Baseball BeatJune 20, 2009
The "Lost" Tapes
By Rich Lederer

My mother gave me a shoebox with a number of old cassette and reel-to-reel audio tapes for Christmas last year. Some items were marked and many others were not. Anxious to find out just what was in the box, I asked our local full-service editing and production storefront to transfer the tapes to compact discs. As things turned out, it was the best money I have ever spent for CDs.

No Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Led Zeppelin IV, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Saturday Night Fever, or Phantom of the Opera. But, my, what a Thriller it was to find out what I now owned. Included in the tapes (and now CDs) were two interviews of Don Drysdale and my father on the Angels Warm-Up Radio Show in 1974.

While Dad had interviewed the "Big D" dozens of times over the years as a beat reporter covering the Dodgers for the Long Beach Press-Telegram, the roles had been reversed and it was Drysdale, the play-by-play broadcaster for the California Angels, interviewing Dad, the team's Director of Public Relations and Promotions. Their careers had overlapped with the Dodgers and Angels like no others from the 1950s to the 1970s.

Drysdale made his MLB debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956 and was a budding star when Dad began to cover the club after owner Walter O'Malley had relocated the franchise to L.A. in 1958. The two of them stayed with the Dodgers throughout most of the 1960s with Dad and Drysdale both retiring from the Dodgers in 1969. Dad joined the Angels before that season started and worked for the organization for the next ten years. Drysdale hooked up with the Halos in 1973 through 1979 and returned for one year in 1981. (Interestingly, Drysdale's sidekick, Dick Enberg, broadcast Angels games from 1969-1978, matching Dad's tenure with the team exactly.)

The following Warm-Up shows took place 35 years ago. Nineteen years later to the day of the second interview, Drysdale died of a heart attack in his hotel room in Montreal during a Dodgers road trip. He began his career as a Dodger and died a Dodger. He was 56. Like Drysdale, my father passed away at a young age. Dad was 50 when he died of melanoma in 1978.

While I know these "lost" tapes mean more to my family and me than to the baseball public at large, I wanted to share them on the day after what would have been Dad's 81st birthday and the one before Father's Day. Oh, and isn't it fitting that the Dodgers and Angels are playing each other this weekend? My older brother Tom, in fact, went to the game last night.

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. Be sure to give your loved ones a kiss and a big hug on this special day. None of us know what tomorrow brings.

"Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it is called the present."

Thanks, Dad. And thanks, Mom, for the special Christmas gift. It's nice to have you in the present.

* * *

Don Drysdale Interviews George Lederer on the Angels Warm-Up Radio Show, 5/7/74:

Don Drysdale Interviews George Lederer on the Angels Warm-Up Radio Show, 7/3/74:


A Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods concert after the game? Now that's a blast from the past!

Your dad's enthusiasm for the $1 Family Night tickets shows how well he related to the working man and family budgets. Compare that down to earth mentality with the $2600 box seats the Yankees were trying to peddle.

Dad took my younger brother, who was 11 at that time, to the Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods game/concert. The group's hit song, Billy Don't Be a Hero, was the No. 1 song for a couple of weeks that June.

It was a different era, Al, for sure. The year before the start of free agency. Ticket prices were (much) lower. Ironically, attendance was (much) lower. A good promotion was more likely to bring in a big crowd than a first-place club, especially when the home team struggled to play .500 ball as the Angels so often did in those days.