Appel: Bobby Richardson, my favorite player

From SABR member Marty Appel at The National Pastime Museum on December 16, 2013:

Sport Magazine used to run small notices about joining fan clubs, and there it was in 1961 — the address to join the Bobby Richardson Fan Club, operating out of New Jersey.

Perfect. I was in. Bobby was my guy.

I had been a Yankees fan since 1955, and of course Mickey Mantle was the hero of the day, baseball’s first television star. But by 1959, my loyalty shifted from Mick to Bobby.

I had nothing against Mantle. It was more like my wanting “my own guy” since everyone else was a Mantle fan. And Richardson filled the role. His handsome Topps baseball card in 1958 stood out with its red background and I, too, was playing second base and wearing No. 1 in the Police Athletic League in Queens.

The newspapers always called him “little Bobby Richardson,” and I, too, was a bit height-challenged in fifth grade. So if you were going to pick on Bobby, you had to get past me first.

I also felt badly for him, because Yankees manager Casey Stengel did not show him much respect. Casey preferred the hard drinkers (as he had been), not the milkshake guys like Bobby and Tony Kubek. Sometimes he would embarrass him by batting him ninth in the lineup behind Don Larsen (a decent hitting pitcher), or he would pinch hit for him in the third inning.

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Originally published: December 16, 2013. Last Updated: December 16, 2013.