Schechter: My favorite player, Dick Radatz

From SABR member Gabriel Schechter at The National Pastime Museum on January 20, 2014:

I had a wide range of major league baseball heroes when I was growing up in the wilds of the New Jersey suburbs, less than 10 miles from Yankee Stadium and the Polo Grounds. I came of age as a fan in 1961, when I was 10, as our Cincinnati Reds won the pennant. I’m a Reds fan because my father was from Cincinnati; it’s a congenital defect. His favorite Reds player as a kid was Edd Roush, and he attended the 1919 World Series. Mine was Vada Pinson, followed by Frank Robinson and replaced by Pete Rose, with Jim Maloney heading my pitching staff.

From 1958-1961, the Yankees were the only team in town, and I spent lots of time watching them on Channel 11 into my teens, until they weren’t worth watching anymore. Though I was raised to root against the Yankees and always have, there have always been one or two individual players I liked a lot, initially Moose Skowron and Bobby Richardson, later Jim Bouton and Mel Stottlemyre. 


In 1962, a new sight appeared on the television console in our basement, a sight that awed me and terrorized American League batters for the next several years. Imagine a 6’6″, thick-bodied hulk throwing a 95-mph fastball at you from a low sidearm delivery, and you’ll have an idea of how intimidating Dick Radatz was in the 1960s. Of the handful of major league pitchers in 1963 who were taller than Radatz, three (Gene Conley, Dave DeBusschere, and Steve Hamilton) played in the NBA. He was a freak with a fastball.

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Originally published: January 20, 2014. Last Updated: January 20, 2014.