Remembering slugger (and autograph all-star) Daryl Spencer

In the early years of this blog, I received a wondrous reply from Daryl Spencer (the man who slugged the first San Francisco Giant homer ever).

For some awesome, seldom-seen images of Daryl Spencer and others from his era, stop by The Trading Card Database. Wow!I remember the wonderful reply from Daryl Spencer, the man who hit more than 100 homers in a decade-long career (including the first-ever dinger by a San Francisco Giant).

How to remember such a gracious, accomplished man? I thought a tribute to a little-known teammate, his widow, was in order. Here’s the letter I mailed today:

Dear Mrs. Spencer,

I am sorry to learn of the death of your husband. I admired him not just for his Major League and Japanese League achievements, but for his kindness and devotion to through-the-mail autograph collectors and fans of baseball history.

I looked him up on an autograph collector website. Of recorded letters sent to him by hobbyists, 236 of 240 received a reply. That’s a stunning 98 percent  success rate.

He responded to a letter I sent several years ago. He answered my questions in fine fashion. His tales turned back the clock, making a recipient of a letter feel like they were a Polo Grounds hero or a star in Japan, too

Every collector who has shown me the autograph they received from Mr. Spencer is a testament to glorious penmanship. Every letter stands out, easily read. I think a current player today, if answering at all, would be content to return an “autograph” of D—- S—–. Nothing but initials and slashmarks.

Most of all, I think those collectors and baseball researchers should be thanking YOU. I’m sure he couldn’t have given all correspondents such attention to detail without your patience and support. While other baseball retirees insist on a cash payment being sent along with a letter, Mr. Spencer was sending cherished gifts to strangers with every autograph – all for free.

He will not be forgotten, on or off the field. Thank you for helping to make all that possible.

Sincerely,

Tom Owens

Daryl "The Monster" Spencer


Yesterday, former Giants infielder Daryl Spencer shared his memory of his team’s Polo Grounds — and New York — finale. Today, he looks back on a second career, in a country where he launched 152 NPB home runs. It’s small wonder that his size and monstrous bat earned him such a nickname!

Reflecting on the Japanese Henry Aaron, Spencer wrote:

“Sadaharu Oh was certainly a great-great player. He would of bee3n a STAR if he had played in the U.S. big leagues. I’ll say this, he got the benefit of a lot of close calls on balls and strikes. If he took a pitch, the umpires almost always called it a ball. Of course, I think the great hitters in the U.S. got the benefit of the close calls here, too.

Hope this brings some light to your questions you asked. Thanks for writing me.

Daryl Spencer.”

When was the last time an autograph signer thanked YOU?

A standing O goes out to SABR member Bob Rives for his fine bio of “The Monster,” offering untold insights into Spencer’s Japanese career. Check it out here!

Daryl “The Monster” Spencer


Yesterday, former Giants infielder Daryl Spencer shared his memory of his team’s Polo Grounds — and New York — finale. Today, he looks back on a second career, in a country where he launched 152 NPB home runs. It’s small wonder that his size and monstrous bat earned him such a nickname!

Reflecting on the Japanese Henry Aaron, Spencer wrote:

“Sadaharu Oh was certainly a great-great player. He would of bee3n a STAR if he had played in the U.S. big leagues. I’ll say this, he got the benefit of a lot of close calls on balls and strikes. If he took a pitch, the umpires almost always called it a ball. Of course, I think the great hitters in the U.S. got the benefit of the close calls here, too.

Hope this brings some light to your questions you asked. Thanks for writing me.

Daryl Spencer.”

When was the last time an autograph signer thanked YOU?

A standing O goes out to SABR member Bob Rives for his fine bio of “The Monster,” offering untold insights into Spencer’s Japanese career. Check it out here!

The Two Lives of Daryl Spencer


Daryl Spencer slugged his way through TWO baseball careers.
Some might remember the Wichita native popping home runs in the majors from 1952-63.

His baseball career rebirth came in Japan for seven subsequent seasons.

The generous former Giant reflected on both baseball journeys in a wondrous handwritten reply to questions. He noted:

“The home run off Don Drysdale (first by a San Francisco Giant) was the first HR hit on the West Coast in the major leagues. Opening day 1958. Also in 1958, Willie Mays and I set a National League record of May 12 & 13. We each hit 2 home runs in consecutive games. That is still a Nat’l League record. It was against the LA Dodgers.

I guess my most vivid memory of the Polo Grounds was our last game there in 1957. The Dodgers and Giants had announced that they were moving to California the following year. We players had to make a wild dash to our clubhouse (it was deep in center field) after the game was over. The fans went crazy. They were grabbing everything they could. I lost my cap but managed to get to our clubhouse okay. Today you see fans rushing on to a playing area all the time, but that was very unusual in the 1950s.

The Polo Grounds were very unique. The short LF and RF stands resulted in a lot of short home runs. I guess the most famous one was hit by Bobby Thomson to beat the Dodgers in the 1951 playoff game. And of course the great catch by Willie Mays against Vic Wertz in the 1954 World Series will always be a great moment in Major League Baseball.”

Tomorrow, hear from “The Monster” about one of Japan’s greatest stars.

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