I spent much of yesterday transcribing my interview from Saturday with the 96-year-old former big league teammate of Joe Marty, who I’m interested in writing a book on. While transcribing yesterday, between being held in some kind of spell — a baseball coma, if you will — I got further affirmation of what had already struck me on Saturday: I got some gold. The old ballplayer’s memory was wonderfully clear, and he was a better quote than some of the managers I talked to in my time covering baseball. I probably transcribed for 4-5 hours yesterday and got a couple thousand words of quotes between the man and his son, lots of great anecdotes I didn’t even ask for really. I think there’s definitely a book here.
Two days on, I’m still amazed to have talked to someone who played in the majors with Marty, who was there from 1937 to 1941. Like I’ve said before, this man is one of three teammates still living, all in their nineties. I definitely want to turn my attention now to getting the other two men on record, though I know not to expect anything. The approach of calling a family member, sending a list of written questions and then waiting for a callback seemed to work well, though. Generally, I’m not the kind of journalist to provide questions prior to an interview, but I’m happy to make an exception here.
A larger task will be tracking down the men Marty played with on the Sacramento Solons in the Pacific Coast League, between 1946 and 1952. Some are still in the Sacramento area and meet for old-timer lunches on a monthly basis. I’ve interviewed a few of these men in years past, for different projects, and my guess is that, all told, there could be a few dozen ex-Solons from these years still living. It’s harder to verify than with ex-big leaguers, particularly since Sacramento was something of a way-station then; that being said, I may call on the Sacramento chapter of the Society of American Baseball Research and even contact archives associated with the PCL.
I have no idea of the road I’m embarking on, which will probably be a weekend project for the foreseeable future. All the same, I feel a sense of purpose, that I’m getting a chance to work on something that’s bigger than me. That feels good.
5 Replies to “Baseball coma”
Know what you mean about securing an interview with an “older” ballplayer. I once lined up an interview with Mark Koenig, former shortstop and the “last living member” of the 1927 Yankees when I interviewed him. He had a fairly good memory for a man in his late eighties.
As you may know, in a round-about-way, Koenig was the source for the 1932 Cubs ribbing of Ruth in the World Series, which prompted the Babe’s “called shot.”
If you’d like to read the complete story, check it out on my site:
Thanks for reading and cool Web site. I’m probably in the camp of people who don’t believe Ruth called his shot (it seems kind of like the baseball equivalent of believing in Santa.) That being said, I agree with Koenig in that I think Ruth was capable of it.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that you are a member of the Sacramento chapter of the Society of American Baseball Research. I did a presentation at a meeting there on former Solons pitcher Bud Beasley on July 31, 2004 (I remember the date because it was my birthday.) Were you at that meeting?
Anyhow, thanks again, and I’ll talk to you later.
Yes, I’m a Sac chapter member of SABR.
Sorry, but I don’t recall the sesssion where you spoke … Keep up the good work!
If you want a good source of backgrond info on Joe Marty, you should speak to Ronnie King, the ex-major league scout, who still resides in Sacto.
Hi Tom, thanks for commenting. I spent an hour a couple months ago interviewing Ronnie King about Joe Marty, and I intend to talk to him again (in fact, I gave him a call last weekend to see if he knew this player.) King is a walking baseball encyclopedia.