Among the most familiar faces at Yankee Stadium between 1977-1984 were Thurman Munson, Reggie Jackson, Bucky Dent, Ron Guidry and Tokyo Rosenthal. Tokyo who, you might ask?
Well, there was a time that Arnie “Tokyo” Rosenthal, known now as a singer and songwriter, envisioned and dreamed of himself as a baseball media broadcaster, beat reporter and photographer. For eight consecutive Major League seasons, “schemed and tricked” his way into the House That Ruth Built with full access to the Stadium’s field, press box, dugouts, clubhouses and even top level complimentary seats in the stands. Over that time period, he recorded very few actual player interviews and filed very few stories, but he and his attractive girlfriend/soon-to-be-wife took hundreds of photos of players, managers and coaches that have never been seen by anyone.
Incredible, isn’t it? Now you can all get to know more about this amazing story.
In November 2015, Arnie “Tokyo” Rosenthal released his book ‘A Fauxtographer’s Yankee Stadium Memoir’. In it he not only relates his “secret story” of fooling the Yankees highly-efficient and beloved assistant to the head of public relations into issuing him media access passes every season from 1977 through 1984, but also using these passes and comp tickets to “entertain” family and friends on the field, in the press room and in the stands.
“I decided to pursue writing, not as a career, but as a way of facilitating the publishing of my pictures that are 40 years old and have never been published before. As the story that enabled me to get the credentials in order to shoot the pictures is both hilarious and somewhat of a scam, the story became as much a focus as the pictures themselves,” Tokyo told in a little chat we recently had.
It all started in 1977 when Tokyo actually became the director of an obscure and little watched Manhattan Cable TV show called “Sports ’77.” One day that summer the host of the show, Robert Leeds, requested that Tokyo accompany him to Yankee Stadium with a crew to tape interviews with the players. Everything went so smoothly and easily that when Leeds asked Tokyo to go back up to the Stadium a couple of weeks later with a crew and a substitute host, he jumped at the opportunity. Then Leeds opened the lock that forever changed Tokyo Rosenthal’s life – he gave him the name of the woman at the Yankees, along with her personal phone number, who approved all media credential requests. So Tokyo completed the call and all arrangements – and it turned out he had made a friend with the Yankees who would be his “go-to” person for the next eight years.” In fact, by the time that August of 1977 came along, “Sports ‘77” was cancelled, but Tokyo continued to use the program’s name to secure Yankees press credentials that year.
Next came the photographs – hundreds of them over the years that Tokyo shot mostly while standing on the lush green grass of the Yankee Stadium field and from the photographers’ box. Photos of Yankees and of visiting team players that have never been published before. Action and posed and relaxing. Billy Martin, Bucky Dent, Goose Gossage, Davey Lopes, Dick Howser, Thurman Munson, Jerry Remy, Graig Nettles and many, many more. Tokyo proudly says that in all of the time he “covered” the Yankees, no players, managers, coaches, front office personnel, grounds crew members, security officers or bat boys ever questioned what he was doing, who he was doing it for or why he was there.
“That was a time of, shall we say, relaxed security,” recalls Marty Appel, the Yankees’ PR official from 1968-77 (he left before the ’77 season started) and author of “Pinstripe Empire. “Today, Tokyo Rosenthal wouldn’t get closer to Yankee Stadium than Weehawken, New Jersey. But his end product is definitely worth visiting: Yankees history before digital photography and a visit to some great memories of the past. Enjoy the time travel.”
“Was getting this book published hard?” I asked Tokyo.
“Getting the book published in today’s free enterprise world was not too had, especially considering it’s an E-Book, and E-Books seem to be in demand as of late. It was much harder to find someone who was capable of doing the layout, with pictures and captions. I was very lucky to find Kylie Jenkin who was brilliant in putting it all together for me.
All the people mentioned in the book are real characters, many of them famous athletes. It’s totally non-fiction, though to some it may seem like a fictional tale, LOL!
In fact, it’s a non-fiction sports picture and story book. There’s the lead in story and then there’s approx. 130 pictures along with captions. As this is my only publication, it’s clearly my favorite!”
- Do you have a specific writing routine?
“No real routine as a non-fiction writer but a routine as a song writer, where I write when a project comes up, ie a new album. So if another book came up I’d embrace it at that point.”
- What are your current projects?
“My current project is promoting this book which entails going on sports talk radio, speaking to newspaper and web site journalists, and networking on social sites.”
- What’s next for you?
“We’re discussing a limited edition hard copy that would be signed by a NY Yankee played from that era. And who knows, I might write a novel. Other than that I continue to record and tour for my singer-songwriter career.”
Rosenthals’s other passion and talent is music, as he is a successful songwriter, recording artist, singer and performer whose newest album, “Afterlife” was released in the US and in Europe in September 2015. His music and talents have been compared highly to superstars like James Taylor, Jackson Browne and Don Henley.
KEEP IN TOUCH WITH ARNIE “TOKYO” ROSENTHAL