OUT OF LEFT FIELD
How I Acquired
An F.B.I. File
(A SHOCKING STORY THAT REVEALS THE LINKS
BETWEEN THE FOUR INDIVIDUALS PICTURED BELOW.)
J. EDGAR HOOVER MICKEY MANTLE
RICHARD M. NIXON
A Time of Mickey Mantle,
Me and J. Edgar Hoover
By STAN ISAACS
The Federal Bureau of Investigation seems to be in the news these days on many issues. It reminds me of a time when, to my great surprise, the FBI linked my name with none other than Mickey Mantle.
In the summer of 1998 CBS Channel 2 in New York broke the story that the FBI had investigated Mantle. It cited some 1969 correspondence between President Nixons domestic adviser, John Erlichman, and the FBI. New York Times sports media columnist Richard Sandomir noted that I was listed along with Mantle, Billy Martin and Mrs. Branch Rickey.
It turned out to be in connection with the 1969 baseball All Star Game in Washington. Nixon invited a large group of baseball people, executives, former players and the press to a reception the afternoon preceding the night game. The White House had asked for an FBI check on the guests who would be attending the affair and a CBS correspondent had used the Freedom of Information act to acquire copies of the FBI report. It mentioned Mantle and me among others.
Actually, the report stated that the central files of the FBI reveal no pertinent derogatory information regarding the following individuals. A long list of blacked-out names followed. Some names that were not blacked out included baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn, Kansas City Royals owner Ewing Kauffman, NBC executive Carl Lindemann, Pittsburgh Pirates broadcaster Bob Prince and Los Angeles nee Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter OMalley, whom many law-respecting folk might have regarded as a true enemy of the people.
All of the above were given a clean bill of health by the FBI. There was, however, another section that said somewhat ominously, I believe, attached are separate memoranda regarding the following individuals: Stan Isaacs, Mickey Mantle, Billy Martin and Mrs. Branch Rickey. Id like to think I was listed first because I was the most suspicious suspect, but I take it that the names were listed in alphabetical order.
It developed that Mantle was in the FBI files because he had received threatening letters in the mail, that in 1956 he reportedly was blackmailed for $15,000 after being caught with another mans wife in a compromising position. And because his name--and probably Martins too--had come up in connection with gambling. A 1963 entry has a source telling the FBI that Mantle received telephone calls from a known gambler.
It is difficult to comprehend why Mrs. Rickey, the gentle wife of the general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, also was worthy of special treatment by the FBI. It couldnt be, could it, because she approved of her husbands role in breaking the color line in baseball by signing Jackie Robinson?
I believed that my newfound eminence stemmed from having started my newspaper career in the long ago with The Daily Compass. That was the late, but not lamented by many, left wing daily of the McCarthy era that existed for three financially challenged years. It was most noted for having been the paper of residence of the legendary I.F. Stone.
After my name in the FBI report was cited in the Times, I decided to do what I had meant to do for a long time: ask the FBI for my file. Eventually it was sent to me. It consisted of 15 pages. I thought it would include some juicy stuff stemming from my days at the Compass as a possible enemy of the republic when I argued for such subversive causes as putting Satchel Paige in the baseball Hall of Fame.
Nope. My file included nary a word about the Compass. It started when I was at Newsday where I settled in as sports reporter two years after the Compass folded. It noted that I worked for Newsday and gave my address on Marshall Street in Elmont, Long Island, where I had lived previously. It even listed my old phone number at West 88th Street in Manhattan.
I have to admit I was a disgustingly upstanding citizen because it was recorded that there were no negative reports on me from the Credit Bureau of New York, the New York Bureau of Motor Vehicles and the Bureau of Criminal Identification.
The name of the person who seemed to have ratted on me was blacked out on several pages. I couldnt figure out what would have been subversive about me at Newsday other than the fact that I once wrote a glowing piece about the football teams of the Red Devils of Freeport High School. My wife thinks it was because I wrote the column called, Out of Left Field.
I must have passed muster with J. Edgar Hoovers sleuths because I went to the reception. Nixon told us about listening on the radio to the tumultuous development in the 1929 World Series when the Philadelphia Athletics overcame the Chicago Cubs with a 10-run rally in the seventh inning of the fourth game. He wowed the baseball people by reciting a batter-by-batter description of the happening. I learned later that Nixon had, the night before, bade his son-in-law, David Eisenhower, to research that inning and give him the specifics details.
Like all the others, I had my picture taken shaking hands with Nixon. My mother disapproved of the photo.
©2011 by Stan Isaacs. The Stan Isaacs caricature is ©2001 by Jim Hummel. This column first posted Aug. 29, 2011.
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