Minnesota Twin Steve Brye Bats Away Ego

Posted September 29th, 2011 by Tom Owens and filed in Cardboard Gods, Josh Wilker, Minnesota Twins, Rich Gossage, Steve Brye, Terry Forster, Wilbur Wood
Brye has kept the
same signature. It looks like
his bat might whack the
autograph right off the card!

There’s still time to cheer for former Minnesota Twin Steve Brye.

I tried. His all-star humility can outhit any compliment. Retirees are entitled to a bit of chest-thumping remembrances. Especially a platoon player. “I was great when I got to play. Could’ve been greater!” is the common response.

Not Brye. This team player’s letter was a classy reminder of the 1970s players I admired most.

I asked about being a first-round draft pick in 1967. He remembered…

“In 1967, the draft was very low-keyed compared to the draft now. I had a good friend who covered the Oakland Raiders for the Oakland Tribune. I went to work with him on draft day and watched the picks come over the ‘tele-type.’ I found out afterwards that the Giants, with the next pick, were going to draft me as a catcher. So it all worked out.”

Wow! There’s one possibility for Twins and Giants fans to ponder. “Now batting for the Giants, catcher Steve Brye”?

I found on http://www.retrosheet.org/ (thanks, guys!) evidence of one of Brye’s biggest games ever: four hits, four RBI, three runs scored — a 1974 slugfest at Tiger Stadium. Brye noted:

“I was fortunate to have good games in Detroit. I loved playing there. For some reason, players have real success against some teams and not so good against others.”

Brye’s smart, patient work ethic paid off against Wilbur Wood, yielding 16 career hits off the knuckleballer. Brye explained:

“I was a contact, gap-to-gap, hitter, so that approach helped me against Wilbur Wood and his type of pitcher. I had to get my hits then, because after the 5th or 6th inning, they would bring in Terry Forster or Rich Gossage!”

Lastly, Brye added a note about the meaning of baseball. I had read comments from other collectors that Brye had mentioned that he had taken baseball trips to Cuba. I asked. I’m glad I did! He added:

“Yes, I went to Cuba to play ball, last Feb. and five years ago (Santiago and Havana). It was great. The people were great and I felt very safe there.


Baseball is a terrific common denominator, and has provided chances for me that I would have never had, and to develop relationships that last a lifetime.


Thanks for your interest. All the best —

Steve Brye”

Here’s a classic essay by Josh Wilker of “Cardboard Gods” about Brye.

Coming Friday: Toast the post-season with Mike “TigerNut” Micho and his comprehensive autograph collection!

Harmon Killebrew + Uppity Ump Humble Chicago Hurler Ken Frailing!

Posted March 30th, 2011 by Tom Owens and filed in Harmon Killebrew, Ken Frailing, Mike Caldwell, Rich Gossage, Ron Santo, Terry Forster
Another matching autograph!
His sig still makes every letter count!

Pitcher Ken Frailing shared a sly sense of humor with me in his thoughtful reply.

While Frailing didn’t have the longest career, he spent it all in Chicago, going from the White Sox to the Cubs. I asked how it felt being part of the four-person deal to obtain legend Ron Santo on Dec. 11, 1973.

“Ron Santo was, and is, an icon in Chicago. We had met a few times. He was a great guy as well.

It was a real break for me. The Cubs needed left-handed pitching and I needed to be on another team. The Sox had great young arms, Rich Gossage and Terry Forster, for example.”

The Cubs got a quick return on their investment. Frailing worked in 55 games for the 1974 Cubbies. The stat shows just part of his workload, Frailing confirmed:

“I was up in over 100 games in 1974. I was tired at the end of the season.”

Frailing wasn’t an exclusive reliever for his new team. On May 27, 1974 (with thanks to http://www.retrosheet.org/), the lefty compiled an unusual complete-game win against the Giants at Wrigley Field. While he wasn’t the day’s most mystifying moundsman, Frailing put on a show at the plate: three hits and three RBI.

“I had a nifty 14-hitter and a complete game. I threw 158 pitches in that game.

I remember getting those hits and especially against a left-handed pitcher (Mike Caldwell).”

When Frailing summed up feelings about his career, he added one amazing bonus, writing:

“Baseball was a great part of my life. I really enjoyed my time and the memories are priceless.

Example: my major league debut in old Yankee Stadium. It doesn’t start any better than that.

Let me share one story from my career. 1972 — Chicago White Sox.

I am pitching to Harmon Killebrew. I got 1 ball, 2 strikes and throw a breaking ball over the heart of the plate. The umpire calls it a ball.

When the inning is over, I am walking to the dugout and the umpire meets me at the foul line and says, “Hey, rookie. Who do you think these people pay to see, you pitch, or Killebrew hit?”

I knew where I stood in the scheme of things.

Tom,

Thanks for your interest. May God bless!

Ken Frailing”

Tomorrow: Happy 57th baseball anniversary, Tom Bradley!