(The Christmas crunch is here. A perfect storm of deadline shopping, visitors, sickness, winter weather and, of course, blogging. I hope to still be standing in a week. Here's to plowing through. It's Cardboard Appreciation time. This is the 94th in a series):
I like this card even better than the original '52 Feller. The smile on this card exactly matches Chief Wahoo's grin. That is cool.
I don't have very many Feller cards. I'm not an Indians fan and vintage is too expensive to be chasing every star who ever lived. But, like many of you, I do have a Feller story.
When news of Feller's death arrived this week, I went upstairs, stepped into a spare room, and plucked a ball off a shelf. I've had the ball for a few years. It is autographed by Feller.
I don't collect memorabilia that is not connected to cards. But I have this ball for a particular reason. It was given to me by my father.
To the best of my father's recollection, his father -- my grandfather -- was in New York in the 1940s. While there, he got a ball signed by Feller. My dad doesn't know whether my grandfather was at a game, but I am assuming he was since he did like to go to games, and that was pretty much the only way you could get autographs back then.
When my grandfather came home from his trip, he gave the ball to my dad.
My dad kept it for more than 50 years before giving it me.
I would have taken a picture of the ball and showed it here, but there'd be no use in that.
You see, the autograph is faded. You have to look at the ball very closely to see Feller's familiar signature. His first name is almost washed out completely. So trying to view it in a photo would be impossible. Also, the ball is brown and scuffed, with a couple of small chunks taken out of it.
That's because after receiving the ball, my dad took it outside and played baseball with it. That's what you did with baseballs. It didn't matter if someone signed it. Baseballs weren't meant to be enclosed in a plastic case and placed on a mantel. They were meant to be batted and thrown around. And that's what my dad did.
I often hear that Feller "signed too much," that his autograph isn't worth as much as it should be for such a star from that period because he "signed everything that moved."
I don't care about that. I don't care about keeping the ball in pristine condition. It sits on that shelf entirely naked. For me, the ball has no monetary meaning. For me, it's meaning is in the connection to baseball history brought to me through my family history.
My dad says of the ball now: "I'm afraid the kid who it was given to handled it too much."
Nope, Dad, you did exactly what you were supposed to do.
RIP, Mr. Feller