September 27, 2020

From Dylan to Steinbrenner: The ‘Catfish’ Chronicles

June 17, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

Ashes and Diamonds …In the early ’60s Bob Dylan wrote “Poor Boy Blues,” a song about the travails of a young man down on his luck. It’s a life of struggle for Dylan’s protagonist as he seeks to hop a train, convince a bartender he’s of legal age and assure a long-distance operator “this phone call is on the house.”

Cochran1Fast-forward to 1975. There’s a difference in subject matter. Dylan is in the studio recording ”Catfish,” a song he and Jacques Levy wrote about a young man at the top of his game. The young man was Jim ”Catfish” Hunter and his game was baseball. He was baseball’s best pitcher and the winner of the 1974 American League Cy Young Award. Catfish Hunter had grown up in modest surroundings, but his pitching prowess kept him from worrying about the price of a phone call. He was the “million dollar man.”

Dylan wrote of Hunter’s 100-acre spread, custom-made cigars, and alligator boots, but the “million dollar man” was a humble sort, loyal to his family, his hometown in rural North Carolina, and his teammates. It was a good life Hunter made for himself long before Dylan  thought of writing a song about him. As an all-star big leaguer, his comfort level was far beyond the aspirations of Dylan’s poor boy, and even average Americans. While with the Oakland Athletics, he once told a reporter he was embarrassed by the “sort of money I make as a major league pitcher working maybe 40 nights a summer.” He spoke of helping his neighbors harvest their peanut crop during the winter. Getting to sample the peanuts in the clubhouse months later was all the compensation he wanted. Yet even with his balanced perspective, Hunter believed that as a player he should get what was coming to him. He didn’t want to be taken advantage of  by anyone, especially by the man who nicknamed him “Catfish,” Oakland Athletics’ owner Charlie Finley.

The Old Man Wouldn’t Pay … Charlie Finley, in many ways, was one of the most innovative and artful owners in the history of baseball. He was also tightfisted with his players. The desire to hold every dollar a little longer resulted in his failure to make a $50,000 annuity payment due Hunter on his ’74 contract. An arbiter ruled Finley guilty of breaching the contract, making Hunter a free agent. Major League team executives pursued Hunter aggressively, offering millions. The dirt farmer’s son occupied the most enviable position ever granted a professional baseball player, and deservedly so. Few players were of his realm. Over the previous four seasons, Hunter had won 88 games for the Athletics, a fact not lost on Bob Dylan as he sang, ”Every season twenty wins.”

Cochran2Dylan referred to the Oakland Athletics as “Mr. Finley’s Farm.” The working conditions were far better than those of ”Maggie’s Farm,” but there was still an imperious boss to endure. It was a dynamic team, one of the best ever, that Hunter had been part of in Oakland, but off he went to New York, “where the Yankees are.” In New York,  Hunter would play for George Steinbrenner, who had just purchased the  Yankees two years earlier for $10,000,000, a low-ball price reflecting the team’s fall from glory over the previous decade. Steinbrenner, who made Finley seem a minor league eccentric,was ready with the checkbook once free agency kicked in for veteran players after the ’76 season.

He also spent his money freely in the political field, leading to convictions in federal court for making illegal contributions to Richard Nixon’s ’72 reelection campaign, and a felony count of obstructing justice. His convictions led to a personal fine of $15,000. The company he owned was fined $20,000. But the loss of $35,000 was insignificant compared to his two year suspension from taking an active role with his New York Yankees. Steinbrenner’s period of ineligibility included the time that Catfish Hunter was fielding offers from big league clubs, yet he would get around the punishment Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn had outlined.

“For as long as (Steinbrenner) remains on the Ineligible List, he shall not exercise any of the delegated power, duties or authority of the General Partner; visit or be physically present in the Yankees offices or clubhouse; confer, consult, instruct, advise or otherwise communicate either directoy or indirectly, with the person or persons to who such powers, duties and authority are delegated. These prohibitions should not be interpreted as prohibiting Steinbrenner from associating with such persons on a purely social basis, during which there should be no discussions of the affairs, financial or otherwise of the New York Yankees.”

One of the “such persons” was Yankees President Gabe Paul, who quickly met with Steinbrenner to discuss Hunter’s availability. Paul believed it reasonable for Steinbrenner to confer with his staff on such an important signing. He didn’t believe it a violation of Kuhn’s edict. After all, it was Steinbrenner’s money. According to Bill Madden’s excellent biography, Steinbrenner, the suspended owner was happy to direct some of the action, “You do what you feel you have to do,” Steinbrenner told Paul, “We have to get this guy.”

When Hunter decided he would sign with the Yankees as long as they accepted his terms, Paul and Yankees limited partner Ed Greenwald discussed whether they could take the heat for such an expenditure. Madden’s book, published earlier this year, lets his readers experience life with George.

“You’re going to need to make a decision, Gabe,” Greenwald said, “I just don’t know.”

“Well,” said Paul, “the way I look at it, we’ll all be dead in 20 years and this is a chance to change the course of baseball in New York from a secondary position to one of dominance. It’s worth it. I say let’s do it.”

So Greenwald got Steinbrenner on the phone to explain how they did what they did because they ”had to do to get this guy.” Steinbrenner apparently forgot the autonomy he granted them.

“How much?” he screamed at Greenwald. “I don’t know if the banks are going to go for this! What’s the matter with you? You’ve let them manipulate you into looking like fools.”

“But George____” Greenwald interrupted.

“Shut up,” Steinbrenner yelled. “You’re just a f- – – ing errand boy.”

A bit later Steinbrenner cooled down and decided the Yankees could go through with the deal.

We Might Work Too Hard . . . With many of Steinbrenner’s free agent acquisitions, he didn’t get his money’s worth. That wasn’t the case with Catfish Hunter. Although it was only in the ’75 season that he matched his best efforts with Oakland, he did have a major role in returning the Yankees and New York to baseball dominance. In the five seasons Hunter played for the Yankees, they made the World Series three times, winning it twice. Yet diabetes and  the strain of pitching nearly 3,600 major league innings (including post-season games) exacted a toll on Hunter. He retired after the ’79 season at the age of 33.

When George Steinbrenner passed away in July, 2010 at the age of 80, he received far greater tributes than those with long memories could have predicted. His willingness to spend big on his team and let everyone know he was Boss made a solid impression on many of the Yankees’ fans. Yet others could agree with baseball journalist Peter Golenbock when he wrote of Steinbrenner’s “shabby tyranny.”

The farcical lout that is Steinbrenner in Seinfeld was a far less mercurial and vindictive figure than he was for most of his years as Yankees’ owner. In the situation comedy, his whims caused no harm. In real life, he created agony for those who riled him. And he was easily riled.  But regardless of whether he’s mourned or remembered as a bombastic nuisance, Steinbrenner’s impact on baseball was huge. With his money and desire to win, Steinbrenner put many of baseball’s top names in New York uniforms. Most of them would produce, but few would be as successful and low-maintenance as Catfish Hunter.

Cochran3Even Billy Martin Grins When the Fish is in the Game … So wrote Bob Dylan in the last verse of “Catfish,” which he recorded* on July 28, 1975. That was seven days after Martin was fired as manager of the Texas Rangers. Less than two weeks before Martin’s dismissal, Hunter shut out the Rangers, giving the Yankees a 4-0 win. It’s hard to imagine Martin, intense competitor that he was, grinning as his team went scoreless, despite admiration for Hunter’s pitching prowess. Billy Martin hated losing. He once told The Sporting News, “The day I become a good loser, I’m quitting baseball.”

So what was causing Billy Martin to grin? Or is the reported grin a bit of poetic license on Dylan’s part? John Hinchey, author of Like A Complete Unknown, has trouble believing Dylan simply made it up about Martin. “That just goes against the verisimilitude the song establishes,” says Hinchey, “I think if it was a fantasy, he would have said so, i.e., Even Billy Martin would (have to) smile, or some such.” Hinchey imagines Dylan went to the July 8 Yankees-Rangers game or watched it on TV. Given Dylan’s reportedly bad eyesight, Hinchey suspects when Dylan “looked across the diamond and into the Texas dugout, a grimacing Billy Martin appeared to him to be smiling. Now Dylan probably knew he was seeing things, but being a poet, he went with a delicious appearance over banal reality.”

But what if Martin had an inkling he’d be managing the Yankees within a month? Then Hunter would be his pitcher. That would make suppressing a grin difficult. Managing the Yankees had long been Billy Martin’s dream job. On August 2, five days after the recording of “Catfish,” Billy Martin’s dreams came true. Before an Old Timers’ Day crowd at Yankee Stadium, Billy Martin was named manager of the New York Yankees.

Everybody’s Asking Why He Couldn’t Adjust … Before assuming the reins in New York, Martin, in six seasons, served as manager of three teams. The Minnesota Twins in 1969. The Detroit Tigers in ’71, ’72 and most of ’73. The Texas Rangers in the last 23 games of ’73, all of ’74 and 93 games in ’75. A pattern was set. In Martin’s first full season with each club, his intense approach to the game resulted in amazing turnaround jobs. Teams that were sub-par, or as in the Rangers’ case, pathetic, became winners playing Martin’s aggressive style of baseball. Yet the intensity also worked against him. As Martin would especially prove during his turns as Yankees manager, he was his own worst enemy. While his fervid style in games was charged by a brilliant baseball mind and a steadfast desire to win, his aggression off the field, fueled by resentments, a hot temper and lots of alcohol, served him badly.

There were altercations, some verbal and some with fisticuffs, leading to Martin’s dismissals in Minnesota, Detroit and Texas. He battled with his own players and front office personnel. His skills as a baseball manager were overshadowed by the dramas he created. In a story in the August ’75 Sport magazine, James S. Kunen, author of The Strawberry Statement, wrote that Martin “looks for every opportunity to square off.” That was the case long before he managed the first game for his beloved New York Yankees. The same New York Yankees owned by George Steinbrenner. Far more serious drama awaited.

Steinbrenner wanted a manager with a burning desire to win just as much Martin wanted to manage the Yankees. He ignored the adage about being careful what you wish for. Unhappy with current manager Bill Virdon and knowing Martin was available since being fired by Texas, Steinbrenner couldn’t contain himself. In his Martin biography, Wild, High and Tight, Peter Golenbock has Steinbrenner demanding  Gabe Paul replace Virdon with Billy Martin.

“That man is a fiery manager, Let’s get him.”

“I think you’ll be making a mistake, George.”

“I want him. Let’s get him.”

Paul learned Martin was on a fishing trip in Colorado. He assigned his top scout, Birdie Tebbetts, to catch a plane, find Martin and bring him to New York; pronto. Tebbetts asked how he was supposed to find him. Exasperated, Paul said he didn’t know, but declared,”You’ll likely find him in some bar.” Tebbetts flew out to Denver and drove on to Grand Junction. He parked his car on the main street and proceeded to look in the window of every bar. Finally he found Martin sitting in the back of a smoke-filled saloon, chatting with a friend. After a few days of negotiating the contract, Billy Martin was named manager of the New York Yankees.

Martin, for the remainder of the ’75 season, devoted his attention to the talents and attitudes of the team he inherited, focusing on its future. The club had its gamers: Thurman Munson, Graig Nettles, Lou Pinella, Sparky Lyle and of course, the best pitcher in baseball, Catfish Hunter. The New York Yankees were a good team. With some fine-tuning, they could be a great team.

No success like failure … Greatness wasn’t achieved in 1976, but as far as the rest of the American League was concerned, the Yankees did well enough, thank you. New York increased its number of  regular season wins from 83 to 97, winning the AL East handily. Then the Yankees won the AL pennant by defeating the Kansas City Royals of the AL West in the league championship series. But even with Thurman Munson, the league’s Most Valuable Player that year, the Yankees were no match for the National League’s juggernaut of the ’70s, the Cincinnati Reds, losing the World Series four games to none. George Steinbrenner did not console himself or his players by acknowledging it was the Yankees’ first pennant-winning season in 12 years. He walked into the clubhouse after the game and roared at his Yankees, “You oughta hang your heads!” Then he walked out and began plotting ways to make his team the next world champions.

The free agent era went into full swing after the ’76 season. Steinbrenner’s bulging wallet gave the Yankees a decided advantage in seeking the top players available. It was the shopping trip of a lifetime for Steinbrenner, one that would bring him a marquee player: the player who’d meet his lofty standards. He seemed to have it figured out, explaining, “You measure the value of a ballplayer by how many fannies he puts in the seats.” Such a player was Reggie Jackson, with his monster home runs, abundant charisma and flair for the dramatic. He was a player destined for center-stage, and the Yankees had set the stage. Never mind Broadway, the top show in New York  the next two years would be in the Bronx, starring the three most cocksure figures in baseball: George Steinbrenner, Billy Martin and Reggie Jackson.

Seein’ Nothin’ But the Curve … Reggie Jackson and Catfish Hunter were teammates with the Oakland Athletics from 1967 through 1974. Two seasons would pass before they’d reunite on the Yankees. Jackson would remain with the Athletics for one more year, before being traded to the Baltimore Orioles prior to the ’76 season. That meant he’d have to take his swings against Catfish. Bob Dylan describes how Jackson fared.

Reggie Jackson at the plate

Seein’ nothin’ but the curve,

Swing too early or too late

Got to eat what Catfish serve.

Dylan’s game report in-song is solid baseball coverage. Two months before Dylan wrote “Catfish,” Jackson faced Hunter in two games, the first in Oakland, the second in New York. Hunter dominated, allowing Jackson just one hit in seven at-bats, striking him out three times. As in those two games, the Yankees would defeat Hunter’s ex-teammates twice more when Hunter took the mound later in the season.

The next season, when Jackson played for the Baltimore Orioles, he did better with Hunter’s servings. Jackson hit two home runs off Catfish, but still struck out against him six times. Striking out, like hitting home runs, was something  Jackson did with fury. In his career, often going for the long ball, he struck out  2597 times, the all-time major league record. He smacked the long ball often enough too, hitting 563 home runs, most impressive in the pre-steroids era. Whether hitting homers or flailing away, Jackson was a sight to behold.

People Disagreeing Everywhere You Look … George Steinbrenner’s Yankees were the legendary team in New York, New York. But with Steinbrenner, winning wasn’t enough. He wanted home runs and the back pages of the tabloids. Caring less about all that was Billy Martin. He didn’t want a marquee player on his team. His Yankees had won 97 games the previous year without a headline grabber. He believed the Yankees would thrive without a player who believed he was “the straw that stirred the drink,” as Jackson said of himself. Martin also didn’t care for players, like Jackson, who wore their articulation on their sleeves. As far as he was concerned, Jackson could share his interests in history, theater, and classical music in some other town.

Despite the great career he was putting together, some dwelled on Jackson’s “showboating.” Others, such as tough-guy manager Earl Weaver, who Jackson played for in Baltimore, were quick to defend him, saying he always hustled. Jackson felt much of the criticism that came his way was race-related. To him it seemed, thirty years after Jackie Robinson had broken baseball’s color line, that many in the game resented a black player who spoke his mind freely. It also worked against Jackson when the subject was himself. He once famously  said he underestimated “the magnitude of me.” More significantly, he underestimated just how miserable he and Billy Martin would be with each other.

Your Position and Your Place . . .  June 18, 1977. The New York Yankees, tied for second in the AL East, were in game two of a three game series with the division-leading Red Sox in Boston’s Fenway Park. Swirling in controversy and sluggish at the plate in the early going, Reggie Jackson had raised his average to .287. As he would for most of the season, Jackson started the game in right field.

Cochran4In the sixth inning, Boston’s Jim Rice sliced a check-swing fly ball to shallow right. Jackson, shaded toward center, was slow in getting to the ball. He later claimed to have made the play “cautiously,” but  Billy Martin thought he was dogging it.  Martin decided to “get that son of a bitch for not hustling.” In the middle of the inning, he humiliated Jackson by pulling him from the game. Enraged, Jackson stormed into the dugout, loudly demanding an explanation from Martin. Before a national TV audience, Martin and Jackson were nose to nose. In the 2010 biography, Reggie Jackson, Dayn Perry takes readers into the violatile Yankees dugout.

….Reggie said, “Who the f— do you think you’re talking to, old man? Don’t ever show me up again, motherf—-“

“Old man?” Martin screamed back at him. “I’ll show him who’s an old man.”

He charged Reggie once more. Yogi Berra stepped between them and wrestled Martin down to the bench. Reggie took off his glasses. “Let’s go old man!’ he shouted. Come on old man…..let’s get it over with, old man.”

“Let me go,” Martin yelled at Berra, “I’m gonna break his f——- ass.”

Berra held tight and three teammates persuaded Jackson to go back to the hotel. The next morning Gabe Paul called Jackson and Martin to his office. They both gave their own accounts of what happened. As Jackson reviewed the play that started the row, he insisted he had hustled. That set off Martin, saying to Jackson, an African-American, “Boy, what you think you’re doing and what my eyes tell me you’re doing are two different things”  Jackson no doubt knew of the hostility Martin could often show toward black players and told Martin he wasn’t going to call him a “boy.” Instead of apologizing, Martin was again ready to fight, challenging Jackson, “Nobody’s restraining me now, motherf——. You thought I was an old man yesterday. Let’s see how old I am right now.”

In a diplomatic role Jimmy Carter would have avoided, Gabe Paul managed to cool things down, persuading Martin and Jackson they should hide their contempt for each other. Any truce between the two would be short-lived, but the Yankees would go on to win 100 regular season games, the AL East, the American League pennant and then be crowned World Champions. Right after the final game of the World Series, all contempt was forgotten as Jackson, laughing, draped his arm around a smiling Billy Martin.

Going, Going, Gone . . . Reggie Jackson stirred the drink as he said he could. In the final game of the World Series, Jackson hit three straight home runs off three consecutive pitches by three different pitchers. It was a stunning performance. Jackson recalled the feeling for the autobiography, Reggie.

I felt like God was with me as I ran the bases. I believe He was saying This is a good man. He survived and triumphed. I don’t feel silly or embarrassed saying that. I believe it is true.

Acting Out His Folly . . . A little more than 13 months after the dugout fracas, Jackson and Martin were locking horns again. This time the Yankees were in far worse shape, mired in fourth place in the AL East, 14 games behind Boston. With less than half the season left, Martin needed a win. Badly. In the tenth inning of a 5-5 game against the Kansas City Royals, Yankees catcher Thurman Munson was on first. Nobody out; Jackson at the plate. Determined to prove himself a team player, he decided he’d bunt Munson over to second. Coincidentally, and surprisingly enough, that’s what Billy Martin had in mind. His third-base coach, Dick Howser, relayed the bunt sign to Jackson. The first pitch by Al Hrabowsky (“The Mad Hungarian”) was out of reach for ball 1. Then Martin had Howser remove the bunt sign and have Jackson swing away. That didn’t faze Jackson, as he attempted to bunt on the next three pitches before fouling off on the 1-2 count for a strikeout. Astounded, Martin took Jackson from the game, which the Yankees went on to lose 9-7.

In the clubhouse after the game, Martin was boiling. He got Steinbrenner on the phone, and demanded Jackson be suspended the rest of the season. “I’ve never been angrier in my life,” Martin screamed at Steinbrenner. His own job on the line, what Martin wanted most then was Jackson’s submission, declaring, “I’m the manager and if he comes back he does exactly what I say! Period.”

Jackson was suspended for only 5 games and was not in the lineup the day he rejoined the Yankees in Chicago for their game against the White Sox. “The magnitude of me, it’s uncomfortable,” Jackson intoned, reviving an old theme with reporters before the game. He declared he wouldn’t apologize to Martin. Besides, he claimed, Martin had not spoken to him in a year and a half.

Reporters caught up with Martin hours later as he and the Yankees awaited their chartered plane at O’ Hare International Airport. Informed of Jackson’s remarks, Martin, deep in his cups, sealed his own doom, saying, ”The two deserve each other. One’s a born liar and the other’s convicted.” Already on shaky ground, Martin stepped over the line. His hostility toward Jackson was a given, but referring to Steinbrenner’s conviction for illegal contributions to the Nixon campaign was inexplicable. Steinbrenner especially thought so and had Yankees President Al Rosen fire Martin the next day.

Trouble Always Comes to Pass . . . Rosen tabbed Bob Lemon to take Martin’s place. It was determined  the affable Lemon would calm the Yankees and put them back in the winner’s circle. He was right. In a historic finish, the Yankees again won the AL East, the American League pennant and their second straight World Championship. Jackson proved worthy of the title “Mr. October,” hitting .462 against the Royals in the AL Championship series and .391 against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.

Over the next ten years, George Steinbrenner would hire Billy Martin to manage the Yankees  four more times. In the same ten year period, Steinbrenner would also fire Martin four more times. And in between his ’79 and ’83 stints as Yankees manager, Martin served as manager of the Oakland Athletics for three seasons, reviving a struggling franchise, but also shown the door there as he wore down the goodwill of the new Athletics ownership. In most of the years he wasn’t managing, Martin served as a consultant to the Yankees. He took the job seriously and just as seriously thought he’d manage the Yankees again in the 1990 season. Others in baseball thought so too. Serious baseball people also thought Martin’s self-destructive behavior would be his undoing once again. It was.

Christmas Day ’89. Following an afternoon of drinking at a bar near Binghamton, New York, Martin and old friend George Reedy climbed into his pickup. After a missed turn, the truck hit a patch of ice and slid down an embankment some 300 feet. Bouncing through the icy brush, the truck landed just short of Martin’s driveway. Within ten minutes of the wreck, Martin and Reedy were rushed to the hospital. Roughly one hour later, Billy Martin, age 61, was pronounced dead of severe internal injuries.

Even the President of the United States . . . Five days after his death, over 3,500 mourners jammed St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan for the funeral of Billy Martin. Three thousand more stood outside in the cold during the service. Fourteen of Martin’s former players were there, as well as famous teammates from his playing days, including Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford and Mickey Mantle. After the service, Martin was interred at Gates of Heaven cemetery in Hawthorne, New York, where Yankees greats Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig are buried. Among the mourners who went from St. Patrick’s to the cemetery were Martin’s benefactor/tormentor George Steinbrenner and former President Richard M. Nixon.

CATFISH HUNTERGonna Make The Hall of Fame . . . Catfish Hunter was voted into Baseball’s  Hall of Fame in 1987, the last year of Reggie Jackson’s playing career.  Jackson was inducted at Cooperstown six years later. Charlie Finley, who signed both Hunter and Jackson to their first major league contracts, passed away on February 19, 1996. The only two players from any of Finley’s Athletics teams to attend his funeral were Jackson and Hunter. Jackson was “shocked” at what he called “a poor display of loyalty.” Hunter, a beloved figure in the game, passed away on September 2, 1999, after a fall at his home. He had been suffering from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or as it’s more often called, Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Jackson was deeply saddened by Hunter’s death. He offered a solid measure of his old friend and teammate saying, “He was a fabulous human being. He was a man of honor. He was a man of loyalty.” It’s likely Jackson remembered the loyalty and friendship Hunter showed him on his first day in a Yankees uniform. The other players avoided Jackson. Not Hunter. He walked over to Jackson, extended his hand and said, “Welcome to camp, Buck.” (Hunter did enjoy picking at his friend, Jackson, however. According to legend, he once said, “You know what the difference is between Reggie Jackson and God? God doesn’t think he’s Reggie Jackson.”)

Every Conceivable Point of View . . . Upon Steinbrenner’s death on July 13, 2010, Reggie Jackson issued a statement, saying, “I will always cherish him as a leader, a winner and a friend.” Jackson now works for the Yankees as a special adviser and has  made appearances at corporate retreats, where executives bask in his Hall of Fame charisma. Being charismatic doesn’t necessarily translate into humility, however. Sometimes Reggie has to be Reggie. At one gathering a Time-Warner executive was collecting autographs from former major leaguers for his kids. Of course, he had already procured Jackson’s signature. With Jackson seated near by, the exec came back with a baseball signed by former big league pitchers Doc Gooden and David Cone. He told a friend, “I’ve got autographs of two future Hall of Famers here.” Jackson, an astute judge of baseball talent, overheard and asked for the ball. He looked at it, unimpressed.  He returned the ball and asked, “You think those guys are Hall of Famers?”

Reggie Jackson recently “stirred the drink” once again with his publicly stated opinions (in Sports Illustrated), doubting that Kirby Puckett, Gary Carter, Phil Niekro, Bert Blyleven and Jim Rice should have been elected to the Hall of Fame. Soon after, Jackson apologized. In the same interview, he also said if any players suspected of using Performance Enhancing Drugs (steroids, etc) are elected to the Hall of Fame, then current HOF members should boycott the induction ceremonies.  Jackson believes PED usage by Yankees star Alex Rodriguez, “does cloud some of his records.” It’s regrettable that players who dubiously put up great numbers didn’t glean the wisdom of baseball observer Bob Dylan when he sang of living ”life on the square.” That, after all, was Catfish Hunter’s way.

Author’s Note: Thanks to John Hinchey for sharing his knowledge on Bob Dylan and baseball.


Jeff Cochran worked in advertising at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for 27 years before accepting a buy-out in the Summer of 2008. In the seventies/early eighties, he handled advertising for Peaches Records and Tapes’ Southeastern and Midwestern stores. He also wrote record reviews for The Great Speckled Bird, a ground-breaking underground newspaper based in Atlanta.



One Response to “From Dylan to Steinbrenner: The ‘Catfish’ Chronicles”
  1. whalespoon says:

    GREAT ARTICLE! I’m only a casual baseball fan but a big Dylan fan, and this article helped to illuminate one of Bob’s overlooked gems for me. Thank you so very much!

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