Cover the Bases Interview with Rich Letarte

by on January 9, 2010

Do you have a favorite player from your youth who captured your attention simply because he had that one magical year? The season that corresponds with your developing a passion for the game of baseball?  Author Rich Letarte has collected the stories of twenty-one of those types of players from 1950 – 1961 in his book That One Glorious Season: Baseball Players with One Spectactular Year.

The One Glorious Season | Rich Letarte | Baseballisms.comWe are delighted to have Rich appear on the Cover the Bases podcast to share his stories about writing this book.  He tells us about getting to know some of the players and even the wives who helped direct his work.  First though, we get to hear how Rich became a baseball fan as a youth in the early Fifties.

For Rich, there was something special about the 1954 New York Giants, and in particular an attraction to a player by the name of Dusty Rhodes.  This was the World Series Championship year for the Giants, immortalized by the Willie Mays catch, but for a young boy truly forming his baseball roots, the four for six pinch hit performance of Rhodes, driving in the go-ahead or tying run in all three games he appeared was a seed that eventually became this book.

Dusty Rhodes had an entire 1954 campaign that was marked by crucial clutch hits coming off the bench, combined with Johnny Antonelli’s 21 win season, and Rich had the basis for the types of characters he was going to portray in his book.

Many of the players profiled were top of mind for Rich to include, but as he was compiling the book he decided that it would be appropriate to represent every team with at least one player.  He dug around the rosters for representatives from the Tigers, Cardinals, Senators, and Yankees to round out his collection.

Rich also details for us a personal story of his which is represented by a photograph in the front of the book.  As a young boy in 1954 he was fortunate enough to have collected the most money for the Jimmy Fund, and got to present the check to Ted Williams in the Red Sox dugout.  Waiting in the dugout to make the presentation, Rich(ie) spoke to many players, but in particular Jackie Jensen.  Rich gets to recount the story to Jackie Jensen’s widow many years later as he is putting this book together.

During the podcast we get into some detail about a few of the players, including Jim Konstanty of The Whiz Kid Philadelphia Phillies of 1950. In order to get the complete history of Konstanty’s year, Rich sent the manuscripts off to Jim’s wife Mary and she contributed greatly to getting the documentation correct.

Harvey Haddix | Rich Letarte | Baseballisms.comWe talk about one of the all-time tough luck players in Harvey Haddix.  A number of players during this era had to deal with obligations for service of World War II.  At first Haddix was requested to stay at home and work the farm, but later was drafted into the military.  It wasn’t until after his service that he entered professional ball as an older 24 year old.

During the 1952 season he had a cup of coffee and pitched in 7 games.  After winning 20 games in 1953 it was determined he was ineligible to win the Rookie of the Year award because of his appearances the previous year.  Bad luck would strike him again, literally, off the bat of Joe Adcock in 1954 with a shot to the leg that derailed a very successful season.

It was the 1959 season when Haddix pitched into the collective lore of baseball as a Pittsburgh Pirate, by taking a perfect game into the 12th inning only to lose it in the 13th, again off the bat of Joe Adcock.  Major League Baseball rule changes have subsequently taken place, including removing the credit for a no-hitter because it  now has to be achieved in a complete game.  Of course we all know that Harvey Haddix achieved 12 innings of perfection!

We don’t try to put Rich on the spot, but we know that there are many other players in decades past not chronicled in his book. We decide to give a lineup of potential players worthy of recognition in a volume and put it to the listeners to take up the keyboard and craft a companion to That One Glorious Season.

We express our sincere gratitude to Rich for sharing his stories with us and for taking the time to appear on the Cover the Bases podcast. Follow this link to purchase a copy of That One Glorious Season: Baseball Players with One Spectactular Year, 1950-1961 or visit Rich’s web site at GloriousSeason.com.

Amazon Kindle | Baseball Books | Baseballisms.comIf you like hearing about the baseball books we profile on Cover the Bases, it might be time for you to pick up a Kindle from Amazon, so that you can take all the best Baseball Books with you, no matter which stadiums you visit.

Let us know in the comments what you think about the Cover the Bases podcast. We would love to hear from you. Send a Tweet to @baseballisms with a quick message, send us an email or visit our Upload page with a video message.  We look forward to growing a community of fans interested in the poetry of the game of baseball!

  • billmiller81

    Always an interesting topic. I have actually been working on a blog post about One Season Wonders from the past fifteen years. There are many.

  • http://befluid.com joemagennis

    Bill .. Who are some of the players you are targeting? It's interesting because the closer we are to their actual playing days the harder they are to pinpoint …

  • billmiller81

    Hello Joe, Although I have not finalized my list, here are some players I am
    looking at: Richard Hidalgo, Rich Aurilia, Brady Anderson, Mark Davis,
    Brett Boone, Shane Mack, Mike Scott, Jason Thompson and Todd Hundley. My
    one-year wonders list isn't a list of players who only had one very good
    season; it'll be a list of players who had one fantastic season well above
    their normal standards. I agree with you that it's hard to pinpoint our
    contemporary one-year wonders, but they're certainly out there. I'll let
    you know when I finish my list. Take care, Bill

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Magennis/1214614370 Joe Magennis

    Bill .. Brady Anderson has become the go to name when looking at aberrational years!

  • billmiller81

    Yeah, he is an obvious one, isn't he? It's beginning to look like Josh
    Hamilton's 2008 season may also be one of those one-year wonders.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-Magennis/1214614370 Joe Magennis

    Bill .. Brady Anderson has become the go to name when looking at aberrational years!

  • billmiller81

    Yeah, he is an obvious one, isn't he? It's beginning to look like Josh
    Hamilton's 2008 season may also be one of those one-year wonders.

  • Guest

    Nice call on Josh Hamilton, Bill 😉

    Great interview – Author's enthusiasm comes shining through, and has made me want to read the book, and listen to more of your podcasts.

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  • Anonymous

    LinkedIn
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