enjoyable but undistinguished career as a minor league infielder and
player-manager, with only two home runs in my five seasons (1940-41, '45-49),
you'd think I would've been surprised by a clipping from the sports section of
The Commercial Appeal of Memphis, sent to me recently by my twin brother, Sam.
After all, it mentioned me in the same context with three major league sluggers
of renown. But I wasn't surprised, because too many similar things had happened
to me over the years.
The clipping Sam
mailed me wasn't a news story, but one of those syndicated squibs that
newspapers use as fillers whenever they have a little space at the end of a
column. It was headed TRIVIA QUIZ...and read as follows:
drove in 11 runs in a game, while one drove in 12. Which one drove in 12? (A)
Mickey Weintraub, (B) Rudy York. (C) Jim Bottomley, (D) Tony Lazzeri.
The sequence of
events that led to my being included among these notables started in 1945, just
after I left the service. The New York Giants had purchased my contract from my
last minor league club, and I reported to the Giants' spring camp in Lakewood,
N.J. The war was still on, and major league teams were training in the north
because of gas rationing.
My first day in
camp resulted in quite a surprise—there was another Weintraub there, by the
name of Phil. He was a bona fide big leaguer, a power hitter and first baseman
of some reputation in the mid-'30s who had returned to the majors in 1944 and
batted .316. Phil's presence created some confusion, not so much in camp as
among my relatives, many of whom were reading the sports pages for the first
time in their lives. When they saw a Weintraub in the Giants exhibition game
box scores, their earlier, frequent question. "What's a nice Jewish boy
like Mickey doing playing games for a living?" turned to expressions of
pride. On the occasions when they saw two Weintraubs in the lineup, I think
some of them assumed I was so good that the Giants were using me at two
positions at the same time.
has continued. I make frequent baseball talks, and if there are oldtimers in
the audience, I usually lead off by telling them that I'm not Phil Weintraub.
Invariably some disappointment registers on their faces, because they'd been
expecting a big-leaguer.
refuse to believe that I'm not Phil. Just about everyone, it seems, wants to
meet a major league player, and when they learn that I was in pro baseball,
they automatically elevate me to big league stardom. Wishful thinking and the
vague memory of a Weintraub in the majors usually combine to put me on a
pedestal from which it's not always easy to dislodge myself.
I remember once
when I was the M.C. at a father-child sports banquet, a man came up to me with
his small son, to whom he said, "Son, shake hands with a real
I said to the
father, "Sir, I think you're confusing me with Phil Weintraub."