Appel: Insights from Roger Peckinpaugh

From SABR member Marty Appel at The National Pastime Museum on August 4, 2014:

In 1974 I was writing my first book, Baseball’s Best, with biographies of all the Hall of Famers, and I decided to interview Roger Peckinpaugh, who in 1914 became, and remains, the youngest manager in Major League history. He was 23.

I was the Yankees PR director at the time, and we were training in Fort Lauderdale. Peckinpaugh was spending the winter just north, in Deerfield Beach, and he said, “Sure, c’mon over.” He was 83, sharp of mind, but bothered by a nagging cough.

“Say hello to ol’ Lantern Jaw for me,” said my mentor Bob Fishel, who had grown up in Cleveland. After Peckinpaugh’s stint as player-manager with the Yankees in 1914, and the rest of his New York playing days from 1915 to 1921, he became famous for his play with Washington and Cleveland, and then for managing Cleveland before becoming the Tribe’s general manager.

On March 21, I arrived with my cassette recorder, with the agenda being my list of all the Hall of Famers I thought he might be able to comment on. It wasn’t long before I realized my list was just pissing him off. These guys were in, and he wasn’t? He couldn’t believe it.

“Manush? Kelly? Cuyler? Hafey? Appling? Boudreau? Medwick? For crissakes!” Trying to ease the evening’s mood, I agreed with him, telling him he certainly did belong. At that point he said, “Whaddya mean?! I am in!”

He rose from the sofa and went to the bedroom, returning with a folded and yellowed newspaper from his bureau drawer.

“OUR MAN PECK; A HALL OF FAMER FOR SURE,” it said. This was published long before there was a Hall of Fame, but it was good enough for him. Besides, he told me, his 1925 MVP Award also said “Hall of Fame” on it. So there.

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Originally published: August 4, 2014. Last Updated: August 4, 2014.