Baseball BeatApril 20, 2009
How I Ruined My Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle Autographed Baseball
By Rich Lederer

Let me set the stage. The date was June 13, 1971. I was three weeks short of my 16th birthday. My sophomore year at Lakewood High School was winding down. Finals were over, summer was about to begin, and my mind was on baseball.

Given my age, I wasn't paying close attention to the news outside of the baseball world. Little did I know (or care) that the New York Times published the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret Department of Defense study of America's involvement in the Vietnam War, in the Sunday newspaper that very day.

Closer to home (literally), I had no idea that Frank Sinatra was honored with a gala farewell that evening at the Music Center in Los Angeles. Ol’ Blue Eyes returned in November 1973 in "Sinatra - The Main Event" at Madison Square Garden.

Now, thirty-eight years later, I'm much more attuned to political news and Sinatra's music has its own playlist on my iPod. But, on the morning of June 13, 1971, I was thinking about one thing and one thing only: Ted Williams and the Washington Senators were in town to play the California Angels.

Courtesy of my Dad, who was Director of Public Relations and Promotions for the Angels, I had a pair of tickets that afternoon. I invited my longtime friend and high school basketball teammate Matt Cooper to the game. Matt had turned 16 several months before and he not only had a driver's license but his own car, a 1968 Pontiac Bonneville. Having a friend with wheels is important to any teenager. We went to a lot of games that summer.

On this particular day, Matt picked me up at my house between 9:30 and 10 a.m. Although the Angels-Senators game wasn't scheduled to begin until 2 p.m., we had one pit stop to make before heading to Anaheim Stadium. The Sheraton, a castle-themed hotel right off the Santa Ana Freeway, was the home of the Senators when the club was in Anaheim.

DSCN1104.JPGI was determined to add Ted Williams' signature to a ball that had been autographed by Mickey Mantle. Williams and Mantle. Now THAT would be an autographed baseball to pass down to my children. I had the ball, a blue ballpoint pen, and my game face on. I knew exactly what I wanted. I wasn't interested in getting Paul Casanova or Tim Cullen or Del Unser or Larry Biittner (double "i" and double "t"...I spelled it right!) to sign an autographed book or even their baseball cards. On this day, I was going to get their manager's signature. And nothing else.

Matt parked his car within steps of the team bus. We positioned ourselves between the hotel exit and the bus, waiting for "Mister" Williams, as I would call him, to emerge from the lobby. Ever the gentleman — at least with kids — Williams stopped in his tracks and paid special attention to the ball that I handed him.

As Williams was affixing his beautiful signature on the sweet spot above Mantle's gorgeous autograph, he said to me, "This is a special ball. You've got two Hall of Famers on there. Make sure you take good care of it."

Hall of Famers, ehh? Hmm. I was actually thinking much bigger than Williams. I thought I had the signatures of two of the greatest players in the history of the game on that ball. But he got me thinking, "I could turn this ball into one devoted to Hall of Famers." And Hall of Famers to be. See, Mantle had not been inducted into the HOF yet. While the Mick was retired, he was still three years away from his day in Cooperstown.

Just about the time my mind was focused on securing the autographs of Hall of Famers, out walks Denny McLain. You know, the 27-year-old pitcher with back-to-back Cy Young Awards in 1968 and 1969 and a Most Valuable Player Award, too. McLain, in fact, was the first pitcher in the history of the American League to win the Cy Young and MVP in the same season. He had three 20-win campaigns under his belt, including 31 victories in 1968, the first to win 30 games in a single season since Dizzy Dean in 1934. I mean, this guy was 117-62 with a 3.13 ERA. Little did I know that his ERA+ was only 110 at that point. I knew I should have been paying more attention to sabermetrics back then. Damn. Damn. Damn.

DSCN1105.jpgWith "now this is my chance to add a third Hall of Famer to my ball" ringing throughout my head, I hand McLain my prized possession and ask him politely for his autograph. He grabs it and signs his name diagonally right smack in the middle of a separate panel on the ball.

I remember being more upset about the location of McLain's autograph than the signature itself. I don't know if Denny scrawled his name on my ball not knowing that Mantle and Williams had already signed it or if he did so purposely given his dislike for the Washington manager. Either way, the latest autograph didn't compare in stature or beauty to the other two. But, hey, a Hall of Famer is a Hall of Famer, right?

If anything, I was so psyched by the prospect of adding to my themed baseball that I checked the Angels schedule and learned that the Boston Red Sox were going to be in town on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Matt and I headed back to the visiting team's hotel on one of those late afternoons or early evenings before what was then an 8 p.m. start time.

This time I set out to get Carl Yastrzemski's autograph. Yaz was only 31 at the time, but he had an MVP, a Triple Crown, three batting titles, and five Gold Gloves to his credit. Heck, he even had an OPS+ of 142 going into that season. As was the case with McLain, forget the fact that Yastrzemski was in the middle of his worst season ever. I know a Hall of Famer when I see one and these two guys were Hall of Famers, let me tell you.

Like McLain, Yaz positioned his less than bold signature on another panel that would make it difficult for anyone else to add their name next to his. I also added one more autograph either that evening or on the same day when I got Williams and McLain to sign my ball. The signature is none other than that of Joe Cronin, who was the president of the American League at that time. A major league player (1926-1945), manager (1933-1947), general manager (1948-1958), and/or president (1959-1973) for 48 consecutive years, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1956.

I did well with Williams, Mantle, Yastrzemski, and Cronin, but "not so much" with McLain. While four out of five ain't bad when it comes to most baseball endeavors, 80 percent doesn't get the job done with respect to putting together a Hall of Fame autographed ball. As it turns out, I would have been better off getting McLain's father-in-law to sign the ball — at least Lou Boudreau was a Hall of Famer.

You might say that I learned one of my first — and hardest — lessons about pitchers... if not that day in June, then certainly two years later when the 29-year-old McLain was released by the Atlanta Braves, never to appear in a major-league game again. He "retired" with 131 wins and one disgruntled fan in Long Beach.

Denny McLain may be Dennis Dale McLain to his mom and dad. But he's Denny Effing McLain to me.

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Do you have a similar story to share?


You never explained how you got the Mick's autograph

My Dad got Mantle to sign the ball and gave it to me. Adding Williams was a good idea. I just wish I had left it at that.

As an aside, June 13, 1971 was also Disneyland Day. All fans who attended the game were allowed free admission into the amusement park, which was shut down to outsiders from about 5 p.m. to closing at about midnight.

I was stuck at a friends of my parents home with a mitt and no ball, age 8... the owner of the home had a Roberto Clemente signed ball. Somehow I was allowed to use it and my use led to it being ruined, the memory of the cause is foggy. the response by the man who owned it and gave it to me is etched in my mind. This was prior to Roberto's death, thus it stings a tad more now than then.

When I was 16, in '74, my boss at the time, gave me his collection of baseball cards. He was about 10 yrs older than me. So many of these cards were from the '50s, with older players from the late '30s and '40s, incl. early Mantle, Mays, F. Robinson, etc. I went into the service 2 years later, and when I got out in the early '80s, the trading card (for money) business was just starting to get popular. My family had moved back to Michigan in the meantime. While packing up the household goods, for the move, my mother (not a sports fan in the least), without consulting my dad, who was just as into those cards as I was, decided they were non-essential, and tossed them out with everything else that wasn't going back to MI.

The first autograph I ever got at a game (I had numerous "through the mail autographs) was Oriole pitcher Bob Reynolds at Fenway Park in 1974. He was very nice to me, I recall, even a bit chatty. It was actually a ball I had got that day from a Boog Powell batting practice home run. It is the only ball I have ever secured at a game to this day.

A couple of years later, needing ball to play an actual pickup game, I took the ball down from the shelf and took it up to Allen's Field to play. This is part of the story where I am supposed to say "How could I have been so stupid! This was a genuine American League ball! With a major league signature!" Naw. I have gathered a lot of crap over the years that I have moved around the country with me. I believe I had more fun with that ball than I would have any other way.

Growing up I went to a lot of card shows and got balls autographed. At one show, Mays, Marichal and Mccovey were there. Knowing Mays was the prize, I wanted his autograph first on the sweetspot. After I waited on the long line, he doesn't so much as look up, and signs the back of the ball.

I also once got an autographed ball for Howard Johnson, and quickly realized that autographs from merely good players were a waste of time.

My favorite person from whom I got an autograph was Warren Spahn. The show was not crowded and he was telling stories of how at Ebbets field the kids in the outfield would throw their sandwiches at him and that he and the other pitchers would pick them up and eat them. He also showed me how to throw a knuckleball and claimed that he threw only one during his career, to Ted Kluszewski, resulting in a pop up.

I don't have a story to go with my "ruined autographed ball"---it's probably been blocked from my mind from the later horror of discovering what had already happened to the ball at the time I got protective cases for it in about 1984---but I still have the 1959 and 1961 (or 1962) Dodger team autographed balls your Dad sent me when we were kids. The '59 (I should say the World Champion '59) ball is worn, and many of the autographs have completely faded away; I have to assume I used it to play catch with one day when I would have been about 9... Fortunately, the autograph of my boyhood hero Sandy Koufax is still legible on the ball, as well as a few others. The later ball has had a much better fate---still white, and all of the autographs are as clear as the autographed balls I secured in the '80's and early '90's! As an aside, my favorite autograph on the later ball is Leo Durocher's (I can date the ball down to '61 or '62 by his name being on it).

Actually, it occurs to me that I have a story that is similar to Rich's. It was at a Celtics-Lakers game at the old Boston Garden in 1979 (the year before Magic and Bird). I had seats right behind the press table, tickets I secured from a guy who worked there. When we arrived an hour or more before the game, Jerry West and Red Auerbach (the two team's GMs, were in our seats). Hardly any one had arrived, so we didn't boot them out. Instead, I got their autographs on my program. While I was there, I got Dave Cowens, Celtics center-coach, and Bob Cousy, Celtics TV dude. And of course, to make the otherwise blank program page complete, I rounded it out with ... Don Ford, Laker forward extraordinaire.

McLain is better than Ford, at least you had reason to be optimistic.

I have a story that has a happy ending and a sad ending. My grandfather was a young man in 1927 and attended the ticker-tape parade in the Canyon of Heroes for Charles Lindberg on June 13, 1927. He had traveled with is father to view the parade along with 4 million others that day. After the parade he went to Yankee Stadium and sat right behind the Yankee dugout to watch the Yankees battle the Cleveland Indians. The Yanks put the hurt on the Tribe that day, beating them 14-6, and also began a nine game win streak, their longest of the year. Following the game, Babe Ruth approached my grandfather and handed him two signed baseballs. One of the balls he had signed himself right on the sweet spot and the other was signed by the entire 1927 Yankees team.

As my grandfather was in poor health in 1978 he gave the ball signed by The Babe to my brother and me and the ball signed by the entire team to my cousins. My grandfather wrote a note to us detailing his story, which is why I know so much about it. We took great care in protecting our ball, as it is in very good condition, although 82 years of weathering has taken a slight toll on the coloring and to a lesser extent the ink. My cousins’ ball was neglected to say the least. It sat in a window and was played with. The signatures are really not visible and there are some scuffs on it as well. Such a shame.

You don't have a Hall of Fame ball but you've got a Hall of Fame story. Definitely a classic.

I got McLain's autograph a few years back at a card show in PHX. My young son was with me. After he signed we got a picture with him. It's funny seeing an ex-con with his arm around my kid.

Another time I got Goose Gossage's autograph. My son was even younger then, maybe two. He's wearing a Red Sox shirt and Goose says, "why are you wearing a Red Sox shirt?" My son's reply: "I pooped my pants." Ah, kids.

I don't have a lot of sympathy for you Rich because of what happened to me:

My father, on top of being an LAPD motor cop, was also the scoreboard announcement guy at LA Clipper games back when they played at the crappy sports arena. He had to show up about three hours before the games and he would often let me tag along. One season (I want to say 1991), I was particularly excited to come along because, while I loved Rodney Rogers and Olden Polynice, Michael Jordan and the Bulls were making there only trip to the sports arena that year and I had to see his Airness in person.
So I take my large, framed Jordan Poster off my wall, lug it to the sports arena with me, and with my dad's help, find a nice spot right outside the locker room to wait for Jordan to come out after the game.
Many of my favorite Clippers (Danny Manny, Ron Harper, and even Doc Rivers) walked right past me. Now granted they aren't hall of famers, but these were my heroes, but because I was there for one autograph, I completely ignored them. I was ashamed, I couldn't even look them in the eyes.
Anyway, the Bulls start filing out; Bill Cartright, Horace Grant were just kind of hanging round.
And then Scottie Pippen walks out. He sees me holding my poster. He walks over to me and asks if I want him to sign it. I told him "No thanks, I'm waiting for Michael." That's right, I just told one of the greatest small forwards to ever play the game to take a hike.
Suffice to say I didn't get Michael's autograph (he was surrounded by a crowd of reporters three deep coming out of the locker room), and in retrospect should have been thrilled with at least one hall of famers autograph.

I can't pinpoint the date like Rich, although Rich may very well be able to as this story has been much more traumatic to him. Thanks to our Dad -- Long Beach Independent, Press-Telegram beat writer covering the Dodgers at the time -- I was the proud recipient of the last two pairs of baseball shoes that Sandy Koufax wore in his final season of 1966. Thankfully, Dad had the wherewithall to make one of the shoes into a permanent keepsake by mounting it on a piece plaque-like walnut base with an engraved inscription that says "Presented to Tom Lederer by Sandy Koufax upon his retirement 1966". Unfortunately, I have no idea as to the whereabouts of the other three shoes other than I know I wore a pair briefly during high school baseball. After all, Dad's intent was to secure a pair for me to use because I was a left-hand pitcher in my teens who quickly tore a hole in the left shoe of every pair of spikes I wore. Sandy's shoes were outifitted with a leather pitching toe sewed in place by a shoesmith. As I was a size or two larger than Sandy, the shoes were not a great fit and I passed them along to a high school teammate, unsure as to their eventual fate. Rich, feel free to fill in the details that you recall much more vividly than I.

I have two teenage boys. Until recently, we made a pilgrimage to Vero Beach each year where the boys amassed quite a collection of autographs. Some of those signatures gave me an opportunity to give my boys a history lesson. Like Rick Monday... what he did that sometimes gets forgotten by people outside baseball. How Tommy Lasorda made sure the boys were courteous and patient.
On September 9th this year as we were preparing to leave our house my oldest son brought with him all of those balls(memories). I told him that we would be back within a few days and if he wanted to make sure the autographs would be safe he should put them in boxes and place them in his dresser drawers. September 13th Hurricane Ike filled our house with six feet of water destroying everything. Not only do I have to deal with the fact that I made him put the balls in the bottom of his dresser; I also get to be reminded by my teenage son of my brilliance every time we watch a Dodger game. "We USED to have his autograph... ask Dad if we have room for it the next time we evacuate."

This is a great story. I really enjoyed reading it. Even with Mr. Effing McLain's John Hancock on it, it still sounds like a great treasure from your youth.

Haha, this is indeed a funny story. That's rough luck, though that's still a really sweet ball (Mantle AND Williams? awesome)

Any chance you'd want a do-over on the McLain autograph? I'm part of a family business that makes a stain remover, Amodex Ink And Stain Remover, and while it works on most any "stains", we especially market it in the ink removal business. My mother used to go on a home shopping network and put sharpie on a cashmire sweater (and then take it off with the stain remover, of course), and when I worked for the Bridgeport Bluefish in CT I cleaned their mascot a few times of sharpie marks.

Dunno if you're happy with the ball and don't want to lose the McLain signature, but if you really would want to "fix" it and try for a better autograph, just know that you can do it. You'd just put a little bit on the area, let it sit a little while, and then you could wipe it off and the ink would go with it (and if anyone here is interested, go to, that's the website).

Sorry for the semi-shameless plug, but I'm happy to help with "stain" problems!

I used to have a cartoon on my refrigerator until it became too worn out. It showed a group of women seated in a circle looking woebegone and troubled. On the door was the sign "Support Group for Mothers who threw away their sons' baseball cards".

You know, at the time (1990), a George Brett-signed ball didn't mean a whole lot to this then 11-year old. Don't get me wrong, I appreciated it's sentimental value. I might have had a hint of its monetary, albeit superficial, value.

But when you find out you'll be pitching the next year in Little League, you tend to practice throwing anything you can. Unfortunately for me, that included the Brett ball against the brick wall in the driveway.

Although the ball was never the same, I did perfect my knuckleball that summer...

I did not sign the ball in anyway but what I thought was correct that day, sorry if that was not the right place, I had not played for Ted at that time, so I did not know him yet and Mickey was my idol, I think you know that.
I wish you the best and I am sorry that I erred.

!961, Bronx Little League Day at Yankee Stadium. My name had been picked out of a hat to represent my little league on the field for the pregame presentation to Bill Skowron. While waiting in the tunnel to go out on the field the batboy came an called my name and had me go with him. Unbeknownst to me, our league scorekeeper told the batboy that my Dad was sick in the hospital(he wasn't) and could the batboy take some 8mm film for her to show to my Dad. Well he brought me out to the field called to Tony Kubek who jumped off the bench and up the steps to welcome me and introduce me around to some of the other players. I silently went along just mesmerized to be meeting these guys. Then someone said to get Mickey Mantle but he was busy doing something in the outfield. So they brought me over to meet Bill Skowron and Yogi Berra. While we were posing for a picture with me in the middle the photographer told me to look up at one of the players and Skowron said look at Yogi, he's older. Well, I was a huuuuuuuuuge fan of #8 (didn't even care about not meeting MM)and all I could do was look up at him and stare. I couldn't believe I was this close to Yogi Berra.It was a dream come true. The film ran out and they brought me back to the group in the tunnel where I got my team autographed baseball and a memory to last a lifetime.

P.S. I have never seen that movie even though I saw the scorekeeper 17 years later when she was the delivery nurse while my daughter was born and she promised to get it to me.

I was 12 during the summer of 1996 and I was visiting m cousins in Harrisburg, PA. During that Summer Vladmir Guerrero was making his way through the Montreal Expos system and did his obligatory AA time with the Senators. Prior to one game he was signing autographs on the first base line. Being 12 I didn't have a the passion for player development that I do now, so I had no clue this guy was one of the top young prospects in the game. All I knew was I wanted an autograph. What I had on me was my glove, which I had brought to the game hoping to catch a foul ball (which my cousin was successful in doing) so I preceded to squirm my way through the crowd to get Vlad's signature. Vlad preceded to sign the outside of the glove on the pinkie finger slot and moments later I would get Jolbert Cabrera's autograph too on the outside ring finger slot (I remember Jolbert because he became a Cleveland Indian, my favorite team, a few years later).

Because I was in 12 and only had one glove, my unknowingly prized piece of leather was thrown through the ringer for the rest of the summer and the beginning of 1997 before Vlad had his breakout rookie season. Today Jolbert's handwriting is still clearly visible but Vlad's has been smudged and worn away to the point that it is unrecognizable.

Mom is Japanese, and I spent many summer vacations in Japan with my relatives in Japan who were all Tokyo Giants fans. One year when I was 9 or so, I found a baseball in a little plastic box sitting in a big chest of odds and ends. Compared to the scuffed and worn balls my cousins and I normally played catch with it simply shone like the Hope Diamond. I took it to the park without hesitation, neither asking permission nor paying any heed to the loopy markings on one side of it. My dad (an American and die-hard Cubs fan, as am I) had come with us that year. Covered in dirt and sweat after a long day of being 9 at the park, I put the mitt down on the porch and was playing with the family dog. Dad mustve picked up the mitt and noticed something because he calls me over and has me show the ball to my grandfather, who was the owner of what used to be a pristine ball signed by Sadaharu Oh. Dad wasn't too pleased but granddad didn't mind. Said he'd forgotten he'd even had it and I could have it. We all agreed to keep it a secret from my uncle though. I took that ball back to California in the plastic box after that one day at the park with it, but it got lost in the years I spent at college. Just like that movie "The Sandlot"....whoops!

My brother and I were brought up as Cub fans in Los Angeles. In 1973 or 1974, when I was about ten years old, my Chicago-born Dad splurged and somehow got us tickets right on top of the Cubs dugout in Dodger Stadium. I think Carmen Fanzone played the Star Bangled Banner on his trumpet that game. Someone broke a bat during batting practice and gave the pieces to my older brother. At some point my Dad passed a ball down into the dugout, and it came back to us signed by Ernie Banks, Lou Boudreau, and........ Pete LaCock. I don't begrudge that last signature. I was a kid, and it was great fun. I'm pretty sure that ball is still in a trunk in my closet.

I have a ball passed down to my father originally but then to me by my grandfather that is auto graphed by most of the All-Stars of 1940 (my grandfather was in the Navy and many of the players were drafted and played in Army-Navy games)any ways over the years many names have faded but Musial's is still quite visible along with many other less famous but still noteworthy names that might not be known recently but are there (Dee Mike, Jack Hallett, Joe Glenn, Eddie Shopes, Billy Hermann, Charlie Gilbert, Sherry Robertson ((I think)) Jack Conway)

Great story Rich! I was never really an autograph seeker, but you did rekindle my memory and encounter one summer afternoon in ’67 or ’68. I was visiting my aunt who lived across the street from the Studio City Golf Course (par 3). I used to spend a day there every couple of weeks during the summers. Not only was the coffee shop noted as a hang out for many Hollywood stars, but the driving range garnered my most prized autograph (and only one I think). I was wandering around the driving range hoping to find some balls left at the practice tees when I stumbled upon two other kids staring in awe at the figure smashing drives with apparent ease. It took me about three seconds to realize it was Sandy Koufax. Wow, I was shell shocked! I stood and watched as he drove ball after ball of a giant bucket. When he had finished the bucket he turned and looked right at me and asked if I would mind going to the pro shop to get him another bucket…I am not sure what I actually said at that point, but he handed me a five dollar bill. Upon return I placed the bucket at his feet and handed him his change. He said “you keep it, thanks.” What an afternoon, an autograph from the great Sandy Koufax and a tip! And I still have the Studio City Golf Course score card with hs autograph.

I have the world's only Don Mattingly/Jason Grimsley dual-signed collectible mini bat.

While working seciruty at the 98 world series in SanDiego ( darn strike 4) I was tasked with escorting various VIPs to and from there limos, one night (maybe game 3) I had the privilege of being assigned MILTON BUERAL he was there with his grandson,and while waiting for a golf cart to drive him out after the game(he was having trouble walking) he asked if he could smoke a cigar, jokingly I responded "only if you have one for me" with out missing a beat he produced 2 cigars from his jacket pocket, one with a cracked wrapper, which he handed to me, a long with the dirtiest lowisky joke I ever heard, we sat their on the 3rd base line and enjoyed my best cigar ever,I still have the cigar ring,not an autograph story but a good one all the same, I never did use my access to get autos,guess I was to young

I have a Mickey Mantle & Roger Maris autographed baseball that I was given as a Christmas present by my father in 2005. Maris is on the sweet-spot and Mick's autograph is the "post-retirement" version of his signature. Soon i hope to be obtaining another autographed baseball that has both Ted Williams & Mickey Mantle among other players on it from my father. He used to own a baseball card and memorabilia shop and those were two of the things I remember him having since we opened in 1985.

This is why you should always carry two balls. I have a pair from one spring training that goes something like this:

Ball 1: Jim Leyritz, Tim Raines, Erick Almonte, Randy Choate

Ball 2: George Steinbrenner, Joe Torre, John Sterling, Michael Kay (at the time the Yankees radio voices)

I suppose Raines might make the HOF some day, and Leyritz is memorable for the HR against Atlanta in 1996, but I've never been more glad to have two balls with me. The split by theme was sort of accidental, but one definitely defines an era much better than the other.

My second cousin was a photographer for the Oakland Trib in the 70's. He gave me a ball signed by the 73 Oakland A's...all the sisters took it out of my room and played catch with it in the street. They completely ruined it as it hit the street more times than their hands. At least they put it back in the presentation stand for me. The only signature I could read was Campy Campaneris.

FWIW, McLain did surrender the HR that moved Mantle past Jimmie Foxx. So they do have some connection.

I was 9 years old when the Tigers won the world series in '84...."The Roar of '84". I got an autographed ball from my grandpa with every player's signature on it. It wasn't until a couple years after grandpa died the next year that I appreciated the most amazing detail on the ball. Every Tiger on the 1984 roster had handwriting that was EXACTLY like grandpa's! What do you think I'd let go of first, an Alan Trammell/Lou Whittaker ball or the one with the "imposter roster" on it?

When I was about 10 I had found some of the dodger memorabilia that my father acquired from the 80s, to include an autographed Mike Scioscia signature bat. Well, turns out hitting rocks with it is not that great of an idea...

I caught Carl Ystrzemski's 79th homerun on the last day of the season, October 3rd, 1967. Yaz autographed it for me the following December at a charity appearance for a local newspaper.

Then, on July 13th, 1967 my Dad, Stanley Kislowski, who was a photographer, brought me with him on an assignment at Fenway Park. The whole team signed the ball that day, and I kept it for 25 years until I gave it away.... (now you're supposed to ask "who did you give it to?") ... to YOU.

The next time you're in Cooperstown, stop at the Yastremski exhibit in the Hall of Fame and visit "Our Ball".


My second cousin was a photographer for the Oakland Trib in the 70's. He gave me a ball signed by the 73 Oakland A's...all the sisters took it out of my room and played catch with it in the street. They completely ruined it as it hit the street more times than their hands. At least they put it back in the presentation stand for me. The only signature I could read was Campy Campaneris.

I've been a Tiger fan my whole life. I would love to have a baseball with Denny McLain's autograph. The only way you could ruin that is to keep your grubby paws on it. You don't deserve it.

Here's another sad story. Growing up in Philadelphia in the 60's and 70's i went to many a games at Connie Mack stadium and Veterans stadium. As a kid I always hade my glove with me hoping for a home run or even a foul ball. Just my luck neither one. As we milled around after the game one day, who comes outbut not only Mike Schmidt, but Steve Carlton, Larry Bowa and a few others. Not having a ball, I used my glove for the autographs. Bad mistake it was also the glove I used in Little League to play 3rd base. Needless to say we had a game the next day and I had to use that glove to play one of my best defensive games of the year on the hot corner. went 5 for 5 with 3 home runs and no errors in the field. Of course at that age, I could not affors two gloves to have so that stayed my everyday glove until high school. I still have the glove, but can barely read the signatures.

I collected alot of Dodgers stuff back in the late 70's early 80's...I had broken bats from Garvey, Cey, Lopes, Yeager,...Even had a MANNY MOTA..who was my hero growing up...not bad for a 10yr old...kept it at my father's house while I was at college...His new trophy wife threw them all out while I was away at school..the only thing I have left is a ball signed by Manny that says..."TO MY LITTLE BUDDY, MANNY MOTA"..GOD I HATED THAT WOMEN....

I have a story, nearly as good and nearly as bad.

I was both a Braves and Mets fan growing up (Braves were in the National League West, so they were not rivals yet), and I always played pitcher and first base on my little league team. When I was 8, I sent off a box containing a SAS(box) with a baseball and instructions that it should be returned to me with Keith Hernandez and "anybody in the starting rotation, like maybe Ron Darling". I sent my little league baseball card from the previous year (batting an even .600), thinking that little kid points might be in order. About a month later, I got the ball back, with six signatures: Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling, Doc Gooden, Rick Aguilera, Doug Sisk, and Roger McDowell. Also included was my card, with a note from manager Dave Johnson on the front: "If you're still batting like this after High School, I'll expect you in my dugout. - Dave Johnson". This was at the beginning of the 1986 season (the year of the Buckner), by the way.

Then, 1991 happened. Somehow, the Braves won, and were poised to continue winning. For some reason (Dad), I started to doubt my fan-ness, and I chose The Braves over everyone else. That decision has stuck with me to this day. However, to purge myself of all things not-Braves, I gave my ball and card to my cousin in Delaware, and he sold them about two years later. I'm not sure that I'd have ever asked for them back, but I'd rather have that option.

Strangely, it never crossed my mind to try the same thing for Dale Murphy, Zane Smith, Bob Horner, etc.

when I was 6 yrs old in 1940 my parents went to visit my aunt in Detroit. My Uncle took us to Briggs Stadium in detroit on the corner of Michigan Ave And Trumbull Avenue to a baseball game with the Chicago White Sox. My uncle was admission manager at Hazel Park he had some pull with baseball people also...He took me to the broadcast booth in Briggs Stadium and I got an autographed baseball from long time broadcaster Harry Hielmann.what a thrill...

From 1985 through 2003 I had collected about 3 cards of every KC Royal from 1981 - 1986 of Donruss, Fleer, & Topps in just the right arrangements in a 25-30 page 18 card pages. Then when the book was completely finished I gave it away one day without thinking. What's worse was that a couple of months later I gave my 1988 KU Jayhawks team pocket schedules away.

From 1985 through 2003 I had collected about 3 cards of every KC Royal from 1981 - 1986 of Donruss, Fleer, & Topps in just the right arrangements in a 25-30 page 18 card pages. Then when the book was completely finished I gave it away one day without thinking. What's worse was that a couple of months later I gave my 1988 KU Jayhawks team pocket schedules away.

From 1985 through 2003 I had collected about 3 cards of every KC Royal from 1981 - 1986 of Donruss, Fleer, & Topps in just the right arrangements in a 25-30 page 18 card pages. Then when the book was completely finished I gave it away one day without thinking. What's worse was that a couple of months later I gave my 1988 KU Jayhawks team pocket schedules away.

I used to wait at the team hotel in Denver when I was a kid and I at the time I was waiting for Chicago Bulls in the early 90's. I watched all of the players come down and walk thru the lobby of the hotel being mobbed by everyone waiting for MJ. I think I was able to get Horace Grant, John Paxson, and my dad got BJ Armstrong on his book. Everyone was waiting for MJ and he was the last player to get on the bus. So the elevator opens up and out walks MJ and everyone crowds around the front of him. For some reason I stand behind him and he turns around waiting for me to hand him my pen and paper. I was so shocked I dropped my pen and by the time I found it, he already was walking out to the bus with the big mob of people. Oh well, I have President Obama's but still.

what an unappreciative jerk...

I was around nine at the time and Tommy Lasorda had an Italian restaurant in Cerritos called Lasorda’s. My grandfather is a Dodger fan (me, a huge Wally Joyner and Halo fan) he would take me there almost every time we would go eat, one because he liked the food and also the off chance of Lasorda being there. Wouldn’t you know it, we walk in one day and there is Tommy sitting in a booth in the corner talking to someone who I had never seen. He takes me by the hand and walks over to the booth and introduces himself and me. Tommy asks if I would like an autograph, where I reply, “Sure! Wally Joyner is here too!?”
Side note: Come to find out on a long and quite car ride home that “someone” that Tommy was talking to was none other than Vin Scully… stupid kid!

I grew up in Brattleboro, VT, a couple of towns away from where Ted Williams' ex-wife and children lived. One April night in 1986 (I was almost 14) I went grocery shopping with my parents. I was in the magazine aisle browsing when I caught a glimpse of a really tall man turn the corner and go down the next aisle. I started walking that way to catch up to my parents and noticed the man again going down the aisle. I stopped dead in my tracks and realized it was TED WILLIAMS! I ran to find my mother and told her. She didn't believe me, but there was an elderly lady in the same aisle who told my mother that she had seen him too. I grabbed a pen and page out of my mother's pocket calendar and took off to find him. I caught up with him in the dairy aisle. I said hello and asked for his autograph. He was extremely gracious and friendly. He patted me on the head and shook my hand. He had ENORMOUS hands. He asked if I behaved myself and worked hard in school. I said yes. He then asked my mother if this was true. He signed my piece of paper, told me to root for the Red Sox, then was on his way. I put the autograph in a binder with my baseball cards and would take it out from time to time. A few years ago when my mother sold her house I found my cards, but could not find the autograph. At first I was devastated, but when I thought about it, I think I'm better off having the memory of meeting him and shaking the hand of the greatest hitter who ever lived.

My father grew up in Brooklyn NY. The Dodgers were still there. During the season, the players would run to and get on the subway after the games. My dad and his friends would gather near the subway where they knew most of the players would be literally running through. Each time they did this, they would bring a stack of self addressed already stamped post cards. When the Brooklyn Dodgers would be running by them they would quickly pass them the post cards and yell out "Can you please sign this for me and drop it in the mail". He and is friends would then sit around the mail box all summer waiting for the mail to come. To this day is has everyone of the post cards he received (all with a postmark date). To name just a few of the autographs: Roy Campanella, Sandy Koufax, Pee Wee Reese,Duke Snider, and of course Jackie Robinson (he has two of Robinson - one signed in pencil and the other in pen ink). My father's family moved to the Fairfax district in Hollywood, CA. Two years later, the Los Angeles Dodgers joined them. I guess all of that could be a possible reason that he has always been a very big fan of the Dodgers.

I have a T-shirt that reads "I used to be a millionaire but then my Mom threw away my baseball cards"

I still have issues when it comes to that.

my story is what could have happenedbeing the cal ripken jr. fan i had got tix for his finally series in seattle.standing up fornt wating for a autograph on day 1 i was able to get a ball and hat 2 was a bust and didnt get 1.but on day 3 i was able to get 2 balls and a comm. ripken pennat signed.during the whole fiasco i was pushed over the railin and cal helped pick me up into the stands,thats how i was able to get a 2nd ball autographed.he asked if i was ok and my response to him was see you in the hall of fame.he just smirked and with a chuckle he said you think so.
this is the part where it couldve went bed.i still had the balls in the backpack i take to 2 1/2yr old son got into it and was marking up a ball with his sister markers.luckily it was one of the balls that wasnt autograph (those 3 were still in the backpack).that ball he marked up is on the shelf with the numerous other autographed balls and has since become the most prized 1 of the collection.

I was about 10 when I got Rollie Fingers and Vida Blue to autograph a San Diego Padres All Star Game Commemorative ball in San Diego.

As I said I was 10...I played catch with it an ruined it.