It has been a HOT MINUTE since I’ve posted about my through-the-mail autograph pursuits – so much so that I’m over a year behind once again. Let’s pick that back up. Maybe I can get caught up by Christmas. That feels doable. I filled the ol’ hopper once again in May last year and was rewarded for it rather strongly. June turned into a hot 1981 Fleer month too, something that I found delightful.
Stan Papi: 2/2, 11 days.
Who the hell is Stan Papi? Well, he didn’t answer my questions but the player once traded for Bill Lee did sign both cards I sent his way. I haven’t sent many out, but 1979 is a sharp looking set and lends itself well to autographs. Stan’s 1981 Fleer is really dark, but it’s still another 1981 Fleeeeeeer!
Kevin Bell: 2/2, 16 days
I picked up a huge 1979 Topps lot not long before this time period, so I pulled a pretty big stack of them and dropped them in the TTM pile – the second return of last June was another 79 Topps / 81 Fleer combo as well. Kevin was a light-hitting infielder who spent a few seasons with the White Sox and is in one of the best sets ever, 1981 Fleer! He also once hit an inside-the-park grand slam, but as he revealed in his answers he has never actually seen it! As far as I can discern, there’s no known video of the play. I’d love to see how it unfolded! It was in Kevin’s seventh game in the majors, he’d made his big league debut a week earlier.
Sparky Lyle: 2/2, 11 days (with fee)
This former Cy Young winner, three-time All-Star, and two-time World Series Champion had been sitting in my TTM stack for quite a while before I finally stuffed some cards and cash in an envelope. Sparky charges $5 a card, and these look great – two of my favorite sets on display here, with 1983 and another 1981 Fleeeeeeer, baybeeee.
John “Blue Moon” Odom: 1/1, 11 days
This was another one sitting in my TTM stack for ages – although it wasn’t this card, but rather a surplus copy of his ’74 Topps. While embarking on my 1972 Topps set build, I came across this stupendous beauty and quickly nabbed a second copy to send over to Odom. The signature is shaky, but it’s still very cool to get a readable version of the full thing, complete with the “Blue Moon” inscription.
Bernie Carbo: 2/2, 15 days
We started off with Stan Papi at the top of the post, here’s another Red Sox legend with a quick return. I waffled on whether to send out two cards to Mr. Carbo – he had a long stretch of 1 per request returns listed, but in the recent months he’d had several listed returns of two cards. I’d had the ’73 set aside for a bit when the glory of the ’76 came to my attention somehow, and I nabbed a copy at the LCS on my next visit. Jackpot!
Bobby Richardson: 3/2, 13 days
This was my second time writing Bobby Richardson, who had himself a hell of a 1960 World Series performance, including going 5-for-9 with a walk, 5 RBI, and 4 runs scored in front of my father* at Forbes Field. I stashed the Heritage Flashback in the TTM stack some years ago, and when I picked up the 1997-98 Fleer Million Dollar Moments card (I’m building the set), I decided to finally send off another request. The signature has become a little shaky in spots, but it’s still a really nice one. I love the inscriptions he added on the cards.
My grandmother pulled my father out of sixth grade to attend games 2 and 6, which the Pirates lost 16-3 and 12-0.
Jerry Koosman: 2/2, 18 days (with fee)
This was another one sitting in the stack for quite a while, mainly because I kept waiting on shelling out for Koosman, who was charging $7 per card at the time. He’s gotten considerably shaky in the pen, but he’s clearly very deliberate about his signature, which is awesome. I sent the spectacular World Series highlight card from 1970 – how could I not – along with my beloved 1981 Fleer, which I happily added to the binder.
Gene Richards: 3/3, 19 days
Gene hadn’t been in my stack as long as some of the others here, but I did pull a dupe from the 1979 lot and his 1981 Fleer out, and then I decided to chuck in his 1989-90 T&M Senior League card for good measure. Richards played seven years with San Diego before wrapping up with the Giants, and finished third in NL RoY voting in 1977 when he set a modern record for stolen bases by a rookie (56).
Regarding his Senior League stint: with the Winter Haven “Super Sox” played at Boston’s Spring Training site, it’s probably not too surprising that there were several notable Red Sox on the roster, including the aforementioned Bernie Carbo, Bills Campbell and Lee, Cecil Cooper, and Fergie Jenkins.
Tony LaRussa: 2/2, 23 days
Wait, what’s that? One more 1981 Fleer from the month? And it’s a Hall of Famer? Yep, I nabbed another Tony LaRussa return last June, whilst he was still (somehow) managing the team on his 1981 Fleer card! He looks considerably happier in that picture, but the other card is much more notable. I picked it up in a TCDB swap where I was able to unload some unwanted wax a while back. My trade partner didn’t have much in the way of matches for me, so I hunted through his trade listings and thought this card from a 2011 World Series blister pack would be a fun one to get signed. That got me to finally haul out his 1981 Fleer to send out, and in three short weeks they came back. Heck, I wasn’t sure Tony would last three more weeks at that point, and I think I delayed sending this at least a week because of some incident of team failure. It’s always great to add another HOF sig to the pile, though!
In sum – as with most things around here, I hope to be showing you these things sooner than 15 months after the fact. June 2022 was a great month, though! That’s 9 returns, with 1981 Fleer cards, a HOFer, a Cy Young Winner, and a handful of World Series champions in the bunch. Not too shabby.