Monday, June 25, 2012

Again with this Fuji guy!

This time the question is an easy one for me. Over on his blog Fuji wanted to know everyone's favorite player growing up and if you collect that player's cards and memorabilia. And what your favorite item is.

That took about 3 nanoseconds for me (and I bet a lot of others found it a quick answer as well). My baseball idol was Brooks Robinson. And yes, I collect Brooks Robinson items. I have all the cards issued during his career and a bunch of others including food issues like Post and Jello, limited distribution issues, that sort of thing. I pick up some of the ones that have proliferated in the last few years with the explosion of the "tribute", "heritage" and various 'game worn' cards. But those don't mean nearly as much as his actual Topps cards.

Actually I have much more non-card Brooks-related 'stuff' than I do cards. Magazines, postcards, 8x10's, books, bobbleheads and display items. that sort of thing.

As for my favorite... I'll rank my top three Brooks items in reverse order.

#3 is a 1969 Orioles yearbook I bought at Manny's Baseball Land across the street from Yankee Stadium before an Yanks-Orioles game that year. My friend and I entered the stadium through the rightfield gates and we spotted Brooks signing autographs near the thirdbase dugout. We sprinted, literally, through the pregame crowd and luckily Brooks was still signing when we bolted down the aisle. I'd never met Brooks in person before and I was both tongue-tied and out of breath. I opened the yearbook to the centerfold which was a montage of the 'All Time team'. Brooks signed it and I remember he looked at the layout for a few seconds as if he'd never seen it before. I stared at that wonderful autograph for days and days.

I'm on the road but I found the yearbook online. Here's the cover:




#2 is Brooks' 1957 Topps rookie card. It was the first 'high dollar' card I bought when I decided to build all the O's team sets up to that time. I don't remember what I paid for it but I do remember trading some early 60s star cards as part of the transaction at a card show. I've picked up two more, one graded, in the years since then but the first one is special. Here's my original copy:



And #1.... well, that would have to be the signed and inscribed picture Brooks sent to my wife and I after the birth of my twins, Brooks Robinson and James Palmer. By then I'd met Brooks a few times and he would stop to chat when I traveled to Arlington Stadium for Oriole games during his broadcasting tenure. 

When my boys were born in 1989 my aunt contacted Brooks through Crown Petroleum for whom he did a lot of work. She told Brooks about my sons and he took it upon himself to send a note and the inscribed photo. Getting a big manila envelope with a return address that featured his instantly recognizable signature is a pretty amazing moment. 

The picture is up in a frame at home but I have the envelope online for another project. This is it:

                                     


I'll get the picture itself scanned and posted one day soon. So there ya go Fuji...the answers are: Brooks Robinson; yes, I collect Brooks items; and the inscribed pic is my favorite.

A couple more pics.. here are the two Brooks' at a memorabilia show circa 1995.


And Brooks (on the right) and his brother James the day they were born. Note the USA Today headline. Hard to see without clicking it but it reads: "Birds Fly High!"