Blog Bat-around: My Favorite Possession, Part IV

Part IV: The Visitors

Part II

Part III

Part IV

The 1941 season has been completed up to June 29th, and the Indians are in 2nd place, 1.5 games behind the hated New York Yankees. They will be coming in to town in late July for a matchup that, my father hopes, will decide the eventual winner of the American League.

• Roger Peckinpaugh (Indians manager)
• Roy Weatherly (Indians)

• Joe Vosmik (Indians, 1930-1936)

By 1941, Joe Vosmik was playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers, but he was in his prime in the early 30's and was one of my father's favorite players. It is understandable, since he was 3rd in the MVP voting in 1935. My father obviously cut his signature (the first "cut signature"?) from its original location and pasted it into his autograph book.

• Bill Trotter (St. Louis Browns)
• Bob Muncrief (St. Louis Browns)
• Johnny Niggeling (St. Louis Browns)
• Jack Kramer (St. Louis Browns)
• Johnny Berardino (St. Louis Browns)
• Roberto Estalella (St. Louis Browns)
• George McGuinn (St. Louis Browns)

The St. Louis Browns stopped in Cleveland for a quick doubleheader on Friday, July 4th, which the Indians promptly swept. Not many names of mention here save for Johnny Berardino. He later played on the Indians 1948 World Series champion team, but is probably best remembered for playing the role of Dr. Steve Hardy on General Hospital from 1963 until his death in 1996.

• Alan Strange (St. Louis Browns)
• Chet Laabs (St. Louis Browns)
• Joe Grace (St. Louis Browns)
• Bob Harris (St. Louis Browns)
• Bob Swift (St. Louis Browns)
• Elden Auker (St. Louis Browns)

• Fred Hofman (??)
• Rick Ferrell (St. Louis Browns)

Fred Hoffman (?) does not appear on the roster for the Browns in 1941, so maybe he was the coach that season. Baseball Reference does not list coaches from back then.

• Al Brancato (Philadelphia Athletics)
• Luman (Lum) Harris (Philadelphia Athletics)
• Phil Marchildon (Philadelphia Athletics)
• Pete Suder (Philadelphia Athletics)
• Bob Johnson (Philadelphia Athletics)
• Dick ??? (Siebert, Athletics)

I guess the pen finally ran out on Dick Siebert. At least Bob Johnson got his auto on the page before it died. It seems that, of these autographs, Johnson was the best, getting MVP votes in six of his thirteen seasons, getting as high as 5th in the voting in 1943.

The Indians split the two games with the Athletics. But coming to town was the biggest rivals: the Red Sox and the Yankees, back-to-back.

• Ted Williams (Boston Red Sox)
• Frank Pytlak (Boston Red Sox)
• Pete Fox (Boston Red Sox)
• Dick Newsome (Boston Red Sox)
• Joe Dobson (Boston Red Sox)
• Charlie Wagner (Boston Red Sox)

• Jimmie Foxx (Boston Red Sox)
• Nelson Potter (Boston Red Sox)

If you were to get any two autographs from the Red Sox in 1941, it would be of Ted Williams and Jimmie Foxx. And here they both are, on back-to-back pages. Amazing. Foxx was notoriously difficult to get to autograph anything, and is probably the most valuable autograph in the book. It is a beautiful signature, too. As for Williams, what can you say. He was the Man. 1941 was the year he hit .406. I believe that this is the last time that anyone hit over .400.

The Indians took three of four from the Red Sox to move to 50-33, 5 games behind the Yankees. And the Yankees were rolling into town for the big showdown.

• Red Rolfe (New York Yankees)
• George Selkirk (New York Yankees)
• Johnny Murphy (New York Yankees)
• Charlie Keller (New York Yankees)
• Steve Peek (New York Yankees)
• Ken Silvestri (New York Yankees)

• Joe Dimaggio (New York Yankees)
• Steve Peek (New York Yankees)

Just to have Red Rolfe's and Charlie Keller's autographs would be a good way to round out this book, but Dad got the one autograph that makes this an astounding book. Joe Dimaggio.

Since Steve Peek probably wouldn't sign in the same book twice in one day, it may be safe to assume that his autograph is from the second or third day that the Yankees were in Cleveland. The second day was July 17th. The day that Joe D's 56-game hitting streak was snapped. Could this autograph of Joe be from that day? Only my father knows, and he swears it was.

The Indians would lose two of three to the Yankees, and began a long slide that took them from 17 games above .500 on July 15th to 75-79 on September 28th, in fourth place and 26 games behind the Yankees. But for a while, it was a magical summer for my father, his last summer as an innocent youth before the Second War To End All Wars would take the consciousness of a country and the lives of many young men, a summer spent watching the cleated gods roaming League Park and Municipal Stadium. How could a 16-year-old ask for more?


night owl said...

Can you imagine getting all those autographs, including the best in the game, all in one season in this day and age?

That is awesome.

Dave said...

These posts have been very fun to read, Dan. Thanks so much for sharing these autographs and your dad's memories!