Shortstop—Chicago White Sox 1930-43,1945-50, Manager—Kansas City Athletics 1967 [.310 avg, Hall of Fame 1964]
You can't let any team awe you. If you do, you'll wind up a horseshit player.
See his grave at Sawnee View Gardens, Cumming, Georgia.
Center Field—Philadelphia Phillies 1948-59, Chicago Cubs 1960-61, New York Giants 1962 [.308 avg, 29 HR, 109 triples, 1198 base on balls, 234 stolen bases; most hits in 1950s (1,875), Hall of Fame 1995]
Opening Day at Shibe Park in 1948 was one I’ll never forget, for it wrapped up the dreams of a lifetime in one afternoon. It was my first big league game. I got a thrill even walking into the park, hearing the fans outside say, “There goes Ashburn!” I felt my fingers tingle as I pulled on my uniform. I walked on air as I went on the field. The big crowd, the large stands, the bands made my blood run hot and cold. I pinched myself to make sure I was alive, that it wasn’t a dream. Ever since I was a little boy I had dreamed and prayed for that moment.
This 1951 Tom Paprocki cartoon is one of two autographed by Richie Ashburn in my collection. The other is a 1948 Alan Maver cartoon.
See You Tube video of Ashburn entitled "A Baseball Life."
See his grave at Gladwyn United Methodist Church Cemetery, Gladwyne, Pennsylvania.
Center Field—Negro Leagues: St. Louis Stars 1922-31, Detroit Wolves 1932, Kansas City Monarchs 1932, Pittsburgh Crawfords 1933-36, Chicago American Giants 1942, Washington Homestead Grays 1943-46 [.338 avg, 173 SB, Hall of Fame 1974]
When I started, they thought I was going to be afraid playing in front of big crowds, because I was a country boy. When I joined the team, Gatewood, the manager, said to me, "We're going on the road for a month. Now you just watch everything. You got a lot to learn." Our first stop was Indianapolis. They beat us three games. So Gatewood said, "What the heck, I'd just as soon put you in there. But don't be afraid. Don't pay any attention to the crowd." We got a big lead in the fourth game, and he put me in to pitch the last two innings. I struck a couple of them out, and some of the fellows said, "Hey, that kid's mighty cool. He takes everything cool." So they started calling me Cool. When I'd go in, they'd yell, "C'mon Cool," like that. But that didn't sound right. That's not enough of a name, they said, got to put something else on it. They added Papa to it and started calling me Cool Papa. That's where it came from. In 1922.
James "Cool Papa" Bell
See his grave at St. Peters Cemetery, Normandy, Missouri.
Shortstop—Cleveland Indians 1938-50, Boston Red Sox 1951-52; Manager—Cleveland Indians 1942-50, Boston Red Sox 1952-54, Kansas City Athletics 1955-57, Chicago Cubs 1960 [American League MVP 1948, .295 avg, 385 doubles, Hall of Fame 1970; Basketball Coach—Hammond Ciesar All-Americans (NBL) 1939]
He wasn't fast, and he had bad ankles that he had to tape up before every ball game, but he had an amazing sense of anticipation and he could come up with the ball every time. He had a good arm, too, and he could hit. He had one other thing going for him—he was a fighter. Lou gave it the old college try every day.
Lou Boudreau autographed this 1952 Alan Maver cartoon. I also have signed cartoons by him on two different 1941 and 1944 Jack Sords and a 1941 Tom Paprocki cartoon. I have a 1937 Art Krenz cartoon of him playing basketball for the University of Illinois shown on my basketball autograph website (see links).
See his grave at Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Frankfort, Illinois.
Outfield—Chicago Cubs 1961-64, St. Louis Cardinals 1964-79 [.293 avg, 938 stolen bases, 1610 runs, 486 doubles, 141 triples, 149 HR, Hall of Fame 1985]
I can't run from 1st to 2nd in 3.5 seconds. I don't think I could when I was younger, and I'm slower now . So the key is that instant when the shift of the pitcher's anatomy tells me that he can't come to 1st. He has to go to the plate. I go on that shift. That extra instant is all I need to make it safely. Basically, good base runners all have to have the same things. You have to have speed and quick reflexes. After that you succeed or fail on what you can learn by observation.
Lou Brock autographed a basketball game program for a friend on May 12, 1990. My friend, knowing of my love for autographs and Cardinal baseball, gave me the program. I enjoyed going to Busch Stadium when I lived in St. Louis to watch Brock play.
Watch a video clip of Lou Brock talking about his career.
Outfield—Newark Eagles (Negro League) 1942-43,1946-47, Cleveland Indians 1947-55,1958, Chicago White Sox 1956-57,1959, Detroit Tigers 1959 [.283 avg, 253 HR, 960 runs, 969 RBI; first black player to integrate American League; Hall of Fame 1998]
He was the second black player in major league baseball, the first in the American League. He had nothing but talent, but Larry was obsessed with the idea that he wasn't getting the publicity that Jackie Robinson was getting. I tried to explain to him that Jackie was with the Dodgers and he was with Cleveland, and it was like night and day. Playing in Cleveland, Larry could never hope to get the same degree of publicity Jackie received in New York. Larry was very bitter about it throughout his career. But as far as being a ballplayer, he sure could play. . . .Larry Doby could be a grouchy person and was not popular with the team, the fans, or the media. . . .Doby was a belligerent with his black teammates as he was with everyone else. In fact, I always thought Larry resented the other black players. It was as if Larry felt he was the first black player in the league so he deserved special recognition.
This is the actual Larry Doby card that I got in a pack of cards (probably bought from Wolfe's Market) in 1956. How fortunate I am to still have all my old trading cards.
He was cremated.
Second Base—Boston Red Sox 1937-44,1946-51 [.288 avg, 223 HR, Hall of Fame 1986]
He looked like he was born to play second base in the big leagues and nothing else. He was so smooth, it always looked so easy for him.
Bobby Doerr autographed this 1942 Jack Sords cartoon. I also have signed cartoons of a 1943 Jack Sords, 1937 Art Krenz, 1945 Alan Maver "Stars in Service," and a 1947 John Pierotti.
Shortstop—New York Yankees 1925,1928-29, Cincinnati Reds 1930-33, St. Louis Cardinals 1933-37, Brooklyn Dodgers 1938-41,1943,1945 [.247 avg, 1637 games, 575 runs, 210 doubles; Manager—Brooklyn Dodgers 1939-46,1948, New York Giants 1948-55, Chicago Cubs 1966-72, Houston Astros 1972-73; 3740 games, 2010 W, 1710 L, Hall of Fame 1994]
It was easy to play for Leo Durocher. All he would ask of you is to be alert, hustle, play to win, and you had no problem. Now the fellows that could not get along with Leo were those who were the crybabies. Yeah, Leo could chew you out. . . he did not care where it was, whether it be riding on the train or in a restaurant or on the ballfield or in the locker room. He didn't pick his spots, but the best manager I ever played for in the major leagues was Leo Durocher.
Leo Durocher autographed this 1938 Willard Mullin cartoon.
See his grave in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Los Angeles, California.
Catcher—St. Louis Browns 1929-33,1941-43, Boston Red Sox 1933-37, Washington Senators 1937-41 [.281 avg, 687 runs, 734 RBI, Hall of Fame 1984]
Brother or no brother, … he was a real classy receiver. You never saw him lunge for the ball; he never took a strike away from you. He’d get more strikes for a pitcher than anybody I ever saw, because he made catching look easy.
Rick Ferrell autographed this 1944 Jack Sords cartoon.
See his grave in New Garden Friends Cemetery, Greensboro, North Carolina.
Second Base—Detroit Tigers 1924-42 [.320 avg, 1774 runs, 1427 RBI, 184 HR, 181 SB, Hall of Fame 1949]
You can wind him up in the spring and he’ll hit .320 with 40 doubles. All I know is that whenever I’m pitching, he’s on base.
This 1943 Alan Maver "Stars in Service" is one of five cartoons autographed by Charlie Gehringer in my collection. The others include a 1934 unattributed cartoon (appears to be a Jack Sords), a cartoon from a Detroit Tigers publication, and a Tom Paprocki cartoon also signed Billy Herman (see below).
See his grave in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Southfield, Michigan.
Second Base—Chicago Cubs 1931-41, Brooklyn Dodgers 1941-43,1946, Boston Braves 1946, Pittsburgh Pirates 1947; Manager—Boston Red Sox 1964-66 [.304 avg, 1163 runs, 839 RBI, 47 HR, Hall of Fame 1975]
I was playing with Louisville. After Rogers Hornsby broke his ankle, the Cubs scouted me and purchased my contract. I was carried off the field in a stretcher in my big league debut in 1931. I singled off Si Johnson of the Reds in my first at bat. The next time up, I was plunked behind the left ear by a foul ball off my bat. I was bleeding and was knocked unconscious.
This beautiful Tom Paprocki cartoon was autographed by both Billy Herman and Charlie Gehringer. I also have a Herman-signed 1932 Jack Sords cartoon. The colored pencil sketch was drawn by my son, David, in about 1990. David was about ten years old at the time. The signed drawing is in his collection.
See his grave in Riverside Memorial Park, Tequesta, Florida.
Pitcher—Chicago White Sox 1972-76, Pittsburgh Pirates 1977, New York Yankees 1978-83,1989, San Diego Padres 1984-87, Chicago Cubs 1988, San Francisco Giants 1989, Texas Rangers 1991, Oakland A’s 1992-93, Seattle Mariners 1994 [124 W, 107 L; 3.01 ERA, 1502 SO, 310 Saves; Hall of Fame 2008]
I could always throw because I used to have rock fights with my friends. The lady who put together a kids team heard about it when I was 8 and said, “You're the pitcher.” Our high school team wasn't much, but I could throw. Scouts came to see me one day, but I was horrible after having pitched a bunch of innings two days earlier, and they all left. Bill Kimball of the White Sox drafted and signed me instead. Chuck Tanner put me in the bullpen. It was considered a dump pile, but I didn't care because I was in the majors. Chuck was a straight-shooter, a tough guy when he had to be. I didn't have a good spring my second year. He showed me where my name had been on the roster and said, “You were part of this staff, but you're not going north right now.” I said, “Yeah? Well, I'm the best you've got.” He got right into my face and yelled, “Really? Well, get out there and prove it.” I went out and proved it. Chuck and I still laugh about that. Paul Richards made me a starter in 1975 when he was the manager, but that was a disaster [9-17 record]. In hindsight, it was the greatest thing to happen to me. I went back to the bullpen and stayed. I loved coming in with the game on the line. I had a lot of great moments with the Yankees. The best probably was the 1978 Red Sox game after Bucky Dent had put us ahead with his homer. Carl Yastrzemski came up with a runner in scoring position and two outs in the ninth. It was the only time I talked to myself on the mound. I said, “You're not having any fun,” and I answered, “Yeah, but Yaz is coming up,” and I said, “So what? You can hunt elk in Colorado later.” I got Yaz to foul out, and we went on to win the World Series. Tom Bradley gave me the nickname Goose when he was my roomie on the White Sox. When I pitched for Pittsburgh in 1977, I walked a real goose around on a leash before games. The kids loved it. I wore a lot of uniforms, but the Yankees' black pinstripes and the White Sox' red pinstripes were the best. The worst were the White Sox' short pants in 1976. It almost caused an uprising. We looked like little kids. We called Wilbur Wood the Pillsbury Doughboy. Thank God it was only one game.
See You Tube video of Goose Gossage giving his Hall of Fame induction speech.
Pitcher—Kansas City Athletics 1965-67, Oakland A’s 1968-74, New York Yankees 1975-79 [224 W, 166 L; 3.26 ERA, 2012 SO, 42 shutouts, Hall of Fame 1987]
If I had done everything I was supposed to, I’d be leading the league in homers, have the highest batting average, have given $100,000 to the Cancer Fund and be married to Marie Osmond.
Outfield—Detroit Tigers 1953-74 [.297 avg, 3007 hits, 1622 runs, 1583 RBI, 399 HR, Hall of Fame 1980]
I'll never forget that first night with the team. Going to the ballpark on the bus was the hardest 30 minutes of my life. I had to walk down that aisle between all the players. I really didn't know too much about the Detroit Tigers at that time. I didn't know who was on the team, but I saw every eye as I walked down the aisle. It looked like a thousand eyes were staring right at me saying, “Who is this young punk?” I just kept my eyes straight ahead. I had only one suit to my name. I could feel myself sweating under the arms. I could feel the sweat running down my sides. We lost my first game. I missed the ball with guys on second and third when the batter hit a line drive out to right. I started in for the ball but I just couldn't get it. I should have caught it because I was used to catching everything on the sandlots. But they hit the ball a lot harder in the major leagues and I just couldn't reach the ball this time. As the days went on, I didn't mind the games. In fact, I looked forward to them. That was the easiest part of all. I couldn't wait to get to the ballpark I'd be the first one there and I was willing to do anything. I think that's why the veterans liked me. But the rest of it really scared me. All of a sudden I'm in the major leagues and we're traveling from town to town. I see the other players dressing different every day. I've got only one suit and I keep wearing it over and over. I'm really embarrassed. I don't even want to leave my hotel room. I lived at the Wolverine Hotel in Detroit. I didn't know what to do with my time. We didn't play many night games—14 or so—and so I was off almost every night. I'd go to the movies a lot and just walk around the streets looking in the store windows. It's 10 or even or 12 o'clock and I've got nothing to do and I'm just wandering around the streets feeling pretty lonely.
This is the actual Al Kaline card that I got in a pack of cards (probably bought from Wolfe's Market) in 1955. How fortunate I am to still have all my old trading cards.
Al Kaline's autograph was obtained on this 29 June 1963 game program. The Tigers beat the Angels 6-5 in that game. The autographed program was a gift to me in 1970 from a man who knew I liked baseball. Other autographs on this page include Rocky Colavito and Norm Cash.
See You Tube video of Ernie Harwell touting the talents of Al Kaline; includes old footage of him playing.
Third Base—Philadelphia Phillies 1943-46, Detroit Tigers 1946-52, Boston Red Sox 1952-54, Chicago White Sox 1954-56, Baltimore Orioles 1956-57 [.306 avg, 881 runs, 870 RBI, 78 HR, Hall of Fame 1983]
In ‘48 I was making $35,000 and I led the league in hitting and I got a raise to $45,000. And the very next year I did not lead the league. I believe I lost to Ted by one point and they wanted to cut my salary to $40,000. I argued. I don't know why I did. I was afraid to argue—back in those days you didn't do things such as that! Mr. Bill Evans was the general manager of the Tigers. I said, “Mr. Evans, I should be the highest paid infielder in the American League. I hit .300 every year since I have been here, and made the All-star team every year.” He said, “Okay, I won't argue with that. Who do you think is making more than $45,000?” “Rizzuto. He is making $50,000 and I think I should make more than him. He doesn't hit .300 every year.” Evans agreed telling me that if Rizzuto was making $50,000, he would pay me $50,500! A couple of days later Mr. Evans called me in. “I called the Yankees. They tell me they are paying Rizzuto $45,000.” What could I say? “Mr. Evans, we had a deal. If they are paying him $45,000, then that is fine with me.” The next time I saw Phil, I ask, “I thought you told me you were making $50,000?” “Ah,” he said, “I was just putting you on.” I sure made him know he made me look like a bozo. But that is what you had to do in those days to get a pay increase. And it didn't hurt to have the numbers!
George Kell autographed this 1949 Alan Maver cartoon. He also signed a 1948 Jack Sords and a 1950 Maver cartoon. On my January 1991 autograph request letter, he asked if I would send him a copy of the 1950 Alan Maver cartoon. I happily complied.
See his grave in Swifton Cemetery, Swifton, Arkansas.
Pitcher—Cleveland Indians 1941-42,1946-58 [207 W, 128 L; 3.23 ERA, 2850 innings pitched, 1277 SO, 188 complete games, Hall of Fame 1976] ; Manager—Kansas City Royals 1970-72, Chicago White Sox 1977-78, New York Yankees 1978-79,1981-82
I have to rate Lemon as one of the very best pitchers I ever faced. His ball was always moving, hard, sinking, fast-breaking. You could never really uhmmmph with Lemon.
This is the actual Bob Lemon card that I got in a pack of cards (probably bought from Wolfe's Market) in 1956. How fortunate I am to still have all my old trading cards.
Bob Lemon autographed this 1948 Jack Sords cartoon. I also have a 1951 Alan Maver cartoon signed by Lemon.
He was cremated.
First Base—Brooklyn Royal Giants (Negro League) 1933, Washington Homestead Grays (Negro League) 1934-48 [.324 avg, Hall of Fame 1972]
We saw that our [black ballplayer’s] best was as good as their [white ballplayer’s] best. Then when the [post-season barnstorming] game was over, we'd go our way and they'd go theirs. It was frustrating . . . .It was tough playing in the Negro leagues, but we loved baseball and we just made ourselves content playing in our own league. I played with the Homestead Grays for seventeen years out of the twenty-three I played. I also played every winter in Latin America—Cuba, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. My last five years I was down in Mexico for the summers too, playing for Durango. We had to play year-round to make enough to live. If you had a family you couldn't support them. They never used to pay us a nickel during spring training, for example, only board and room and laundry. And sometimes maybe four dollars or five dollars to spend. I remember one fellow—a good pitcher—came to our spring training camp in Orlando, Florida. But he had three kids. We couldn't pay him enough, so he had to quit us. From February to May our living expenses were covered by the gate from our exhibition games, no payday until May 1 when our official season opened in Pittsburgh. When I first started with the Homestead Grays in 19 and 34, they were giving us sixty cents a day for meals. We'd only eat two meals a day, a big cheap breakfast and a meal at four in the afternoon. No steak. If you had a night game, you'd eat after the game. And we stayed in rooming houses. We couldn't afford hotels. We'd double up, two men on one bed. No air conditioning. Sometimes a fan maybe. If we traveled overnight it was two men would sleep in the upper berth and two in the lower berth of a Pullman. If you wanted to get up in the night to go to the bathroom, you had to climb over everybody. Mostly though, we traveled by bus. We'd go thirty thousand miles and play 200 games in a season. In 1938, we played 210. About half of them were league games. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays were for exhibitions. It was tough, but we did it 'cause we loved the game . . . .And we never kept proper statistics, so there's no permanent record, and you're liable to get a different story from each one of us. It's just what we can remember—and pass along.
On my June 1989 autograph request letter, I asked Buck Leonard which pitcher he would have least like to have faced in a clutch situation. His answer: "Sat[c]hel Paige."
See his grave in Gardens of Gethsemane, Rocky Mount, North Carolina.
Catcher—Brooklyn Dodgers 1928,1930-35, Boston Bees 1936-40, Pittsburgh Pirates 1940-46, Cleveland Indians 1947 [.261 avg, Hall of Fame 1977]; Manager—Cleveland Indians 1951-56, Chicago White Sox 1957-69
Lopez was one of the best catchers in baseball. He was a terrific man for the pitchers, because he could catch those low pitches and make them look good to the umpires.
Al Lopez autographed this 1936 Jack Sords cartoon.
See his grave in Garden of Memories Cemetery, Tampa, Florida.
Outfield/First Base—St. Louis Cardinals 1941-44,1946-63 [3026 games, .331 avg, 475 HR, 725 doubles, 1951 RBI, 1949 runs; hit 5 home runs in a doubleheader 1954; National League MVP 1943,1946,1948; Hall of Fame 1969]
Before the game, Wally Westlake came over to Musial in the dugout, and he says, “Isn’t it a perfect day today? The bacon was perfect in the hotel. I’ve been whacking the ball in batting practice. I feel super today. I feel three hits today. Do you ever feel that way, Stan?” And Musial says, “Every day.”
Stan Musial sent me these autographs in December 1988.
See Stan Musial hit a game-winning home run in a video clip of the 1955 All Star game in which the National League won a 12-inning contest 6-5.
Pitcher—Detroit Tigers 1939-53, Cleveland Indians 1954-55 [207 W, 150 L; 3.06 ERA, 212 complete games, 1796 SO, 33 shutouts; Hall of Fame 1992]
I was born and raised in Beaumont, Texas, and they had a Detroit Tiger farm club. . . . I was a kid in the knothole gang, only about 15 . . . . I followed that club, and one of my idols was Newhouser. Now, Hal was a great pitcher, and he’s never been given a lot of credit because he pitched during the war years, but let me tell you—this guy was a pitcher. He could throw. It was the late ‘30s when I’d followed those guys in Beaumont, and I played my first big-league game in Detroit in 1949, and who was on the mound? Hal Newhouser. And I tell you, I looked at this guy, and it was a childhood kind of a dream. Here I’m facing a guy I idolized when I was a kid. Now, I’m no longer a kid, but I’m facing this same guy. I remember talking to Appling. I said, “Hey, Luke, what does this guy throw?” He said, “Other than aspirin tablets, he‘s got a pretty good curveball.” The very first time I went to the plate, as I recall it, he threw three pitches, and I don’t think I saw any of them. They were all strikes. He beat us 4-1, I think. We only got three hits. Appling got one of them, I got the other two. But my first time at bat, I went down on strikes to a guy I idolized as a kid. It was Newhouser.
This is the actual Hal Newhouser card that I got in a pack of cards (probably bought from Wolfe's Market) in 1955. How fortunate I am to still have all my old trading cards.
See his grave in Oakland Hills Memorial Gardens Cemetery, Novi, Michigan.
Shortstop—Brooklyn Dodgers 1940-57, Los Angeles Dodgers 1958 [1338 runs, .269 avg, Hall of Fame 1984]
I didn’t go with the Dodgers until spring training of 1940. We were training in Clearwater, and I weighed all of 155 pounds soaking wet. Looking like I was sixteen, I guess. When I got there, I didn’t know any of the fellas on the team, and I was scared to death. But within a few days, Dolph Camilli, Harry Lavagetto, and Pete Coscarart, which was the whole infield, made me feel at home. Wherever they went, they took me with them. Why did they do it? Beats the hell out of me. I was just a scared kid from Kentucky, and these guys had been up in the majors for a while. I guess it was because I was just such a helluva nice kid—if you’ll accept that.
Pee Wee Reese
See Pee Wee Reese in a video clip of the October 4, 1955 final game of the World Series in which the Brooklyn Dodgers beat the New York Yankees. See video clip of Reese getting a hit in the 1952 World Series. See a video clip of Reese getting decked by a pitch and tagged out on a steal in the final game of the 1947 World Series.
See his grave in Resthaven Memorial Park Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky.
Shortstop—New York Yankees 1941-42,1946-56 [.273 avg, 149 stolen bases, 877 runs, 239 doubles, 562 RBI; Hickock Belt 1950, Hall of Fame 1994]
He was the best shortstop I'd ever seen. He was so quick, with extraordinarily quick feet, he could always make the plays. He was the best shortstop of the era—he held that team [Yankees] together the way Pee Wee Reese held the Dodgers together.
This Tom Paprocki cartoon appeared in newspapers in 1949. I also have another Pap cartoon from 1950 autographed by Phil Rizzuto.
See close-up of Phil Rizzuto in video clip of Yankees 1955 spring training.
He was cremated.
Pitcher—Philadelphia Phillies 1948-61, Baltimore Orioles 1962-65, Houston Astros 1965-66, Chicago Cubs 1966 [286 W, 245 L; 305 complete games, 3.41 ERA, 2357 SO, Hall of Fame 1976]
I don’t think anyone was ever able to concentrate in a baseball game any better than I was. I stood out there in total isolation., just throwing that ball as well as I could. Nothing bothered me. I can remember those good ball games in the early fifties when we played the Dodgers in Philadelphia. Generally it was Newcombe and me, and there would be around 35,000 people in the stands. After the game I would be driving home with my wife and I’d say, “Was there a big crowd tonight?” “It was jammed,” she’d say. Not once, not warming up, not pitching, had I ever looked at the crowd. Nor did I ever hear them. That’s how intensely I concentrated.
This is the actual Robin Roberts card that I got in a pack of cards (probably bought from Wolfe's Market) in 1956. How fortunate I am to still have all my old trading cards.
This Alan Maver cartoon appeared in newspapers in 1950. I also have a signed 1950 Tom Paprocki cartoon and another 1949 Maver cartoon autographed by Robin Roberts.
See Robin Roberts in a video clip of the 1955 All Star game in which the National League won a 12-inning contest 6-5.
Pitcher—New York Mets 1966-71, California Angels 1972-79, Houston Astros 1980-88, Texas Rangers 1989-91 [324 W, 292 L; 3.19 ERA, 5714 SO; Hall of Fame 1999]
When you talk velocity, Nolan threw the hardest. Nolan threw it down the strike zone harder than any human being I ever saw. In 1973 against the Red Sox, Nolan threw a pitch a little up and over my left shoulder. I reached up for it and Nolan's pitch tore a hole in the webbing of my glove and hit the backstop at Fenway Park.
Watch a video clip of Nolan Ryan recording his 5,000 career strikeout as he fanned Rickey Henderson in 1989.
Third Base—Philadelphia Phillies 1972-89 [ .267 avg, 548 HR, 1595 RBI, 1506 runs, National League MVP 1980-81,1986, Hall of Fame 1995]
Mike Schmidt is the baddest white boy I've ever seen play the game. Period.
Dick "Richie" Allen
See video clip of Mike Schmidt making his tearful retirement announcement.
Second Base—St. Louis Cardinals 1945-56,1961-63, New York Giants 1956-57, Milwaukee Braves 1957-60 [.289 avg, 427 doubles, 1223 runs, 773 RBI, Hall of Fame 1989]; Manager—St. Louis Cardinals 1965-76,1980
At six-foot-one, he was big for a second baseman and there was nothing flashy about him, but he played the position as well as I’ve ever seen it played. Every time you looked up it seemed wherever the ball was hit to that side of the infield, he was there. In 1950, he set a National League record for handling 320 consecutive chances without an error at second. Red simply had a knack for knowing exactly where to play the hitters. He got that from knowing his own pitchers and where they threw the ball. Red was quite a hitter too. He batted .289 with 2,449 hits lifetime and narrowly missed winning the National League batting title in 1953 when he hit .342. Strangely enough, it was a bad eye that prompted him to become a switch-hitter. As the story goes, at Union City, Tennessee, his first minor league stop in the Cardinals’ system, Red hit safely eight straight times right-handed when he suddenly shocked his manager by asking to hit left-handed, explaining that, because of a bad left eye, every time a right-hander threw him a curve ball his nose got in the way and he couldn’t pick it up. I only know he hit with authority from both sides of the plate and if he really did have an eye problem he sure fooled the rest of us.
This is the actual Red Schoendienst card that I got in a pack of cards (probably bought from Wolfe's Market) in 1956. How fortunate I am to still have all my old trading cards.
Shortstop/Third Base—Cleveland Indians 1920-30, New York Yankees 1931-33 [436 doubles, .312 avg, Hall of Fame 1977]
I finished the University of Alabama in the spring of 1920, intending to go on and become a doctor like my father before me. That summer I had an offer to play professional ball down in New Orleans, and I took it, still intending to study medicine in the fall. Well, I was going along pretty good down there playing shortstop, when all of a sudden I got a call from the Cleveland Indians. It was as a result of one of the worst tragedies ever in baseball. Ray Chapman, the Cleveland shortstop, got killed by a pitch that hit him in the head. I can remember hearing the news, and I was shocked by it like everyone else. But I never dreamed I was the man fate intended to fill that position. I'd only been playing professional ball for a month and half, and I got the call to go to Cleveland. I'd never even seen a major league ball game, but there out of the blue I was right in the middle of a red-hot three-way pennant race—White Sox, Indians, and Yankees. Cleveland was about two games out in front when I come to town. The second day I was there, Tris Speaker, the manager, told me he was putting me in the lineup. The boy they had in there playing for Chapman was a good fielder, but he couldn't hit. I guess they thought I could. I wasn't quite so sure. But I did all right. Stayed there eleven years.
In June 1989, Joe Sewell appended this note on the bottom of my autograph request letter. I had asked him which pitcher he would have least wanted to have faced in a clutch situation. He answered, "They were all tough, but there were a few I hated to see warm up to pitch, they were Dutch Leonard, Walter Johnson, and Lefty Grove."
See his grave in Tuscaloosa Memorial Park, Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Outfield—St. Louis Cardinals 1938-53, New York Yankees 1954-55,1956-59, Kansas City Athletics 1955-56, Milwaukee Braves 1959 [.300 avg, 169 HR, Hall of Fame 1985]
I was born in Roxboro, North Carolina. I guess it was what you’d call a textile town, though there was also quite a bit of farming done around there, too. My father owned a farm and we raised a little corn, some wheat, and tobacco, of course; tobacco was our money crop. There were five boys in our family and we took turns milking cows. I used to walk to and from school, and when it was my turn to milk the cows I’d come home and get my pails and go down to low ground where we kept the cows, and milk them until it got dark. Next morning I’d get up early and do my milking and then head for school. I was doing that until I got out of high school. You know the old saying: “You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.” I guess that’s how you’d have to describe me. In fact, you know the nickname I had all through my baseball years — Country. Country Slaughter. I was strictly a country boy, and still am.
This is the actual Enos Slaughter card that I got in a pack of cards (probably bought from Wolfe's Market) in 1956. How fortunate I am to still have all my old trading cards.
This Alan Maver cartoon appeared in newspapers in 1950. I also have a 1941 Tom Paprocki cartoon and another 1944 Maver "Stars in Service" cartoon autographed by Enos Slaughter. On the reverse side of my October 1991 autograph request letter, Slaughter wrote, "I was there I spent three years in service. I was at Kearns for three weeks on my way to Tinian & Saipan." I had written him that I had seen his name mentioned in a Utah newspaper as having been at Camp Kearns in the Salt Lake Valley for awhile.
See his grave in Allensville United Church Cemetery, Allensville, North Carolina.
Center Field—Brooklyn Dodgers 1947-57, Los Angeles Dodgers 1958-62, New York Mets 1963, San Francisco Giants 1964 [.295 avg, 407 HR, Hall of Fame 1980]
The Dodgers were my favorite team ever since the 1941 World Series, when they lost . . . And when I got out of high school in 1943, I was offered a contract with the Dodgers and Cincinnati and Pittsburgh and St. Louis. . . . It was World War II. It was a chance to play ball, really. I got a $750 bonus, something like that. Tom Downey, the Dodger scout for California, came to my house one day with a typewriter, and he said, “I’m going to sign you to a Dodger contract.” My father was overseas in the war. The other scouts had told me, “Whatever the Dodgers offer you, we’ll offer more,” but nobody ever offered anything, and I was at the point where I knew I’d only be able to play one season and then I’d have to go into the service, so I told my mother, “Might as well sign,” and I did, and I was never sorry for it.
My kids give me grief for trading my 1956 Topps Mickey Mantle card for this Duke Snider (the actual) card when I was a kid. I traded it to Willie Froeberg. I have no regrets. I hated the Yankees. Still do.
This Alan Maver cartoon appeared in newspapers in 1950. I also have another different 1950 Maver cartoon, a 1951 Tom Paprocki cartoon, and a 1957 Ev Thorpe cartoon autographed by Duke Snider.
See Duke Snider in a video clip of the October 4, 1955 final game of the World Series in which the Brooklyn Dodgers beat the New York Yankees. See video clip of Snider in the first game of the 1955 World Series on September 28, 1955, in which the Yankees beat the Dodgers 6-5.
Pitcher—Boston Braves 1942,1946-52, Milwaukee Braves 1953-64, New York Mets 1965, San Francisco Giants 1965 [363 W, 245 L; 3.09 ERA, 2583 SO; struck out 18 batters in 15 inning game 1952; National League Cy Young Award 1957, Hall of Fame 1973]
For the long haul, for year-after-year performance, Warren Spahn was the best I ever saw. He was just a master of his trade. When he was out there I couldn't take my eyes off him. I'd watch him work on the good hitters—he was always pitching them from behind so they would be swinging at the pitch he wanted them to hit. Great control. Watching him was an education. You know, the guy pitched over twenty years and hardly ever missed a turn. I don't think he knew what a sore arm was. And another thing about Spahn: he didn't win his first game in the big leagues until he was twenty-five years old, and he still ended up with 363 lifetime wins.
This is the actual Warren Spahn card that I got in a pack of cards (probably bought from Wolfe's Market) in 1955. How fortunate I am to still have all my old trading cards.
This Alan Maver cartoon appeared in newspapers in 1950. I also have a 1950 Tom Paprocki cartoon signed by Warren Spahn.
See video clip of Warren Spahn standing with Lew Burdette as Ted Williams warms up his arm.
See his grave in Elmwood Cemetery, Hartshorne, Oklahoma.