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!