Well, I didn’t keep too much momentum on the letter writing, so November 2020 was a lighter month than the return-fest of October. Still, there were some fun things in here! Let’s have a look at what arrived, oh, 15 months ago?
Jerry Goff: 4/3, 62 days
Jerry Goff saw time in 90 major league games, including just 13 with the Astros in 1995 and 1996. Overall, his career includes 250 major league plate appearances. By contrast, his son Jared Goff has taken 5448 snaps in his 83 NFL games – 89 if you count playoffs, which includes a loss in Super Bowl LIII. Needless to say, you’ve probably heard about Jared and not Jerry. I came across this Astros photo thanks to an article about Jared, so thanks for the assist, kiddo, you helped me add a new Astro-graph to the collection!
Steve Lombardozzi: 1/1
Steve is also a sports dad whose child has the greater recognition factor. In this instance, that’s Steve Jr., who has 848 plate appearances in 291 games across 6 major league seasons. Steve Sr. actually had the better career, though: 1437 PAs across 446 games (13 with Houston), and a World Series title with the Twins in 1987. He batted .412 in 6 games during that World Series too, good for a 13% cWPA (Championship Win Probability Added), meaning he was responsible for about 1/7th of a World Series win (game, not series). I landed this via a cheap private signing, finally ticking him off the Astro-graph list.
Tommy Helms: 2/2, 10 days.
Most everyone who recognizes the name Tommy Helms probably knows him as the 1966 NL Rookie of the Year. I’d actually successfully written him before, receiving back a badly smudged 1974 Topps card. At some point I picked up a ’73 in ballpoint – probably at a card show – but I wanted to try to rectify this and get a Reds card signed as well, since he won his ROY award with them. I’d seen a gap in his response rate, so these sat to the side for a while until I noticed a return to signing and I dashed off a new request. I’m quite pleased with the upgrade to his Astros slot, and the deckle edge is now in the ROY pages.
Ray Montgomery: 1/1
Montgomery made it into 47 games as an Astro between 1996 and 1998 – the totality of his major league career. I’ve seen a few returns from him, but I’d struck out at least 3 times, so a cheap private signing finally knocked Ray off my needs list. I may try to write him again, as he’s the new bench coach for the Angels. This turned out nicely, and I think that ’97 Donruss set gets overlooked. It’s actually a pretty nice set.
Joe Slusarski: 4/4, 156 days
I’ve had Joe’s autograph for a while now – that 91 UD triple exposure is just too cool, and I had him sign one in person when I caught him with the then-Astros affiliate AAA New Orleans Zephyrs in the late 90s. Unfortunately those were my dreaded red Sharpie days. It felt like time to remedy that, and I also needed Joe in an Astros uniform. I found a shot of him at the plate – I haven’t gone back to check the source, but it must be from Spring Training, as Joe was a reliever – and whipped up one of my customs. He kept the spare copies and signed a few early 90s Athletics cards for me as well. I really should spend a few minutes and whip up Fleer and Pinnacle custom templates from 1992, they’d both be easy to make. I’ll have to file that to the list. This was a nice Astro-graph upgrade.
Danny Darwin: 5/5, 7 days.
I believe this is now my third success from Mr. Darwin. I finally made sure to dig out his 1981 Fleer card, and I also tossed in a 1986 Fleer I’d picked up as filler in a TCDB swap. I knew he originally came up with the Rangers, but I’d had no knowledge of his brief stay with Milwaukee. The 1994 Score card showing him tossing a ball to a kid was just too good to pass up. The 1981 is paged among the several dozen other cards I have signed from that set, but I later learned that Danny is a baseball brother, so the other two cards here are in my baseball family pages.
I added in a pair of Astros cards as well – spare Mothers Cookies and police cards I’d come into, which I find usually make for fun additions to the collection. I still want to make a Doctor Death custom, so there’s a chance this wasn’t the last time I’ll write him.
In the end, November 2020 brought in three new Astro-graphs and three upgrades, plus three customs, some good oddballs, an 81 Fleer, and three baseball family members (okay, counting Goff is stretching that slightly) – not a bad month!