"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Dollars and Cents


Fresh direct from Fortune magazine archives, check out this 1946 article about the Yankees:

In more ways than one, Larry MacPhail is like no other figure in baseball’s ruling class–the “magnates.” Because he is publicity minded and operates on terms of rowdy good-fellowship with the press, to whom he addresses a few thousand wellchosen words almost every day of his life, he is constantly in the news, and not always in a complimentary light. Where Ruppert was always “the Colonel” (an honorary title conferred on him at age twenty-two), MacPhail, who won his rank in service, is more likely to turn up even in the staid New York Times as “Loquacious Larry” or the “Rambunctious Redhead.” Once, in a fit of passion, he threw a middle-aged punch at the capable and well-liked Arthur Patterson, then covering the Dodgers for the Herald Tribune. Patterson, whose hair is just as red as MacPhail’s, countered in kind. MacPhail was so pleased about the affair that he later appointed Patterson traveling secretary and publicity director of the Yankees. The MacPhailian legend, indeed, stops precariously short of clownishness. Irrevocably, he is what the boys call “a character.” It is a curious, possibly a useful, mask for one of the abler businessmen in the U.S. and, with the possible exception of scholarly Branch Rickey, the soundest operator in baseball. (Rickey is a great all-around baseball man, but is now undergoing, in Brooklyn, his first real test as the president of a major-league club.)

The idea of MacPhail as a brooding Byronic figure would give most of his acquaintances a laugh, but even so it may be that he is entertaining a mildly psychotic war in his bosom. As a red-haired, freckle-faced kid in Ludington, Michigan, at the turn of the century, Larry liked to play nine o’ cat until dusk, but he practiced his piano lessons, too, and at fourteen was good enough to play the organ in the Episcopal Church. At sixteen he qualified for Annapolis but went to Beloit instead, where he was a star in his three favorite sports–baseball, football, and debating. During vacations he played pro ball under an assumed name. “In the Southern Michigan Association one season,” he can be induced to recall, “I hit .282. Fred (Bonehead) Merkle was in the league that year and was sold to the Giants for $750. He hit .274.”

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver