Minnesota Twins Outfielder Bob Allison Dubbed Thin, Sharp Pitcher Tom Hall “Blade”

Tom still has “thin and sharp”
handwriting today! I found
this gem on twinscards.com.
It’s a must-stop for Twins fans.

Where have all the nicknames gone?

I remember the late, great Ernie Harwell saying that he believed that a shortened last name, something like “Higgy” for Bobby Higginson, didn’t compare to baseball’s greatest nicknames.

That was one reason I wrote to Tom Hall. His “Blade” nickname seemed like something Marvel Comics invented. Interestingly, it took just one teammate to create such a title. Hall explained:

“Bob Allison gave me that name when I was with the Twins in 1969. He said ‘I was so thin and sharp on the mound.'”

That same year, on Aug. 24, Hall twirled a four-hit masterpiece at home against the Yankees. What made that win memorable?

“Being able to go 9 innings as a relief pitcher.”

Never before had I asked a former player about his first highlight, just getting signed to a pro contract. I’m glad I quizzed Hall. He remembered:

“Jess Flores scouted and signed me in 1966. My mom and dad were present at the signing. It was very exciting. Yes, I did get a signing bonus, nothing like today.”

He concluded his generous letter not with an autograph, but a smiley face exclamation. I like to think of it as The Blade’s self-portrait.

Coming Wednesday: Beyond the stats of Danny Litwhiler.

Thanking Chicago Cubs Voice Pat Hughes

I was on the Sunday WGN Radio broadcast of the Cubs versus the Cardinals.

No, not me. My note.

I wasn’t trying for instant fame. You’re supposed to wear the rainbow clown wig for that, right?

I just wanted to thank Pat for his summer of optimism. Also, I shared my gratitude for the impressive work he did on the tribute book Ron Santo, A Perfect 10.

Pat and Keith Moreland read the note and commented on the air. I’m glad for that. However, I mainly wanted to say goodbye to another season by being grateful. I know Pat’s great tribute CDs of legendary announcers, his “Baseball Voices” series, will keep me warm throughout a long winter.

Whenever writing letters to current and former players seem to be a chore, take a break. Write a thank-you note to someone in baseball, someone who’s made being a fan sweeter.

In other words, stop thinking about what the letter will get you. Instead, think of what your letter has to GIVE.

Coming Tuesday: Pitcher Tom “Blade” Hall tells how he got his nickname.