Interview with Marty Appel, author of “Pinstripe Empire”

Babe Ruth Central recently caught up with Marty Appel, author of the recent release, “Pinstripe Empire: From Before the Babe to After the Boss”. Marty started his tenure with the New York Yankees by handling fan mail for Mickey Mantle. He was involved with the club in some capacity for 20 years either in Yankee media relations or as an executive producer for WPIX television broadcasts. Marty has written 18 books, including biographies on King Kelly and Thurmon Munson.

His latest book, “Pinstripe Empire”, is the most comprehensive history of the Yankees to date. It’s a book that any Yankee fan or general baseball history buff would love. Read on to learn more about the making of “Pinstripe Empire” and Marty’s motivation for writing the book.

BRC: Can you share the background or premise of your book?

Marty: This is a history of the Yankees, 1903-2011, which includes not only the well known historic moments and legendary names, but also the backstage stories, the ‘now it can be told’ moments, personality profiles of the supporting cast, and how the Yankees affected the overall development of the game.

BRC: What led you to write, “Pinstripe Empire”?

Marty: The realization that there had not been a traditional narrative history of the team since Frank Graham wrote one in 1943. Lots of nice coffee table, photo-driven books, biographies and books on eras or specific seasons, but nothing comprehensive like this presented as a history and not as a team booster cheering book.

BRC: In researching your book, did you uncover any interesting aspects of the Babe that you’d like to share?

Marty: How much his teammates loved playing with him, both for his fun-loving personality, and the way he helped put money in their pockets. Did any of them object to Babe having his own personal mascot in the dugout? Of course not. He was the Babe, and he could do just about anything he wanted.

BRC: What about other players/events that were showcased in your book?

Marty: The importance of Jacob Ruppert emerges in this story. Largely forgotten now, he bought Babe Ruth, built Yankee Stadium, and created the dynasty and “style” which still continues. Although I do believe he should have let Babe manage (probably in 1930), the rest of his decisions get high marks. He was a hands-off sportsman, perfect for the times, and he didn’t let prohibition or the Great Depression keep him from giving the fans terrific teams.

BRC: Do you have any interesting stories from the research process itself?

Marty: Access to Baseball Magazine, Sporting Life, Sporting News, Baseball Digest, Sport, the defunct New York daily papers, and knowing what you’re looking for was invaluable. Where I could get a fresh new quote on some event, I’d reach out to a participant from that event. And, I was smart enough to remember all my conversations with key people going back to when I started working with the team in 1968.

BRC: Who were some of the more interesting people that you talked to?

Marty: In the early ‘70s, I had dinner and interviewed Roger Peckinpaugh, who managed the Yankees in 1914. I didn’t know I’d ever do this book at the time, but I still had the tapes, and that was a starting point. I also knew John Drebinger well – he was the New York Times correspondent who covered the Yanks in the ‘20s and was still on the scene when I started.

BRC: What are you most proud of in writing “Pinstripe Empire”?

Marty: Take it from someone who wrote many Yankee Yearbooks – this isn’t the Yankee Yearbook! I’m proud that this has been received as a serious history that looks at the good and the bad objectively, making it a good book for all baseball fans who like the game’s history. The challenge of deciding “what belongs, what doesn’t” was a big responsibility that I took quite seriously. And if it’s humor and light touches help get young fans to learn the team’s past, then I’m really proud to have contributed something to Yankee Lit.

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