Third baseman John Baumgartner really existed.
No baseball card documented this fact.In fact, few photos of any form may exist of the seven-day big leaguer. However, the Alabama native lived a dream for one week with the 1953 Detroit Tigers.
How did he find out? Baumgartner wrote me:
“On the way north from spring training, I had a good night with one home run and one double. I did not have a Major League contract before that game. My contract was waiting at the hotel desk for me when I came in. I signed it and took it to the G.M. room. I didn’t even look to see how much I would be paid. It was my Major League contract, something I had wanted all my life and I was beyond happy!”
From the always-awesome http://www.retrosheet.org/, I found the rookie treated a hometown crowd to a three-hit day against the Cleveland Indians. He remembers it all, even laughing about some of the outcome.
“One of the hits was up against the left center field wall. I thought it was out but it hit the top of the fence and I was held to a single. Embarrassing!”
In his battle to win a job, Baumgartner didn’t forget to appreciate his surroundings.
“I thought Briggs Stadium was beautiful. Ted Williams hit one out of the stadium, over the fence, over the second deck and over the press box going around right field. The ball went over the road outside the stadium and through a window of the bldg. there. It was so marked when I was there.
“My career in baseball lasted six years. It was all I ever wanted it to be — to do — I loved it and had a wonderful time playing.”
Full of gratitude and free of regret. John Baumgartner and his all-star attitude offer autograph collectors a noble name worth collecting.