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SSTN Interviews Ed Attanasio of “This Great Game”

SSTN: Today we are here with Ed Attanasio, one of the founders of This Great Game: The Online Book of Baseball. Ed is a member of SABR and is part of their Oral History Committee where he has interviewed over 122 players as part of this project. In 2004, he was awarded SABR’s David Paulson Oral History Award. Ed is also an editorial writer, and stand-up comedian. As an artist, Ed was published in the book Bushers: Ballplayers Drawn From Left Field.

All readers are encouraged to check out This Great Game because it is an amazing place to read about, and learn about, the great game of baseball.

Thanks for coming to Start Spreading the News. It is great to have this discussion with you.

You are welcome Paul… Love the blog, etc… 🙂

We recently talked to your collaborator Eric Gouldsberry about your website. Please, in your words, tell us how your website came to be.

Eric had an amazing baseball book in the works, but the deal with his publisher fell through, so I suggested that we take my interviews (I think I had less than a dozen back then) and his book and put it online. I knew that the site would look awesome because Eric is a top designer, but when I first saw it–I was happily shocked. People give us great reviews for This Great Game and the feedback we get from SABR members (seamheads) is always positive.

I am a die-hard Yankees fan, yet a have a (very) soft spot in my heart for the Red Sox as my father is a life-long die-hard Red Sox fan. My dad and I have proven that Yankees and Red Sox fans can coexist and greatly respect (and love) each other. You are a Dodgers fan and your partner in this project is a Giants fan. I think you two have proven the same thing – fans of rival teams becoming friends and collaborators. Please tell us about how you have worked so well together, even when rooting against each other’s team.

My first team was the Yankees (we lived in Connecticut) and the first game I ever went to was a doubleheader NYY vs. Minnesota in 1968. The Yanks were terrible back then, but I loved ’em. Some of my buddies switched to the Mets in 1969 during their miracle season, and during that summer we moved to southern California and became Dodger fans. Eric and I often needle each other about each other’s teams (I call them “the Gnats”) but it never gets nasty.

The Astros cheating scandal cause a lot of upset in New York and Los Angeles. As a Dodgers fan, what was your reaction to this.

I could talk about this all day long. I am so mad that the Trashtros cheated and then were kind of blase about it when they got caught. It was so obvious and such a disgrace. How can those players wear their WS rings without feeling terrible? They should strip them of that championship. I think the punishment wasn’t enough.

Because your site covers the history of baseball, there is extensive content on the Yankees. Of the Yankees articles, which one did you most enjoy researching and writing about? (I greatly enjoyed the article on Mickey Mantle and the 1952 baseball season.)

The Yankees deserve more content than any other team for obvious reasons, so that’s why it’s there. I grew up loving Mantle and to this day I kick myself for selling all of my Mantle cards while I was attending college and needed the $$.

This is not baseball related, but please tell us a little about being a stand-up comedian. What’s that like? How did you get started in that? Can you share your best (clean) joke? (I am an elementary school principal…)

I started back in 1982 when I jumped up on a stage in San Francisco at a club called The Other Cafe and bombed but eventually got better. It was the golden age of comedy and I got to work with Dana Carvey, Kevin Pollock, Rob Schneider, Will Durst, Sinbad, Carrot Top, and a lot more who became stars. (16) Rooster T Feathers presents Ed Attanasio June 9, 2010 – YouTube

Why, do you believe, are people so drawn to baseball and its stories, legends, and people? Baseball is in our DNA. If your father was a fan, he passed it onto you and probably got it from his father, so it’s like a multi-generational legacy thing.

There’s a lot of talk about baseball needing to be “fixed.” Is baseball broken? If you were the Commissioner of Baseball what change(s) if any would you make to the current game?

Putting a runner out on second base starting in the 10th inning is an awful idea. I know they want to speed up the game, but that’s not a good solution. I also don’t like the drastic shifts, but that’s probably just me.

As a Dodgers fan, 2020 must have been so wonderful to experience. I was sure the Dodgers would be powerhouses again this year. I admire the “free-spending” ways of the team. It reminds me of the Yankees of (somewhat) older times. Do you see the Dodgers as contenders for a second consecutive World Championship this year? The Giants have been so good, but the Dodgers should be tough in the post season, no?

Can’t wait. Last year’s championship came with an asterisk, so we want them to win one without any excuses.

As you look forward to, and dream, about a World Series, which American League team would you least like to face in the fall classic?

I see the Dodgers vs. the White Sox this year.

In looking at the history of the Yankees, or baseball in general, what person or event would you like to see a book written about?

Check out Victory Faust, the Forest Gump of baseball. There are a few books out there about Billy Martin, I never tire of reading about him.

In the book and the movie The Natural, the main character wants nothing more than to walk down the street and have people say, “There goes Roy Hobbs, the best there ever was.” Who was the best baseball player you ever saw.

That’s easy–Willie Mays, no question. He had it all.

Our final question is really just a collection of short answers…

What was your favorite baseball team growing up?

Yankees until 1969, then Dodgers for the last 52 years

Who was your favorite player?

Mickey Mantle

What is your most prized collectible?

I have a print called “The Kings of NY” featuring Mantle, Mays, and Snider. I went to card shows for 12 years to get all three of them to sign for me.

Who is your favorite musical group or artist?

The Eagles and The Who (tied)

What is your favorite food? (If it is pizza, what is your favorite pizza restaurant.)

Eggplant Parm at Pane e Vino, an Italian restaurant in San Francisco. I also make scratch pizza all the time.

Please share anything else you’d like with our audience –

If you really love baseball, join SABR and get involved. Some of the brightest minds in the game are SABR members and truly passionate about the game.

Thank you so much for spending this time with me.

Please keep in touch!

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Start Spreading the News is the place for some of the very best analysis and insight focusing primarily on the New York Yankees.

(Please note that we are not affiliated with the Yankees and that the news, perspectives, and ideas are entirely our own.)

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