I was delighted to receive a letter back from Jack Damaska. His month with the 1963 St. Louis Cardinals only hints at his many adventures during 17 years of pro baseball.
Fans would write in to get
free photos of their favorite
players. However, when a
player like Damaska returned
to the minors, the photos were
pulled. Therefore, his “postcard”
is rarer than stars like
Gibson or Brock.
I thought any Redbirds newcomer back then would know they had arrived when they were featured on a radio broadcast. Who talked with him?
“I was introduced to Harry Caray, but I was interviewed by Jack Buck on the radio. Two years ago, I was fortunate enough to be invited into the broadcasting booth to talk with my ex-teammate Tim McCarver. I talked with Joe Buck at Yankee Stadium.”
Thanks to author George Rose, who suggested that I contact Damaska (one of the great profiles in the One Hit Wonders book).
Coming Monday: Beating a Hall of Fame pitcher.
Who should I collect?
That’s one question I get a lot from beginning collectors. Or, advanced collectors get in slumps.
Even team collectors complain sometimes.
Here’s an idea:
If you want to collect one team (such as the St. Louis Cardinals), don’t limit yourself to men who wore the uniform.
There are great fans everywhere. Fans who’ll share their stories.
Living in Iowa, I found this out prior to the 2004 presidential election.
Missouri Congressman Richard Gephardt appeared. Often, crowds ignore candidate spouses.
Jane Gephardt appeared.
“You’re from Missouri,” I said. “Of course, you’ve seen lots of Cardinals baseball.”
She asked if I was a fan, too.
I countered, “How big of a fan are you?”
She grinned. “When the team fired Harry Caray in the 1960s, I protested in front of the ballpark carrying a picket sign!”
If you’re not having any luck getting responses from baseball players by mail right now, consider adding a few baseball fans to your collection. You’d be surprised who shares your passion. Best of all, these famous fans could have swell stories to share.
|Hughes maintained that tight signature!|
He finished second to Tom Seaver in 1967 National League Rookie of the Year balloting. A rotator cuff injury snuffed out his rising stardom in just three seasons.
Nevertheless, pitcher Dick Hughes remains a control master. He says so much in so few words.
Hughes debuted in St. Louis in September, 1966. I asked if he recalled interviews with broadcasters Jack Buck and Harry Caray, and the resulting impressions of each.
“Jack Buck was REAL; Harry not so! EGO.”
Before Tim McCarver logged decades as a broadcaster, he served as a batterymate. As a catcher, did Hughes find him either wise or witty during conferences on the mound?
“A trip to the mound in a ticklish situation in Philly. What he said to do I did and we won the game.”
Hughes served as part of the inaugural class of Redbirds breaking in “new” Busch Stadium. Having pitched nine minor league seasons, did Hughes consider the new ballpark a luxury?
“Dimensions were fine, but playing got extremely hot. Grass is best.”