have trouble talking to me. Two days after I last talked to him. Myrna called to tell me he had passed away.
At this point we were friends and his death (even though I knew it was coming) touched me!
I tried talking to people in the hall and in baseball in general about getting him into the Hall. It was useless.
AN INTERVIEW WITH CLETE BOYER/JOHNNY BLANCHARD….sort of
I finished interviewing Mel Hall, saw Johnny Blanchard in the middle of the reporters press box area, went over and began to interview him. It started out well but after awhile the answers I was getting from him were sort of hesitant and he seemed to be mulling over what he was saying to me. Finally I got to the point where I said, "Johnny am I asking you things you would rather not talk to me about"? He looked at me and said, 'Why are you calling me Johnny? Johnny Blanchard is over there…….I'm Clete Boyer !!
Well, at that point I wanted to find a hole and jump into it.
From that point on I kept hearing about it from the rest of the players I interviewed.
Next month Harry "The Horse" Danning and Lou Limmer