Pitcher Stan Williams proves my hunch.
Let’s see a current or former player convince us that fan reaction doesn’t matter. Did you see those Yankees in the pre-game introductions giggling over the boos from the California crowd? Everybody cares.
When I wrote to the fabled hurler, I began by quoting ESPN to him. Did he know he was part of their “All-Wired” team? How did he feel about the implication that he was a testosterone-driven maniac on the mound?
Williams responded with an amazing two-page reply, writing:
“Tom: you caught me at an extremely busy time. I’m back working again (Washington Nat’s), and I’m way behind getting my reports into the P.C. (Finally figured how to do it.)
‘MOST WIRED TEAM (ESPN) (1st heard of it): Please know baseball was an utterly different game then. We knocked down a lot of hitters, but just to gain an edge. We weren’t ‘head hunters.’ If some needed to be hit, you got him in the ribs or butt. We (I) didn’t need any extra runners on base. The Aaron story is true, but it was ‘tongue-in-cheek’ intimidation. Aaron was such a great hitter.”
The lesson from Coach Williams? Read up on the person you’re writing. Quote an article. Or quote the potential autograph signer back to himself. You might get more than a signature. You could land your own one-of-a-kind slice of baseball history.
Tomorrow: Stan belted five homers as a Dodger. He recounts his favorite blast, courtesy of Sal “The Barber” Maglie.