Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Mr. Marty




This advertisement from the 1969 Dodger Yearbook has meaning to me.  To most, they would look at it and think, “Who is mmmmister Marty?”  And I realize that the add doesn’t make much sense being placed in a Dodger Scorecard or Program.  First off, Mr. Marty produced lines of womens clothing and swimwear that sold wholesale to large department store chains such as Montgomery Wards, JC Penney and Macys.  You couldn’t step into a Mr. Marty retail store and purchase clothing because there wasn’t one.  So why was this add in all Dodger Scorecards next to Pepsi, Sinclair Paints, Canter’s Deli, Starkist Tuna and Old Spice?  I’m not sure, but I think I have a theory as to why it was there.
Marty Friedman was a man that I never met, but he had a profound influence on my life.  I believe that the roots of my allegiance and love for the Los Angeles Dodgers could be traced to this man, an influential player in the business world and the garment industry, both in New York and Los Angeles.  He also loved sports and the Dodgers.
Mr Friedman was my father’s acquaintance and later his employer for several years.  He was a successful businessman and one of the first sponsors of the Los Angeles Dodgers upon their arrival from Brooklyn, buying ad space in Dodger Yearbooks and Scorecards for many years.  He could be a charitable man with a good heart and then in the blink of an eye he could be difficult to deal with and outright heartless.  You didn’t cross him in the business world or he’d shut you out.  If you were honest with him, you were a loyal friend for life.  If he liked and respected you, he held no grudges.  
I think my dad had a hard time coming to grips with his explosive personality.  One moment he would be screaming at you in a heated confrontation over some trivial detail that set him off and then five minutes later he would approach you and act as if the stressful encounter never occurred.  I only know this because I found out later that some of my dad’s migraine headaches and back problems were a result of this type of roller coaster stress that he endured from him on the job.
My dad really wasn’t into sports.  He followed sports to a degree, but he didn’t live for them.  Dad was a devoted family man.  Active in church and giving of his time.  He was a hard worker and initially ran across Mr. Friedman when he was employed with the JC Penney Co. in the 1950s while buying womens wearing apparel from Marty Friedman’s Company.  In the mid-60s, Friedman lured my father away from Penney's with an attractive offer of employment.  Dad took the postition and along with it came perks that linked our family to the Dodgers.
First there were the tickets.  Field level seats, first base side.  Maybe 10 rows in.  They were prime seats and Mr. Friedman would give my dad 4 seats to games several times a year.  It was always a great treat to go to games with my dad.  Those are some of the most special memories I have.  

Umpire Paul Pryor about to call out Willie Mays at third base.   Tommy Davis makes the tag.  (Sept. 8, 1963)
Then there were the visits dad would receive from athletes and umpires at work.  Players were coming in to buy clothes for their girlfriends or wives at less than wholesale cost.  Dad would bring us home, autographed photos, balls, miniature bats.  In 1971 for my birthday, I received a ball signed by the whole Dodger team.  Paul Pryor, one of the N.L. umpires would visit every time in town and give dad baseball’s all the time.  Those were the balls we would play with, official NL baseballs straight from an umpire.  Once in the mail came an autographed picture of John Havlicek, who had visited the business in the early 70s.
Marty enjoyed catering to the athletes, and they were frequent visitors to his manufacturing warehouse.  He had regular visits from celebrities in the entertainment industry too.  I don’t know how often, but I believe it was quite frequent.
I’m fairly certain that Mr. Friedman was acquainted with the O’Malleys because he bought ad space in Dodger publications back to the first year in L.A., but I’m not certain of that.  I do know that Dad attended the 1st ever game at Dodger Stadium in 1962 as Marty Friedman’s guest and that they dined in the Stadium Club that day.
I remember a story my dad told once of a business lunch in which Marty, my father and several potential buyers discussed business over cocktails.  Now, my father, a devout mormon, didn’t partake in alcohol.  But while all had their drinks, he would order straight tomato juice, a vigin mary.   On one particular occasion, the waiter mistakenly brought dad a bloody mary.  Of course, as soon as dad took a sip, he recognized the mistake.  And so did Marty who knew something was odd, “what’s the matter, Earl?” He asked my dad, interrupting the meeting. “Marty, they gave me a bloody mary,” he said.  At that moment, Friedman made a scene.  He called the waiter over and tore into him.  “This man has principles!  This man has never drank an alcoholic beverage in his life and now because of YOUR INCOMPETENCE you have caused him to break his religious vows!  Do you realize what you’ve gone?!”  He chewed him out for a good minute or so.  After the waiter left, he turned to dad, “Are you okay to continue Earl?”  Dad, nodded yes, and the meeting continued as if the incident never happened.
Marty had a lot of cool cars and sometimes he’d let dad take one home.  So we rode in a Rolls Royce a few times.  Then there was was an old style English taxi cab (with the steering wheel on the right side), several sports cars, I believe a Ferrari or two.  That was a real treat because dad was a car nut.  
One day my father came home and told me Marty had given him tickets to the UCLA-Depaul basketball game at Pauley Pavilion.  So we went.  Guess where the seats were? One row behind the UCLA bench.  I personally got to hear John Wooden say “goodness gracious sakes alive,” from ten feet away.  That was Wooden’s final season as coach.  What an experience!
In 1976, dad left Marty Friedman’s employment on good terms.  It was a disappointment to me.  Gone were all those perks, the gifts he would pass along to Earl’s kids.  By then I was a teenager and my bother and I had begun attending Dodger games on our own.  But the seed to Dodger fanaticism had been planted in us, and it was from a man we knew of, but never met.  A charitable man that showered us with gifts, tickets and great memories.  Thank you Mr. Marty, we owe it all to you.


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Special thanks for Jon Weisman @ Dodgerthoughts who posted the '63 Koufax Scorecard on November 16, 2010 and triggered these memories.  It was a photo by DT contributor Kevin Burns, where prominently displayed to the left of the scorecard is a Mr. Marty advertisement.


http://espn.go.com/blog/los-angeles/dodger-thoughts/post/_/id/9445/scorecard-memories-sandy-koufaxs-63-no-hitter


3 comments:

  1. My dad also worked for Mister Marty, and later Spare Parts. This is a very cool remembrance of him! There were actually two boxes at Dodger stadium, one pretty close to Home plate, and the other I believe in row M. I went to several World Series games. Marty was also a big booster of the USC football team. I have the football presented to him by O.J. Simpson and the rest of the team after they beat UCLA in 1972. I fondly remember playing pool and watching the nickelodeons in the executive break room.

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    1. Drop me an email if you get a chance, (opinionofkingmnsperformance@gmail.com). Looks like our dads worked in the same era and probably alongside each other. Marty was a generous man who allowed a lot of us the opportunity to enjoy the Los Angeles Sports scene in the 1960s and 70s.

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    2. sorry, typo on my emil address which is: opinionofkingmansperformance@gmail.com

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