I used to be very into mailing baseball cards to current and former players to see if they’d sign them for me. It used to be fairly common for all but the biggest stars to respond.
As time went on, responses from current players grew less common and I’d already gotten many of the former players that I remembered watching when I was younger. So I’ve cut back on mailing.
It was always fun to get a surprise in the mail beyond the standard advertisements and bills, and that’s the part that I miss now that I might send out five or ten letters during the year instead of five or ten dozen like I used to.
But every so often I’ll still get one of the old ones back. On Monday, I got an envelope postmarked from Chattanooga, Tenn. I figured it must be someone who was taking care of last year’s fan mail before they left for spring training.
I opened it and found a 1990 Fleer card from Clay Parker, and I had to check my records at SportsCollectors.Net because I didn’t remember writing to him. Turns out I tried twice, in 2011 and 2012. Yup, my card had been out for at least six years.
Now I think it’s pretty cool that former players will actually bother to open and respond to fan mail from strangers, period. And considering that my likely response to finding a pile of letters from 2011 or 2012 would be to get rid of the clutter, I’m happy Mr. Parker decided to sign my card and mail it back.
While I root for the Mets, I consider myself a baseball fan… and I had a soft spot for the not-very-good Yankee teams of the late 1980s/ early 1990s. (We didn’t have cable, so we tended to watch whichever team had a game on broadcast television on a given night.)
As a rookie with the 1989 Yankees, Clay Parker won four of nine decisions and threw two complete games in 17 starts. He also made five relief appearances, posting a 3.58 ERA. The next summer, he was shipped the Detroit Tigers with Lance McCullers Sr. in exchange for catcher Matt Nokes, who had been an All-Star three years before. I thought he’d have a solid MLB career, even if he never became a star.
By 1992, Parker had thrown his final MLB pitch. I’m not really sure what happened, whether injuries derailed a career or whether MLB hitters proved to be better at making adjustments… or maybe just bad fortune.
Regardless, I’m happy Mr. Parker took the time to bring back some memories for me.
Odds & ends
I’m not sold on the pitch clock either, and Manfred’s plan to limit mound visits doesn’t go far enough to suit me. Want to speed up baseball games? Get rid of all of the trips to the mound! We know that most of the time, the manager, pitching coach and catcher are going out there to stall for time… and that it’s boring! Forcing managers to have relievers ready and making quicker decisions about bringing them in will have less of an effect on the integrity of the game than Manfred’s pitch clock, and would do more to get rid of dead time. Another pace-of-play improvement I’d like to see is to force managers to make an instant decision on whether to ask for replay review – no more consultations with replay coordinators.