When former Tigers manager Jim Leyland wrote

I love this 2011 pre-game look at Leyland
at Dodger Stadium. What is he seeing?
What is he thinking?
 

 By Cbl62 (Own work)
 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)],
via Wikimedia Commons

No, not to me.

A former player, Jordan Tata, shared this written memory online earlier this week. 
Epic stuff!
At last check on the always-impressive www.sportscollectors.net, the fabled Detroit Tigers manager was batting .720. Or, he had responded to 351 autograph requests in 486 attempts.

Thanks to Carol Sheldon for capturing this correspondence!

The Moral Of Denis Menke: Hometowns Matter

Let me shatter one myth about baseball retirees.

“But I never saw him play!” you might say. “What do I write to him about?”
The answer is in your return address.
Choose someone who is a native of your state. Or someone who found minor league glory on a team in your state.
I was in a Dodger Stadium locker room in 1988. After a LONG game, I stopped in theHouston  Astros locker room. I saw an exhausted coach, an Iowa native. Should I ask Denis Menke about the Big Red Machine days, playing beside Henry Aaron? What would he be interested in discussing.
“I know who your high school coach was,” I began. “The state high school tournament was held in my hometown. I saw your team just miss a state title.”
I watched the years melt off Menke. He perched on his locker stool. A multi-topic chat ensued.
“Wait!” a reader might grunt. “I don’t want to hear about high school baseball or the minors.”
Ah, don’t forget the bigger picture.
Make a connection. You may have something more in common with that name from baseball’s past than you think. 
Here’s a question for your next letter:
“How did you get from here to there, to the majors/All-Star Game/etc.?”
Sculpt the clay, putting it all in your own words. Watch the reactions. The question works!

Roy Campanella, Rolling Stones, Superfans: Dodgers Coach Mark Cresse Remembers

Los Angeles Dodgers fans marvel at the years served by Bill Russell. Another overlooked team fixture during those many glory years was Mark Cresse.

Cresse served as bullpen coach for 22 seasons. A third-round draftee by the Cardinals in 1971, he went on to found the Mark Cresse School of Baseball.

I wrote to find out his views about Dodger Stadium, bullpen misadventures and his overlooked talent.

What did he remember most about Dodger Stadium? Interestingly, Cresse recalled the people before the sights:

“I enjoyed daily talks with the season ticket holders near me in the bullpen. I was always amazed with the passion they had for the Dodgers!”

What’s the craziest thing Cresse ever witnessed by relievers trying to amuse themselves?

“I promised Jesse Orosco that if we were ever ahead by 15 runs in a game, he could bring his stereo down to the bullpen. Sure enough, it happened and here came his giant stereo playing the Rolling Stones’ Satisfaction.”

During his years with the Dodgers, Cresse gained secondary fame as a baseball woodworker. He made lamps out of broken bats. Did any famous names ever collect his work?

“The best bat lamp I ever made was an eight-bat lamp that I made for Roy Campanella. He gave me eight bats from his last team in Brooklyn and I made him a cool table lamp.”

Coming Monday: Givings, and misgivings, by collectors at Christmas.

Houston’s Glenn Davis Snubbed Topps Cards

Who’d Autograph This?

Some former players take it out on us.

Why would you want them to autograph card picturing them on THAT team? It gives them a chance to tell about the grudge they still hold.

In the 1980s, Astros slugger Glenn Davis was different.

The outspoken Christian was upset with Topps producing Garbage Pail Kids cards. In protest, he vowed not to autograph any of his Topps-made cards.

I wondered how collectors were supposed to make his case in front of Topps executives.

During my SCD days, I found Davis on the field readying for batting practice at Dodger Stadium.

“We’ve worked things out with Topps,” he said. “I’ll be signing again.”

Davis had tried to recruit other Christian players into his autograph boycott. I think Tommy Herr might have participated?

Sadly, Davis hasn’t been signing by mail for years.

Good luck to all the set collectors. I’m expecting more of these autograph protests in the future.

Rick Monday Beat Pitcher Doug Rau To Stop 1976 Dodger Stadium Flag Burners

Don’t mess with Texas. Or Texan Doug Rau.

The Dodgers pitcher might have provided a new twist on the fabled story from April 25, 1976. Outfielder Rick Monday thwarted two protesters (a father and his 11-year-old son!) who wanted to burn the American flag in Dodger Stadium’s center field.

If Monday hadn’t intervened, Rau says he was ready to take action. In this classic note from 2002, Rau explained his perspective of the situation:

“Thomas:

I was in the dugout, far left, near 3rd base, and I simply reacted by instinct. Monday beat me to the draw, and he said little when he gave me the flag.

I think I gave it to a grounds-crew guy (Tom or Scottie), and from there I know nothing.

The team was stunned, and I faintly remember Lasorda saying something to me about those…

Photos courtesy Mark Langill, Los Angeles Dodgers

Doug Rau”

What happened to that flag? Check out this impressive 2010 feature from Arizona reporter Zach Buchanan.

Tomorrow: Address king Harvey Meiselman offers TEAM address lists!

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