Thanks to fantasy camp, Gus Gussack has picked up the career he left before WW II
MOST CATCHERS are lucky if their knees get them past 30. Six decades after he was offered a spot in the minors, Seymour (Gus) Gussack, 83, can still crouch like a pro. In September 1941 Gussack was catching for the semipro Bayside Rangers in Queens, N.Y., when a scout told him to go to the Polo Grounds. "They said come back in the spring and you can have a position in Class D." But in December, the U.S. went to war and Gussack enlisted in the Navy. "Except for catch with my daughters, I probably didn't touch a baseball for 55 years," Gussack says.
During his baseball fallow period, Gussack, who kept in shape by running, started a successful ball-bearing company. Twelve years ago a business associate persuaded Gussack to attend his first fantasy camp, where campers play against former pros. "I wondered if I was going to be able to see the ball," Gussack says. He saw it well enough to catch three seven-inning games a day. Gussack has been to seven more camps—six with the Yankees, where he's played with Tommy John and Darryl Strawberry. Three years ago Gussack wowed the ex-- Bronx Bombers when he dived to block the plate from a charging runner. "I got him," he says. He had figured this year's Yanks camp, in January, would be his last. "But," he says, "I didn't hit well, so I'll try another year."