There’s one more name missing from that roster of departed Cub characters.
I’ll never forget Bob Will, the outfielder whose 1960 starting job was won by future Hall of Famer Billy Williams. Nonetheless, Will never stopped loving the Cubs.
I’m flattered he read this blog before his death from cancer in 2011. I enjoyed a couple of conversations with Bob. Near his final days, I was able to convince several former Cubs to call their teammate for one last stroll down memory lane. Even announcer Pat Hughes was among those who shared a telephone chat with him.
Bob never stopped loving the Cubs. He would have loved the 2016 World Series outcome, too.
A collector, part of Cooperstown?
That’s one fascinating possibility lurking within the correspondence collection kept by the National Baseball Hall of Fame research library. The 25-page list produces many surprises, none of which may be on public display.
Everyone knows that Hall of Famer Don Sutton has been a reluctant by-mail signer for years. Well, the HOF owns a hand-written letter from the pitcher, offering advice to a young player in 1966. An article from the period documents the exchange.
Players like Jackie Robinson saved letters of support from fans. Browsing the list, I found one fan wrote Robinson six times from 1952-55.
Sure, the archive includes lots of business letters: owners, commissioners, journalists.
However, none of those official missives would match a single hand-written bit of correspondence between players and fans.
That’s the joy of Baseball By The Letters.
Gone at age 24.
What can collectors and researchers learn from such a shock as the accidental death of pitcher Jose Fernandez?
According to the ever-inspiring www.sportscollectors.net, Fernandez had responded to 17 of 67 TTM requests. The last success came in his 2013 rookie season, however.
This isn’t a post about stats, mind you. This is a message about the future.
Hurry up. Fate won’t wait.
Write to those baseball names NOW.