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Remembering Irving Rudd  

June 15, 2000

 

He was a little man, a feisty little man. He grew up in the tough Brooklyn neighborhood of Brownsville in the 1920s. Last week, he passed away at the age of 82. His name was Irving Rudd and he was an original, a guy who had a way with words, a Damon Runyan character, an internationally known sports publicist.

 

In his crowded lifetime, he worked at various jobs including that of public relations director for the old Brooklyn Dodgers and publicist for Top Rank Boxing. And along his way, he was friends with such greats as Jackie Robinson, Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali, Gil Hodges and Joe DiMaggio.

His stories in his unique voice enriched four of my books. For the record and for your enjoyment here are a couple.

 

From IT HAPPENED IN THE CATSKILLS, Rudd tells the story of a winter weekend in 1954 when he and his wife and Jackie Robinson and his wife Rachel went up to Grossinger's for some relaxation.

 

"You skate?" Jackie Robinson asked.

 

"Not very well."

 

"C'mon, Irv; let's go skating anyway."

 

I said, "Okay," and we all went to the icehouse. We put skates on. The wives go to the rail to watch. Jackie goes out on the ice and proceeds to lose his balance and falls flat on his back. Geez! The image of Walter O'Malley, the owner of the Dodgers, came into my head. I just blew my job. Jackie Robinson just fractured something - why didn't I stop him from skating?

 

Then Robinson gets up and brushes himself off. 

"C'mon, Irv, let's race!" He gives me that big smile.

 

So the two of us like two drunks go around the rink of Grossinger's. He's flopping on his knees. I'm sliding on my can. We get up and keep going and flopping and going and flopping and going. And he beats me by five yards.

 

"Let's do it again," he says.

 

Around we go. This time he beats me by about twenty yards.

 

"One more time," he says.

 

By now, he's really skating. He is such a natural, gifted athlete. He's skating like a guy who has been at it for weeks. It's no contest. He's almost lapped the field on me.

 

Now there's a crowd that's gathered and they're cheering. He puts his arms around me, and he wasn't a demonstrative man. "Irv," he says, "am I glad you were here this weekend with me. I just had to beat someone before I went home."

 

In NEW YORK CITY BASEBALL, Rudd describes the time General Douglas MacArthur came to Ebbets Field after being relieved of his command in Korea by President Harry S. Truman. The General got up before the throngs and delivered a speech: "I've been told that one has not lived unless one has been to Ebbets Field and has watched the Dodgers play baseball," he began.

 

Said Irving, "I slipped him the line".

 

Rudd has the last words in my book RICKEY AND ROBINSON: "I always used to think of who I would like going down a dark alley with me. I can think of a lot of great fighters, gangsters I was raised with in Brownsville, strong men like Gil Hodges. But for sheer courage, I would pick Jackie (Robinson). He didn't back up."

 

Neither did Rudd. He had an opinion about everything and wasn't afraid to let the world know it.

 

He was one of a kind. He will be missed.

#   #   # 

You can reach Harvey Frommer at:   

Email:  harvey.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU 

About the Author:

Harvey Frommer is in his  38th year of writing books. A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to acclaim in 2011.  The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One. 

His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath, The Sporting News, among other publications.

FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in the millions and is housed on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.
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Harvey Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz  Frommer are the authors of five critically acclaimed oral/cultural histories, professors at Dartmouth  College, and travel writers who specialize in cultural history, food, wine, and Jewish history and heritage in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. 

This Article is Copyright 1995 - 2014 by Harvey Frommer.  All rights reserved worldwide.

 

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