Thanking Milwaukee Brave Jack Dittmer

Posted November 18th, 2013 by Tom Owens and filed in Jack Dittmer, Milwaukee Braves, www.sportscollectors.net

Another impressive career has ended.

Jack Dittmer didn’t have Hall of Fame stats. He was a hobby hall of famer, however.

In October, Dittmer’s wife began sending out the sad news. I saw the update via the ever-insightful www.sportscollectors.net.

The second baseman now lives in a care facility. He can no longer sign autographs or answer questions.

Dittmer was at his best for my 2011 letter. See for yourself via the above link.

On SCN, his success rate was staggering: 175 success responses in 178 attempts.

Just a thought…

A note of thanks to Mrs. Dittmer might bring a bit of brightness during the holidays, considering her husband’s health. I’m sure she may have been an unsung hero in getting all those autographs returned.

Saying Goodbye To A 1954 Cub

Posted November 14th, 2013 by Tom Owens and filed in 1954 Chicago Cubs, Al Yellon, Don Robertson, Rich Hanson, www.BleedCubbieBlue.com

Don Robertson missed
out appearing in any
card sets. Trying to
any hopeful facts about
the 7th place Cubs, I
discovered Al Yellon’s
fun slugfest recap. Yea
for Bleed Cubbie Blue!

Rich Hanson is a collector role model for me. He seeks out baseball history in all shapes and sizes.

He got Don Robertson, a cup-of-coffee outfielder with the 1954 Chicago Cubs, to sign an index card this month. However, it wasn’t the typical autograph.

 

Rich added:

“This one was a sad response.  A note from his wife accompanied it saying ‘This is my husband’s last autograph.  He is 83 years old, has lung cancer and is in hospice now.'”
 
The 24-year-old was hitless in six plate appearances. His final kindness to one more collector counts as a game-winner in my eyes.
 
Please, subtract Mr. Robertson from your address list. Thank you for the update, Rich.

Pitcher Mike Hedlund’s Greatest 1971 Success: The Ultimate Veteran’s Day Story

Posted November 11th, 2013 by Tom Owens and filed in Bobby Bonds, Doc Ellis, Dustin Yancey, Jim Enright, Mike Hedlund, Mike Kilkenny, Nick Colosi, USO, Vietnam

An all-star patriot
from 1971

His 1972 Topps card doesn’t mention it. Oh, the seven complete games and one shutout from 1971 get a sentence, as well as being a 1963 Connie Mack All-Star.

However, I feel that Mike Hedlund’s greatest outing that year came off the field.

I wrote, and he responded with an epic memory:

“In 1971, the USO had tours to Vietnam with pro athletes. This tour had me, Bobby Bonds (Giants), Doc Ellis (Pirates), Mike Kilkenny (Tigers), Nick Colosi (National League umpire) and Jim Enright (Chicago Sun-Times reporter). We spent 2 weeks visiting mostly fire support bases in Vietnam.

It was quite an experience and I’m honored to have been able to do that. Our tour was to visit, talk and basically do whatever we could for those guys and morale.

Most of the soldiers we met were very secluded and sometimes we really had to work to get them to interact with us. It made me really appreciate the country and freedom we have in our country, thanks to the sacrifice our military men and women have made.”

Mike Hedlund is a joy to salute, too. He’s remained devoted to the fans and collectors, more than four decades after his last major league game.

I shared a story with Mike in my letter, too. I said goodbye to a cousin named Dustin Yancey this month in 2005, killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq.

Not just on Veterans Day, I’m grateful to all the Dustins, and all the Mikes.