Thursday, March 17, 2016

Let 'Em In

"Somone's knockin' on the door, someone's ringing the bell. Do me a favor, open the door and let 'em in... Sister Suzie, brother John, Martin Luther, Phil and Don, brother Michael, auntie Gin, (uncle Ernie)- open the door and let 'em in." 

There's always been a mystery (to me) surrounding the folks named in the 1976 Paul McCartney & Wings smash hit, "Let 'Em In." Is Paul referring to actual relatives and to Martin Luther the reformer? Are they nicknames for friends and/or relatives? Is he not even referring to real people? A search of the some of the 'song meaning' websites turn up a number of theories- some of them making sense- but to the original audience, it might have been just as much of a mystery.

1976 Topps #70

Father Roy, Uncle Gene
There was no doubting who Roy Smalley was when he broke into the major leagues with the Rangers during the 1975 season. The son of former big league shortstop Roy Smalley and the nephew of former major league manager Gene Mauch, Smalley- noted on his 1976 Topps card as Roy Smalley, Jr- is actually Roy Smalley III and was the number one overall pick in the 1974 amateur draft.

Knocking on the Door
Despite only 568 at-bats in the minor leagues (mostly during his first professional season in '74, with Pittsfield), Smalley made his major league debut on April 30, 1975 and then struggled for his rookie campaign, hitting .228 in 78 games for Texas. His struggles continued into the first two months of the 1976 season, as well.

As the month of May was coming to an end, Smalley was hitting a paltry .225/.363/.264 for the Rangers. His career would take a turn for the better on June 1st, however, as he and three other players were traded from Texas to Minnesota for pitcher Bert Blyleven and veteran infielder Danny Thompson. The trade paid instant dividends on his career and three years later, Roy was an All-Star and the top shortstop in the game. Instrumental in his inclusion in the trade was uncle Gene Mauch, who happened to be the Twins manager.

All in the Family
The first two years in Minnesota were not easy for Roy, however, as Sports Illustrated revealed in its May 14, 1979 issue.

 "Because eight members of the Twins' undistinguished front office are related to owner Calvin Griffith- two of his brothers, his son, three nephews, a sister and a cousin are all on the payroll- Minnesota fans were already sensitive to the slightest suggestion of nepotism, and for the next two years they heaped unrelieved abuse on Smalley, using his kinship with Mauch as the main theme of their barbs." 

Roy's spot in the Minnesota lineup clearly wasn't due to his relationship with Mauch. God-given talent, hard work and baseball smarts all played a part in his development. As teammate Mike Marshall pointed out in the same S.I. article, "Smalley became a star by being Roy Smalley, not because he's Gene Mauch's nephew."

In his prime, Roy Smalley's production at the shortstop position was very similar to another former player's kid- future Baltimore Oriole Cal Ripken, Jr, who would take the model set forth by Smalley to a whole new level.

1 comment:

  1. Great post. Very informative. Had seen that 76T card before, so I knew his father played baseball... but never knew he was Gene Mauch's nephew.