TTM Roundup: A Flounder and a White Whale

Ok. I have so, so many unresolved returns from my TTM autograph adventures. There are seriously hundreds of returns that I haven’t posted. So, I’m going to try to tackle them in short posts. That should give me plenty of blog fodder for a good while. Let’s start with a pair of Astros that came in this week.
First up is Lucas Harrell. Ah, Lucas, we hardly knew ye. Lucas had a promising 2012, making the team as the Opening Day Starter (oh goodness we were bad), and wrapping up the season as the only Astros starter to break double-digit wins in a horrific 55-107 season. In fact, he was the only starter to even hit a .500 winning percentage, with his 11-11 record. It was a bad season all around for the club, but Harrell’s future and a diminutive second baseman named Jose provided a spectre of hope.

For Harrell, that didn’t last long. His stock dropped hard in 2013 and 2014, to the point where the Astros had insult added to injury when trade discussions from the infamous Ground Control leak mentioned the team wanting someone of Giolito’s caliber in return for Harrell. The team released him towards the end of the 2014 season, leading him eventually to the KBO. He’s back in camp with Toronto this year as a non-roster invitee, where I wrote him. Lucas got back to me in 27 days.

Yesterday’s return was one at the opposite end of the former Astro spectrum, Hall of Famer Joe Morgan. Needless to say, I was quite ecstatic to open my mailbox and find this inside. A couple posted returns had trickled onto SCN recently, so I took a shot and wrote Joe c/o the Hall of Fame. Less than two weeks later, and I had a lovely Joe Morgan signature to add to my collection!

Joe is arguably one of the greatest “Astros who got away,” along with Cesar Cedeno and the never-drafted Phil Nevin Derek Jeter. He had some fine years in Houston, but really flourished in Cincinnati, where he was a key factor in the Big Red Machine and won back-to-back MVP titles in ’75 and ’76 as he led the Reds to a pair of World Championships.

This return was extra special, because Joe typically responds in the Fred Lynn fashion, where your card comes back unsigned with an signed index card. As someone who was hoping to get him in an Astros uni, that was disheartening. There have been several recent successes posted with on-card signatures though, and they look to be legit (whereas the index cards sometimes don’t match, with a very different J). I suspect this may be in part because of the recent reports of his ill health – he was preparing for a bone marrow transplant last summer and put his house on the market. So Joe, thank you very, very, very much for taking the time to sign a card for a fan, and I wish you a speedy recovery.

As always, may your mailbox bring you joy.

 – Marc

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