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 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)