Former detective and novelist Dick Ellwood

Former Baltimore City Detective Dick Ellwood has written two novels incorporating his experienes. (Photo by Karen Jackson / August 29, 2013)

On a hot humid night in June of 1966, Baltimore City rookie cop Dick Ellwood arrested Mickey Mantle.

It was one of those incidents that didn't make the news during Ellwood's 25 years with the Baltimore Police Department before he retired as a sergeant in 1990.

But the self-published book he wrote in 2010 is crammed with them. The 237-page collection is called "Cop Stories: The Few, the Proud, the Ugly."

"Every cop has stories," he said. They tell them in the locker room, the parking lot, in courthouse hallways, at retirement parties, at funerals and bars — "especially in bars, where cops go to let off steam."

Ellwood, who served in the U.S. Marines for four years before he joined the force when he was 21, wanted to put his own stories in print before he was "too damn old to remember them," he said.

Now, he is on a roll. Last December, he Ellwood self-published his first novel, "Charm City's Blue Justice." The book jacket describes a tale of murder, deception and rape as an action-packed suspenseful thriller. Ellwood's books are available through Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Greetings and Readings, and Ukazoo, and on Sept. 28 at 2 p.m., he will be at the Baltimore Book Festival where he will be one of three panelists who will be discussing crime.

Mantle was "the greatest baseball player of our times," according to the near apoplectic lieutenant who had a fit over Ellwood's public intoxication collar and had the American League All Star star taken back to his hotel.

Ellwood, now 69 and living in a well manicured section of Timonium,  recalls he was torn.

The Yankee baseball player was his childhood hero, he said. He could have locked him up or "just asked for his autograph and chalk it up as one of the greatest moments of my life."

Life was different back when Ellwood was sworn in on New Year's Eve in 1964.

As a rookie, Ellwood walked a beat in the predominantly Irish Catholic neighborhood around Greenmount Avenue and Preston Street in which he grew up. "It was a place you would love to raise your family," he writes.

"We did not have any police radios or communication with other cops, other than the call box and the call light," he wrote. "The call light was just a pole with a yellow light on it that blinked when the police dispatcher wanted you to handle something on your post or another police officer wanted to get in touch with you.

"If you arrested somebody you had to walk him to the nearest call box and call for a paddy wagon."

If that wasn't possible, he'd hail a taxi and ask the driver to radio his dispatcher to contact the police dispatcher and pass on the request for help, he said.

The highlight of his career was the 10 years he spent in the Homicide Unit after honing his investigative skills for 11 years in patrol, vice and robbery.

"Everyone in the Homicide Unit was looked up to as the cream of the crop," he said."You not only had to be good, you literally had to know somebody to get into Homicide."

He did. His grandfather on his mother's side was a Baltimore City police officer. So were his father, Richard Ellwood Sr., and brother, John Ellwood.

(The fourth generation, his son, David, was a Baltimore City police officer for six years, before he decamped for warmer weather in Florida. Now he's a Broward County officer. In fact, he is a sergeant in Homicide just like his father and his father's brother used to be.)

In Baltimore, it was the ability and tenacity of the Homicide detectives to get the job done that mattered back then.

But "looking good helped," Ellwood wrote. Homicide was "like a detective fashion show each day.