Ernie Harwell’s Amazing Lulu

I double-checked a file and gasped. Earlier, I shared a letter I sent to Mrs. Ernie Harwell in 2002.

I had tucked away the inspiring response she sent. Here it is, on official team stationery from Comerica park. That famous “D” and the title “Ernie Harwell, Broadcaster” are all that’s seen at the top of the page.

The one-and-only Miss Lulu wrote:

“Dear Mr. Owens,

I swiped a piece of Ernie’s Tiger stationery to do this. I just want to thank you for your kind letter.

For me — and for Ernie — our journey through baseball took us to many wonderful places to live and many great people as friends and neighbors.

It has been a great life and a busy one — raising four children in spite of the baseball schedule. Our 61st wedding anniversary arrives on August 30th, the day of a possible strike.

Our faith in God has carried us through!


Lulu Harwell”

I found the image of the Comerica Park tribute flag and some vintage family portraits of Ernie and Lulu at the fascinating blog of their granddaughter, Anne Harwell. Anne is a talented artist. Art lovers and baseball fans will be glad they stopped.

Meet The Man Who Stopped Don Drysdale

Howie Bedell made the most of his second chance in baseball.

The 1968 Phillies used the Pennsylvania native for a mere nine games. But Bedell’s only RBI became a record breaker. His sacrifice fly shattered Don Drysdale’s epic 58-inning streak of scoreless baseball.

Bedell’s beginnings in pro ball date back to 1957. By 1961, he feasted on AAA pitchers, creating a record 43-game hitting streak in the American Association. The following year, he fought for playing time in a crowded Milwaukee Braves outfield.

Bedell toiled back in the minors for five more seasons, a Crash Davis-like, Bull Durham-type character. What kept him going?

His inspiring reply began with five powerful words:

“The love of the game.”

Bedell managed in the Phillies minor league system from 1969 through 1974. Who is he proudest of among the young talents he helped shape?

“Great question. I had many major league players. However, I always believed every player was my best.”

That philosophy carried Bedell through work as the Royals Coordinator of Instruction from 1981 through 1986, into service as a Mariners coach in 1988 and a stint as Cincinnati’s Director of Player Development, beginning in 1990.

“The game has always meant a great deal to me — and always will. So much I could write.”

Let’s hope baseball history writes more about Bedell. Those memories sound like choice collectibles.

Check out Baseball Almanac’s fine summation of Bedell’s minor league managerial career.

Stockpiling Autographed Index Cards

Here’s what this post is NOT about:

An index card can be a useful autograph tool. It’s too time-consuming or sometimes just impossible to find a card photo of a former player (although Internet searches are opening new horizons for making customized index-photo cards). Also, meeting a former player at the last second means a signed index card beats an autographed hot dog wrapper.

Additionally, an autographed 3-by-5 can be a swell consolation prize from a virtual non-signer. For TTM toughies like Fred Lynn (who may own a blue index card-making plant) or Joe Morgan who’ll offer nothing but one signed index card, this could be matted with a photo or more meaningful collectible.

What this post IS about:

My puzzlement over the collector who sends two blank index cards as “protection” for the card to be signed. No request is made to sign the 3-by-5s, just the hunch that an eager autographer will be inking anything sent by the collector. And, frequently, a collector does get three signatures while asking for just one.

Sure, things can get bent in the mail. Yes, some confused retirees autograph the plastic top loader the card is in. I get the theory of protecting a card.

I’m not criticizing. I’m just asking:

Is there some underground trade in autographed 3-by-5s I’ve overlooked? Even the “one of everything” type of collector might have little use for an extra identical blank index card. Clue me in, please.

But lastly, let me make one plea to all collectors who get one OR MORE signed index cards…

In light pencil, write down the name of who signed on the card’s reverse. Trust me, you may not be able to decipher the handwritten autograph a year (or even a DAY) from now!

What’s your feeling about including one or more extra index cards in your autograph request letter?

Cardinals Teammate Diering Wasn’t Surprised By Joe Garagiola

Joe Garagiola was baseball’s first Bob Uecker.

The former catcher transformed baseball TV broadcasts.
Always funny, always smart, always himself. Even a boring,
one-sided game would be fun with Joe behind the mike.

Even beyond his retirement years, Joe kept spinning great baseball yarns.
Just Play Ball
is still classic Garagiola. It’s a book worth reading.

Chuck Diering debuted with the Cardinals in 1947. Being
a fellow St. Louis native allowed him to know Garagiola well.
Diering wrote:

“I wasn’t surprised because Joe was always a good speaker when we attended affairs at times.

“Being a catcher, he always had lots of time to talk to other players and have stories to tell.”

The secret to Garagiola’s success? All that squatting around!

Chuck Diering Gets the Last Laugh Against Orioles Teammate Bob Turley

Chuck Diering owns charter membership in the Baltimore Orioles.

One of the first-year players in 1954, Diering won Most Valuable Player honors with the club. Was that Baltimore’s top prize that year? Diering explained:

“It was quite an experience. We were not a good team, older players and weak at bat.

“The fans accepted us very well and supported us.

“I was happy to receive MVP award. I was hoping to win new Caddie for Most Popular Player. I still have trophy. Bob Turley won car.

“He probably doesn’t have car now. I still have trophy.”

Tomorrow: Diering gives his theory on Joe Garagiola’s success!

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