Free Minor League Player Addresses? It’s true!

Posted April 29th, 2011 by Tom Owens and filed in 1983 Visalia Oaks, Dan Cote, Harvey Meiselman

Jeff Signed in English
AND Chinese!

 There’s an offer that can’t be missed.

If you haven’t ordered Harvey Meiselman’s unbeatable 2011 Baseball Address List, he’s sweetening the deal. Buy the baseball list, and he throws in FREE his minor league baseball list. This is an $18 value as a bonus!

Minor leaguers have major memories. They don’t get the same ton of fan mail guys in Topps sets do. Therefore, they have more time to give all-star responses.

Back in January, I featured Dan Cote’s “Signed DC” blog series detailing how he’s collecting the 1983 Visalia Oaks set signed — getting autographs from minor league teammates of Kirby Puckett. Dan would ask for the card to be autographed, then include a question about playing with a future Hall of Famer. Virtually every response included a lengthy tale of that magical season.

Dan just heard from that team’s general manager, receiving a lengthy letter telling about the team and the great set Dan’s collecting. No one else besides this former general manager would know the minor league set’s history! To learn why the card is autographed in English AND Chinese, be sure to check out Dan’s latest blog update.

Meanwhile, Harvey Meiselman is offering the perfect, affordable entry into minor league autograph collecting. Try his list. You’ll be gratified by the heart-felt responses that fill your mailbox.

Coming Monday: Insight from Sam Mele, skipper of the 1965 A.L. Champion Minnesota Twins.

Pitcher John Hetki Tamed 2 Hall of Famers!

Posted April 29th, 2011 by Tom Owens and filed in 1953 Topps, 1954 Topps, Hank Greenberg, John Hetki, Ralph Kiner
Pic from Havana, Cuba?!?

Topps told me!

I saw that Pirates pitcher John Hetki was photographed in a batting helmet on his 1954 Topps card. Looking at his stats, I saw he had 11 hits in one season — including two triples in one week of 1953. Don’t DH this guy. He responded:

“I had to work hard during the winter months. I worked also in making my arms and legs strong.”

On April 27, 1947, then-Cincinnati moundsman Hetki hurled a 12-inning victory against the Pirates. Two memories top that day:

“Shutting out Hank Greenberg and Ralph Kiner without a hit.”

We may never know the full story of all the 1953 Topps paintings. Photos were adapted. Some freelance artists would recreate every detail. Others would enhance.

Well, Hetki’s 1953 forested background suggests that he might have gone camping in uniform. Was there such lush shade at Forbes Field, or was this spring training? Hetki’s guess?

“The picture might have been taken in Havana, Cuba.”

Hetki summed up his letter by listing his career ironies.

“At the end of the 1949 season in Syracuse, I pitched 4 games with two days rest. I lost all four games, being shut out, 1-0, 2-0 and 2-1. I lost the last game, 8-0. Six of the runs were unearned. I never got the chance to be a regular starter in the majors. I also threw a lot of batting practice without the screen.”

Tomorrow: Harvey Meiselman offers major deal for “minor” names.

Former Seattle Mariners Pitcher Dave Fleming Teaches Baseball By The Numbers

Posted April 28th, 2011 by Tom Owens and filed in Dave Fleming, Ken Griffey Jr., Kingdome, New Britain Rock Cats, Seattle Mariners

Clouds? This wasn’t
taken in the Kingdome!

 Pitcher Dave Fleming has been mastering a new pitch for the last nine years.

If being a former major leaguer isn’t enough to be granted rock-star status in the classroom, Fleming combines a ballpark field trip with math lessons. Imagine. Bring your glove and your calculator!

Fleming wrote:

“I have been a teacher for nine years. I am unaware of other ballplayers in the same profession.

My students take a field trip to a New Britain Rock Cat Game (double A – Twins) and they learn to compute batting ave., won-loss percentage for teams, and some learn ERAs.”

Sounding like a thoughtful educator, Fleming chose to differ from my assessment of Seattle’s Kingdome. I remembered seeing him pitch there. I told him it looked, and sounded, like kids more cool and talented than myself playing Nerf baseball in my family room basement. Without grading my Kingdome mini-essay, he said:

“I liked that the Kingdome was always the same temperature and you knew you were playing every day. (Except for the roof collapse.)

I was not crazy about the turf.”

For five years, Fleming had the best seat in the house to marvel at superstar teammate Ken Griffey, Jr. Did he have a favorite “Kid” memory?

“My favorite Griffey memory was just having the opportunity to watch him play every day. Sweet swing and a graceful outfielder.”

In teacherly fashion, he closed his letter with:

“Hope this answers your questions!

Dave Fleming”

I found a fun newspaper article from 2008 that touched on Fleming’s second career. Check out the classroom photo, too. I thought this was a student, not a teacher!