Volume 1, Issue 3, Sept 1998

If I Only Knew Then What I Know Now...

By Brad Chambers

I started collecting baseball cards in 1967 when I was 11, turning 12. Saw some in the local corner "forerunner to the mini-mart" store we all remember. Bought some in '67, but really got into it in 1968. Remember well the mesh backgrounds, and carefully cutting out circles from duplicate cards to glue over the circles of players who had been traded – to keep that "neat" look on the card. Nevertheless, I still have the Mantle I wrote "retired, owner of clothing store" in neat, sixth-grade penmanship.

Traded many '68s and '69s with a friend who was the Wiffle ball competition, and who was a Braves fanatic after they moved to Atlanta in '66. Remember trading Pat Jarvis for three or four Yankees (funny, I liked the Yankees when they were pitiful – Fritz Peterson, Mike Kekich, Steve Hamilton, Al Downing were the rotation then, and Horace Clarke and Roy White the hitting stars), and stopped liking them once they returned to glory. Of course, that coincided with Steinbrenner, but that's another story.

Still remained interested in 1970, but tapered off in '71, bought just a few packs in '72. About that time, I was playing at a friends house and he showed me a box of old baseball/football cards, and I asked him about them and he said I could have 'em. It wasn't until 1991, when the bug bit me again, that I dug all the cards out and looked them up, and realized I had a lot of '55s and a few '54s (since the year wasn't on the back, I never knew how old they were). Had a great weekend reliving my childhood. Even with that, it was 1995 before I bought any again – I felt it would be "childish" to do so. I was confusing childish with childlike, and there is nothing wrong with being childlike.

As a kid, I never knew you could buy a whole box, or a whole set. Of course I couldn't have afforded to, but I never knew the option existed. I was being extravagant buying five packs at a time with a whole quarter (I must have been a lot like Opie Taylor is when he asks his Pa, Sheriff Taylor, to borrow a nickel). I never "flipped" cards, never heard of flipping cards as a kid, or since, until I read it on the OBC website the first time I looked at the web page and thought about joining this group.

I never knew they would be worth anything someday. I never knew anyone who did, either. I never knew there were specially made boxes you could store cards in, or plastic stuff you could put them in. That's what rubber bands were for.

If I only knew then what I know now. ... I wouldn't have enjoyed it nearly as much. ...

Society For American Baseball Research (SABR)

By Rick Ellison

Can you imagine going to lunch with 25 or more former players of the Pacific Coast League? A few years ago, I joined SABR (Society for American Baseball Research), and through my involvement with SABR, I have been lucky enough to attend two local chapter functions.

The first SABR event I attended was May 20, 1995, held at Francesco's Restaurant in Oakland, Calif. The meeting was held appropriately in the Billy Martin room. It focused on San Francisco Bay area baseball and covered the 1930s-1960s era. Most of the former

Volume 1, Issue 3, Page 2, Sept 1998

players and managers are in their 60s, 70s and 80s. A panel consisting of former PCL players Bob Murphy and Jim Rego, major-leaguer Jim Mangan, former S.F. Seals radio announcer Don Klien and sportswriters Harry Jupiter and Leonard Koppett led in the discussion. Joining in were former major-leaguers Tom Hafey, Bill Serena, Emil Maihlo, J.W. Porter and Coasters Pete Maihlo and Elmer Orella. Also in attendance were Randy Grant, who in 1947 played in the West Coast's version of the Negro Leagues; and former minor-league manager Ray Malgradi (Stockton, Bluefield, Ogden).

David Nemec talked about how 19th century San Francisco ballplayers made it up to the big leagues. Rob Wood led a lively discussion of what happened to the four-man rotation. I was overwhelmed with the wonderful discussions by the former players and it was a wonderful chance to have lunch with and talk to them. The stories told by these players was an experience I will never forget.

The next event, the Pacific Coast League Reunion held August 5, 1995, at the Oakland Museum, was even larger and even more former players attended. This was one of the largest gatherings of former Pacific Coast League players to date. I met Mark Macrae and picked up some wonderful old Zeenut baseball cards from the 1920s. Mark is a dealer in older sports memorabilia and cards and a great person to get to know. His catalog is wonderful and you can drop me a note if you are interested or write Mark directly at P.O. Box 2111, Castro Valley, CA. 94546.

I met John E. Spalding, author of "Pacific Coast League Stars." I purchased a copy of his book and he autographed it for me. I also met Dick Dobbins and Jon Twichell, authors of "Nuggets On The Diamonds," and also purchased a copy and received autographs from both writers. One of the highlights of this event, for me, was having lunch with and talking to the players and writers. I was lucky enough to sit at the same table with Bill Raimondi, a former catcher for the Oakland Oaks. Bill appeared in the PCL in 21 seasons and even declined a chance to become a New York Yankee, opting to stay at home in Oakland.

Three panel discussions were held which, included former players from the San Francisco Seals, Sacrmento Solons and Oakland Oaks. These former players made the event with their wonderful stories about playing in the Pacific Coast League!

I must say I am looking forward to the next event and I am thrilled that as a member of SABR I am allowed to attend these wonderful events! Even if you are not interested in local chapter events SABR has plenty to offer. SABR members receive the Baseball Research Journal, The National Pastime, one or more special publications, membership directory, and the SABR Bulletin, SABR's monthly newsletter. Additional membership benefits include access to a national convention and regional meetings, research paper collection, the SABR Lending Library, and occasional discounts on baseball trade publications. 6,500 other baseball enthusiasts like yourself around the country and around the world belong to SABR. The $35.00 annual dues is more than recovered in publications and discounts.

If you are interested in more information you can write SABR at P.O. Box 93183, Cleveland OH 44101. I will be glad to provide addresses for any local chapter you may be interested in or any other information.

Volume 1, Issue 3, Page 3, Sept 1998


By Rick Ellison

Baseball fans living in the San Francisco Bay area have a lot for which they can be thankful. Not only do we have a team from each league, but both Bay area teams have been tremendous competitors over the years! Who can forget the great Willie Mays in Candlestick flagging down everything hit anywhere close to him and a lot that were not, or Reggie Jackson in Oakland hitting home runs at the right time, not to mention Rickey Henderson's unbelievable speed, Jose Canseco's mammoth home runs, Catfish Hunter's perfect game, Rollie Fingers the original fireman, Vida Blue's competitive spirit, Kevin Mitchell's pure hitting, Will Clark's sweet swing, Mark McGwire's rookie season, Dave Stewart's cold stare and competitive spirit , Dave Dravecky's amazing comeback and tremendous courage. I could go on and on.

I currently have a partial ticket plan for both the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics and I was lucky enough to be at the Coliseum on June 2, 1994, which proved we fans in the Bay area have more baseball excitement to look forward to!

On June 2, 1994, the Kansas City Royals played the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland Coliseum. This was the last game of the three-game series between these two teams. I arrived early with a very close friend for what proved to be one of the greatest days I have ever spent at the Oakland Coliseum!

The starting pitchers for the main event put Bobby Witt against David Cone. Cone was one of the top American League pitchers that year with a 10-4 record and a league-leading 2.76 ERA. Bobby Witt had a 5-7 record with a 5.57 ERA for 1994. Bobby was the A's most consistent starter in 1993, missing just one starting assignment. He led the A's pitching staff with his second best win total in his career (14). Bobby had problems with walks; before 1993, before he joined the A's, he averaged better than six walks per nine innings pitched. In 1993, he averaged 3.7 walks per nine innings pitched. Bobby Witt came to the A's in the now-famous Canseco deal on August 31, 1992.

The stage was set for this great showdown! David Cone struck out nine batters in the game, gave up one home run, three singles and a double. He put Rickey Henderson on base in the fifth by hitting him. Rickey scored on the home run hit by the next batter, Stan

Javier. Meanwhile, Bobby Witt was pitching the greatest game of his career! He had 14 strikeouts (tying his career best), no walks – yes, I said, no walks. Bobby was in a "zone" and couldn't be stopped this great afternoon, and he was aided by great defense behind him.

However, a very controversial and disastrous bunt base-hit call by the first base umpire in the sixth inning ruined his perfect game. Bobby Witt and Manager Tony La Russa argued with the umpire to no avail – the call stood. Bobby could have been rattled by the umpire's blown call, but he wasn't! He proceeded to set down the next 11 hitters to end the game, and the A's won 4 to 0!

I believe this was one of the greatest performances in the 1994 season, and, as a fan put it after the game, "We saw a perfect game plus 1." When I asked him what he meant, he said, "The A's went on to get the fourth out in the sixth inning, so we saw a perfect game plus an extra out!"

According to "Total Baseball," second edition, there have been only 13 perfect games in the history of baseball! Bobby Witt is (or could have been) in great company. The great Jim "Catfish" Hunter pitched a perfect game for the Athletics on May 8, 1968, against the Minnesota Twins. The last perfect game recorded was Sept. 16, 1988, pitched by Tom Browning of the Cincinnati Reds against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Since the printing of "Total Baseball," the Dodgers got stung again by a perfect game, pitched by Dennis Martinez of the Montreal Expos in 1992. And, David Wells of the New York Yankees tossed a perfect game against the Twins in May 1998. So, the total recorded perfect games has now reached 15.

I know that Bobby Witt's game will not be recorded in the record books as a perfect game, but for me and the majority of the 23,567 fans that attended that wonderful game, we know we saw perfection! Thank you, Bobby Witt and the entire Oakland Athletics organization for giving this fan a memory I will never forget!

I love the game of baseball and for one beautiful morning and afternoon I witnessed one of the many reasons why this is the greatest game on earth! Baseball is alive and well and I believe it will be for generations to come.

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