Meeting A Pair of Legends

Bobby Shantz and Curt Simmons

Bobby Shantz and Curt Simmons

Last weekend I had the opportunity to meet a pair of Philadelphia pitching legends - Curt Simmons and Bobby Shantz - at Carl's Cards in Havertown.  Amazingly, though both are in advanced age and have been active participants on the autograph circuit, it was my first time meeting either Golden Age hurler.

Upon arriving at Carl's, I found the pair busy signing 8"x 10" photos.  With the signing session winding down, most collectors had already passed through the small card shop - which meant I would have a little time to personalize my visit.  I brought an old official National League baseball that my dad found at a flea market years ago and was anxious to discuss it with the men.  

The ball is neatly inscribed, "June 12, 1949 - Phillies vs. Cards.  This ball pitched by Curt Simmons and fouled by Harry Brecheen." Approaching the signer's table I started the conversation with, 'My dad found this ball at a flea market - and, it says it was pitched by you in 1949...' Mr. Simmons cut me off, "Don't believe it!"  Followed by a laugh.  Carl read him the inscription (Mr. Simmons had forgotten his glasses), and Simmons' face softened with a smile as he admitted - "Well, I guess I could've..."  The four of us continued to examine the ball for a minute or two, covering topics ranging from how it was period-appropriate and the fact that Harry Brecheen was a "heck of a good pitcher."  Finally, the old Whiz Kid took the ball in hand and signed the side panel.

I moved down the table and presented Mr. Shantz with a Second Edition 1964 Phillies Yearbook.  Originally bought on eBay with a few signatures already on it, I have diligently added to it with new ones over the past four or five years.  With Bobby Shantz in blue Sharpie on the cover, I now have 13 autographs!   

Phillies TTM Successes

I came across a few abandoned, team-autograph projects while recently cleaning up my Phillies Room: The 1950s-era Phillies photo and a Phillies Wall of Fame photo.  It has been a few months since I added any new signatures to either - but the passing of several former Phils late last year brought about the cruel reality that the players from the "old days" will not be around forever...

Chuck Essegian - 1950s-era Phillies

Essegian broke into the Majors with the Phillies in 1958 - collecting 114 at-bats across 39 gamesIt turned out to be his only season with the team as he was traded to the Cardinals before 1959 for Ruben Amaro, Sr.  (Note: This may actually be one of those history altering moves - if RAS isn't a Phillie, does his son become one - or, ultimately their GM?)  The highlight of Essegian's career may be his two pinch-hit home runs for the Dodgers in the 1959 World Series.

Curt Simmons - Phillies Wall of Fame

I started this project during last summer's Alumni Weekend - though, it was way too crowded to get very far.  I was lucky enough to add Charlie Manuel and Bob Boone.  Surprisingly, many of the living WoFers are also good TTM signers and I think I can significantly alter the look of this photo with some effort. 

As far as TTM signers go, Whiz Kid Curt Simmons is a Hall of Famer.  According to recorded results in Sports Collector Net's database, collectors have been successful on 99% of their requests - with an amazing 482 reported successes over the years!