Thursday, January 10, 2019

Non-Card Autographs

Most of the baseball memorabilia around here is of the card variety. That's no surprise, but there's a little room for other items. Lapel pins are a favorite and have been turning up frequently, plus the occasional book, and even a piece of wall art or two. My aunt recently sent my grandfather's old softball bat, a heavy and narrow implement that's seen some years.

Over the past year, I've also added a few autographs to my collection, these of the non-card variety. First up is an 8x10.

Bill Buckner had a 22-year career all over the league, dating back to a single appearance in 1969. He put together a solid career, made it to the All Star Game once, and even won a batting title. Of course, he's famous for none of that, his long career defined by one infamous error in the 1986 World Series.

We all know the story. Game 6 of the World Series, Red Sox with a 3 games to 2 lead over the Mets, and hadn't won a World Series in 68 years. Mookie Wilson hits a weak grounder to the first base side, and it goes straight through Buckner's legs, allowing Ray Knight to score the winning run and force a Game 7, which the Red Sox would lose.

It's really entirely unfair to Buckner, because while he did let the winning run score in the bottom of the 10th, he didn't let the tying run score. That happened thanks to a wild pitch by Bob Stanley a few pitches prior, letting Kevin Mitchell score from third and guarantee that the Red Sox would have had to at least force an 11th inning for a chance to retake the lead. They were one strike away, but the Buckner error was secondary. Bob Stanley was really the one who blew it.

Buckner's error probably would have led to the same outcome either way, as runners from second and third could easily have scored on that slow roller with a 3-2 count and 2 outs, but if Stanley had managed to place that pitch better, history may have been very different.

Like Buckner's autograph, this Todd Helton signed baseball was given to me by my girlfriend's dad, whose organization has frequent contact with retired players. They also have a steady supply of game tickets, so I got to go to Coors Field for free a few times this year.

He says Steve Carlton is a very strange guy.

But anyway, he gave me this Todd Helton ball a few months ago in appreciation for some stuff I helped out with around the house. Helton is certainly the face of the franchise, and if he does make it into the Hall of Fame eventually, there's no question which team he'll have on his plaque in Cooperstown. Even if Larry Walker makes it, he could go in as an Expo or maybe even as a Cardinal.

Nolan Ryan has a Texas Rangers cap on his plaque, which he earned in 1999, according to this signed ball. This one has a different provenance than the previous two items. I've been at my current job for over five years, so when I hit that milestone, I was offered a gift of my choice at a company-sponsored website. There were quite a few things to choose from. Jewelry, cookware, grills, sporting goods, etc.... But the one that really caught my eye was this Nolan Ryan autographed ball, which came with quite a fancy display case. It's wood and glass, quite a step up from the little plastic cubes we often use in the hobby.

It's not clear whether Helton will one day join Nolan Ryan in the Hall of Fame, but at least he has a space in my display cabinet, for whatever that is worth.


  1. Nice autographs! I totally agree that Buckner got too much of the blame for blowing it in game 6 - and the bullpen didn't get enough blame. I just bought a Helton autographed card from COMC, which I'll mention on my blog soon. The Nolan Ryan ball is fantastic! And I've also heard/read that Steve Carlton is an oddball.

  2. Oh man... as a guy who enjoys collecting Expos, I'd be okay with Walker going into Cooperstown as a Colorado Rockie. But I'd be so disappointed if he went in as a Cardinal. No. Take that back. I'd be mad.

    On a more positive note... I love signed baseball memorabilia. Nice stuff!

  3. Those are some sweet autographs! If you ever watched the ESPN 30 for 30 on Buckner you'll see he did everything proper but his glove folded and let the ball through! He definitely didn't deserve to be the scapegoat.

    1. I haven't seen it yet, but I did watch the one last night about Buster Douglas beating Mike Tyson.