My first season in pro baseball

The Yankees signed me as an amateur free agent in 1963 and assigned me to the Harlan Yankees in the Rookie Appalachian League.  We played at Browning-Leonard Park in Harlan, Kentucky, a small town of about 4,000 people located about 150 miles south of Lexington.  My manager was a man named Gary Blaylock, an exceptional teacher who had pitched for the 1959 Yankees.  We went 28-39 (and for those who ask, yes, I had to do a little research to supplement my memory on this).  Maybe three dozen guys came in and out of Harlan during the ’63 season, and to show how very competitive the minor leagues are, only five of us every made it to the majors: pitcher Mike Jurewicz (Yankees, 1965, for two games/2.1 innings), the late Dale Roberts (Yankees, 1966, for two games/2 innings), Jim Ollam (Twins, 1966-67, for 24 games/45 innings), and first baseman Charlie Vinson (Angels, 1966, for 13 games).  And thankfully Gary made it too; he won a World Series ring as the pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals, brought on board by one of the best guys I ever knew, Dick Howser.

            

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