Catcher Tom Lundstedt’s Humble Twins Salary


Catcher Tom Lundstedt shared a glimpse of what 1970s felt like with a small-market team when replying to my 2000 letter.

He started with the Cubs and ended with the Twins in a too-brief career that dates from 1973 to 1975. Cub fans might remember that Lundstedt was a FIRST-ROUND draft pick in 1970.

In both places, Lundstedt wasn’t overwhelmed with free-spending owners. I asked him if he ever dealt with Chicago’s P.K. Wrigley or Minnesota’s Calvin Griffith. Lundstedt replied:

“I never had any direct contact with P.K. Wrigley but Calvin Griffith’s another story. He ran the whole show – negotiated contracts, made trades, etc. I was traded to the Twins in the winter of 1974 because I had refused the Cubs contract offer.

“When I met with Calvin to negotiate, he offered less than the amount I had turned down from the Cubs. When I asked why, he said, “Because you’re catching is no damn good!” I wonder if that’s what the arbitration hearings of this era are like?

“I have come to admire Calvin as the years go by. He was a true character who really cared about the good of baseball.”

Tom Lundstedt became an all-star, even if it wasn’t in baseball. Such a victory is small wonder, considering his winning attitude. He’s a nationally-known expert on investment real estate and taxation. Check out his impressive business stats at www.tomlundstedt.com.

Imagine the outcome today if this first-round draft pick got to renegotiate that 1970 contract in Chicago!

Ethan Blackaby: Milwaukee Braves Lured by Coca-Cola Advertising Dollars?


Ethan Blackaby’s brief tenure with the Milwaukee Braves taught him more than on-field skills.

The future general manager for the AAA Phoenix Firebirds (the talent factory for the San Francisco Giants) saw the ownership’s urge to relocate the Braves from Wisconsin.

He wrote:

“My first inkling was the winter of 1964. There was a rumor that Coke had offered the Braves a big advertising package if they moved to Atlanta. Braves accepted the deal and actually planned on moving in 1965, but N.L. vetoed the move. The Braves moved our Triple A team there for one season.”

Blackaby’s first at-bat came in 1962, hitting for Bob Uecker. He collected a pinch-double off Ernie Broglio. Kudos to the amazing Retrosheet website for preserving such memories, especially when the history makers have forgotten. Wrote Blackaby:

“Did I pinch-hit for Uecker? I can’t remember. Uecker is a funny man and I still see him in the winter. He lives here (in Arizona) in the winter.”

What does Blackaby cite as his front office accomplishments as a minor league exec?

“We had some good players, Chili Davis, Jack Clark. My greatest accomplishment was finishing in top-ten of minor league attendance for a period of about five years. I had a great staff.”

Blackaby belted 95 home runs in his minor league career. If he hadn’t been trapped in a power-laden Milwaukee outfield, Blackaby could have found time to shine.

Be sure to stop at the BR Bullpen. Baseball Reference offers a swell summation of Blackaby’s career, along with a classic minor league shot of the Phoenix GM.

Tip Your Cap to Pete Castiglione


Infielder Pete Castiglione left us April 22. His obituary stated he was 89.

According to the always-helpful www.sportscollectors.net, Pete had signed 48 requests, but sent back blank cards for the first time in October, 2009. That’s a likely sign that a former player’s health is declining.

Pete put his baseball career on hold for four seasons to serve in the Navy during World War II. More about his boyhood days can be found from this fine Connecticut newspaper article.

For my book Collecting Baseball Cards, I looked to Pete for a memory about his four Bowman and one (1952) Topps card appearances. He wrote:

“Players were contacted by an agent representing the baseball cad companies. The fee in those days was either gifts or money. The companies usually gave you a few boxes of the cards. Very few players saved the cards in the late 1940s and 50s. My children played with the cards.”

I can’t say often enough to remember all of baseball’s over-80 retirees NOW. Their numbers are shrinking. They feel a sacred obligation to fans and the sport. Impressive penmanship, attention to detail and appreciation for baseball history are typical of the responses they send. Please, thank them today.

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