Bill White Slams Autographs

Say it ain’t so, Bill.

I searched his memoir Uppity for insights about why he stopped accepting fan mail, choosing the “Return to Sender” route. Was he becoming baseball’s Greta Garbo? Had Dr. Mike Marshall influenced him with talk of autographs and real heroes?

Instead, he clings to the old, simplistic notion of everyone being a greedy dealer. He writes:

“When I was a player we never thought twice about giving some kid an autograph, or handing out signed baseballs…These days, of course, a lot of the big-name players have six-figure contracts with agents to market their autographs, and professional dealers have squeezed out the kids. If you give somebody an autographed baseball these days, you can probably expect to see it on eBay a week later.”

White endured years of racism and prejudice. He writes with restrained clarity, offering compassionate reviews of loudmouths like Cincinnati owner Marge Schott. Books that I’ve read by Frank Robinson and Bob Gibson boil over with an anger tsunami at bigotry. White is detailed but measured in his criticisms.

How I would have loved even one extra page detailing his views on fan mail.

Stan Williams Escapes Baseball Card Purgatory

Not once, but twice, Topps gave Stan Williams its symbolic kiss of death.

The pitcher known as “Big Daddy” was shunned from 1966 and 1967 sets. The cardboard clairvoyants deemed the hurler unworthy of any Major League team. Granted, Williams toiled in the minors again, clouding memories of his earlier Dodgers success. His career faced a crossroads.

Stunningly, Williams reinvented himself as a gritty reliever. How? He explained in a letter:

“Re-invented Self: I injured my arm on one freak pitch. Slipped on rubber. My arm got progressively worse each year for 6-1/2 years. Three of those years home or in the minors. One day, I lifted my arm. Something ‘popped’ (hurt like crazy) — but suddenly my arm was sound again. within a month, I was back in Majors and stayed another seven years.

During that time, I both started and relieved. I loved to pitch and compete.

I pitched some of my better games after returning. One game, for Cleveland, I pitched all 13 innings and won, 2-1. I had 15 K’s including (9 for 9) versus two Hall-O-Famers: Luis Aparicio (5/5); Frank Robinson (4/4) (FB, CV, Slider, Spitter).”

[Yes, readers, Mr. Williams wrote Spitter, even underlining it in his letter! He continues…]

Another game against Baltimore, I won (1-0), 10 innings, 0 B.B., 12 K’s and drove in the only run, last of 10th.  After that game I was taken out of the rotation, as none of the other starters could pitch relief. (I still got in 194 innings, mostly as a reliever.)

Twice — Alvin Dark, mgr., brought me into games bases loaded, 3-0 on the hitters. I got out of it both times. No runs scored.

I am proud of never allowing a run in any post-season play, including one All-Star game; 2  World Series and my playoff games, both leagues.


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