Over the last couple weeks, I've recounted the tale of the trip I took with my friend Eric Hendrickson some twenty-five years ago. In order to have my daily posts about that trip uninterrupted, I've refrained from any updates on the autograph collecting front. So as I get things caught up today, we have a couple weeks worth of TTM autographs to share:
Some of my earliest sports memories are those of watching the Mizzou Tigers play football in the late 1970s, with exciting quarterback Phil Bradley throwing the ball to Kellen Winslow, handing off to James Wilder, and running the ball himself. Nevertheless, it was baseball that Bradley would go on to play as a professionally, putting up a career .286 batting average in a career that included one all star season (1985: .300/26 HR/88 RBIs).
Another of the cards I was excited to get back was that of Vance Law. The son of former Cy Young Award winner, Vern Law, Vance follows the 1985 Cardinals Twitter account I run (@HeckOfAYear). It was thrill to see the first time Law "liked" one of my tweets recounting the 1985 Cardinals season day-by-day, and it was a thrill once again when I not only received his 1987 Topps card back in the mail, with a note written on the envelope commending the Twitter account!
Another player whose cards I was especially excited to get back was Sid Bream. I've written about him before, and he was one of my favorite non-Cardinals in the late 80s and early 90s. He had his bes years with the Pirates, but is most well-known for his time with the Braves, specifically when he scored the NL Pennant-winning run in 1992.
Frank Tanana won 240 games throughout his 21-year career. A three time all star, Tanana accumulated a career WAR of 57.9, which is higher than that of Whitey Ford and many other Hall of Fame pitchers. A native of Detroit, he spent eight seasons with the Tigers.
Greg Gross hit .287 over a 17-year career. He now puts to use those skills as hitting coach for Diamondbacks' AAA affiliate, the Reno Aces, a post he has held for five seasons. He previously had two stints as hitting coach for the Phillies.
His 143 pinch-hits ranks fifth all-time in MLB history, and at one time he was only seven short of Manny Mota's then record total of 150 pinch hits.
Gary Pettis was a speedy center fielder who won five Gold Gloves and stole 354 bases during his eleven-year MLB career. What I'll always remember about Pettis though is the fact that he had his 16-year-old brother Lynn pose for his 1985 Topps baseball card! If I were pursuing the 1985 set, I'm not sure who I'd send it to to get it signed, Gary or Lynn. Maybe both of them?
Without question, one of the favorite Cardinals of my youth was Bob Forsch. I had four different cards he signed for me when I was a kid, not to mention a 1986 pocket schedule.
Forsch is the only Cardinal to throw two no-hitters, and is (with Ken Forsch) part of the only brother pairing to each throw a no-no. A member of the Cardinals Hall of Fame, he started Game 1 of the NLCS & World Series for a World champion (1982) and is 3rd all-time in wins by a Cardinal. He even started perhaps the most memorable game I ever attended.
I don't think he really enjoyed signing autographs, but I also don't think I ever saw him turn someone down. One Saturday afternoon, after he had starred in the NBC Game of the Week, I witnessed him signing for nearly a half hour as his family waited for him.
Sadly, Mr. Forsch passed away a few years ago, so I had to purchase this card. I was more than happy to do so though, as his 15 years with the Cardinals comprised the bulk of my youth and given the fact that my memories of him are so fond.
Finally, what a joy it has been to have carried on a running correspondence with NFL Hall of Famer, Raymond Berry. I finally purchased an 8x10 of this great wide receiver and even finer gentleman, and sent it to him. Not surprisingly, he quickly returned it personalized and signed.