R.I.P: Master Of Mets-Buckner Ball, Mentor To Me

Longtime baseball executive Arthur Richman passed away this week at 83. Richman is best known in baseball circles for owning the ball that went between Bill Buckner’s legs in the 1986 World Series. Arthur later auctioned the ball for a staggering $93,500 to Charlie Sheen.

Arthur Richman

(I’ll raise a “hot toddy” (or two) to my old friend Arthur tonight) 

Arthur was a baseball beat writer (his brother was HOF baseball writer Milton Richman), p.r. guy for the Mets during their ’80s heyday and later a confidant (read spy) of George Steinbrenner during the club’s glorious run in the ’90s.

He was also my friend.

Jack Curry’s first two grafs in the NEW YORK TIMES today:

Arthur Richman had a distinctive way of saying hello to me and to others. He never really said hello. He asked how you were doing, then asked if you needed any money. He must have asked me that a thousand times.

When I learned that Richman, a longtime employee of the Yankees and the Mets, died Wednesday at age 83, the first vision I had was of him stopping by my press box seat to chat. Within a few seconds, he would ask me if I needed money.

Man, that makes me miss him.

I met Arthur when I was a radio announcer for the Yankees’ Triple-A team in Columbus in the late ’90s. During that time, we always had high profile major leaguers and projects coming down to play for the club, including Dwight Gooden, Andy Pettitte, Hideki Irabu and one of Arthur’s favorites from his Mets days, Darryl Strawberry.

Arthur’s gig was to make sure there wasn’t any funny business going on with those guys. The players all knew that if they got out of line, Arthur had a direct line to The Boss. So there were never any problems when Arthur was around, but not because people feared him. They all loved him. He lightened the mood when he was with the team, which was sometimes months at a time.

While I was there, Arthur also oversaw Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera’s final days in the minors before they were called up and led the Yankees to multiple World Series titles. He played a big role in mentoring those guys as they made their final prep for The Show.

For a few years, I had the time of my life broadcasting the games, and Arthur was one of the guys I always leaned on for advice. He was also the first guy at the bar after a game and bought me countless “hot toddys” as he called them.

As you can imagine, he could spin story after story and wasn’t afraid to tell you the truth about how things really were. He was one of the few, if not the only guy in Yankees organization who wasn’t afraid to stand up to Steinbrenner without fearing for his job. And if you were Arthur’s friend, you were golden. Kinda like a “made” guy in the mafia.

He was also a guy who was OBSESSED with taking photos. Way ahead of his time on that one. If Arthur were growing up today, he’d have all the social networking accounts and be tweeting every five seconds. I must’ve taken 100 photos with him over the years. He would take Polaroids and then give them to you.

I hadn’t talked to Arthur in 10 years when I got the news yesterday.

I wish I’d kept a picture of us.

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