George Mitterwald Delighted Wrigley Field Fans

Still available on eBay: do you
think this game-used bat could
have been Mitterwald’s “Wonder Boy” bat?
Buy it now, only $795???

New Cub George Mitterwald stole the show early with his new team in 1974.

Check out the power-hitting highlights from the fine folks at Three home runs and eight RBI in one game only begins to tell the story. Mitterwald recalled:

“My three homer, one double and eight RBI game was so memorable it is and was really hard to explain. It was only my fifth home game with the Cubs, and needless to say, a good start with a new ball club. I got at least eight standing ovations during the day. That was fun, also.”

This was an epic, fun letter from a player worth remembering. Thanks, G.M.!

Twin George Mitterwald Recalls Owner Calvin Griffith

I’m agog over the “Ghosts of D.C.” blog. I
found this classic 1959 image there of owner Griffith
hovering between President Eisenhower and
star Harmon Killebrew. Please, read their
great “what if?” essay speculating
on how the Twins could have
become the L.A. Dodgers! How would
Mr. Mitterwald have felt about that?

The ex-Twins catcher sounded so pleased to recall manager Billy Martin.

Then, I spoiled it all for George Mitterwald.

Did he have a memory of owner Calvin Griffith?

“Calvin was a one-owner owner and he liked to let everyone know it. We used to say he threw nickels around like they were manhole covers.

He tried to cut my salary my third year after raising my average 30 points and breaking the fielding record for catchers with a .997 average.

I ended up getting a $4,000 raise, but had to hold out for eight days to get it. He held it against me all the season and curbed my playing time.

I never had real problems with the Cubs.”

Coming Thursday: George’s best day ever?

Twins Catcher George Mitterwald Salutes Manager Billy Martin

I miss the old “Baseball Bible.”
The cover paintings were part of
that reverence. I never tried to
get a TSN autographed. I couldn’t
bear seeing those covers bent in
the mail!

George Mitterwald hasn’t forgotten manager Billy Martin. I asked for any memories of their brief time together in Minnesota. Mitterwald replied:

“Billy Martin was a great manager, whom I learned a lot of baseball from. His strategy and willingness to always push the envelope when it came to making the opposition try to stop us from taking extra bases, stopping us from stealing home, double stealing and taking the extra base almost all the time.

Off the field he was brash at times, generous all the time and just plain fun to be around all the time because of his comedic nature.”

Coming Monday: Contrasting memories of owner Calvin Griffith.

Catcher George Mitterwald Makes My Day

Mitterwald maintained
that great tight cursive.
Glad to hear from him!

Don’t give up.

I wrote to the Twins/Cubs catcher back in 2010.

In one of many phases of doubting my letter-writing skill, my timing and the eternal “handwritten or typed?” debate, I chalked up Mr. Mitterwald as one of my many misses.

Maybe not…

Saturday, a superb two-page handwritten reply to my questions came, along with the apology of not responding sooner. He’s faced health problems plus a family loss.

I’ll share the great insights from “The Baron” beginning Thursday. Meanwhile, don’t assume that one non-response is the beginning of the end. Devote the time to sending out more letters, not staring at a barren mailbox.

Baseball By The Letters Shares Non-Signers Of 2010 List, Or, I’m The Only One Left Out!

Mr. Bailor seems to send this
postcard out with all
replies. Somehow, I
received no response from
this generous ex-Dodger…

I’ve seen the results posted on These names responded to TTM autograph requests. I thought they’d field questions. Here’s my “still waiting list that dates back to Jan. 24, 2010:

Baldshun, Jack
Bailor, Bob
Brewer, Tom
Busby, Steve
Clarizio, Louis
DeMaestri, Joe
Dyer, Duffy
Dukes, Tom
Elia, Lee
Gardner, Billy
Gernert, Dick
Gosger, Jim
Hansen, Ron
Hook, Jay
Howard, Frank
Hunter, Billy
Logan, Johnny
McAnany, Jim
Mueller, Don
Miller, Stu
Mitterwald, George
Nossek, Joe
Schultz, Barney
Segrist, Kal
Semproch, Ray
Skizas, Lou
Smith, Hal W. (Pirates)
Speake, Bob
Stevens, Ed
Stynes, Chris
Suarez, Ken
Tasby, Willie
Walling, Denny
Ward, Pete
Warden, Jon
Wieand, Ted
Zuverink, George

What does this mean? There’s so many possibilities. Some hunches include:

1. Is writing to someone write after a signing success is reported online always a good idea? I’ve wondered if a surge in mail overwhelms some lesser-known retirees.
2. Some of these guys answer questions. But they are content handling the identical query time after time. Who was your toughest pitcher? What was your greatest thrill? They have a stock reply. Anything else that makes a former player think hard gets ignored.
3. Signing seven cards then including an extra autographed photo seems like a lot. I’ve assumed those “above and beyond” responses might not mind jotting me three sentences, since I’m not asking for a single signature. However, rapid-fire autographing is a comfortable habit. Putting words to one’s past may not be as pleasing.

Despite the fact that some of these men show up weekly on autograph forums as “can’t miss” responses, I’m not trying them again. Besides, I see that some autograph replies have taken 5-10 years. I’ll try to be patient as I seek a new roster of baseball letters for 2011.

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