How Does 1960 Yankee Hal Stowe Really Feel?

I imagined Topps having
the scenic background
posters, like the
discount photographers use!

“It’s not you, it’s me…”

How many times have you heard that on a TV show or movie? I’m surprised more autograph collectors don’t hear that from more retired players.

Pitcher Hal Stowe was a kid when his life changed. Ask anyone who says they were perfect and mature at age 23, making all the right decisions, and I’ll bet that puppet’s wooden nose might be growing.

Stowe began his pro career in 1959. In 1960, after reeling off a dozen straight wins, he got his promotion to the bigs. Stowe shut down the Red Sox in one September relief outing. In 1961, after an impressive spring training, legend has it that a dispute developed between the pitcher and manager Ralph Houk. Banished to the bench for an entire season, Stowe’s demotion to AAA proved to be a career ender.
Stowe penned on my letter

“To Tom, My Best to you and God bless

Hal Stowe, Yankees ’60”

However, his answers were terse:

I asked if he saw the Red Sox as just another foe or a special rival before his debut.

“Yes”

(Indicating that the opponents were just that.)

Being with the legendary Yankee personalities, I wondered if he’d have roommate tales. Who were his roomies, and what adventures did they have?

“Robin Roberts, Phil Linz, Clete Boyer”

Phil Linz?!? Did Stowe like harmonica music better than Yogi Berra would?

Lastly, I hoped to get a comment about the 1962 Topps cards. Check out the background. I guessed it was a minor league setting or spring training. Trees like that growing in Yankee Stadium?!? Most of all, I asked Stowe how he felt (or feels today) seeing that card.

Stowe answered with two question marks. Nothing more.

The lesson I take from Stowe’s response? Even 50 years later, disappointment may not disappear. If you don’t get a response from your letter, if a question is ignored or a card isn’t autographed, don’t take it personally. We’ll never truly know how it felt then to be a major leaguer…or how it feels today.

(Kudos to Historic Baseball for pointing out Stowe’s enduring fame at Clemson University, where he pitched stellar college ball.)

Tomorrow: Run, Jim Kaat! Max Alvis is coming!!!

Ump Denies Dave Wickersham 20th Win

From the 1964 Topps Giant set,
foreshadowing “Wick’s” giant year!

Pitcher Dave Wickersham amazed me. Here was my question:

“In the book THE BALLPLAYERS, it reads in part about you: “…going 19-12 and missing a 20-win season only because of his first ejection from a ballgame.” What’s missing from the story?

Instead of a simple, “I was robbed,” Wickersham recounted the entire shocking episode. How can history slip through your fingers? Relive the fateful day in the hurler’s own words:

“The score was 1-1 in the seventh in Yankee Stadium. Men on first and third with two outs. Phil Linz bunted a ball towards first base. Norm Cash could stand on first base and field the ball. The ball was going so slow that Linz could almost outrun it.

The ball was rolling and took a teeny hop. It hit Cash’s glove and dropped to the ground. He immediately picked it up as he stood on the base.

The umpire Bill Valentine called Linz safe (the runner on third scored, the runner on first went to second base.) I thought Linz was safe. Cash started jumping up and down (he had the ball). Valentine started walking away down the right field foul line, Cash right beside him hollering at him (still holding the ball). The runner on second started for third.

I hollered, “Time out!” Nothing happened to my request. Valentine and Cash were getting further down the right field line. The runner on second base kept going towards third base. I hollered, “Time Out” again louder! Still nothing.

So I start running down the field toward Cash and Valentine. I come up to Valentine from behind and tap him on his left shoulder and said, ‘Time Out, Bill!’ He turned to me and said, ‘You’re out of here.’

I was shocked. I started walking towards our third base dugout. When I crossed an imaginary line behind the pitcher’s mound and home plate, John Stevens the home plate umpire said to me, ‘Where are you going?’

I told him through tears (I had never been kicked out of anything before in my life), ‘He kicked me out.’

Then I headed to the dugout and up to the locker room. When a player is kicked out, he is fined automatically ($50 minimum back then). And I never got notification of a fine. We won the game, 4-2, in nine innings. That supposed out at first base would have put the game into the top of the 8th.

Lots more happened after that and Valentine has since admitted that I should not have been thrown out. I also told him I thought his safe call was the correct call.”

Be sure to check out the fantastic batter-by-batter account offered by http://www.retrosheet.org/.

%d bloggers like this: