Marty Appel on Pinstripe Pride

An insider recalls the Yankees of the 1970s


At age 23, Marty Appel became the youngest PR Director in Major League Baseball history, working for the New York Yankees and reporting directly to club owner, George Steinbrenner.

Years later, he went on to represent prominent athletes and entertainers at his own PR firm, in addition to writing over 20 books and producing telecasts for local area sports teams.

Among his more successful books are ‘Pinstripe Empire: From Before the Babe to After the Boss’(2012), and ‘Casey Stengel: Baseball’s Greatest Character’ (2017).

More recently, he published ‘Pinstripes By the Tale: Half a Century of In and Around Yankees Baseball’ (2023), and ‘Thurm: Memoirs of a Forever Yankee’ (2023), which is a fresh edition to the original that he had co-written with the celebrated catcher just a year before his tragic death in 1979.

I sat down with Marty for a Q&A and asked him to reminisce about the legendary pinstripes who lit up the Bronx in the 1970s.

BUY- 'Pinstripes by the Tale'

How did you get into PR - especially for the top sports brand in the world – and what advice do you have for other publicists out there?

I lived in New York and was a Yankees fan since I was seven. So, when the idea of writing to a team asking for a summer job popped into my head at 18, it was of course the Yankees.

I was shocked to hear back, and they needed someone to answer Mickey Mantle's fan mail, which was not being done. So, I had an interview, it went well, and it was part of the PR department.....and I began.

That was 1968. Two years later, I was named Assistant PR Director and in 1973, PR Director.

My advice? Use ‘truth well told’ as your guiding light, but never stray from truth. That's where your credibility will be for the remainder of your career.

What do you count as your biggest accomplishment with the Yankees?

In 1976, when I was still in my 20s, we opened a "new" Yankee Stadium and drew over 2 million fans for the first time since 1950.

We won our first pennant since 1964, George Steinbrenner took full control running the club, and it was Billy Martin's first full season as manager. At the end of the season, we also signed free agent, Reggie Jackson.

It was quite a lot for one year besides the normal PR duties - our publications, Old Timers Day, handling interview requests, and I didn't even have a full-time assistant.

BUY- 'Thurm: Memoirs of a Forever Yankee'

How exciting was that HR by Chris Chambliss in ‘76 against KC that brought the Yankees back into the playoffs after a long drought?

The homer was my most exciting single moment with the team, and the fact that Chris and I had become close friends made it all the more special.

But before he even crossed home plate, I was already thinking about the trip to Cincinnati for the World Series, press notes that had to be compiled, and press conferences that had to be arranged.

Was Billy Martin a tactical genius?

He was a brilliant manager and was usually five steps ahead of everyone else. But if he was wearing sunglasses for a night game, you knew that means "approach with caution." And I always did.

How exciting was Reggie as a ball player?

There aren't many players where you "don't leave the room" when they're coming up. Reggie was on that short list.

Where did the tension between Billy and Reggie come from?

The source was probably that Billy Martin won a pennant in 1976 and felt Reggie was being shoved down his throat by Mr. Steinbrenner - he didn't want him. So, it was bad from the day he arrived in spring training.


Who else on the ‘77 team really impressed you?

Guidry for sure. In '76, he was only a pinch runner in the World Series. He wasn't in spring training in '76, so when he got called up, he was a guy I didn't know at all.

There were no big plans for him and I barely remember going downstairs to the clubhouse to greet him. But, oh boy, did he turn out to be spectacular!

’77 was also the birth of the controversial ‘Bronx Zoo’ era with lots of conflict and lots of controversy. But Sparky Lyle, another good friend, was the dramatic closer that year and that is my fondest memory.

BUY- 'Casey Stengel: Baseball's Greatest Character'

Should George Steinbrenner be in the Hall of Fame?

I was never a big fan of owners going into the Hall of Fame. Some really impactful ones like Detroit's John Fetzer who led baseball into its modern TV age should be considered.

Not sure that opening the checkbooks for the free agency system, so there would always be big market and small market teams, was a great thing. But hard to argue with the revenues the industry generates today.

What about Don Mattingly and Thurman Munson?

Both in the Hall of Fame would make me happy. Donny was my son's hero but unfortunately, a bad back got in the way of his trip to Cooperstown. Not the first guy headed that way who didn't quite get there.

With Munson, I knew him well. And if he was answering this question, he would say, "let me see that - I'm 0-for-18 in Hall of Fame elections? I think the matter has been settled.”

Did old-timers like Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, and Joe DiMaggio have a relationship with Steinbrenner?

Mr. Steinbrenner knew that when he bought the Yankees, he was also buying its history and legacy. And that mattered to him. Sometimes, the legacy players might have an issue or two but basically, they had a very good relationship with The Boss.

And as for Joe, he was a different generation from Mickey and Whitey, so there would always be that dividing line; they were never going to be buddies.

How special was Yogi Berra?

A great man never fully appreciated in his time. Getting a museum, a Presidential Medal of Freedom, a Hall of Fame plaque, a film documentary, landing at D-Day in Normandy, best-selling books, his number retired, being in Bartlett's a player and manager, nobody would really see those things coming.

BUY- 'Now Pitching for the Yankees'

Which Yankees are underrated?

I will send up a cheer here for my childhood favorite, Bobby Richardson, the second baseman 1955-66. They missed the World Series in 1959, 1965 and 1966.

He had a great run, established some World Series hits and RBI records that may never be broken. And amazingly, he might not even make the team today. Middle infielders are expected to have more power.

Thoughts on Derek Jeter and Aaron Judge?

Jeter did it right. Everything. What a great hero for fans born in the early '90s.

Judge is another one who seems to slip into the "captains" role perfectly. And before him, no one thought an athlete that size could be such an all-around great baseball player.

Who is on your Yankees Mt Rushmore?

Probably the easiest franchise for this question. Babe, Lou, Joe and Mickey. If you had room for more - Yogi, Jeter, Mariano.

Who was the most spectacular baseball player you ever saw play - no matter the team?

Willie Mays. The Yankee in me wants to say Mickey Mantle, but in the end, even Mick admitted that Willie was the one. He was a six-tool player, including being a 'manager on the field' during the games.



Winter 2020

Spring 2020

Spring 2021

Winter 2021


Winter 2020

Spring 2020

Spring 2021

Winter 2021


No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment

Shop For Our Books & DVD's