I have republished a few of my Dad's articles over the years in a series I dubbed the best of George Lederer. As longtime readers of this site know, he covered the Los Angeles Dodgers for the Long Beach Independent, Press-Telegram from 1958-1968 prior to serving as Director of Public Relations and Promotions for the California Angels from 1969-1978.
I was reminded of this article when Larry Diel, a family friend, gave it to my brother Tom last month. Larry, who was the first player ever selected in the amateur draft by the Montreal Expos, had cut it out of the newspaper 38 years ago and kept it in his possession for nearly four decades. Larry (in the middle), Tom (on the right), and I (on the left) met up for an Angels game against the Oakland A's in April and we reminisced about the article in question.
As a wordsmith with a sense of humor, Dad created a number of All-Star teams "based solely on names" as the article states. I can remember him putting together these lists at home on his typewriter using Western Union "yellowish" colored paper. Rereading the original newspaper article brought back lots of memories that I wanted to share. Enjoy!
What's in a name? Try these for size
Angels' PR chief finds anecdote for losing
NEW YORK — This has been a season of frowns and grimaces around Anaheim Stadium.
Laughter has been conspicuous by its absence. Somehow, there's nothing funny about being eight games under .500 and on a treadmill to nowhere in particular.
With this in mind, George Lederer decided it was time to inject a little humor into what has been a summer of sorrow. It is also assumed that Lederer, the former I, P-T staffer who is now Director of Promotions for the Angels, was attempting to divert attention from the field of play when he went about the task of devising several All-Star teams, based solely on names.
Without so much as an apology to Arch Ward, the late Chicago scribe who was responsible for the first midsummer classic in 1933, Lederer delved into the nearest baseball encyclopedia and emerged with the following, which, by the way, you'll not find among the archives at Cooperstown.
Leading off, naturally, is the Drinking Team, a subject close to the hearts of all press box inhabitants.
The catcher is Norm Sherry with an infield of Hal Chase, Eddie Joost, Bobby Wine and Harmon Killebrew. The outfield includes George Case, Goose Goslin and Johnny Hopp with Jim Bottomley and Jim Hickman in reserve.
The pitching staff of imbibers is awe-inspiring and features Bob Gibson, Jim Brewer and Pedro Borbon of modern vintage and such fully-aged names from the past as Chief Bender, Babe Birrer, John Boozer and Hollis Thurston.
Branch Rickey would be the general manager, Jigger Statz the field manager and the announcer, without peer, would be Milwaukee's Tom Collins. Hic.
Fortified by this success, Lederer plunged ahead and concocted what he calls his Cut-Up Team. Andy Seminick is the catcher with an infield of Rip Collins, George Cutshaw, Stan Hack and John Goryl and an outfield of Ray Blades, Bob Skinner and Jimmy Piersall.
For pitchers, there's Larry Staab, Steve Barber and Johnny Klippstein. The announcer? Who else but Harry Caray.
Having been a sportswriter for many years, Lederer naturally met his share of animals — or athletes as they are sometimes known in politer circles. Therefore, his All-Animal team. To wit:
Catchers, Joe Pignatano, Paul Ratliff and Don Leppert. Infielders, George Crowe, Nellie Fox, John (Spider) Jorgensen and Larry Bowa. Outfielders, Billy Cowan, Ducky Medwick and Estel Crabtree. Pitchers, Bob Moose, Bob Veale, Ray Lamb, Jim Kaat, Ted Lyons, Wally Wolf and, stretching a point, Dave La Roche.
For an announcer, who can top Jerry Doggett?
A God-fearing individual, Lederer also produced a Religious Team featuring Dixie Parsons, Jim Gentile, Johnny Temple, Charlie Neal, Max Bishop, Bob Christian, Dave Pope, Jose Cardenal, Bubba Church and Johnny Podres.
His Weather Team is composed of Merritt Ranew, Bob Hale, Joe Kuhl, Frankie Gustine, Gene Freese, Sonny Jackson, Curt Flood, Gordie Windhorn, Ron Weatherly, Denny Galehouse, Dick Drott, Don Drysdale and Bob Clear.
Listed on Lederer's Musical Team were the catching combination of Tookie Gilbert and Haywood Sullivan while others included Marty Keough, Rogers Hornsby, Sal Bando, Lou Stringer, Tommy Harper, Gus Bell, Ron Woods, Bill Singer, Bill Voiselle and Fred Toney. Cal Drummond heads the umpiring crew.
Showing his diversification, Lederer dreamed up a Lovers Team with Paul Casanova, John Romano, Dee Fondy, Jerry Priddy, Bobby Valentine, Rico Petrocelli, Sandy Amoros, Chuck Diering, Howie Bedell and George Brunet.
For a Trainer's Team or Hospital Team our man with the fertile mind came up with Elvin Tappe, Dave Ricketts, Cotton Nash, Jimmy Bloodworth, Eddie Pellagrini, Sibby Sisti, Earl Rapp, Johnny Groth, Johnny Callison, Jack Aker, Vic Raschi, Ray Scarborough, Phil Paine and Duane Pilette. The umpire is Hank Soar and Charlie Gassaway is the trainer.
"Eddie Pellagrini is my favorite," Lederer said. "Pella-GREENIE, get it?"
Finally, after working night and day for three weeks without much food or drink and, naturally, sleep, the hungry Lederer capped things with his Gourmet Team:
Del Rice, Danny Cater, Cookie Rojas, Pie Traynor, Gene Baker, Wally Berger, Zack Wheat, Billy Hamilton, Norm Bass, Woody Fryman, Gordon Maltzberger, Johnny Kucks and Chico Salmon. Beans Reardon is the arbiter.
"With this out of the way," Lederer explained, "all I need to worry about is if I still have a job with the Angels."
That and potential libel suits.
— Don Merry
On a separate note, which active players or even those from the 1980s and 1990s would qualify for these teams? Feel free to add players or create your own teams in the comments section below.