Results tagged ‘ Milton Richman ’
While many people around the country are reading the book about George Steinbrenner, “Steinbrenner: The Last Lion of Baseball,” its author, Bill Madden, was honored Sunday with the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for contributions to baseball writing as part of the induction ceremonies at the Clark Sports Center.
It wasn’t this best-seller alone that earned Madden the honor that is presented annually by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, but the bulk of his 40-year career as a baseball writer was spent covering the Yankees and their volatile owner since he joined the staff of the New York Daily News in 1978 after working for the United Press International wire service. The book is a reflection of that time when the Yankees returned to dynastic proportions as a team under an owner of quite frankly bombastic proportions.
Madden was the Yankees’ beat writer at the News from 1981 through 1988 and has maintained a close relationship with the team since becoming the paper’s national baseball columnist in 1989. He continues to break stories around the team on a regular basis and works closely with beat writer Mark Feinsand to keep Daily News readers informed of Yankees doings.
At UPI, Madden was a protégé of Milton Richman, one of the most respected baseball reporters. At the Daily News, Billy was counseled by Dick Young, probably New York’s savviest reporter. Both are winners of the award Madden received Sunday and were saluted in his speech for their contributions in making him deserving of the same honor.
“For more than a century, newspapers and to a certain extent books have been the lifeblood of baseball in that they have been the primary vehicles in which the game has been handed down from generation to generation,” Madden said. “I know I speak for millions of people when I say I became a baseball fan by reading newspapers and learning about it through books. With all due respect to the famous broadcasters who became such a part of the fabric of this game, the printed word is forever. The ready reference to the game’s rich history is preserved forever in libraries and bookstores and newspaper archives.”
I have known Billy for 30 years and was delighted in my role as secretary-treasurer of the BBWAA to notify him of his election the morning of our announcement during the Winter Meetings last December in Indianapolis. The Hall’s Induction Weekend has been an annual sort of working vacation for the two of us the past 15 years. Billy’s time up here goes back even further. He noted that his first induction ceremony was in 1979.
It is akin to a pilgrimage this journey back to the game’s ancestral roots however misplaced historically. The fact is, if baseball didn’t really have its beginnings in this lovely central New York State village, it should have.
As umpire Doug Harvey, one of Sunday’s inductees, said in his speech, “In baseball, you have to touch home. This is the home of baseball. And before you die, you should come to Cooperstown to touch home, and I’ll be here to see that you do.”
Madden has done so dozens of times, but it was his own home that he touched on in his speech. Billy was spoon-fed newspapers by his father, Charlie Madden, a New Jersey businessman whose personal favorite was the New York Herald Tribune when young Billy was introduced to the work of Red Smith, Harold Rosenthal and Tommy Holmes. On his own, Billy also discovered the New York Journal American and Jimmy Cannon and the New York World Telegram and cartoonist Willard Mullin.
An irony of Billy’s career was that he made his name at the Daily News, the one paper his father would not let into the house. Charlie would allow Billy to read it in his office, a plumbing supply business. The plumbers brought the tabloid News and would leave copies there.
“My father regarded the Daily News as a scandal rag and would not allow it in our house,” Billy said. “But he did have to admit that Dick Young, who covered the Brooklyn Dodgers and later the Mets, was probably the greatest baseball reporter of them all. And so he would allow me to read Young’s stuff whenever I was in the store. Who then knew that someday I’d be working at the Daily News and have Dick Young as my mentor. I’m sorry, Dad, but the Herald Tribune was out of business when I got out of college, so the News was it.”
Ford C. Frick Award winner for broadcasting Jon Miller, the voice of the Giants and ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, also referred to his father taking him to Giants games at Candlestick Park and that Miller found himself paying more attention to what broadcasters Russ Hodges and Lon Simmons, both former Frick Award winners, were doing in the booth through his binoculars.
“I noticed that Russ would grab a handful of French fries and devour them between pitches,” Miller said. “Then he took a cup of whatever and gulped it down before the next pitch. I thought that’s the life for me.”
Unable to attend were former Yankees coach Don Zimmer, with whom Madden collaborated on two books, and former Yankees player, coach, manager and general manager Lou Piniella, “with whom,” Billy said, “I shared the Steinbrenner experience.” Zimmer’s knees don’t allow him to travel, and Piniella is managing the Cubs, at least for the rest of this season.
Gene Michael, who wore even more hats than Piniella with the Yankees including one as chief scout, did make the ride up from New Jersey for Madden and Hall inductee Andre Dawson, who played for “Stick” when he managed the Cubs in 1987. “Hawk” was the National League Most Valuable Player that year even though the Cubs finished in last place. It is a distinction he shares with 2003 American League MVP Alex Rodriguez, then with the Rangers.
Dawson’s speech, often emotional, ranked in eloquent intensity with that of former teammate Ryne Sandberg’s 2005 address, still the finest I have ever heard. Ryno, one of the most popular players in Cubs history, may well be their next manager once Lou leaves Wrigley Field. Sandberg has toiled in the minors for four years and produced winning teams, but he told me he has been given no indication that he is the first choice. In fact, a Chicago writer told me that there is a strong sense that Illinois native and Northwestern educated Joe Girardi, a former Cubs catcher, would have a step up on Sandberg is he does not stay with the Yankees beyond this year, the last on his current contract.
Whitey Herzog’s humorous speech included further references to Casey Stengel, who befriended the young player when he was an outfielder in the Yankees system and predicted he would become a manager.
“One of the most important things Casey told me was to hire good coaches and not be afraid of their taking your job some day,” Herzog said. “Casey said that unless you own the club or you die on the job, you’re going to get fired anyway, so you might as well have the best coaches.”
Herzog said that while he was managing the Cardinals, former St. Louis outfielder Enos Slaughter, who also played for the Yankees and Stengel briefly in the 1950s, finally got into the Hall of Fame and said in his speech, “It’s about time.”
“But I don’t feel that way,” Whitey said. “I believe that any time you get into the Hall of Fame is the best time. A lot of people have asked me what it’s like to get elected to the Hall of Fame, and I’d say, ‘I don’t know. I won’t know until July 25, the day it happens.’ Well, now I can tell everybody that it’s like going to heaven before you die.”