Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pin Boys






In the 1940s into the early 50s', there was a bar on the northeast corner of 84th Street and York Avenue called, Gene's Tavern.
Above to the right, my Dad, standing in front of the tavern's window. To the left, is my Uncle Tom (20yrs old), in 1945, in front of the Pryor's building, 1582 York Avenue. In the background, on the other side of street is Gene's.
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The two pictures on top, are Dad, (16 yrs old), on the same day in 1945. You can see the tavern in the background.
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Gene's Tavern had a two lane bowling alley in the cellar. Tom was the weekend pin boy for the place. Good tips. When Tom got too old for the job he passed it onto his younger brother, Bob. There was a controversy over the changing of the guard on this pin boy position in 1940. They were 15 and 11 at the time, their father was in a TB hospital upstate, their mom worked two jobs, six days a week. Tom & Bob liked to settle things quickly. I'm saving that one for a longer story. It's a doozy.
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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dad Makes Honor Roll


My father, Robert Pryor, was a highly intelligent, self-educated man and artist. He was a terrific dreamer. Dad showed great promise in early education, but he drifted away from the classroom to follow two passions, film and live music. He lived in theatres & ballrooms. With no dad, a mom working two jobs, and a brother in the army ~ for Dad at 15, school was out, forever.
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In January 1945, hanging over a mezzanine box at the Paramount Theatre on Broadway, Dad swayed dreamily side to side listening to Helen Forrest sing, Temptation, fronting the Artie Shaw Orchestra. In mid swoon while admiring his new blue suit, Dad flipped over the railing landing headfirst on an usher who was flirting with a floozy in the orchestra’s tenth row. Luckily neither was killed. The floozy, unhurt but stunned, disentangled herself and her torn stocking from the ball of man on the floor.
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Bleeding and dazed, Dad and the usher were taken to French Polyclinic Hospital for stitches and x-rays. Dad begged the theatre’s manager for a rain check as the medics led him through the lobby on a stretcher.
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The usher later invented the etch-a-sketch. Unfortunately, Dad sustained a permanent brain injury that became apparent as the years unfolded. He nor longer could make a decision, or form an opinion, who’s basis did not derive from something that happened in 1945 or earlier. He remained this way to the day he died.
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Thick as a brick.
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Monday, April 27, 2009

Coney Holiday


I finished chores early today and biked out to Coney. What a day, light breeze, minor clouds, got under the boardwalk and found objects. I stayed late and wrote a story. Life is good.
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Saturday, April 25, 2009

It Was Easy Getting On Each Other's Nerves



Your musical instrument practice options in Yorkville were limited. The apartments were small, and if you did play, you heard everything through the air shaft. If you went on the fire escape and played poorly, or too loud, people would throw things at you right after the cats and dogs joined in.
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Billy Shuck brought his guitar down the park and his playing bothered the older guys so they threw his guitar on top of the Checker Pavilion. Frankie Bizz got thrown off the 86th Street crosstown bus for playing Oh Susanna, on his harmonica. And he was good!
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My friend, Eddie Ekis, always an innovator, barricaded himself inside his 506 East 82nd Street bathroom with his drum kit and stayed there till he nailed, Little Bit O' Soul, by the Music Explosion. Lucky for us, the guy who lived over the Ekis apartment was a Nazi spy and took this one and only photo of Ekis in mid practice through a peep hole he drilled through his floor.
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Little Bit O' Soul
Now when you're feelin' low and the fish won't bite,
You need a little bit o' soul to put you right.
You gotta make like you wanna kneel and pray,
And then a little bit of soul will come your way.
Now when your girl is gone and you're broke in two,
You need a little bit o' soul to see you through.
And when you raise the roof with your rock'n'roll,
You'll get a lot more kicks with a little bit o' soul.
And when your party falls 'cause ain't nobody groovin',
A little bit of soul and it really starts movin', yeah.
And when you're in a mess and you feel like cryin',
Just remember this little song of mine.
And as you go through life tryin' to reach your goal,
Just remember what I said about a little bit o' soul .
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Friday, April 24, 2009

A Hot Tip From Hildy Johnson & Walter Burns

“Walter, get down to “17” pronto. They’re saying sayonara to the City Section.”
“Hildy, this isn't just a story you're covering - it's a revolution. This is the greatest yarn in journalism since Livingstone discovered Stanley.”

"It's the other way around. "
"Oh, well, don't get technical at a time like this."


Come toast the best editorial team in New York with Saara Dutton (Mama D’s Arts Bordello), Merrill Black (contributing City writer), and Thomas Pryor (Yorkville Stoops to Nuts). They’re celebrating the New York Times City Section, reading neighborhood stories the City editors help craft. It's a free show with free appetizers.

A terrific duo, Barry Stabile & JJ Sadler, will call on the muse and play old school R &B tunes after the readings.

Hildy Johnson & Walter Burns will be there ~ right after they get Earl Williams out of the roll top desk.


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A Toast to the New York Times City Section

Monday, May 4th @ 7pm

"17"

@ 17 Murray Street
(one block west of City Hall)

City Artists

Saara Dutton, Merrill Black, Thomas Pryor
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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Alison's First Day

My daughter, Alison, graduates college in two weeks. Here are two pictures from her first day of school in 1990. She reached school wounded but ready to work (see the band-aid above her right sock).
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Getting off to an excellent start, Alison threatened to punch Miss Figaro, the teacher, in the nose as soon as Michele and I left the nursery classroom. After settling down, Alison encouraged her new friend, Erika, to hug her pet duck, Hector. Erika declined, and Alison offered to punch Erika in the nose.






Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Barney Rubble's Car






















I love cheese. Bread too. Last night, I cut vegetables at God's Love We Deliver on Spring Street. They threw a food party for the volunteers and the leftovers were abundant. I exited the kitchen with a loaf of bread the size of Barney Rubble's car on the Flintstones. It was bumpy, brown and crusty. If I dug some of the dough out of the middle, I could've put my legs through it and drove it home.
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Fortunately, waiting for us at the apartment was a chunk of Swiss. I took the cheese and the Hellman's Mayo out, introduced everyone to each other, and the four of us had a party.
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My belly feels funny.
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Flintstone trivia: Ron Howard's father, Rance, was a Flintstone writer. He came up with Fred's alias Googles Paisano, when Fred needed to hide the fact he was a race car driver from Wilma.
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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

2305 Second Avenue














After Mom, Patricia Pryor, was born in 1930, she came home from the hospital to 2305 Second Avenue. The building still stands at 118th Street (that's it in the center of the picture).
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The three photos with people, include in age order (its pretty easy to figure out) my grandfather, Patrick Leonard Ryan, my Great Uncle, Buddy Ryan, my Uncle Lenny, Mom, Aunt Joan & Aunt Barbara. They bounced around East Harlem for another 10 years before leaving the public housing project, East River Houses, to move to 1616 York Avenue between 85th & 86th Streets.
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There was always a Ryan uncle or aunt living in my Mom's household and sometimes there were two at a time. Mom was close to her large family and the kids, Lenny, Mom, Joan and Barbara bonded like glue.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Grazing in the Grass ~ Central Park 1957






Rory and Tommy eating grass, in front of King Jagiello in Central Park, Summer 1957

Dad, Mom, Rory and me made up for our small living space by spending lots of time outdoors. Our prime destination was Central Park. Rory and I liked to eat grass. Dad liked to take pictures of us eating grass. Above, he captured one of our meals in front of a statue just south of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
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The guy on the horse with the crossed swords behind us is King Jagiello. He was the Grand Duke of Lithuania who united Lithuania and Poland after marrying the Queen of Poland. The statue faces the small lake that sits between the Castle and the Delacorte Theatre. Mom and Dad called it Catfish Lake. Rory and I fished it later on and used crappy Taystee Bread for bait.
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Sunday, April 19, 2009

86th, 125th, 138th, 149th... Next stop...

My record was 28 minutes, from grabbing the ticket out of Jack Loftus hand in his tavern at 85th Street, running up 86th Street to catch the uptown #4, flying down the stairs at the 161st Street/River Avenue El, motoring to Gate 1, into the Stadium and finally reaching my seat in Section 18 in the mezzanine.





Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hudson River ~ April



Below, is the Little Red Lighthouse under the George Washington Bridge. I biked up to Columbia's Baker Field today, just to make sure it was there. As a boy, I saw the Ferris wheel and roller coaster at Palisades Amusement Park on the bluff across the river next to the bridge.
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Before the trip north, I rode down to the Battery to make sure the water fountain was on near Pier One. The Town Pryor report, "All's Well!"
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The picture below-below, is the Hudson River skyline shortly after sunset at 12th Street last night. I met friends at Tortilla Flats and snuck over to the river to snap the colors.
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Friday, April 17, 2009

Every Picture Tells A Story


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I'm seven years old in this photo, but my life story's all there.
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I'm holding a pencil and a sharpener. I'm sitting at the end of the couch so I have ready access to my school stuff and blank paper for doodling. My pajama top is wide open up giving my belly breathing room. I'm sure the inflation was caused by a trip to the refrigerator for Swiss cheese, Wonder Bread and Hellman's mayo. My mouth's agape trying to separate the oxygen from the cigarette smoke circling the living room.
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I'm more interested in the action on the TV, then I am in my school work. I'll get to the work, but only after the show is over, and after making sure the next show isn't one of my favorites. If the next show is decent, I'll have to watch that one too, and get to the work after that, providing I don't enjoy the following show. If that show amuses me, and I'm still awake, I'll try and make it and get up early and do my homework in the morning. It's amazing what I get done during the commercials, unless the commercial is one of my favorites.
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At some point that evening, I'll be dragged to bed by my arm or leg.

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Toast to the NY Times City Section: Monday, May 4th
@ 17 Murray Street @7pm

Come toast the best editorial team in New York with Sloane Crosley (I Was Told There'd Be Cake), Saara Dutton (Mama D’s Arts Bordello), Merrill Black (contributing City writer) and Thomas Pryor.We’re celebrating the New York Times City Section, reading our neighborhood stories the City editors help craft. It's a free show with free appetizers. Barry Stabile and JJ Stadler will play old school R&B tunes after the reading.

Toast to the City @ 17 Murray Street, Monday, May 4th @7pm.
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Thursday, April 16, 2009

His Gal Friday







My gold standard for film dialogue is Howard Hawks' His Gal Friday, starring Rosalind Russell & Cary Grant. Every time I watch this film (second in viewings by me right behind Mel Brooks, The Producers, 1968 ) I feel like the operator just strapped me into the roughest and best ride in the amusement park. I know what's coming and it never fails to thrill me.


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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My Glove


Kenny Mulhern, the look sharp guy in the front of the photo, was playing first base down John Jay Park in August 1973. I was pitching for our softball team and I heard mumbling coming from Kenny's area. I ignored it for a while but it started picking up.
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Kenny getting comfortable with the tune lifted his voice. People in the park's swimming pool a smile away could hear his declaration. Kenny pounded his over sized first baseman's mitt and crooned.

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And when I go away
I know my heart can stay with my glove ,
its understood.
It's in the hands of my glove ,
and my glove does it good.
Wo-wo-wo-wo-wo-wo,
my glove does it good.
And when the cupboards bare,
Ill still find something there with my glove,
It's understood.
It's everywhere with my glove,
And my glove does it good.
Wo-wo-wo-wo-wo-wo ,
my glove does it good to me.
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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The TB Sanatorium

























My grandfather, Thomas E. Pryor (1900-1941), spent seven of his last nine years in upstate tuberculosis sanatoriums. There, TB victims were isolated and attempted to recover. In the picture (1937)on the left, he's the short fellow. He lost three inches in height from the disease. He had a deep stage TB called Potts Disease that ate away his spinal column. The picture (1914) on the top right, is my grandfather at 13, taken on the grounds of Father Drumgoole's Home for Homeless Newsboys, an orphanage at the southern tip of Staten Island on Raritan Bay.
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On the lower right is my grandmother, Ann Pryor (1938). She took nine hour bus rides upstate to visit him. This picture was taken by my grandfather on one of those winter visits.
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ps Lincoln was shot in Ford's Theatre on this date 144 years ago.
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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Indian Lake


You take a bus marked "Lakewood Drive"
And you keep on drivin'
till you're out of the city
Where the air is fine
with the sweet smellin pine
And the countryside's pretty
And you'll see daffodils
peepin over the hills
or a honey lovin' mama bear
You take a left at the bridge
Go down to the ridge
And in a minute you're there
(dupe do be do do do )
Indian Lake is a scene
You should make
with your little one
Keep it in mind
if you're lookin to find
A place in the sun
Swim in the cove
have a snack in the grove
Or you can rent a canoe
at Indian Lake
You'll be able to make
the way the Indians do.
(lyrics courtesy of The Cowsills)
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OK, it wasn't called Indian Lake but we did go to Sparkle Lake, north of the city and Davies Lake, 20 minutes from the George Washington Bridge on the Jersey side. That's Jimmy & Peter Ryan, me & Rory in 1961 above at Sparkle Lake.
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Friday, April 10, 2009

Melodious Mothers




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From what I heard, The PS 77 Mother's Club was an Allied Force in Yorkville. They had regular events at the Yorkville Casino, so my grandmother, Ann Pryor Rode, spent a lot of time putting events together for the Cherokee Club and PS 77.
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Nan sang around the house but never belted out a tune in the apartment like she's doing above. She sang without embarrassment and that's good, because she sounded like Leo Gorcey's sister having a baby. But it never seemed to bother her when people made faces while she sang. It looked like everyone was drinking warm grapefruit juice.
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When Nan, got together with her friends to play Pinochle, I'd listen from the front room and make believe I was on the East River pier with the Dead End Kids. The whole gang, Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, Bobby Jordan, Gabriel Dell and Billy Halop. It was easy to imagine, the card players sounded just like them.
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And you know what? I sound like Leo Gorcey too, and I sing without embarrassment. Yorkville does that to you.
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***************************************************
A Toast to the New York Times City Section show
Monday, May 4th @ 17 Murray Street @7pm

Come toast the best editorial team in New York with Sloane Crosley (I Was Told There'd Be Cake), Saara Dutton (Mama D’s Arts Bordello), Merrill Black (contributing City writer) and Tommy Pryor.We’re celebrating the New York Times City Section, reading our neighborhood stories the City editors help craft. It's a free show with free appetizers. Barry Stabile and JJ Stadler will play old school R&B tunes after the reading.
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Toast to the City @ 17 Murray Street, Monday, May 4th @7pm.
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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Casey


Here's Casey, the bestest friend I ever had.
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Sing it Jolie:
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After you’ve gone, and left me crying,
After you’ve gone, there’s no denying,
You’ll feel blue, you’ll feel sad,
You’ll miss the bestest pal you ever had.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ted


When I leave my day job, Ted will be my new best pal.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cherokee Club Dance at Yorkville Casino in 1944

Below is a photo of the Cherokee Club taken in 1962. Below that are four photos of a Cherokee Club dance at Yorkville Casino on November 22, 1944. Half of Yorkville's in this picture. I never counted, but I'll bet there are more than 2,000 people in that hall, since there's also a balcony loaded with folks.


















Monday, April 6, 2009

Cherokee Club Dance at Yorkville Casino in 1949






The photo above, was taken in 1949 at a Cherokee Club dance at the Yorkville Casino.
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The Democratic Cherokee Club was located at 334 East 79th Street and had more than 4,000 due paying members in 1946.
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The Yorkville Casino was a six-story building at 210 E. 86th Street erected in 1904 by the Musician's Mutual Protective Union (which was the forerunner of Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians) as a social center for the area's growing German and Irish population.
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One of the area's largest night spots was the Gloria Palast, a restaurant and dance hall which held over 2,000 people. This venue was located in the basement of the Yorkville Casino.
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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Vinny & Teddy


Vinny & Teddy sitting in a tree,
K-I-S-S-I-N-G
First comes love.
Then comes marriage.
Then comes a baby in a baby's carriage.
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Yesterday, riding on the IRT subway, I figured out Easter's next Sunday. A woman with a dog in her shopping bag sitting directly in front of where I was standing had a long piece of palm sticking straight up that tickled my nose. I sneezed twice between 86th Street and Union Square. Each time, she said, "Gesundheit!" I answered, "Danke Schoen!" only because I remembered Wayne Newton and Ferris Bueller.
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Saturday, April 4, 2009

I Never Had a Dog As a Kid

Robert Benchley - "A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down."
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I never had a dog as a kid.
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My brother, Rory, the human pretzel, could lie on his belly on the 517 East 83rd Street living room floor for five hours with one leg under him and another swung over his back. I'd look at him and my neck started to hurt. I couldn't touch my toes.
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We'd play this game when we were by ourselves. I'd put him in a headlock and keep him there while we walked around Yorkville, purposely covering his eyes, then make him guess where we were. Even if he guessed right, I'd lie and keep going. Rory never blinked, nor asked me to let him up.
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I never needed a dog.
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NY Times City Section Show:

Monday, May 4th @ 17 Murray Street @7pm

Saara Dutton, Sloane Crosley, Merrill Black & I are celebrating the New York Times City Section. We'll read our tales that appeared in the City. Stories, the City editors help craft. It's a free show with free appetizers. Please come to 17 Murray Street to toast the best editorial team in New York @ May 4th @ 7pm.
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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Bob Sheppard Retiring


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Today in the New York Times

Voice of Yankee Stadium May Be Done
By JACK CURRY
The new Yankee Stadium may sound much different than the old one. Bob Sheppard, the public-address announcer for the Yankees since 1951, is retiring, according to Paul Doherty, a friend and agent who has represented Sheppard.
Doherty said that Sheppard’s son, Paul, told him about Sheppard’s plans on Wednesday morning.
“I think Bob just wants to take it easy and no longer have the pressure of, ‘Can he? Will he? Or won’t he?’” Doherty said in an e-mail message. “And, at 98, who can blame him?”
Sheppard, when asked to confirm that he was officially retiring, said, “I never said it.”
Sheppard has been slowed by a bronchial infection. When asked what his plans were, he said: “I never said I’m not returning. I never, never said I’m not returning and I say it to you now.”
Doherty added that Sheppard remained active.
“I’m happy to say that Bob is still doing well enough to drive a car,” Doherty said. “He picked his son up at the train this past weekend.”
The last lineup that Sheppard announced was actually his first. Doherty said that two months ago, he had Sheppard recreate the first lineup he did, on April 17, 1951. It included Phil Rizzuto, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra.
“Now on to him seeing his 100th birthday in a year and a half,” Doherty said.
The Yankees have not named a replacement for Sheppard, but it will not be Jim Hall, Sheppard’s longtime backup. Paul Olden will fill in for the two exhibition games at the Stadium this weekend.