At the outset let me point out that there’s very little I can add to either of these authentic stream-of-conciousness sagas of Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews, the Mexican Dentist who saved him $20,000, the bartender, Adam West, the Elks Lodge, Socialized Medicine in France, “super famous guys living on cat food,” and the autographed baseball cards. So here are the links: the first one, the second one, and the – frankly – disappointingly brief third one.
All I can do is entice you to go, read them – preferably aloud. Maybe organize a party; anticipate needing an hour or so as you may want to read them aloud then dramatize them with various people playing the roles of the late Mr. Mathews, and the woman he gave the cards to, Michelle, and of course Larry Hagman. These eBay listings are at least a Telenovella if not a screenplay.
Just remember that she has strayed slightly from the premise of trying to get you to bid on these autographed cards.
For any of you who have heard unfounded allegations of Eddie’s control over the Drink OR RATHER, LACK THEREOF, it was not true.
Mind you, that’s the Topic Sentence in a 1,064 word attempt to sell you a baseball card.
But I’m interrupting! Sorry…
THE STORY NOW, I NEVER ASKED EDDIE FOR ANYTHING, NO SIGNED NOTHNG, WHICH I THINK SHOCKED HIM because everyone always did, napkins, any piece of paper they could find, it was tasteless. BUT, MY MOM WAS DIRECTOR OF ADMINISTRATION OF WARNER BROTHERS when we were kids and our neighbor’s were Batman(Adam West), and another neighbor Larry Hagman, of” I Dream of Jeannie”, at the time (he chased down some mean boys who stole my brothers Halloween Candy, so he has always been a hero since our little 4 year old minds watched the Superhero save the day in Malibu Colony, AND I WAS “FAMOUS PROOF”, meaning I always knew we were all equal and had things to learn from the bums in the street ergo we are equal!! So Eddie made a point of giving me a signed card on my B-Days and holidays. Normally he wasn’t thrilled when people asked for stuff, some were great, the kids and real fans, but some were just opportunists who wanted to make a buck of him when he died, as he put it!!! Never one to mince words. I miss Eddie terribly. After his death I organized for his wife to throw in the first pitch at a Padres Game, and we all took a bus down and we did an event at the local Elks Lodge, but Eddie was woefully ignored by the Baseball Commissioner, Hank Aaron, and all the baseball world when he died and it was a Shameful thing, especially for the Commissioner and Hank Aaron, who was there and laughed when Eddie said that which led to his firing, it was that era, but he was caught up in the Politically Correct Avant-Garde, though the whole team, including Hank, talked a certain way to each other, but when the Press attacked Eddie for a mild statement of the times, Hank and the Team didn’t back him up, and it really broke his heart, deeply, I guess after all those years it was like your family saying, we don’t want you here anymore, the days of the hard drinking Babe Loving Babe Ruth days are over and now we are all so PC, and I usually am, but I know what he said and he should NEVER have been let go.
I’d like to point out one factual error that threads through all of these “item descriptions.” As the seller notes in each auction, the Braves – with Mathews as manager – did indeed announce that they would keep Hank Aaron out of the lineup for their opening series in Cincinnati in 1974 so he wouldn’t tie (and maybe break) Babe Ruth’s home run record on the road. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn did step in and order the Braves to play him at least once against the Reds (and he promptly tied Ruth’s record on opening day).
But contrary to the lady’s claims, Mathews wasn’t fired as skipper the night of (April 8), or the day after, Aaron’s 715th homer. The Braves let him go on July 21. And also contrary to the lady’s claims, when Mathews was canned at the All-Star Break the Braves’ players rose up to defend him in a way that I recall even at the time was considered unusually strong. In particular, Aaron was outraged. “It’s their club and they can do anything they want to,” he was quoted by United Press International as saying. “Personally I thought he did a hell of a job. I’ve seen a lot of managers fired but this one touched me especially hard. It was a blow to me.”
But I’m getting in the way of the pitch, which concludes with one of the greatest lines ever used on eBay – or maybe anywhere else:
Thanks for listening to the story, don’t know all that much about cards or their worth, but Eddie gave me the ones I am auctioning, so we know they are real, and his wife, Judy, lives in Del Mar and she’ll give me a confirmation, though I haven’t seen her in years.
And yes, by the way, that “one bid” you see for each of the cards? Those are mine. The descriptions may be remarkable as uses of the written word, but the sentiment seems absolutely sincere and compelling. Feel free to outbid me.
Hank Aaron’s appearance this week on The Late Show With David Letterman not only brought as hearty a series of laughs from baseball’s real all-time homer champ as I’ve ever heard him produce, but it also added one of those delightful footnotes to history. Letterman claimed that the day Aaron homered off Jack Billingham of the Reds to tie Babe Ruth’s mark of 714 at Riverfront Stadium in 1974, he was in the crowd. There’s no reason to doubt it: that was the year between Letterman’s career as a tv weatherman and the start of his comedy writing and performing.
Hank was there to provide the briefest of plugs for Topps’ celebration of its 60th year in baseball cards (he presented Letterman with a one-of-a-kind card in the style of the 2011 set, complete with a diamond in it – 60th being the ‘Diamond Anniversary’). For the sake of disclosure, Topps is paying Mr. Aaron to do the publicity, and for the sake of further disclosure, I’m an unpaid consultant for Topps as well.
They did not discuss two of Aaron’s more interesting cards. Obviously the portrait on the 1956 card here is the young Henry. But who is that sliding into the plate, an “M” on his cap and nothing on his uniform?
Correct. It’s Willie Mays sliding home, his uniform doctored to kind of look like a Braves’ jersey. There’s no special value to that mistake, because they never corrected it. In fact I don’t know if it’s considered a mistake – I think “fudge” is a better term.
The “Lefty Gibson” card is seldom seen and thus reproduced here in full:
If you can imagine this, Topps prepped its first series of 1968 cards in the winter of ’67-68 and not only did Gibson succeed in this stunt, but so did Seaver, who had tried it while posing for his very first card.
Each got all the way to the printer’s proofs level – just a handful of sheets printed. Then the Topps Copy Editor had his apoplectic attack and replaced both the Gibson and Seaver lefthanded pitching poses with nice tight portraits.
For years Topps has taken the rap for the mistake – there have even been understandable suggestions of an ethnic slur implied by the screw-up. In fact, it wasn’t entirely the company’s fault. In the winter of 1967-68, the newly-powerful Baseball Players Association was squeezing Topps into dealing with it, rather than on a player-by-player basis. Topps, which theretofore had been able to sign guys for a down payment as low as a dollar, resisted. The MLBPA promptly forbade its members for posing for Topps during Spring Training, and in fact throughout the entire regular season, of 1968.
Thus, guys who changed teams in ’68 or the ’68-69 off-season are shown hatless in old photographs in the first few series of the 1969 set. But 1968’s rookies for whom Topps had no photo? It had to get them in the minor leagues (the Topps files were filled with photos of nearly every Triple-A player in 1968), or buy shots from outside suppliers. At least a dozen images in the ’69 set, including Reggie Jackson and Earl Weaver – and “Aurelio Rodriguez” – were purchased from the files of the famous Chicago photographer George Brace. Somebody at Topps should’ve known, but the original Rodriguez/Garcia goof appears to have been Brace’s.
Incidentally, eight years later Garcia got his own card under his own name, in the Cramer Sports Pacific Coast League Series. By this point he was the trainer of the Angels’ AAA team in Salt Lake City. The biography on the back makes reference to the 1969 Topps/Brace slipup.
It wasn’t the first time, and it doesn’t mean they said anything more than ‘howdy,’ but Pete Rose met with MLB President and Chief Operating Officer Bob DuPuy here in Cooperstown over the weekend.
It was also learned by the Daily News that in a meeting of the Hall of Fame’s board of directors at the Otesaga later on Saturday, two of Rose’s former teammates on the board, vice chairman Joe Morgan and Frank Robinson, also expressed their hope that Selig would see fit to reinstate Rose.
At roughly the same hour, as I first reported late Saturday night, Sparky Anderson marched into the “Safe At Home” shop as if he were going to the mound at Riverfront to pull Jack Billingham, and, tears welling in his eyes, told Rose, “You made some mistakes 20 years ago, Pete, but that shouldn’t detract from your contributions to the game.”
And the clues continue to mount.