Goodbye, Milwaukee Brave Jack Dittmer

Iowa lost a part of baseball history in the death of 86-year-old Jack Dittmer this week.
I enjoyed the letter he shared in 2011. The super signer kept in touch with teammate Hank Aaron years after his retirement.
I liked the last line in the obituary to the Cedar Rapids Gazette that Dittmer’s family provided. I hope you will, too.

Thanking Milwaukee Brave Jack Dittmer

Another impressive career has ended.

Jack Dittmer didn’t have Hall of Fame stats. He was a hobby hall of famer, however.

In October, Dittmer’s wife began sending out the sad news. I saw the update via the ever-insightful www.sportscollectors.net.

The second baseman now lives in a care facility. He can no longer sign autographs or answer questions.

Dittmer was at his best for my 2011 letter. See for yourself via the above link.

On SCN, his success rate was staggering: 175 success responses in 178 attempts.

Just a thought…

A note of thanks to Mrs. Dittmer might bring a bit of brightness during the holidays, considering her husband’s health. I’m sure she may have been an unsung hero in getting all those autographs returned.

The Mystery of Milwaukee Brave Johnny Logan

1954 Bowman

From baseball address king Harvey Meiselman comes news of an autograph fee.

Former Milwaukee Braves shortstop Johnny Logan wants $5 (cash) per signature by mail.

Logan is 85 years old. He’s been a fast, dependable signer by mail beforehand. The stats on http://www.sportscollectors.net/ are stunning — 273 successes in 280 requests. Why demand money now?

Illness could be an explanation. However, I see another possibility.

Virtually all the responses came in just 1-2 weeks. Logan seems like a same-day signer. Is that because he’s seen signing autographs as more of a duty than an enjoyment?

I think signing has become a chore for Logan. Being paid for “work” makes the situation tolerable.
Some retirees wonder if they truly matter to today’s collectors, many of whom weren’t born when the player last competed. I hope this isn’t Logan’s case, too.

For a great profile of Johnny Logan, check out this feature by acclaimed Braves historian Bob Buege on the SABR Bio Project website. Bob was the source who confirmed that Johnny fudged his birthdate by one year.

Braves Pitcher (And U.S. Navy Veteran) Charlie Gorin Recounts Life Before, After Milwaukee

Becoming part of a budding World Championship club. Being teammates with Hall of Famers Warren Spahn, Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron.

Nevertheless, pitcher Charlie Gorin counts his time with the Milwaukee Braves as forgotten.

In a fascinating reply, Gorin started from the beginning of an eventful career and life:

“Tom,

Your questions take me back a number of years. After getting out of the Navy, Aug. 8, 1946, I attended the Univ. of Texas. There I tried out for baseball and made the team. So baseball lasted for me from 1947-61. That’s a long time to remember in detail a lot of my experiences — for me, anyway.

I played four years in college — signed with the Braves in 1950. Played two years before being called back into the Navy. I served this time in the Naval School of Pre-Flight in Pensacola, Fla. Then went back to baseball again in 1954 with Braves (Mil.)

I did play baseball this tour of duty as well as instructing classes in swimming, water survival, pistol range and conditioning work.

My playing time was so limited with the Braves I actually have forgotten about it. Most of my playing was in the Minor Leagues during which I had some good years. Five pennant-winning teams and eight All-Star teams.

I really can’t say which players went into education back then. At that time, baseball leagues went from Major Leagues, AAA, AA, A, B, C and D. I never heard of any instructional league at that time. If you were playing well, no manager wanted to mess you up.

I enjoyed my years in baseball and look back to some good times and friends. In high school here in Austin, I coached baseball and football for 20 years then went into administration — ass’t principal.

That’s about it for now. Your letter did take me back and think of some good times and good friends.

Charlie”

Tomorrow: The ORIGINAL Frank Thomas, home-grown 1950s Pirates slugger, talks of raising money for his favorite charities through autograph signing.

Defending World Champion Brooklyn Dodgers? Not Against Chicago Cubs Pitcher Don Kaiser

Same easy-going signature!

A lad from Oklahoma had a job to do. He didn’t care who had won last year’s World Series.

On June 2, 1956, Don Kaiser faced the Brooklyn Dodgers. He seems pleased with the results almost 55 years later.

“I guess the biggest thrill in my first start was after the game, knowing I pitched a two-hitter against the World Champions.”

(Thanks to http://www.retrosheet.org/, here’s the results of that amazing day, produced in front of an amazed Wrigley Field crowd.)

Less than one month later, a home crowd saw Kaiser shut out the Milwaukee Braves.

“That day in Wrigley Field was one of those days when everything went right. I mean, I had good stuff and good control and they weren’t hitting that day.”

Before adding his thanks, Kaiser summed up his career:

“Well, I can tell you that life in the Majors is the Best. I just wished I could have stayed up there a lot longer than I did.

I still follow the game pretty close, even though I have been out of the game since 1962. But I can always say that I got to play with and against some of the greatest players in the game.

After I got out of the game I got into law enforcement and spent 30 years in it. Thanks for asking all these questions. I hope I have helped you some.

Sincerely,
Don Kaiser”

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