By Jon Lane
Peter Abraham was first to report the passings of two respected members of the Yankees family: Johnny Blanchard and Arthur Richman.
Blanchard was a key component of that famed Yankees team of 1961 (also my father’s all-time favorite team). After Yogi Berra moved from behind the plate to left field the year before, Elston Howard took over the starting catcher’s job, which left Blanchard relegated to a bench player. But in just 243 at-bats, Blanchard hit .305 with 21 home runs and 54 RBIs. In the Yankees’ World Series win over the Cincinnati Reds, he batted .400 with homers in Games 3 and 5, and played in five Fall Classics while setting a Major League record with 10 pinch-hit at-bats.
Blanchard was one of my dad’s favorites (Mickey Mantle topped his list). Each time Blanchard stepped to the plate my dad would look to right field, because that’s where he knew it was going.
Richman was the team’s senior advisor of media relations who spent more than 50 years in baseball and suggested to George Steinbrenner that he hire Joe Torre as manager. Beginning in 1997, my first year covering the Yankees for New York Sportscene and later Yankees Magazine, Richman was a tremendous influence in my career. He always greeted me with a smile and was quick to share advice. He was beloved by everyone he encountered in and out of Yankee Stadium and I personally will never forget him.
2:06 p.m. The Yankees released the following statement on Arthur Richman:
It is with deep sadness that the New York Yankees announce the passing of longtime baseball writer and executive Arthur Richman. He passed away peacefully in his sleep at his home in New York City early this morning with his wife, Martha Richman, and friends by his side. He was 83 years old.
Mr. Richman’s baseball career spanned seven decades, including stops as an executive with the New York Mets and most recently the New York Yankees. He began his career in 1942 as a copy boy at the New York Daily Mirror and worked there for 21 years, authoring one of New York’s most popular columns, “The Armchair Manager.”
The Mirror folded in 1963, and Mr. Richman quickly took a position in the front office of the New York Mets, where he worked for 25 years. In 1989, Mr. Richman went to work for the Yankees, holding the positions of Senior Vice President and Senior Advisor in the club’s media relations department for nearly two decades.
“Arthur Richman made baseball and the New York Yankees an enormous part of his life, and I am grateful for his contributions both personally and professionally,” Yankees Principal Owner/Chairperson George M. Steinbrenner said. “He was a trusted friend and advisor to me, and someone the world of baseball will find impossible to replace. I extend my deepest sympathies to his wife Martha and to the countless others who were fortunate enough to call him a friend.”
Services will be held on Thursday, March 26 at 11:45 a.m. at Riverside Memorial Chapel on 180 W. 76th Street in New York City. He is survived by his wife, Martha. Mr. Richman was predeceased by his brother Milton, an award winning sportswriter and editor for United Press International.
The family asks that any memorial gifts be sent in Arthur’s name to the “Catch 25 Foundation,” established by New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi. Donations will be dedicated specifically towards the area of the foundation that focuses on Alzheimer’s Disease research and support.
For more information on the foundation, visit JoeGirardi.com. Donations can be sent to Catch 25 Foundation, 220 West Huron, Suite 2001, Chicago, IL, 60654.
Mike Francesa pays tribute to Blanchard and Richman. Watch it here:
Former Yankees teammates and managers reflect on the passing of Johnny Blanchard
“This is a sad day. Johnny was a good friend and a great teammate. He was proud of being a Yankee and always fun to be around. We’ll miss him.”
Yogi Berra (teammate 1955, ’59-63, Manager 1964)
“He was a great guy. He loved people and did a lot for charity. I’ll never forget the year Yogi, Elston and Blanch all hit over 20 homers. He was a key member of that 1961 team and had two clutch homers for us against the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series. I remember we were both signed by the same scout, Joe McDermott. I felt a lot of pride knowing that. He will be missed.”
Moose Skowron (teammate, 1955, ’59-62)
“He was a great teammate, friend and a true gentleman. He loved the game. Tony Kubek and I were just in New York and spent some time with Johnny. He was a great friend and I’ll miss him tremendously.”
Bobby Richardson (teammate, 1955, ’59-65)
“Johnny was a funny guy and a great storyteller. He was always happy. Everyone loved him and loved being around him. He was one heck of a hitter, too.”
Bob Turley (teammate 1955, ’59-62)
“Johnny was a true Yankee, there’s no doubt about that. Everyone liked him. He would do anything it took to help win a ballgame. He would catch, pinch-hit or go play the outfield if it meant the team had a better chance to win.”
Ralph Houk (Manager 1961-63)