Felix Jose, Autograph Detective!

Posted March 31st, 2010 by Tom Owens and filed in Felix Jose

I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again.

I love the notes!

I used to focus on autographs. Now, I look for the personal interaction between fan and player.

That’s why I was delighted and amazed to see the recent discussion on www.sportscollectors.net, the MVP of autograph websites.

More than 1,200 collectors tuned in to, “Getting Caught Writing to a Player Twice.” A brave collector, who we’ll call “Jeff,” confessed to a time of sending more than 1,000 requests per year. In a record-keeping slip-up, he wrote to Oakland’s Felix Jose a second time.

The outfielder sent him a scolding in writing. I think “Jeff” has enjoyed his hobby summons more than any Jose-signed cards. F.J., by the way, included a phoenetic message that translates to: “No more autographs.”

Even if the signers don’t let on, they are reading our letters!

What’s been the funniest autograph reply you’ve ever received?

Rocky Krsnich: Surprising 1953 ChiSox Milestones

Posted March 30th, 2010 by Tom Owens and filed in Eddie Lopat, Harry Byrd, Nat King Cole, Ralph Buxton, Rocky Krsnich

Rocky (born “Rocco”) Krsnich enjoyed brief stays with the Chicago White Sox in 1949, 1952 and 1953. He couldn’t nail down the third base job, despite showing some power at the plate.

His first career dinger came off Ralph Buxton at Yankee Stadium. A second four-bagger came courtesy of Harry Byrd. Krsnich’s last shot was against Eddie Lopat. Would Krsnich nominate one for an evening newscast, a sight he’d enjoy replaying?

“None ‘prettiest’ come to mind,” he wrote.

The Krsnich career highlight reel would have to include July 18, 1953. His ChiSox claimed a 10-6 win over the Senators, thanks to Rocky’s four RBI.

What does he remember most about his best-ever day at the plate? Krsnich wrote:

“My son Jim born that day!!! Also met Nat King Cole that day!”

Four RBI and the game-winning hit just a footnote? There aren’t enough statistics available to rank Rocky’s greatest day.

Bobby Shantz: Gold Gloves and “Mister” Mack

Posted March 29th, 2010 by Tom Owens and filed in Bob Gibson, Bob Lemon, Bobby Shantz, Connie Mack, Harvey Haddix, Warren Spahn

Pitcher Bobby Shantz’s career spanned 1949-64. His credits are eye-popping:

8 Gold Gloves
3-time All-Star
1952 MVP Award

Shantz reinvented himself from starter to reliever. In addition to his 119 career wins, 78 complete games and 15 shutouts, Shantz threw in 48 saves.

Two books pay special tribute to Shantz, Athletics Album: A Photo History of the Philadelphia Athletics and The Story of Bobby Shantz..

The Pennsylvania-born moundsman’s career began under the care of Athletics owner-manager Connie Mack. Shantz described the grand old man of the game:

“I only played two years under Mr. Mack and enough to tell you he was a very special person. Very quiet most of the time and never wore a baseball uniform as far as I know, while managing.

A lot of players said he was tough getting money from when it came to contract time. Maybe so, because when I won 24 games in 1952, I was making $12,000 and I thought I was overpaid. He did double my salary for 1953, so that was pretty nice.”

Shantz hedged on describing his defensive artistry. Why did glove work come easy?

“I really can’t compare my fielding with other pitchers. Because I was only 5-foot-6 tall, I maybe was a little quicker getting to bunts down the line. there were quite a few good fielding pitchers when I played, namely Bob Gibson, Bob Lemon, Warren Spahn and Harvey Haddix.”

Shantz may believe he was “only” 5-foot-6. I believe he was, and is, a giant in the eyes of fans and collectors.