"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
Tag: maury allen

Let’s Make a Deal

Here’s another excerpt from “Damn Yankees.” Over at Deadspin, check out Dan Okrent’s piece on the famous Peterson Kekich wife swap:

In the late 1970s, on my very first assignment as a baseball writer, I found myself in the press box at the Yankees’ spring training home in Fort Lauderdale. On one side of me sat Murray Chass of the New York Times, fairly early in his own career as the most prolific and most boring baseball writer in the paper’s (maybe any paper’s) history. On the other side my seatmate was Maury Allen of the New York Post.

It was only an exhibition game, but I had never been paid to watch baseball before, and even the cramped little press box in Lauderdale seemed like some sort of heaven to me. I gurgled something about this being my first professional gig as a sportswriter, and Chass looked at me briefly, emitted a noise composed entirely of consonants, and went back to his crossword puzzle. Allen was friendlier. He introduced himself, shook my hand, wished me luck, and spent the first couple innings chatting amiably about his life as a sportswriter. Around the top of the third, he paused in mid-anecdote, looked at the field briefly, and tapped a pencil on the arm of his chair. “I love everything about the job,” he said, “except the fucking games.” Then he got up and left.

It would be cheap to contradict the defenseless Allen, who died in 2010, and point out that his role in what was almost precisely a fucking game may have been the most exciting moment in his career. In the summer of 1972, the biggest trade in Yankees history originated at a party at Allen’s house in Westchester County, when pitcher Mike Kekich drove home with the wife of pitcher Fritz Peterson, and Peterson drove home with Mrs. Kekich.

It’s Only a Day Away

The Cliff Lee Drama promises to unfold shortly–tomorrow they say–and I for one am fed-up with all this waiting. I hope he signs with Texas, stay the bad guy (and I think he’s lock to go back). Look, if he comes to the Yanks, I’ll bellyache about the contract, because it’s insane, but I’ll be pleased that he improves the team in the short term. If he passes, I’ll be relieved and eager to see what the Yanks do next.

That said, this waiting game isn’t endearing Lee to anyone. Not that he does–or should–care.

It’s raining in New York this morning. The Jets play the Dolphins in the late afternoon game out in Jersey. I wonder if football players wake up bummed when they hear raindrops or if it just doesn’t matter at all to them as they gnaw on a slab of raw meat.

In the meantime, check out this loving appreciation of Vic Ziegel and Maury Allen by Harvey Ararton in today’s New York Times.

Araton gets props over here.

In the meantime, the Knicks are on early this afternoon. Yes, the Knicks. Amare has been so much better than I ever expected. What a nice surprise. It’s been awhile…

UPDATE: The first half of the Knicks-Nuggest game today at the Garden is enough to turn fair-weather Knicks fans like me back on. 66-65 Knicks at the half, a shoot-out. Lots of fun. Nene vs. Amare has been spirited, Amare came close to getting his second tech and tossed in the second quarter. Refs gave the Knicks a hometown call. Nene’s thrown down three dunks, the last one, emphatically! over Amare.

Can’t remember the last time I was actually excited about watching the second half of a Knicks game…

UPDATE: Knicks win a good one…that’s their 8th win in a row, something they haven’t done in 16 years.

Celts and then the Heat come to the Garden this week. Nice.

[Photo Credit: N.Y. Daily News and Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images]

The People’s Cherce

One of the first grown-up books I ever read as a kid was “Mr. October,” by Maury Allen. I was ten-years-old when it was published in 1981. I already had “The Reggie Jackson Scrapbook” but this was a biography, all words and no pictures (although each chapter featured a picture of Reggie at the plate ). I wasn’t a big reader but I liked having my own books and often received baseball books for my birthday. I knew about the two Rogers–Angell and Kahn–from my dad’s book collection. But when I picked up “The Boys of Summer” and tried to read it I got bored quickly, same for “The Summer Game” and “Five Innings” which had impossibly long paragraphs that seemed to go on forever.

Maury Allen I could read. He told a story. The words didn’t scare me away. So I read “Mr. October” over and again. And I got more of Allen’s books, notably “Baseball’s 100,” and always made the distinction between Maury Allen and Murray Chass–who covered the Yankees for the New York Times. Maury Allen was my first favorite sports writer. And although I knew that he wasn’t in the best of health, I was deeply sadened to hear that he died yesterday morning.

Here is the obit from the New York Times.

Allen had been around New York covering sports since the Toots Shor days. He wrote for the Post from 1961-88. In the Sixties, Allen was at the Post with Leonard Shecter, Milton Gross, Leonard Koppett, Larry Merchant and Vic Ziegel, to name just a few. He covered the Yanks and looked as if he’d be right at home sitting at Oscar Madison’s poker table.

Allen moved to the Gannett chain after leaving the Post and most recently contributed to The Columnists (check out his archive). He also wrote close to 40 books. I was thrilled that he was a part of the Lasting Yankee Stadium Memories book.

Maury Allen will be missed but not forgotten.

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