On October 15, 2000,
privileged to interview hit
songwriter, noted baseball
memorabilia collector &
best-selling baseball author
Many know Seth Swirsky as a highly acclaimed songwriter - as to which his 20+ Gold and Platinum records and two ASCAP songwriting awards will attest. Seth has penned hit songs for artists such as Celine Dion, Taylor Dayne, Tina Turner and Al Green.
Others may know Seth Swirsky as the person who currently owns the "Mookie Ball" - which is the infamous baseball that skipped through the legs of Bill Buckner in Game Six of the 1986 World Series. (Actually, the Mookie Ball is just one piece in an impressive baseball artifact collection amassed by Mr. Swirsky.)
In fact, while Seth deserves recognition for both his success in the music industry and his noted baseball memorabilia collection, it is his two baseball books - Baseball Letters and Every Pitcher Tells A Story - which have brought Seth his most fame - and deservedly so.
Baseball Letters and Every Pitcher Tells A Story are two of the most entertaining and enlightening baseball books every produced - and a must component of any serious baseball library. If you are a baseball fan, and you do not already own Seth Swirsky's two baseball books, you owe it to yourself to obtain them without haste.
In addition, you can examine part of Seth's baseball memorabilia collection on-line at Seth's Room (www.sethsroom.com). NetShrine highly recommends that you visit Mr. Swirsky's site. Oh, but first, check out our interview............
When you were young, who was your favorite big league
Seth Swirsky: I loved Yaz for his batting stance, Mantle for his homerun trot, Shamsky for his religion, Northrup for that triple ('68 World Series, Game 7, 7th inning off Gibson), and Seaver for his reliability.
What are the best and worst things which have happened to
you as a result of your two baseball books?
Seth Swirsky: Only good things happened. I love the book signings. I loved being interviewed on Good Morning America (on the mound at Shea!). But, I really just enjoyed putting the books together and seeing the finished product. They were all very exciting.
One quick story: I guess the highlight was when I was invited to the '97 All-Star Game -- I went to the big party Major League Baseball throws. (Now, mind you, I'm in the music business and when I was just starting out I had been invited to parties that had Sting and the Bee Gees and all these famous groups and I could have pinched myself.) Here I was at the baseball party, conversing with Lou Brock and Bernie Williams and Nomar Garciaparra -- it was a total blast!
One other highlight: I was flying to Atlantic City cause a bunch of the '77-'78 Yankees were doing an autograph signing that weekend. It was a very snowy night, tough to get cabs. Well, I get off the plane and some guy screams out "Hey, you need a ride to Atlantic City?" I said "Yeah." He said "Jump in." It was Cliff Johnson and Brian Doyle of the '77 and '78 Yankees. For an hour and half we "reminisced" about Reggie and Billy and George and Bucky's home run. It was also a total blast.
Which baseball movie do you enjoy best?
Seth Swirsky: The Natural. Hated "Field of Dreams" -- thought it was phony.
Have you ever thought about writing a song with the intent
that it would become a ballpark staple?
Seth Swirsky: I have written a song called "There's nothing like the game of baseball" which I've sung on the air a few times.
FILL IN THE BLANK: "I'll never forget where I was when
Seth Swirsky: The ball went under Buckner's mitt -- I had given up on the Mets and was driving along to my girlfriend's house. I listened to the whole inning unfold, not believing that a truly seasoned sports watcher would not watch until the end. I regret it to this day!
Where's your favorite ballpark?
Seth Swirsky: Fenway.
If someone offered you a T206 Honus Wagner baseball card in
exchange for one of your Platinum Records, would you make the swap and why?
Seth Swirsky: Yes, the platinum record is worth $200 and replaceable.
As a father, should you encourage your son to root for the
team which is your favorite (in your case, the Mets) or a team closer to your current home
Seth Swirsky: I try to point out things about all teams to see which one he'll pick upon. But local rooting is good and healthy because it also makes a kid root for his city -- it's good to be proud of your city. It may make you not want to litter!
What's your inspiration in determining "Who?" when
sending out one of your "baseball" letters?
Seth Swirsky: It could be a play they were part of or witness to, it could be a person who has a connection to baseball in an off-beat way. It could be the name of a player -- anything that captured my imagination (which loves to be captured!).
Between winning a "Grammy" and making one lone
appearance in a Major League game (ala' Moonlight Graham), which would you choose and why?
Seth Swirsky: Winning a Grammy -- because my heart is in baseball, but my soul is in music.
Intermission Lightning Round:
West Coast or East Coast?
DH or no DH?
Surf or Turf?
Night game or day game?
Elvis Costello or Elvis Presley?
Swirsky: Elvis Presley.
Box seats or bleachers?
Swirsky: Box seats.
Back to the bigger questions......
Who in baseball have you forged a lasting relationship with
as a result of your baseball books?
Seth Swirsky: Richie Scheinblum, the old outfielder for the Kansas City Royals (All-Star 1972) and Harry Danning (now close to 90 years old) the catcher for the NY Giants from 1934-1941.
Would you ever sell your memorabilia collection (similar to
when Barry Halper sold his) and why?
Seth Swirsky: No, if I don't ever have to sell it. I won't sell it unless a completely ridiculous offer were made -- I mean ridiculous. I truly love this stuff and have chosen every piece in my collection. It's not about how big a collection is -- it's about the quality of the pieces, the stories they tell. I think a great piece can tell many stories -- the buyer must be able to see the stories behind a piece.
Describe the best baseball game that you ever attended in
Seth Swirsky: Game 4 of the 1969 World Series, Mets versus Orioles. A utility player named Rod Gasper scores the winning run from second (he was pinch running) and the Mets close to within a game of winning it all. I am now friends with Gasper and own the jersey he wore when he scored that run.
Is there one "baseball" letter in particular that
you sent out, which went unanswered, that you wished had not gone without a reply - and to
whom was it sent?
Seth Swirsky: Mickey Mantle.
What's your most memorable moment from the book signing that
you did at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown this summer?
Seth Swirsky: Hanging out with my dad and seeing the way they displayed some of their items. It made me refocus on my collection in a new way.
Who is the best player in the Major Leagues today?
Seth Swirsky: Definitely not Griffey Jr. -- plays much too much "inside" himself. He will never lead a team to a championship. Piazza is fighting the same curse -- the harshness of New York criticism is helping to pull him out of it and possibly into a leader. He was never that in LA and was never going to be that. New York MAKES you win. The reason why Griffey didn't go with the Mets is that he did not want the "media" pressure. That's shorthand for: "I want to get by on my obvious talent -- and since I've been playing baseball since I'm 4, I'm probably fed up with it a little, so who needs more glare?"
Best pitcher: Pedro. Best Players: I really think they are Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Nomar Garciaparra. Take your pick. A-Rod is amazing. His size and agility, hitting for power, he's a winner. Jeter is a tremendous leader -- he has the most hits of anyone in baseball -- 996 -- in the last four years, great glove. Nomar, is the best player on an OK. team. But a clean-up hitting shortstop, just that alone makes me love him -- a real toss-up.
Have you met many others in the music industry who are
intense baseball enthusiasts such as yourself? If yes, who?
Seth Swirsky: Yes, but they have the same love for the game as a fisherman would have - so let's just say I've met many PEOPLE from all walks of life during my baseball sojourn that love the game and the spirit of the game as much as anyone else.
If Irving Berlin was a baseball player, what position would
he had played?
Seth Swirsky: Manager.
Any plans for a third book?
Seth Swirsky: I'm putting together the final book in my trilogy. It will be called "Something To Write Home About" -- baseball player's letters home and their greatest recollections. I'm writing many other books, but that will be my last baseball one.
If you could change one thing in baseball, what would it be?
Seth Swirsky: Night games.
That's it. Once again, our thanks to Mr. Swirsky for granting NetShrine this interview!
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