AN AUTOGRAPHED BASEBALL
Many times I am asked, “Would you like to see my sports scrapbook?” My answer is usually “Yes” as I love to spend hours looking at old newspaper clippings. After I have examined these scrapbooks sometimes there’s a final question, “What is this worth/” My reply is usually, “It is priceless.”
I also like to look at autographed baseballs and softballs. I even have a few. One is dated July 15, 1980. On that day Taylor Chapel UMC slow-pitch team beat St. Charles 13-5. Another I think very highly of is a ball autographed by Lee Weyer. Lee was a National Legue Umpire and a friend until he died July 4, 1988. another says Milwaukee Braves Training Camp Waycross, Georgia 1957 and it is signed by all the baseball managers and coaches in camp that year. The real worth of a ball is that it brings back memories.
The list of baseball people at this camp looks almost like a Baseball Hall of Fame. Ther were: Rex Carr, Bob Coleman, Mike Fondozzi, Travis Jackson, Godon Matzberger, Al Monchak and good ol’Paul Waner. Hugh Wise was the camp director with Doc Gautreau as his assistant.
Paul Waner and some of the other umpires and myself would play poker with “Texas Money”. Texas money was strips of newspaper with large strips being $100 bills and smaller strips $50. Can you imagine someone trying to bluff a pot with Texas Money. When the morning paper couldn’t be found Paul and I was accused of tearing it up to make Texas Money.
During rain delays, Bob Coleman and I would sit on lime bags in the rotunda and discuss baseball rules. Much could be learned from these men by just listening.
One day Travis Jackson told me a very interesting story that I will never forget. The 1928 season saw the New York Giants finish second two games behind the Cardinals. Travis had played in 150 games for the Giants but only hit .270. The Giants asked him to take a pay cut on his contract for 1929. Travis decided he wasn’t going to accept a pay cut and he was going to hold out and be stubborn. In Travis’ early playing days he was sometimes called “Stonewall”. The hold out lasted till the first day of Spring Training as he walked the floor all day at his home. That night a telegram went to Sanford, Florida—”I’ll be down and sign for what ever you want to pay me.”
Travis wanted to play ball so bad he just couldn’t hold out. Travis Jackson went into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982.
No one can tell me ball players are better now than years ago. I just can’t believe it. That’s The Way I Saw It.