Born in St. Louis, Art played baseball for his high school team and subsequently for the University of Missouri. He was signed as a free agent for the Cincinnati Reds in 1959. He played in the minor leagues for several years, beginning in his professional career 1960 with the Geneva Redlegs, for which he homered the first time he was at bat.
Moving up to the AAA-level minor league San Diego Padres, he played for them for two years before signing with the Reds in 1965. The next year he set a league record by hitting home runs in four consecutive at-bats. The bat he used is on display at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Art was traded to the New York Mets in 1968. Originally intimidated by the fast pace of life in the Big Apple, he soon came to embrace the city’s energy and was a favorite player among Jewish fans. People still approach him to discuss his decision not to play a game on Yom Kippur. The Mets won both games of a double-header that day.
He remained with the Mets until 1972, at which time he played part of the year for the Chicago Cubs and the Oakland A’s. After 13 years in professional baseball, he retired that year due to persistent back problems. He was inducted into the New York Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, into which he was inducted in 1994.
Art managed the Modi’in Miracle team of the Israeli Baseball League in 2007, during which the team finished third in the league. He is a baseball commentator and color announcer for several TV stations and the ESPN network. He is author of the book, The Magnificent Seasons: How the Jets, Mets, and Knicks Made Sports History and Uplifted a City and the Country.
He and several of his fellow 1969 Championship season Mets made a guest appearance as themselves on a 1999 episode of the TV sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond. Comedian Jon Stewart named one of his dogs Shamsky after Art.