Any middle-aged, self-respecting New York baseball fan knows the name Phil Pepe. He was the Yankees beat writer for the World Telegram & Sun from 1961-64, and for the Daily News from 1971-84. He’s enjoyed a long run on radio, too, serving as the sports voice for WCBS-FM when it was still an oldies station, as well as gigs on the YES Network.
Not surprisingly, he’s a staple of the book world, too, have written or co-written dozens of books, beginning with Bob Gibson’s From Ghetto to Glory; The Story of Bob Gibson, originally published in 1968. Pepe’s titles include: 1961*; Talkin’ Baseball: An Oral History of Baseball in the 1970s; The Ballad of Billy & George: The Tempestuous Baseball Marriage of Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner; and The Wit and Wisdom of Yogi Berra, among many others. He’s also been the man behind the former Major Leaguers who serve as top billing in the Few and Chosen series published by Triumph Books that highlights star players from several individual teams, including the Yankees, Mets, Cubs, Cardinals, Tigers, and Dodgers, plus the Negro Leagues, among others.
His latest assignment had him working with Bud Harrelson on his memoirs, Turning Two: My Journey to the Top of the World and Back with the New York Mets. In this day and age of tell-all tales, Turning Two is almost a throwback. There’s no dishing the dirt, hardly even a mild cuss world. It’s a gentle story the likes of which were in vogue when I was a kid.
Bud Harrelson will be among several Mets scheduled to appear at the Hofstra University 50th anniversary celebration of the team. It would be nice to see Pepe there as well, but he’s so busy, you don’t know if he can fit it into his schedule. I’ll be there moderating an authors panel with Stanley Cohen, Matthew Silverman, and John Thorn, as well as delivering my own paper on books about the Mets.