Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Time To Hang It Up

After 11+ years of blogging, and a lifetime of collecting, I've decided to retire the blog, and give up the card chase. The hobby has changed a lot, not for the better, and since the passing of my son Christmas 2019, my heart is just not in it anymore. The door is closed, but not locked, so maybe someday....

Thanks to the community who have been wonderful. I'll still be reading and commenting on your posts from time to time. I still owe a few of you return packages, I will not forget.

My sincerest and heartfelt thanks.


Sunday, March 21, 2021

One Page of Bob Sadowski

This series will highlight "one page" at a time (although Bob will actually get two) from my binder of correspondence and autographs from former Angels players and personnel.

   Bob Sadowski OF, 2B, 3B Los Angeles Angels 1963.
Drafted by the Los Angeles Angels from the Chicago White Sox in the 1962 rule 5 draft.
Former infielder, outfielder, Cardinals, Phillies, White Sox and Calif Angels. It was great playing for Cowboy Owner Gene Autry who loved baseball. He took me to places around the Palm Springs area where he once made alot of his movies at the Melody Ranch. It's great hearing from you both. Here's hoping you all have a wonderful 2004 yr. May the Good Lord take a likin to you all. God Bless.
My favorite player would be Stan Musial who still makes his home here in St Louis. Ted Williams was probably the greatest hitter. He missed (4 yrs) 'cause of the Service and of course Mark McGuire hit them the farthest.
Correspondence received February 2004.

Correpondence received February 2011.
(I was just noticing the different signatures between 2004 and 2011. I'm thinking someone wrote out the index cards for him, though he did sign the '63 Topps himself.)
Bob passed away January 6, 2017 at the age of 79.

St. Louis Cardinals (1960)
Philadelphia Phillies (1961)
Chicago White Sox (1962)
Los Angeles Angels (1963)

Batting average .222
Home runs 7
Runs batted in 46

Sunday, March 14, 2021

The Airhogs Have Been Grounded

Usually around mid-February (I'm a little late this year) I check the baseball schedules for the local colleges and minor league teams here in the DFW Metroplex. Due to covid, most of the colleges still aren't having spectators, but that's okay since I'm really only looking to see if they'll be playing Air Force Academy or a California team. I usually try to get to at least one college or minor league game a season. 

As far as minor leagues, the American Association of Independant Baseball's Fort Worth Cats dissolved in 2014 ruling them out, so my standby team is the Grand Prairie AirHogs, but when I went to check their schedule I found out that they went out of business last year. Bummer. They had skipped all of the 2020 season due to Covid and I guess just couldn't recover from that. There are plans to turn the stadium into a, get this, major league cricket venue.

Anyhow, I thought I'd pay a brief tribute to the AirHogs. It was always fun to catch a game there.

From 2008 to 2019 I've probably attended a dozen games at QwikTrip Park, in fact I attended a game in their very first season 2008, and was able to get a few autographs on an inaugural season program. Pete Incaviglia was thier first Manager, and I was able to get him on a separate baseball card.

C Cody Merrill #14
OF Derek Holder #24
P Justin Garcia #2
P Vinnie DeChristofaro #27
P Nate Harris #30
INF Brandon Carter 
INF Billy Munoz #39

Among the other games I was able to attend at QuikTrip Park, was the 2009 American Association All-Star Game. 
Only $10 to go to an All-Star Game. Granted it's only the Independant League, but still...

I got programs signed by players from the North Team and from the South Team.
South All-Star Team
P Logan Williamson - Shreveport Captains
OF Brian Fryer - Fort Worth Cats
P Kieran Mattison - Grand Prairie Airhogs
OF Mike Conroy - Grand Prairie
1B John Allen - Fort Worth Cats
INF Cameron Blair - Fort Worth Cats
C JB Tucker - Grand Prairie Airhogs
OF Kenard Bibbs - El Paso Diablos
P Jakob Cunningham - Shreveport Captains
P Justin Dowdy - Shreveport Captains

North All-Star Team
P Adam Cowhart - Wichita Wingnuts
P Derek Blacksher - Wichita Wingnuts
P Gabriel Medina - Wichita Wingnuts
P Nick Singleton - Sioux City Explorers
P Trevor Fox - Sioux Falls Canaries
P Brett Reid - Sioux City Explorers
P Chris Thompson - Lincoln Salt Dogs
OF Cory Harris - Sioux Falls Canaries
P Brandon Kintzler - St Paul Saints
OF Brent Krause - St Paul Saints

And of course, I scored the game, with the North (boooo) winning 6-2.

Former Indians/Dodgers prospect Kieran Mattison took the loss giving up those 4 runs in the sixth.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

One Page of Johnny James

This series will highlight "one page" at a time from my binder of correspondence and autographs from former Angels players and personnel.

   Johnny James RHP Los Angeles Angels 1961.
Traded by the New York Yankees with Ryne Duren and Lee Thomas to the Los Angeles Angels for Bob Cerv and Tex Clevenger on May 8, 1961. 
Correspondence received prior to 2004.

Correspondence received in March, 2009.

New York Yankees (1958, 1960–1961)
Los Angeles Angels (1961)

Win–loss record 5–3
Earned run average 4.76
Strikeouts 73

Saturday, March 6, 2021

One Page of Lee Thomas

This series will highlight "one page" at a time from my binder of correspondence and autographs from former Angels players and personnel.

   Lee Thomas OF Los Angeles Angels 1961-1964.
Traded by the Yankees with Ryne Duren and Johnny James to the Los Angeles Angels for Bob Cerv and Tex Clevenger on May 8, 1961.
Correspondence received June, 2005.

New York Yankees (1961)
Los Angeles Angels (1961–1964)
Boston Red Sox (1964–1965)
Atlanta Braves (1966)
Chicago Cubs (1966–1967)
Houston Astros (1968)
Nankai Hawks (1969)

Batting average .255
Home runs 106
Runs batted in 428

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Cards Without Correspondence #1

They graciously signed my index cards but didn't want to answer any questions. That's cool.

Eddie Haas, Outfielder
Chicago Cubs (1957)
Milwaukee Braves (1958; 1960)
Autograph received in February 2006.
Mr. Haas is currently 85 years old.

Clint Conatser, Outfielder
Boston Braves (1948–1949)
Played in 1948 World Series
Autograph received in December, 2005.
Mr. Conatser passed away August 23, 2019 at the age of 98.

Bob Watson, First Base, Left Field
Houston Astros (1966–1979)
Boston Red Sox (1979)
New York Yankees (1980–1982)
Atlanta Braves (1982–1984)
2× All-Star (1973, 1975)
Hit for the cycle twice: first to do it in both leagues.
Played in the 1981 World Series.
Credited with scoring the 1,000,000th run in major league history.
Houston Astros Hall of Fame
Autograph received in January, 2006.
Bob Watson passed away on May 14, 2020 at the age of 74.

Jerry Mumphrey, Outfielder
St. Louis Cardinals (1974–1979)
San Diego Padres (1980)
New York Yankees (1981–1983)
Houston Astros (1983–1985)
Chicago Cubs (1986–1988)
All-Star (1984)
Played in the 1981 World Series.
Autograph received in January, 2006.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Bobby Bragan Had The Foundation

Later in Bobby Bragan's life, long after his active career in baseball, he did a lot for the local kids in Fort Worth and the Metroplex, through the The Bobby Bragan Youth Foundation, which "honors outstanding athletes and executives for the achievements on and off of the playing field, at the annual Bobby Bragan Gala, to raise funds for scholarships."

That lead him to make many appearances around the Fort Worth area and at the local Fort Worth Cats games, chatting with fans and signing autographs. I interacted with him on numerous occasions at Cats games, he was very humble and approachable. I even wrote him once, and picked up an autographed copy of his book You Can't Hit The Ball With The Bat On Your Shoulder (a good read).

Bobby Bragan passed away January 21, 2010 at the age of 92.

As player
Philadelphia Phillies (1940–1942)
Brooklyn Dodgers (1943–1944, 1947–1948)

As manager
Pittsburgh Pirates (1956–1957)
Cleveland Indians (1958)
Milwaukee / Atlanta Braves (1963–1966)

As coach
Los Angeles Dodgers (1960)
Houston Colt .45s (1962)

Batting average .240
Home runs 15
Runs batted in 172
Games managed 927
Win–loss record 443–478
Winning % .481

President of the Texas League, 1969-75.
President of Minor League Baseball, 1976-78.
Assistant to the President, Special Projects for the Texas Rangers, 1979-91.
In 2005, managed Fort Worth Cats one game, becoming the oldest person (87) to manage a professional game.
Fort Worth's Mr. Baseball for decades.
Chairman of Bobby Bragan Youth Foundation.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

One Page of Jack Spring

This series will highlight "one page" at a time from my binder of correspondence and autographs from former Angels players and personnel.

   Jack Spring LHP Los Angeles Angels 1961-1964
Selected as one of the original expansion Angels in 1960.
Both correspondence received prior to 2004.
Jack Spring passed away August 2, 2015 (aged 82).

Philadelphia Phillies (1955)
Boston Red Sox (1957)
Washington Senators (1958)
Los Angeles Angels (1961–1964)
Chicago Cubs (1964)
St. Louis Cardinals (1964)
Cleveland Indians (1965)

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Everything You Need To Know Is In The Book

Many of the players I have written to were in their more senior years...over 70. And a few of them had actually written books about their baseball experiences. Elden Auker was 92 when I wrote to him, so I completely understood when he was hesitant to write out answers to the few questions that I had, and instead referred my to his book.

"If you want to know more about me, go to any good book store & buy my book, "Sleeper Cars & Flannel Uniforms" - Triumph Book, Chicago."

I love it!
Make sure that it's a "good" book store! I thought that I had actually gone out and purchased the book after learning about it, but a scan of my bookcase says otherwise.

Correspondence received in February, 2003.
Elden Auker passed away on August 4, 2006 at the age of 95.

Detroit Tigers (1933–1938)
Boston Red Sox (1939)
St. Louis Browns (1940–1942)

Turned down a $6,000 contract by the Chicago Bears, to pitch for the Tigers instead.
First batter he faced was Babe Ruth, whom he struck out on four pitches.
World Series Champion (1935)

Win–loss record 130–101
Earned run average 4.42
Strikeouts 594

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Who Knows What AAGPBL Stands For?

I do! It stands for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. You know, what the movie A League of Their Own was based on. Many of the women that played in the league from 1943-1955 were still active going to reunions and autograph signings in the late 90's early 00's when I started corresponding with them. Donna Stageman was one of them, she played for the 1946 Peoria Red Wings.

She included this photocopy, and left a note at the bottom:
"Thank you for your interest in AAGPBL. We enjoyed the competition, played hard and even got paid. Our reunions are electric with some age."

She also wrote on the index card I included:
"One outstanding moment for me was when the little girls in the stadium came on the field to get our autographs."

Correspondence received in May, 2004.

After playing for Peoria she returned home and played softball in Billings for many years and was a teacher for 35 years. In 1999 she was inducted into the Montana Softball Hall of Fame.
I believe she recently celebrated her 95th birthday.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

One Page of Don Lee

This series will highlight "one page" at a time from my binder of correspondence and autographs from former Angels players and personnel.

   Don Lee, RHP, Los Angeles Angels 1962-1965
Traded by the Minnesota Twins to the Los Angeles Angels for Jim Donohue on May 26, 1962.
My father was my favorite player - Thornton Lee. All Star Pitcher 1941 - American League - record 22-11. I played [many many] times I even had a White Sox uniform so I could go on the field during batting practice. I hit a home run in K.C. off John Kucks. Was a great thrill pitching back to back shut outs against Boston Red Sox when the temp was over 100 in Boston & LA. Having played with some of the real greats & against the greats like Maris, Mantle, Williams, Musial, etc. I have been blessed to have had this experience.
Correspondence received June, 2010.

Detroit Tigers (1957–1958)
Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins (1960–1962)
Los Angeles Angels (1962–1965)
Houston Astros (1965–1966)
Chicago Cubs (1966)

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

A Great Memory From Gus Zernial

Sometimes in my correspondence I just ask the player for a fond memory. Many times they don't respond but will still sign my cards. Athletics Great Gus Zernial responded with an interaction he had with Branch Rickey around 1940, when Zernial was a young 17-year old.

Fond memory: As a 17 year old I attended a St Louis Cards Try Out Camp. The Great Man of Baseball was Branch Rickey - He sat in a chair and had every youngster come before him - I did that and he said to me "Run" - I ran and came back and he said to me "You play centerfield."
Great memory.

Correspondence received around 1997.
Zernial passed away in 2011 at the age of 87.

Chicago White Sox (1949–1951)
Philadelphia / Kansas City Athletics (1951–1957)
Detroit Tigers (1958–1959)

Career highlights and awards:
All-Star (1953)
AL home run leader (1951)
AL RBI leader (1951)
Philadelphia Baseball Wall of Fame

Batting average .265
Home runs 237
Runs batted in 776

Friday, February 5, 2021

A Brothers Hand-Me-Down Glove

Another question I would sometimes ask players had to do with the glove they used: their first or their favorite glove, or what their method was for breaking it in...got some really interesting responses to that one! Jerry Staley's first glove was a hand-me-down from his brother. I'm assuming this was when he was a kid, and not in reference to his first major league glove.

Also interesting that he never saw a major league game until he was actually in the majors.

Correspondence receive in February 2003.
Jerry Staley passed away January 2, 2008 (aged 87).

St. Louis Cardinals (1947–1954)
Cincinnati Redlegs (1955)
New York Yankees (1955–1956)
Chicago White Sox (1956–1961)
Kansas City Athletics (1961)
Detroit Tigers (1961)

Career highlights and awards:
4× All-Star (1952, 1953, 1960 (both All-Star games))

Win–loss record 134–111
Earned run average 3.70
Strikeouts 727
Saves 61

Monday, February 1, 2021

One Page of Bob Chance

This series will highlight "one page" at a time from my binder of correspondence and autographs from former Angels and other veteran ballplayers and personnel.

   Bob Chance, 1st Base, California Angels 1969.
Drafted by the California Angels from the Washington Senators in the 1968 rule 5 draft, December 2, 1968.
Correspondence received in September 2005.
Bob Chance passed away October 3, 2013 (aged 73).

Cleveland Indians (1963–1964)
Washington Senators (1965–1967)
California Angels (1969)
Sankei/Yakult Atoms (1969–1970)

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Great Advice From A HOFer

When my son was young, between 6-9 years old, the question I asked of old-timers centered around advice for Tommy who was playing little league at the time, and for me as a dad of a little leaguer. I was surprised, and moved, how often these vets gave some genuine advice. Enos Slaughter was almost 81, and a HOFer for 12 years when he graciously responded to my request.

"Tommy, Get your educating first, work hard, listen to your coach, and try [to] learn the right way to play and keep practicing."

That's some great advice right there.

Correspondence received in February 1997.
Enos Slaughter passed away in 2002 at the age of 86.

St. Louis Cardinals (1938–1942, 1946–1953)
New York Yankees (1954–1955)
Kansas City Athletics (1955–1956)
New York Yankees (1956–1959)
Milwaukee Braves (1959)

Career highlights and awards:
10× All-Star (1941, 1942, 1946–1953)
4× World Series champion (1942, 1946, 1956, 1958)
NL RBI leader (1946)
St. Louis Cardinals No. 9 retired
St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame

Member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame (1985)

Batting average .300
Hits 2,383
Home runs 169
Runs batted in 1,304

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Bob Dillinger Does Not Like Questions

I love this response that I got from 86-year old Bob Dillinger. He longed for the old days of just scribbling his name on a piece of paper, and not having to fill out a short questionaire based on long ago memories.

Corresponence received in January 2004.
Bob Dillinger passed away November 7, 2009 (aged 91).

St. Louis Browns (1946–1949)
Philadelphia Athletics (1950)
Pittsburgh Pirates (1950–1951)
Chicago White Sox (1951)

All-Star (1949)
3× AL stolen base leader (1947–1949)

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Bob Doerr, My First Signed HOF Plaque Postcard

In 1996 I made my second trip to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown. One of my pickups from the giftshop was a set of HOF Plaque postcards (wish I would have thought of it during my first trip in 1992). The first postcard I sent out for an autograph was Bobby Doerr's who was always a very generous TTM signer.

I used to ask pretty generic questions back then, thought I'd make it easier on the player. These days I do a little more research and ask more specific questions.

I wrote to Mr. Doerr several times over the years, the correspondence directly above came with the plaque postcard in March 1997.
Bobby Doerr passed away November 13, 2017 (aged 99).

Boston Red Sox (1937–1944, 1946–1951)

9× All-Star (1941–1944, 1946–1948, 1950, 1951)
Boston Red Sox No. 1 retired
Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame
National Baseball Hall of Fame (1986)

Saturday, January 16, 2021

One Page of Jack Paepke

This series will highlight "one page" at a time from my binder of correspondence and autographs from former Angels and Patriots players and personnel.

   Jack Paepke, Coach/Scout, Los Angeles/California Angels 1961-1966
Correspondence received September 2008.
Coach Paepke passed away November 7, 2014 (aged 92).

Minor Leaguer in Brooklyn and Pittsburgh systems (1941-1958)
Manager in Pittsburghs farm system (1953-1958)
Bullpen Coach Los Angeles/California Angels (1961–1966)
Angels and Expos Scout

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Lonny Frey, A Typewriter, And Onion Paper

Years ago, when I started sending out correspondence to former players, I didn't have any vintage cards to send out for autographs, so I used index cards. I'd handwrite a note, ask a few questions and mail it off with a SASE. Often, the ballplayer, especially the older veterans, would include a little note, and a signed picture of their own. Every once in a while the player would take the time to write, or in this case, type, a more lengthy response.

Lonnie included the two signed photocopies of himself.

And like I said, he typed a very thoughtful response...on onion paper (he was 94 at the time!). If you dont know what onion paper is, it's what we used to use for typewritten letters: super thin, strong, but slightly translucent, making it a bit difficult to read sometimes, especially if your ink ribbon was starting to dry out.

Correspondence received in January, 2004.
Lonny Frey passed away September 13, 2009 (aged 99).

Brooklyn Dodgers (1933–1936)
Chicago Cubs (1937)
Cincinnati Reds (1938–1946)
Chicago Cubs (1947)
New York Yankees (1947–1948)
New York Giants (1948)

3× All-Star (1939, 1941, 1943)
2× World Series champion (1940, 1947)
NL stolen base leader (1940)
Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame

Saturday, January 9, 2021

John Welaj Left Me His Number

It must have been in early 2003 when I read a short biography in the Star-Telegram about an old ballplayer named John Welaj, who was 88 at the time, spending his senior years in a nearby retirement home. After his playing days in the early 40's he had worked for the Senators, then Rangers, but I was relatively new to Texas then, and hadn't heard of him. At that time I was heavy into corresponding with the older veteran ballplayers and thought I'd reach out to him. I sent him a personal note, mentioning the newspaper article, and asked him a few questions about his life and career. He responded to my note, signed my index card and included a signed photo.

Correspondence reveived in March, 2003.
Mr. Welaj passed away shortly after this on September 13, 2003 (aged 89).

So cool that he sent me his phone number. I have a vague memory of calling him and talking briefly about his career. I think what he's referring to in the second sentance is that he was glad that I reached out to him, and showed interest in his life.

Washington Senators (1939-1941)
Philadelphia Athletics (1943)
Major league executive for the Senators and Texas Rangers (1957- )
Director of stadium operations for the Rangers (1973-1984)
Rangers' spring training director (1985-1999)

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

One Page of John E. Olerud

 This series will highlight "one page" at a time from my binder of correspondence and autographs from former Angels and Patriots players and personnel.

This is not the Olerud you're probably thinking of, instead its his father who played for the Pacific Coast League Seattle Angels from 1965-1968.

   John Olerud C PCL Seattle Angels 1965-1968

Correspondence received November 2006.

Catcher in Angels, Cardinals, and Expos systems (1965-1971)

Monday, January 4, 2021

Where I'm Heading This Year

Last year may have been the death blow to me buying cards and ripping packs just for the fun of it. Money has been tight and packs have scarce at my local retailers. After coming back to blogging early last year, it's been a bit of a struggle keeping up interest in collecting and, therefore, keeping up with blogging about it.

I swore last year that I would keep up my 1995 Skybox Emotion blog, especially since I'm fairly close to finishing going through the set. But even that has petered out. Maybe this year?

I had a pretty good year trading, or at least, not one of my dryer years. And I received a lot of nice things in return. I'm still in for trading and receiving, but I'm kinda burned out blogging about it. I think I just need a little change to the routine.

Lately I've been a bit nostalgic about my binders of TTM correspondence, much of which I received prior to starting this blog, so I'm thinking of putting more of a focus on sharing that this year. And not just from former Angels as I have been doing with my "One Page" series. I have a lot of written responses and autographed items from non-Angels old-timers as well.

Anyhow, that's where I'm at.

Let's all have a great year.