8 (or so) Questions: author Marty Appel

In a VERY special 8 (or so) Questions, I was afforded the opportunity to speak with long-time Yankees PR Director and author Marty Appel. You may recognize Marty's name from his work as an expert on Yankeeography, or his appearance yesterday on the MLB Network. As I referenced yesterday, this weekend marked the 30 year anniversary of the death of Thurman Munson. A close friend of Munson (and co-author of his autobiography), Appel's newest book, "Munson: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain" paints a rarely seen portrait of a mythical figure in Yankees lore. Marty was kind enough to give The Fowl Balls a few minutes of his time (and to send us an advanced copy - I am kind of a big deal). Enjoy the interview and go buy the book - it really is amazing.

Jimmy Dugan - As someone who was around the team during Munson's tenure, what did you learn during the research for this book that you hadn't known before?

Marty Appel - I learned the details of his difficult childhood, some of which was suspected. Finding his brother and sister who were willing to talk and fill in the pieces was important. It also helped to explain some of his darker, grouchier side......and his discomfort and being in the middle of the controversial Bronx Zoo years. He just didn't want to be there.

JD - Was this a difficult process for the Munson family? Did you tread lightly, hoping not to trudge up negative memories of Thurman?

MA - For the family, the pain of Thurman's passing remains hard, even 30 years later. With all the detail in the book, it was understandable that they chose to take a more passive role with the book. We didn't tread lightly; he's a historic figure and people want details. But some concession was certainly made to the feelings of the family.

JD - As a long-time PR Director for the Yankees, explain what your responsibilites were pretaining to the players. Who was difficult to deal with?

MA - Thurman! You sort of want your captain to be good with the press, and he just wasn't. Otherwise, the players were pretty good. This was the era before Internet, sports talk radio, ESPN and cable. We didn't know that was coming, but what we had was demanding enough. Lots of media, each looking for its own exclusives. My job was to manage the process. I was also involved with publications, promotions, broadcasting, community relations, marketing, team historian, etc. Each is a separate department today.

JD - What type of qualities that Thurman Munson possessed as a human have been evident in subsequent Yankee Captains like Guidry, Randolph, and Jeter?

MA - The way they relate to teammates and earn their respect. They all played the game honest and true, hard and tough. No compromising, no lying. You knew where you stood with them if you were a teammate.

JD - Thurman Munson seemed, in reading the book, to be the type of player that has become a rarity in Major League Baseball: a selfless, hard-working, hard-had-and-lunchpail type of guy that my father has always harped upon. Who would you say resembles Thurman most closely in today's game?

MA - Posada. Jorge has matured to a leader behind the plate, and you can see his take charge qualities at work. Munson is a role model for him - he has a photo in his locker. I really like the way his game has come along, and so do the fans.

JD - As someone who lived through the heart of the Steinbrenner reign, how has the tone of the team changed since King George has taken a step away from day-to-day operations?

MA - I think everyone tries to carry on as they think Mr. Steinbrenner would like it done. Sometimes there are variations on what that means, and I think that can create uncertainty. It's a better running machine with the top guy in action. But they are still a model front office, something he built.

JD - As someone that had grown close to Thurman, was it hard for you to work through this project? I had read that you listened to tapes of Thurman from the time you co-wrote his autobiography, was it difficult to re-live those memories?

MA - Yes, it was difficult to hear the tapes because i remembered being right there with him in his study at his Norwood NJ home, sitting side by side, chatting like old friends talking baseball. But I wanted his voice in my head as I began the writing process.

JD - Give the people an update - what are you working on now?

MA - These days are filled with media requests for MUNSON, and we're also in discussion on film rights, so no attention yet on the "next" project.

Once again, we thank Marty for his time. Be sure to buy the book , as it is an amazing read.

1 comment:

Black Cat said...