With baseball still a few weeks away, fans looking for some entertaining old stories can pick up “The Day the Yankees Made Me Shave,” by 10-year major leaguer Greg Pryor.
The book, consisting of 27 chapters, was written so he could preserve the stories for his family.
His grandfather played in Duffy, Ohio in 1912 but unfortunately he doesn’t know any more.
“There were no stories,” Pryor said. “All we had was the picture.”
Fans of baseball in the 1970s and 1980s will enjoy Pryor’s stories.
The Rangers traded him to the Yankees before spring training in 1977. The team had won the pennant the year before and had added Reggie Jackson. Pryor walked into a camp with Jackson, Thurman Munson, Catfish Hunter as well as Yogi Berra, Elston Howard and Billy Martin. The shortstop was excited but also anxious.
“It was like, ‘So you want to be a big leaguer, Pryor? Can you walk with confidence around these guys?'”
Pryor didn’t make the team and was sent to Triple-A Syracuse. Unhappy and looking to be released or traded, he started a Mustache Revolt, which was against club policy. The Yankees were not happy with him but during the season MLB Players Association President Marvin Miller told Pryor he could become a free agent after the season because of rights in the 1976 Basic Agreement.
George Steinbrenner, not wanting to lose someone who didn’t play for him after being traded for, offerer Pryor $20,000 a year for two years and a promise that he would be called up.
“And $40,000 in 1977 is a lot of money when you’re broke,” Pryor said.
But he wanted to play and realized there wasn’t a lot of room with Graig Nettles, Bucky Dent and Willie Randolph around.
Pryor asked Steinbrenner where he would play.
“Oh, we’ve got some plans for you Pryor.”
The infielder told the boss he didn’t think signing would be in his best interests.
Steinbrenner’s reply: “You’re going to go to the top of my dumbass list.”
Pryor didn’t sign and he didn’t shave. Instead he signed with the White Sox after the season. In 1978, the Yankees first home game was against Chicago. Pryor, with his mustache, posed for his 1979 Topps card at Yankee Stadium.
“There’s so much irony, he said.
That was also the day Reggie Jackson hit a first inning homer and the Bronx fans threw Reggie bars on the field.
“They were coming down like hail,” said Pryor, who was on the top step of the dugout.
Pryor made another memorable trip to Yankee Stadium, this time with the Royals in 1983 for the Pine Tar Game.
Late in the game, Kansas City manager Dick Howser sent Pryor to the bullpen to warm up Don Hood because both catchers were in the game. It was the only time, including Little League and school, that he was in the bullpen.
With two outs in the ninth, George Brett homered off Goose Gossage to give the Royals a 5-4 lead.
“This torture’s almost over,” Pryor said.
The Yankees complained about the pine tar on Brett’s bat and he was called out, leading to the third baseman memorably running out of the dugout and needing to be restrained.
“That was the last warm-up pitch I had to catch in my life,” Pryor said.
Pryor’s locker was next to Brett’s, so he spent a half-hour drinking next to Hal McRae as the reporters spoke to Brett. Then it was time to go over.
“What do you say to George Brett at that moment? Because I wasn’t just going to keep quiet like some dodo,” Pryor said.
Pryor told him the visibly upset Brett he would get an endorsement from a pine tar company.
“What a great idea! Where are we going to eat?” Brett replied.
American League President Lee MacPhail later allowed the home run to count, meaning the Royals had to return to the Bronx to finish the game. And with Brett ejected, Pryor was the third baseman in the bottom of the ninth.
He wondered what it would be like, after all the drama, if he made an error and blew the game.
“You think these things,” Pryor said. “You don’t have to but I think them.”
The Yankees went down in order without a ball being hit to Pryor.
Pryor played through the 1986 season and is the owner of a health and nutrition company.
His book can be purchased at thedaytheyankeesmademeshave.com.