THE AUTOGRAPH GAME
E.M. Swift's article about autograph collecting (Back Off!, Aug. 13) speaks volumes about what has happened in this country. The only things that seem to matter these days, even to youngsters, have dollar signs attached to them.
Thirty-five to 40 years ago, when I lingered outside the Polo Grounds and Ebbets Field at least an hour after a game had concluded, I settled for an occasional autograph. But the memories I most treasure are the handshakes from Willie Mays, Duke Snider, Roy Campanella and others, and my having the opportunity to tell them how much they meant to me.
Mount Vernon, N.Y.
The autograph scene hasn't changed all that much from the early 1940s; it has just become better organized and more noticeable. My father tells of getting Ted Williams's autograph. Dad was waiting down the street from Yankee Stadium while his friend Tom Bolen waited with a mob of fans by the players' entrance. Suddenly, an empty cab pulled up in front of my father and Ted Williams came rushing from the Stadium. Dad asked Williams for his autograph, and, seeing the mob charging toward them, Williams told my father to get in the cab with him. People were starting to shove pencils and paper at Williams through the cab window as it pulled away. The cab went around the block while Williams gave my father his autograph and then dropped him off. My father has passed the card down to me.
JEFFREY M. PADELL
East Walpole, Mass.
I'm in the eighth grade and earlier this summer at La Salle basketball camp [former La Salle forward and first-round draft pick] Lionel Simmons came in. All the kids, tons of them, followed him around, waving sheets of paper and pens. I thought I would love to be Lionel at that moment, but after reading E.M. Swift's article, I thought, What if every moment was like that one?
September 9, 1990
Steve Rushin's article about Nolan Ryan and his 300th victory (As Big as All Texas, Aug. 13) was the pleasure of my week. I was one of the 55,000 in attendance at Milwaukee to witness the great event. When Ryan left the game in the eighth inning to a standing ovation of more than two minutes, it almost brought tears to my eyes. Reading Rushin's article had the same effect. This is what baseball is supposed to be about: great athletes, great role models and great achievements.
The classic Norman Rockwell painting of the three umpires deliberating about a rainout has always confused me. The scoreboard shows the score to be 1-0 Pittsburgh, bottom of the sixth. Wouldn't this go into the books as an official game, Pittsburgh winning? Why then is the Pittsburgh manager so upset and the Brooklyn manager so gleefully pointing up to the clouds?
In your feature on Saturday Evening Post covers (An Illustrious Pastime, Aug. 6), the player sitting on the left side of the Red Sox bench on Norman Rockwell's March 2, 1957, cover looks like pitcher Frank Sullivan. Sitting to his right, tying his shoe, is outfielder Jackie Jensen. Can you tell me who the others are?
•The players in the Red Sox painting, as they were identified at the time by the Post: Seated, from left to right, are catcher Sammy White, Sullivan and Jensen; standing are (as the Post put it) "John J. Anonymous," Ted Williams (actually a model stand-in for Williams, who wasn't present when Rockwell painted the picture) and a Pitts-field High student named Sherman Safford; and barely visible, at right, is infielder Billy Goodman.
As for the rainout cover, the Post wrote that Rockwell imagined Dodger coach Clyde Sukeforth saying, "You may be all wet, but it ain't raining a drop," and Pirate manager Billy Meyer responding, "For the love of Abner Doubleday, how can we play in this cloudburst?" The decision of umpires Larry Goetz, Beans Reardon and Lou Gorda is still up in the air.—ED.
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