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  #1  
Old 07-31-2012, 08:14 PM
jgmp123 jgmp123 is offline
James Graham
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Default A Great Opportunity....

Hey guys,

A few years back I wrote a letter to Carl Erskine asking if I could have the chance to meet with him maybe over breakfast and talk about baseball (his time with the Dodgers, World Series, Jackie, his books, etc.). He wrote me back and said that he would love to meet up for breakfast, but with life moving ever so fast (college graduation, marriage, new home, children) I never had the chance to meet with him.

Well, a few weeks back I decided to write him again and ask if the offer still stood. He responded today with a simple note containing directions to an IHOP in Anderson, Indiana and his phone number to call this week to setup a time.

Some of you know that I have been working on a collection of the 1955 World Series (Dodgers and Yankees) and am near completion. I cannot wait to talk to Carl about the World Series in detail. Words cannot even describe how excited I am to get this opportunity to meet with one of the great guys in baseball.

I wanted to also open this thread up for anyone else who may have some memorable stories of time they spent with a baseball great. I know Jim has shared some great stories and would love to hear from everyone else.
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Old 07-31-2012, 08:18 PM
drc drc is offline
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My friend who's a sports and Hollywood celebrity fan, once went up to Al Barlick's house in Springfield Illinois and knocked on the door. Al's wife answered the door and Al was watching tv. The wife invited him in and my friend got a chat and a few autographs about. My friend's an easy going likable guy with Southern manners (born in Mississippi), so he could get away with that.

I'll tell this friend your story.

Last edited by drc; 07-31-2012 at 08:24 PM.
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  #3  
Old 07-31-2012, 08:24 PM
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I didnt realize barlick lived in springfield and I lived there my whole life.
looking forward to hearing about erskine.
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Old 07-31-2012, 08:35 PM
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WOW !!!! An old time collector once told me that in 1955 the toughest non-signers on the Dodgers were Billy Loes & Carl Furrillo. I'd ask about that , then I'd ask about what Koufax was like his rookie year 1955. I always heard the players thought he was a LESS than average pitcher (in 1955-1958) Of all people Erskine could shed light on that and lastly I'd ask him why "The Brow" always signed his name next to Campy & Jackie .....Heck ...just going to I-HOP is a blast ! (smile) have fun ! Attached is a 1955 signed yearbook.
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Old 07-31-2012, 08:40 PM
jgmp123 jgmp123 is offline
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Jim,

Will do! All great topics. To add to Koufax, wasn't his control an issue when he came up for a number of years and he didn't really hit his stride until they hit LA?
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Old 07-31-2012, 09:30 PM
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From what I heard Koufax couldn;t do anything right.....and then he did EVERYTHING right, in fact his curve ball was a thing of beauty, Batters were throwing down their bats and bailing out of the box on called strikes ....THATS a curve ball !
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Old 07-31-2012, 09:53 PM
mr2686 mr2686 is offline
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That's great news James. I'm glad you followed up on meeting him for breakfast. One great disappointment in my collecting has been not getting a chance to meet Mr. Erskine. I really love the interview they did with him in "The Ghosts of Flatbush" where he talked about walking in to Branch Rickey's office after a good year and walking away just happy he still had a job. I sure hope he comes back to sign soon in California.
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Old 07-31-2012, 11:12 PM
btcarfagno btcarfagno is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jgmp123 View Post
Hey guys,

A few years back I wrote a letter to Carl Erskine asking if I could have the chance to meet with him maybe over breakfast and talk about baseball (his time with the Dodgers, World Series, Jackie, his books, etc.). He wrote me back and said that he would love to meet up for breakfast, but with life moving ever so fast (college graduation, marriage, new home, children) I never had the chance to meet with him.

Well, a few weeks back I decided to write him again and ask if the offer still stood. He responded today with a simple note containing directions to an IHOP in Anderson, Indiana and his phone number to call this week to setup a time.

Some of you know that I have been working on a collection of the 1955 World Series (Dodgers and Yankees) and am near completion. I cannot wait to talk to Carl about the World Series in detail. Words cannot even describe how excited I am to get this opportunity to meet with one of the great guys in baseball.

I wanted to also open this thread up for anyone else who may have some memorable stories of time they spent with a baseball great. I know Jim has shared some great stories and would love to hear from everyone else.
Great stuff James. Definately look forward to hearing what he has to say.

Tom C
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Old 08-01-2012, 06:22 AM
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Scott Garner Scott Garner is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jgmp123 View Post
Hey guys,

A few years back I wrote a letter to Carl Erskine asking if I could have the chance to meet with him maybe over breakfast and talk about baseball (his time with the Dodgers, World Series, Jackie, his books, etc.). He wrote me back and said that he would love to meet up for breakfast, but with life moving ever so fast (college graduation, marriage, new home, children) I never had the chance to meet with him.

Well, a few weeks back I decided to write him again and ask if the offer still stood. He responded today with a simple note containing directions to an IHOP in Anderson, Indiana and his phone number to call this week to setup a time.

Some of you know that I have been working on a collection of the 1955 World Series (Dodgers and Yankees) and am near completion. I cannot wait to talk to Carl about the World Series in detail. Words cannot even describe how excited I am to get this opportunity to meet with one of the great guys in baseball.

I wanted to also open this thread up for anyone else who may have some memorable stories of time they spent with a baseball great. I know Jim has shared some great stories and would love to hear from everyone else.
Great stuff, James! Congrats and I can't wait to hear the stories once you've shared some memories over some "Rootie Tootie Fresh and Fruity" pancakes.
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Old 08-01-2012, 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by jgmp123 View Post
Jim,

Will do! All great topics. To add to Koufax, wasn't his control an issue when he came up for a number of years and he didn't really hit his stride until they hit LA?
James,
What most people don't realize about Koufax, unless you read about his story in Ed Linn's great book from the mid 1960's entititled "Koufax", is that he actually played very little baseball before being recruited out of the University of Cincinnati as a Dodger "bonus baby". Sandy was a basketball player and if not for one of his sandlot baseball coaches from Brooklyn lobbying hard for the Dodgers to recruit Sandy, the world may have never seen one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball history develop.

Because of Koufax being signed as a bonus baby, he was never able to develop his undeveloped pitching technique in the minor leagues. Instead, because the Dodgers had a rather forminable pitching staff, Koufax mostly rode the pine in his early years with the Dodgers. It wasn't until the early 1960's that one of Koufax's catchers recommended that Koufax back off on throwing his hardest fastball that he was able to finally harness the control that had eluded him for so many years.

Jim Stinson is right, although Koufax's fastball was tremendous, it was his amazing curveball that made him mostly unhittable once he finally hit his stride. During the years 1962-1966 Koufax put together possibly one of the greatest runs in pitching history, making Koufax an icon. Because of the arthritis that Koufax developed in his throwing arm, he was forced to leave the game way to early at age 31.

Last edited by Scott Garner; 08-01-2012 at 06:43 AM.
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  #11  
Old 08-01-2012, 07:34 AM
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I got the chance to sit down with Carl about 12 years ago at an Indianapolis Indians game. Like everyone will tell you, he's a really nice guy and unbelievably easy to talk to. Out of all the things he related, my favorite was that back in the '50's people always mistook him for Clem Labine!

You should have a great time!
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  #12  
Old 08-01-2012, 07:37 AM
HexsHeroes HexsHeroes is offline
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Default out of the blue . . .

.

Back in the early 2000's I sent an autograph request to former Detroit Tigers' Red Borom. In the cover letter I mentioned that my wife use to live in the Dallas area, and that we would be visiting that area a month or so later. Two weeks later, out of the blue, I get a phone call from Red Borom stating that he would love to meet me at his favorite Dallas-area restaurant for breakfast (which he did daily), when my wife and I visited Dallas. He had his son-in-law search and locate my home phone number, so that he could make the call. Red asked me if it would be OK for his son-in-law to join us, since Red's eye sight was quite poor, and his son-in-law drove him around. I said that would be just fine, and we scheduled a date and time to meet. It was a lovely visit, that lasted a couple of hours. Just one of those unexpected, memorable moments that you treasure.
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  #13  
Old 08-01-2012, 09:27 AM
tazdmb tazdmb is offline
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Default Lee MacPhail/Al Lopez

Back in 1998, when Lee got in the HOF, I got his address in FL and he was actually listed in the phonebook. My dad and I called him up and asked if we could come over for an autograph. He said sure! My dad ended up "friending" him and they met for lunch several times since then.

Another story is in regards to Al Lopez, since I was a big IP collector and he never did shows, I wrote to him in 1996 asking if I could come to his house (flying in from MI to Orlando on holiday) and get an autograph. He wrote me back saying that when I come to Tampa, stop by and he would sign 1 (underlined) autograph-and did not sign the letter. Finding his house (in the days before mapquest/GPS) was no easy task. We get to his house only to find out he wasn't home. I was devastated and left a note in the mailbox (only to find the keys to his home inside, no I did not steal them). Went to dinner and went back for one last try. Sure enough, he answered the door! He couldn't have been more gracious and laughed that someone came from Michigan for his autograph. He wished us well and signed my most cherished baseball.
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  #14  
Old 08-01-2012, 09:35 AM
jgmp123 jgmp123 is offline
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Originally Posted by tazdmb View Post
Back in 1998, when Lee got in the HOF, I got his address in FL and he was actually listed in the phonebook. My dad and I called him up and asked if we could come over for an autograph. He said sure! My dad ended up "friending" him and they met for lunch several times since then.

Another story is in regards to Al Lopez, since I was a big IP collector and he never did shows, I wrote to him in 1996 asking if I could come to his house (flying in from MI to Orlando on holiday) and get an autograph. He wrote me back saying that when I come to Tampa, stop by and he would sign 1 (underlined) autograph-and did not sign the letter. Finding his house (in the days before mapquest/GPS) was no easy task. We get to his house only to find out he wasn't home. I was devastated and left a note in the mailbox (only to find the keys to his home inside, no I did not steal them). Went to dinner and went back for one last try. Sure enough, he answered the door! He couldn't have been more gracious and laughed that someone came from Michigan for his autograph. He wished us well and signed my most cherished baseball.

Great story Taz!
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"What I have done after my baseball career -- being able to help people with their lives and getting their lives back on track so they become productive human beings again -- that means more to me than all the things I did in baseball" - Don Newcombe

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Old 08-01-2012, 12:12 PM
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milkit1 milkit1 is offline
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haha ted I did the same thing! Probably around 1994. I had mailed Tony Cuccinello about stopping by during my upcoming Florida vacation of which he nicely agreed. When I go to Florida I called him up but his wife answered and said he was in the hospital and would not be there. So we drove over to Al Lopez 's house ( I think they actually lived on the same street but I may be wrong). He answered the door in a robe and might have been sleeping (it was 3 in the afernoon) but was nice and signed one item for me. I felt bad about doing that though and never did it again. That was about the onyl way to get him though at that time.
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Old 08-01-2012, 12:28 PM
mschwade mschwade is offline
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Hey guys,

He responded today with a simple note containing directions to an IHOP in Anderson, Indiana and his phone number to call this week to setup a time.
James - do me a favor and ask Carl if he knows of Jim Carter that played football at Purdue in the mid-1930's and was long-time football coach at Anderson High.

Last summer, around this time, I interviewed Mr. Carter for a book I have been writing on the University of Dayton basketball history. Mr. Carter was the Dayton head coach in the late 30's and most of the 1940's. Last November, Coach Carter turned 100 years old. I stayed in touch with him every couple of weeks until he sadly passed away a couple of months ago.

If you're interested in reading, here's a story I wrote on him right before his 100th birthday... Former UD coach set to celebrate milestone birthday

Have fun with your breakfast. I talk from experience, these are the type of "meetings" you'll never forget.

Last edited by mschwade; 08-01-2012 at 12:49 PM.
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  #17  
Old 08-01-2012, 12:30 PM
jgmp123 jgmp123 is offline
James Graham
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Matt,

I am super excited and will make sure to mention it to Carl.
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https://www.collectorfocus.com/collection/jgmp123
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Old 08-01-2012, 12:34 PM
drc drc is offline
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Another story from my Mississippi-born friend is he and his twin broth were in the small Mississippi town that Dizzy Dean lived in. The inquired how they could find Dean, and the resident said "He's easy to find. He drives a gold Cadillac." The brother eventually saw the gold Cadillac park outside a fried chicken place and waited for Dizzy to come out. Dizzy signed a piece of notebook paper for them on the hood of his Cadillac.

My friend has photos of many his autograph seeking excursions, including one inside the Hugh Hefner mansion, so his stories are often verified.
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Old 08-01-2012, 12:42 PM
mschwade mschwade is offline
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Matt,

I am super excited and will make sure to mention it to Carl.
The funny thing is, until about two months before his 100th birthday, Coach Carter would drive himself every Monday to IHOP to meet some of his old friends for breakfast. I have to imagine it's the same IHOP, but I don't know for sure.
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Old 08-01-2012, 03:17 PM
bigtrain bigtrain is offline
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I had the opportunity to speak to Mr. Erskine at a small card show about 15 years ago. Spent about 20 minutes speaking to him. No line for Carl but folks were lined up to get Tommy Heinrich's auto. Couldn't have been nicer.
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Old 08-20-2012, 06:35 PM
jgmp123 jgmp123 is offline
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Some quick notes from my meeting today with Mr. Erskine....

• Koufax was plucked directly from the sandlot and was given a $20k bonus to sign and in that time it was a lot of money to give someone not established. Anything $20k or more owners required those players to be added to active roster and no farm systems for them. So Koufax put directly on the roster with no formal training/pitching background. There were many times that Koufax felt guilty because he didn’t fit in and felt that he was taking a roster spot from someone more deserving. Carl told me that in 1959, Koufax told him on more than one occasion that he was going to retire and buy into a Los Angeles radio station, but felt like he owed one more season to the Dodgers because of the money they invested in him.

• Frank kellert had the best view of Jackie stealing home in Game 1 and after game said he thought Jackie was out…Later on in the locker room, Jackie had to be restrained from trying to choke Kellert.


• The Brow: Charlie DiGiovanni’s boss was a snake of a man and really gave the Brow a hard time if something didn’t get finished. For instance, several dozen items had to be signed daily by the team (it was just part of the job) and the Brow was a pretty smart kid. He realized early that he needed to check that all the baseballs, yearbooks, etc. were signed by all members of the team. If a signature was missing, then he had to add it. It was never out of malice, but rather to make sure that he didn’t catch fire for the job not being complete.

• Favorite piece of advice he ever received: During his rookie season, Hugh Casey walked up to him and said; “Welcome to the big leagues. There are guys in this league that will hit .330 .340 every season off pitchers in the league and they will hit .330 .340 off of you too. Don’t focus on those guys, but rather the guys hitting ahead of them.” He said that is why he was so successful when he pitched. Focus on the guys ahead and get them out, then give up the double to the big hitter and leave him on base.


• Toughest lineup he had to face: St. Louis Cardinals – Stan Musial followed by Red Schoendienst followed by Enos Slaughter. Said he always pitched well against Stan, but the other guys sometimes gave him fits. He said, “I never liked facing 3 Hall of Famers in one inning”…

• Carl still can’t believe the things that Jackie had to go threw to play baseball. Remembered a time when the KKK showed up at the team hotel and threatened to kill Jackie if he played the next day….

And did I mention the guy bought my pancakes!! He refused to let me pay. He also asked for my address so he could send me a couple things(what? I have no idea).

A class act.
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  #22  
Old 08-20-2012, 06:44 PM
Tuna82 Tuna82 is offline
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Awesome...Thanks alot for sharing.
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Old 08-20-2012, 06:51 PM
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Wow, that's awesome! Great stories!
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Old 08-20-2012, 06:58 PM
mschwade mschwade is offline
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Great post James!! The best piece of advice was solid and makes a lot of sense. It's great to hear views of Jackie from someone that was a first-hand witness.

Did you remember to ask him about Jim Carter?

Glad you got to experience this!

Matt
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Old 08-20-2012, 07:10 PM
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Jay Wolt Jay Wolt is offline
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James, thanks for recounting your visit w/ Mr. Erskine
Seems like a great guy!
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Old 08-21-2012, 07:28 AM
bender07 bender07 is offline
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Great stories and a strong signature to boot!
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Old 08-21-2012, 07:49 AM
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Actually, Koufax signed after playing one season of both Basketball and Baseball for the university of Cincinnati.

From Wikipedia: Koufax attended the University of Cincinnati and was a walk-on on the freshman basketball team, a complete unknown to coach Ed Jucker.[6] In spring 1954, he made the college baseball varsity team.[11] That season, Koufax went 3–1 with 51 strikeouts and 30 walks, in 31 innings.[12] Bill Zinser, a scout for the Brooklyn Dodgers, sent the Dodgers front office a glowing report that apparently was filed and forgotten.[13]

After trying out with the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds,[14] Koufax did the same for the Pittsburgh Pirates at Forbes Field.[15] During his Pirates tryout, Koufax's fastball broke the thumb of Sam Narron, the team's bullpen coach. Branch Rickey, then the general manager of the Pirates, told his scout Clyde Sukeforth that Koufax had the "greatest arm [he had] ever seen."[16] The Pirates, however, failed to offer Koufax a contract until after he was already committed to the Dodgers.[17] Dodgers scout Al Campanis heard about Koufax from a local sporting goods store owner. After seeing Koufax pitch for Lafayette, Campanis invited him to an Ebbets Field tryout. With Dodgers manager Walter Alston and scouting director Fresco Thompson watching, Campanis assumed the hitter's stance while Koufax started throwing. Campanis later said, "There are two times in my life the hair on my arms has stood up: The first time I saw the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and the first time I saw Sandy Koufax throw a fastball."[18] The Dodgers signed Koufax for a $6,000 ($52,000 today) salary, with a $14,000 ($121,000 today) signing bonus. Koufax planned to use the signing bonus as tuition to finish his university education, if his baseball career failed.[19
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