From answering Mickey Mantle’s fan mail to becoming the public relations director for the New York Yankees at the age of 24, award-winning author and producer Marty Appel shared his experiences in a Temple Israel of Lawrence virtual discussion of working for the team that he grew up loving as a child in Brooklyn.
Appel, 71, is the author of 18 books including New York Times bestsellers, “Pinstripe Empire,” a book history of the Yankees and “Munson,” a biography on the former Yankees captain and catcher Thurman Munson. During the the July 1 virtual event, Appel discussed the beginning of his career with the Yankees and how he developed a friendship with the Hall of Famer Mantle over the years.
“It was such a kick answering his fan mail,” Appel said. “I remained friends with him up until his death in 1995,” Appel added that he did public relations for Mantle’s restaurant that was in Manhattan. Mantle played 18 seasons for the Bronx Bombers and succeeded Joe DiMaggio as the Yanks’ center fielder.
Temple Israel of Lawrence member Les Martin spoke about how he grew up loving the Yankees and Mantle as a kid in the 1950s. Martin asked Appel, “There are some negative off the field stories about Mantle, should I still consider him a hero?” Appel replied by saying yes.
“When a new player would come to the team, Mickey made it a point to invite them to his hotel suite and stay with him for a homestand because he knew that it would be expensive for them to stay in Manhattan,” Appel said. “He had such an innate sense of making people feel comfortable and he was a great teammate to be around.”
In 1973, Appel became the public relations director for the Yankees. He held that position until 1977. He noted the experience of working under former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.
“When I first started working for him, I didn’t know that he would become the historic figure he has since become,” he said. “He would be tough on the 50 of us who worked in the front office. By the end of his life, he became a beloved figure with the fans because he would put a winning product on the field.” Steinbrenner became the Yankees owner in 1973 and died a decade ago this month.
Alan Freedman is the executive director of Temple Israel of Lawrence. He noted how he enjoyed the discussion with Appel even as a New York Mets fan.
“Marty Appel is one of the true mavens on Yankees history as well as baseball history as not only is he a real baseball historian, but he also happens to be one of the good guys in the sport,” Freedman said. “In this time of Covid-19, it’s more important than ever to make people feel connected and part of the community — whether it’s a virtual trip through The Jewish Museum or a trip through Yankees history.”