Yankee Slugger Tom Shopay Owns Souvenir, Courtesy of Fast-Acting Teammate Jim Bouton

Kudos to Jay Grossman and
for preserving this sad
specimen of hobby history:

Time to create a new statistic. Jim Bouton gets the first “historical” assist. Okay…save one for Tom House in the Atlanta bullpen when Hank Aaron set homer history (but that’s another story).

Tom Shopay began his baseball life as a New York Yankee. On Sept. 23, 1967, Shopay collected his first-ever home run, off Minnesota’s Dave Boswell at Metropolitan Stadium. Meanwhile, Bouton collected the artifact, negotiating with partisan Twins rooters. I’m guessing that the famous author-to-be served as a horse-trading Santa Claus for more than one rookie in his pitching career.

As Shopay saw it:

“The pitch was a fastball on the inner half of the plate. Jim Bouton traded a fan a couple of new balls for my ball. He was in the bullpen.”

(Thanks to www.retrosheet.org for the details!)

Shopay was a Rule 5 draft acquisition by the Orioles, ending his brief time in pinstripes. I asked him to compare the media attention he observed with each team.

“At the time I played, it seemed that you had more newspaper coverage. But New York is New York. The sports writers were always around, and plenty of them.

Baltimore was always doing a lot of radio and TV interviews. They also had the same beat writers that were with you all the time. They were good human beings, too.”

Tomorrow: Words of wisdom from Baltimore manager Earl Weaver.

Send Hall of Famer Gary Carter Some Hope

It’s time to root for a gamer.

Keep Smiling, Gary! Your
autograph got stronger
with time. Do the same!!!

Hall of Famer Gary Carter may be fighting for his life.

I called his Foundation, run out of his personal office. His assistant said that future announcements about Carter’s health would come through the Mets, or the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Most importantly, for all the fans and collectors who’ve wanted to send a note of thanks or hope to Carter should write:

Gary Carter Foundation
580 Village Blvd., Suite 315
West Palm Beach, FL 33409

I’m assured that any cards or letters will be delivered to Mr. Carter and his family.

Pirate Frank Thomas Ponders Messy Autographs

Talking with Frank “The Original One, 1951-66” Thomas, I marveled at his passion as a fan and collector. Look at his website to see all the sets he appeared in.

I first wrote about Frank May 6, telling about the causes he supports through autograph signing. The two charities supporting young cancer patients are in Charleston, South Carolina, he spotted. E on the blogger, says the official scorer.

Frank’s biggest revelation escaped me in the original post. He mentioned the messy or abbreviated signatures of stars like Frank “Big Hurt” Thomas.

“I don’t know what it is with some guys and their autographs,” he speculated. “Are they afraid of identity theft or something?”

I loved this answer. This big-hearted Pirates star can’t fathom scribbling for collectors. Do players want to conceal and disguise their signed identities? I could hear in his voice that he believes hobbyists deserve signatures showing every letter, first and last name. A fear of crime was the only possible explanation Frank the First could muster to explain half-hearted autographs.

Coming Monday: The day Jim Bouton “went to bat” for Tom Shopay.

Tom Wright, Ken McBride Silent Signers

Don’t bet on seeing
the tidy version of
McBride’s autograph again!

Good news, bad news…

It was good to hear from L.A. Angels pitcher Ken McBride and 1950s outfielder Tom Wright in just a week.

However, neither addressed any questions.

Wright has a postcard-sized photo of him in a Red Sox uniform with his complete stats (major AND minor) on back. Anyone writing for an autograph should request a photo. Say that you’d like to know more about his minor league days. Wright added a return address label on the SASE. He did pen a sparkling signature.

I did ask about his THREE missing seasons (1943-45), sacrificed on behalf of World War II. Time is running out to fill in the gaps for this epic era.

McBride autographed the letter I sent. At first, I was concerned his autograph was shaky. With a little investigation on http://www.sportscollectors.net/, I saw related scans of signatures dating back to 2006. He’s taken to an abbreviated autograph used by today’s players. Speed signing! Sloppy, more than shaky.

Want a card signed fast? These two are your men. They seem sworn to same-day replies. Hoping for a personalization or something specific, even a question about their career? Don’t bet on it.

Coming Friday: an update from Frank “The Original One” Thomas

Charlie Thompson, Brooklyn Dodger Mystery

A Topps puzzler…

You know that guy, uh, what’s his name?

Don’t expect any help from a certain 1950s catcher by the full name of Charles Lemoine Thompson. The always-impressive Baseball Almanac website shows his autographed 1954 Topps card, signed “Charlie,” as indicated on the card. They file the catcher under “Tim Thompson,” his nickname.

On his 1957 card, Topps spells his first name “Charley.”

Thompson’s last card, in the 1958 Topps set, says he’s “Tim Thompson.”

I blame Topps for scattering the catcher throughout history. I asked if the card company mixed up his name.


That’s all Mr. Thompson had to say.

Imagine all the 1950s kids lining up their differently-named cards. Compounding the confusion, starting in 1957, Topps shows the catcher wearing glasses. Shades of Clint Courtney! I asked if this was difficult or dangerous back then.



The website Baseball Reference notes Thompson’s success as a scout for decades after his career ended. I asked if he had a couple of signings or discoveries he was proudest of.

“Brian Jordan, Tom Herr.”

Oh. About his proper, or even preferred first name?

I’ll never know. Mr. Thompson never bothered to sign the letter!

Coming Thursday: Two succinct signers.

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