SABR Salute: Norman Macht

Editor’s note: The SABR Salute, first bestowed upon writer Fred Lieb in 1976, was designed as a manner of recognizing the contributions of some of the older members of the Society. Subsequent SABR Salutes appeared in the SABR Membership Directory and honored members who had made great contributions to baseball historical research. Norman Macht received the SABR Salute in 1999; the following biographical sketch appeared in that year’s membership directory.

Norman Macht was born in Brooklyn on August 4, 1929, but grew up on Long Island in a household of New York Giant fans. Under those conditions, he developed a dislike for the Dodgers which continued for some years until he started working for the Atlanta Crackers in the Southern Association. There the manager was Dixie Walker and Whitlow Wyatt was a coach (both former Dodgers), and Norman had to make an adjustment. He even forgave Wyatt for throwing at Joe DiMaggio in the 1941 World Series.

He saw his first major league game at the Polo Grounds in 1935. Those were the days of 10-hour Sunday and holiday twinbills (travel time included). He remained a Giants fan until the sixth game of the 1936 World Series, when the Yankees fell upon the Giants with a 7-run explosion in the ninth inning for a 13-5 victory Norman attended the University of Chicago but his aspirations to pitch for the college nine were not realized. At a Dodgers tryout camp in Cambridge, Maryland, he lasted two-thirds of an inning and was told to come back when he could throw 90-plus; they could teach you everything else, they said. He then turned to the front office part of the game. He apprenticed with the Atlanta Crackers, while keeping the official stats for three minor leagues for the Howe News Bureau. He also worked as a statistician and “gofer” for broadcaster Ernie Harwell. When Ernie was traded to Brooklyn for catcher Cliff Dapper in mid-1948, Norman put background information on every NL player for Ernie, who is still on the air.

Norman was a minor league general manager in the days when one man did everything from selling ads on the outfield fence to a series of mundane tasks. He made stops in Lanett, Alabama; Eau Claire, Wisconsin; and Knoxville, Tennessee. He also spent four years in the Air Force during the Korean War. With the minors shrinking, he turned to other things, including free-lance writing. He taped many hours of conversation with Mark Koenig, and also made contact with Dick Bartell that resulted in a book entitled Rowdy Richard. That experience resulted in his joining SABR in 1985. With the Society he served three years as Treasurer and two as Secretary, and “midwifed” the Oral History Committee, the Convention Committee and the Scouts Committee. His current writing project is a biography of Connie Mack. He plans to call it My 66 Years in Researching Connie Mack.

Postscript: In 2008, Macht’s book, “Connie Mack and the Early Years of Baseball”, won the Deadball Era Committee’s Larry Ritter Award.


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