Longtime writer, exec Richman dies
Wrote popular column; advised for Yanks, worked for Mets
TAMPA, Fla. -- Arthur Richman, a longtime baseball writer and executive for the Yankees and Mets whose career spanned seven decades, died in his sleep at his home in New York City on Wednesday morning. He was 83.
"Arthur Richman made baseball and the New York Yankees an enormous part of his life, and I am grateful for his contributions both personally and professionally," Yankees principal owner and chairperson George M. Steinbrenner said in a statement.
"He was a trusted friend and advisor to me, and someone the world of baseball will find impossible to replace. I extend my deepest sympathies to his wife, Martha, and to the countless others who were fortunate enough to call him a friend."
Richman had been ill for an extended period. He began his career in 1942 as a copy boy for the New York Daily Mirror, where he worked for 21 years and authored one of New York's most popular columns, "The Armchair Manager."
After The Mirror folded in 1963, Richman took a position in the Mets' front office, where he worked for 25 years. Moving to the Yankees in 1989, he held the positions of senior vice president and senior advisor to the team's media relations department for nearly two decades, enjoying a tumultuous relationship with Steinbrenner.
"I've known him for a long time," general manager Brian Cashman said. "It's sad to hear a friend has gone. He loved baseball. His family was involved in the game for so long. It was sad news."
"We'll all miss Arthur," Yankees COO Lonn Trost said. "I know Arthur from as early as 1985, when he was still with the Mets. Arthur and his brother were champions in baseball. They're veterans of the game. We all miss him, and I'm sure that baseball will miss who he is and who he was."
Stories told by and about Richman have become important pieces of New York baseball lore. Joe Torre has repeatedly credited Richman for putting in a good word with 'The Boss' in October 1995, helping him land the managerial position that would change his life, even though he wasn't the first choice.
10 days before Torre's phone rang, he had interviewed for the Yankees' general manager position to replace the retiring Gene Michael.
"I interviewed for it in 1995, but it didn't work for me," Torre said Wednesday. "My wife was seven months pregnant. A GM for Steinbrenner, you're working 25-hour days and 13-month years. I didn't think it was the best thing."
Richman had also recommended Sparky Anderson, Tony La Russa and Davey Johnson to Steinbrenner, but those options had not panned out, so he next turned to Torre -- an old friend from their days at the Mets.
"Arthur calls 10 days later and asks if I'd want to manage," Torre said. "I was at the bottom of that list and that didn't hurt my feelings. And I got the job of my life."
The hiring preceded a dynasty that would see the Yankees win four World Series titles in five years and put him at the helm for 12 consecutive postseason appearances.
"You don't mourn his death as much as you celebrate his life," Torre said. "He lived to be miserable. Everything he did, he did with a flair, whether it was taking sportswriters out to dinner or umpires.
"I remember we were on a junket in [Las] Vegas at the Dunes Hotel, and he calls and says, 'Joey, I'm marrying Martha and I want you to be my best man.' Me and about 12 other guys were his best man. He's going to be missed."
Richman also had another special place in baseball history -- as a companion of the Yankees' Don Larsen in the evening hours of Oct. 7, 1956, one day before the hurler pitched the only perfect game in World Series history.
"I hung out with Donnie then," Richman told The New York Times in 1999. "Everybody thinks he was drunk the night before, but we just went to Billy Taylor's bar on West 57th Street, had a few toddies and went back to the Grand Concourse Hotel, where he was living. He went out for a pizza, came back and told me, 'I might pitch a no-hitter tomorrow.'"
In his later years, Richman was a regular presence at Yankee Stadium, making frequent appearances in the dugout during batting practice, in the press box with the writers during games, and telling tales with Yankees players in the clubhouse.
"He was just a regular, someone that always came around," Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte said. "We'd see him and spent a lot of time with him at the ballpark."
Richman is survived by his wife, Martha, and predeceased by his brother, Milton -- an award-winning sports writer and editor for United Press International.
Services will be held Thursday at 11:45 a.m. ET at Riverside Memorial Chapel on 180 W. 76th Street in New York City. While Richman has been a loyal member of the Yankees family for two decades, he told the Times in 1999 that he hasn't forgotten his first baseball love: the 1940s St. Louis Browns.
"As a Bronx kid hanging around the Stadium, I'd see the Yankee players come down from the Grand Concourse Hotel and walk right by me," he said. "But the visiting players always came by subway. I was virtually adopted by some of those Browns. They took me into the ballpark. Sometimes they even took me on their train trips. When the conductor came around, they'd hide me in an upper berth."
Richman kept a photograph of the 1944 Browns clinching their American League pennant. He told the Times' Dave Anderson that he had planned a special way to honor his boyhood team.
"See the white cap they're wearing; there's no insignia on it, just a few brown and gold stripes," he said. "I've got one of those caps. I told Martha: 'At my funeral, I want that cap buried with me. Just be sure no collector steals it before they close the coffin.'"
The family asks that any memorial gifts be sent in Arthur's name to the "Catch 25 Foundation," which was established by Yankees manager Joe Girardi and focuses on Alzheimer's disease research and support.
For more information on the foundation, visit www.joegirardi.com. Donations can be sent to Catch 25 Foundation, 220 West Huron, Suite 2001, Chicago, IL, 60654.