'Hey Mister': A Boy's Pride for the '43 Yankees

Having a Ball: Anthony D'Andrea and his souvenir. i

Having a Ball: Anthony D'Andrea and his souvenir. D'Andrea Family hide caption

itoggle caption D'Andrea Family
Having a Ball: Anthony D'Andrea and his souvenir.

Having a Ball: Anthony D'Andrea and his souvenir.

D'Andrea Family
Anthony D'Andrea with two of his eight children, Mary, left, and Monica.

Anthony D'Andrea with two of his eight children, Mary, left, and Monica. StoryCorps hide caption

itoggle caption StoryCorps

As a boy growing up in the Bronx in the 1940s, Anthony D'Andrea spent a lot of time lingering in the shadows of Yankee Stadium. Along with packs of other children, he'd catch a glimpse of some of the greats of the game coming to work.

"I rarely went to a ballgame, because we never had any money to do that," D'Andrea says. But, he adds, the lack of a ticket didn't keep him away from the stadium, especially during the summer. "I would go down pretty much every day to get autographs."

In 1943, when the Yankees were on their quest for a World Series title, D'Andrea went on a quest of his own: Getting the entire team to sign his baseball.

Speaking with his daughters, Monica McInereny and Mary D'Andrea, D'Andrea, now 75, says there was a strategy to meet as many major leaguers as possible. Waiting around the subway stop near the stadium — in those days, the Yankees took the train to work — D'Andrea asked, and at times hounded, players for their autographs.

His diligence paid off, and by summer's end, D'Andrea had most of the team's signatures on his ball. But it was on an off-day, scheduled for workouts, that he tried to get his last two holdouts to sign: Yankee manager Joe McCarthy, and an intensely reluctant reserve catcher, Rollie Hemsley.

Soon enough, D'Andrea's job was done. Then it was up to the Yankees to win a championship. They did their part, beating the St. Louis Cardinals in five games.

StoryCorps is the oral history project traveling the country collecting stories of everyday America. The interviews are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. And excerpts are played on Morning Edition each Friday.

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