The baseball season is now down to a long weekend, with the Sox and Cubs both in miserable slumps. As a pessimist, I should have anticipated this, but this season is unprecedented. It all started back in March when we were supposed to attend a Spring Training game between the two Chicago foes. It was cancelled, along with many of our plans this year. When the season finally officially began on the 24th of July, I did not have great expectations for the league to make it to the postseason. The Cubs jumped to the top of their division but stumbled against the slower-starting Sox in their first series. The Pale Hose finally claimed the top spot in the AL Central over the Twins and Indians, only to falter down the stretch. I’ve watched them go 3-7 against the Twins, Indians, and Reds in the past week or so.
The last two nights have been particularly painful for the White Sox, losing in walk-off fashion to Cleveland on both occasions. On the other side of town, the Cubs lost another one this morning, their third straight, to the last-place Pirates. They could have helped the Sox in the series before that against the Twins, but Minnesota took two of the three. They did top the Indians in two of three, after a 12-0 drubbing of the Brewers and a no-hitter by Alec Mills. However, the poor-hitting Cubbies are now in danger of being caught by the Cardinals, Reds, and Brewers. The Covid-plagued regular season ironically all comes down to a three-game series against the Sox at Comiskey (excuse me – Guaranteed Rate). For a historical first, they each play in role in the other’s playoff fate this late in the season. Sadly, I just watched the Sox blow another early lead by the Indians – at least it’s not the last inning last the previous two, although there’s still three innings to go. It’s looking like a repeat of last night’s disappointment, with the White Sox up by one again after a Yoan Moncada triple in the 7th. If the Indians make it a four-game sweep, the Sox could fall to a full-game behind the division leading Twins, who are idle today, and could potentially face the perennial powerhouse Yankees in their first post-season appearance in twelve-years.
On the other hand, if the Cubs lose all three to the Sox, they could be passed by the Reds and/or Cards. It will be a tough weekend about who to cheer for in each critical game? Allegiance could easily change depending on the circumstances. In a normal season, both Chicago teams would be facing division rivals rather than cross-town foes. It’s just another Covid quirk, that also includes a expanded 16-team Playoff field, empty ballparks, limited homefield advantages, and designated hitters for both leagues. The World Series will take place in Arlington, Texas, another deviation from normalcy. It’s been a tough year for baseball purists.
The Covid-Cardinals are of particular concern to me, with respect to the Cubs. The Red Birds have seven games remaining, while standing only one game behind the Cubs in the loss column. They would have to win all seven to pass the Cubbies, but also postseason seeds are at stake. Three losses to the Sox would give them 27 for the year, while San Francisco, Cincy, Milwaukee and Miami could also disrupt their current #4 NL placement, down from #2 just a few days ago. This weekend, and possibly Monday, determines who plays where, who, and when. I’ll have to wear a Sox sock on one foot and a Cubs on the other.
In other sports important to me, the Celtics are in trouble, while the Lakers dropped their first to the dangerous Nuggets, who have miraculously come from behind in their last two series. The Timbers won their second straight match, outdueling the regional rival Seattle Sounders 1-0 last night. Against all odds, each sport has somehow persevered over threats of the virus. Thankfully, there are live sports to watch every day, including both NFL and NCAA football. The Pac-12 announced today that they will join the other power conferences in pursuit of a 2020-21 National Championship. However, teams won’t start play until November 6th, with a 7-game schedule. They reversed their initial decision and joined the BIG-10 in delayed reconsideration. It sets the stage for college basketball to start, missing only a few non-conference games this year. But first, I’ll focus on a expanded baseball Playoff that involves a very rare joint appearance by both of my teams – Cubs and Sox.
P.S. The White Sox brought in a reliever named Bummer following a 4-run collapse in the bottom of the 7th to the never-give-up Indians. It seemed like an appropriate name to describe the bullpen in this series. The red-hot Tribe took a 5-4 lead in response to falling behind once again in the series. Hand then shut-down the Sox, with two strike-outs and a easy grounder to finish up the 4-game sweep. Cleveland is now just one-game behind the Sox and two short of the Twins, after 5 straight Pale Hose losses. I couldn’t be more frustrated after cross-town losses today at a time when teams need to be playing their best ball. Who wants it more this weekend – the Sox or the Cubs?
Sports have probably never been a more important part of my life. It’s my sole entertainment in these pandemic times of isolation. I’ve gone through most of the movies and documentaries I’ve wanted to watch, waiting for live sports to finally return. Now, there’s almost too much to keep track of every day. My love of sports dates back to childhood and following my local high school team – The Elkhart Blue Blazers. A once dominant team in most every sport was eventually split into two high schools. Throughout the years, there was never a greater nemesis than the Penn Kingsmen in nearby Mishawaka, Indiana. Once I moved away from town, it seemed like every time I checked the scores it was another loss to Penn, particularly in football.
“Once A Blazer – Always a Blazer” is the motto of my generation, disturbed by the recent consolidation of the two Elkhart high schools into one again. They should have never been separated in the first place, but it did start another rivalry between the Memorial Chargers and the Elkhart Blue Blazers. Unfortunately, neither team was very competitive on the state level like Penn. The main problem with unifying the two programs became selecting a name. As a result, the Blazers or Chargers no longer exist, but the new Lions have become a football force. For the first time in 35 years, the final score of Friday night’s football match-up was Elkhart 20 Penn 19, and the team that I will always know as the Blazers are undefeated.
As I write this morning, I’m watching the final day of the Tour de France, reminiscent of our trips to Paris. It too was delayed several months as organizers made adjustments to deal with Coronavirus concerns. Slovenian Tadej Pogacar won it in his rookie debut. Cycling, golf, auto racing, football, and baseball are all now competing with each other for television viewership, with little in the way of live fan support. Plus, last night the Portland Timbers pounded the San Jose Earthquake 6-1 for a MLS victory, after a draw the other night in the same stadium.
So far, 2020 has been a good year for my teams. The Chicago White Sox just claimed their first playoff berth in twelve years. The Cubs will also soon clinch, putting both Chicago teams in the same post-season battle for only the third time since 1906. The White Sox, known that year as the “hitless wonders” upset the powerhouse Cubs in the World Series. Could it happen again in this year of strange surprises? Last Sunday, for example, the Bears, Cubs, and White Sox were all victorious. I bought a new pair of Sox Socks to celebrate their success. My Bears and Cubs socks don’t have holes in them yet.
The Cubs had a five-game winning streak going into last night’s game against the Twins. Sadly, the streak ended badly and the Cubbies allowed the Twins to clinch the fifth spot in this year’s post-season. The Cubs magic number is now four with three games remaining against the White Sox. They could each knock the other out of the top spot in their respective Division races. A week from now the seeds will all be finalized. Could the Sox and Cubs collide for all the marbles again after 114 years?
Chicago baseball has witnessed two no-hitters this year, the only ones in the majors. I bought Topps cards to commemorate these two remarkable achievements from Luis Giolito of the White Sox and Alec Mills of the Cubs. At no other time in history have both Windy City teams had this happen in the same season. It’s just the beginning of what could happen in Sweet Home Chicago this year. Unfortunately, a Cubs-Sox World Series would be held in Arlington, Texas,
The other important development this past week in sports was the BIG 10 conference rethinking the earlier decision to delay Fall football. After much controversy, schedules starting October 24th were finally announced. I.U. will open at Penn State and conclude with Purdue eight weeks later. The ninth game for the Cream & Crimson will either be the BIG Championship or a bonus conference match-up with potential Bowl implications. Let’s hope it’s not the Toilet Bowl – they could easily go 0-9. Basketball will begin November 25th when the Hoosiers were originally planning to play in Maui. It will be a week later in Asheville, as a further indication of the strange twists in sports this year. Will 2020 also be good to both Hoosier teams, despite the delays?
The Lakers are in the driver’s seat for this year’s NBA Championship, with an opening round final four victory over Denver. The Tampa Bay Lightening lost their Stanley Cup Finals opener against the Dallas Stars. I’ll need to follow them as a future Florida resident. The Rays are comfortably in the MLB play-off field, while the Bucs and Tom Brady did not get off to a great start last Sunday. I’ve now lived in enough states to always have a team in contention, but Chicago will forever remain my favorite.
Baseball, NBA Basketball, Football, Cycling, Tennis, Auto Racing, and Golf are all now competing for television audiences, especially considering there are few fans in the stands. After months of nothing to watch, suddenly we’re overwhelmed. I had three screens going yesterday between college football, the Cubs, and the White Sox. Today, NFL Sunday kicks-off, plus more baseball, Safeway Open, the Tour de France, U.S. Open tennis, Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio, and Portland Timber’s soccer fighting for our attention. I’ve got a date with the Bears vs. Lions, and Colts vs. Jags, Oh My! (Oh wait – I’m in the wrong part of the country for those games). I’ll turn to the RedZone.
Baseball season is already in the final stretch, and for once both the White Sox and Cubs are in first place. The Cubbies came from behind last night against the Brewers after 17-straight scoreless innings of frustration. They finally got to nemesis Josh Hader with two home runs in the top of the ninth. The Milwaukee reliever had not allowed a hit to a lefty or a home run all season long. I was getting to be a Hader-Hater until Jason Heyward took him deep for the winning runs. The cross-town Chicago White Sox had little trouble with the Tigers, posting a 14-0 rout. Former Oregon State star, Nick Madrigal, went 2-5, maintaining his team-leading .362 batting average. Today, the White Sox will debut former I.U. pitcher, Jonathan Stiever #90, on the mound. It’s fun to watch these rookie players like Madrigal and Stiever come up through the ranks. Sadly, there will be no college baseball this year.
The BIG 10 Conference could potentially reverse its initial decision not to play football this year. New medical advances have accelerated the COVID19 testing procedures. It was frustrating to see the southern and eastern conferences effectively start their seasons this week, while the teams I follow watched along with me in angry envy. Early entry into the NFL draft, transfers, and recruiting losses have already taken their toll on the late-comers.
I don’t care that much about Sports Galore, but I am a big fan of college round-ball. Conference basketball decisions will be finalized next, including a new temporary home for the IU-bound Maui Invitational. Indianapolis is now a possibility. Somehow, a casino in Asheville, N.C. does not seem like a suitable option, although Tar Heel fans would disagree. Sponsor Maui Jim will have a tough time selling sunglasses in either place. Regardless, I hope the future of the NCAA Tourney is looking bright!
P.S. Cubs win 12-0 as Alec Mills completes a no-hitter. Sox and Bears victorious, as well, for a rare city of Chicago sports sweep.
After all the Coronavirus quarantines the St. Louis Cardinals went through this season, I suppose they earned a break or two. They had only played 5 games when most teams were approaching twenty in this shortened baseball season. The White Sox had no worries about anything contagious, they couldn’t catch anything. The Cardinal hitting was pathetic after all this time off with little dribblers in the infield that the Sox couldn’t handle. If the Sox actually got an out, it was quickly reversed by replay. Apparently, the Pale Hose gift wrapped the double header as a welcome back gift to the Red Birds.
The Cubs, on the other hand, made several spectacular catches against the Brewers. They were however jinxed by the announcers who pointed out that the team hadn’t gotten off to such a winning start since 1907. Two losses to the Brewers later, they were back to their normal selves. I haven’t seen a team strike out more with runners on base than these last two days at Wrigley. Naturally, Christian Yelich single-handedly beat them in Friday’s game with a 3-run homer. Poor relief pitching proved disastrous in yesterday’s match-up. The Cubs can at least even the series today, while the White Sox can only salvage some dignity. The Cubs go on to play both the Cards and Sox next week, perhaps adding to my frustration.
The Portland Trailblazers and Damian Lillard continued their winning ways yesterday by clinching the final playoff seed in the Western Conference. They are one of the hottest bubble teams, and the LeBron Lakers will be in for an unexpected challenge in the first round. There is no home court advantage and no fans as unprecedented times persist in the NBA. The same circumstances allowed the Portland Timbers to prevail in their Orlando bubble. Can a Portland team do it again?
Indy 500 qualifying went off without a hitch yesterday, but Conor Daly couldn’t find the speed he showed in Friday’s practice session. Marco Andretti won the day, while Conor failed to make the “Fast Nine.” It’s fun to watch the second and third generation drivers like these two speedsters. Rossi, Herta, and Rahal also came from famous fathers of the Speedway that were part of my generation. Owners like Andretti, Penske, Rahal/Letterman, Ganassi, Coyne, and Foyt have been familiar names in Indianapolis since I can remember. However, seeing the empty stands for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” was all new to me.
Today’s “Fast Nine” action will determine the coveted Pole for next Sunday’s race. I’m glad there are plenty of live sports on TV to keep me entertained on weekend afternoons. Baseball, hockey, soccer, and racing have all managed to continue their virus-disrupted seasons. College football appears to be the biggest casualty as more and more schools push towards spring. Once winter comes, it may be back to the doldrums of nothing fresh to watch. I’m concerned about the fate of my favorite sport, college basketball. It was hard enough to deal with the loss of the tournament early this year.
The Cubs couldn’t catch a break and the Sox couldn’t catch anything. No one could catch Marco Andretti yesterday. Who will catch the biggest NBA prize? Hopefully, nobody will catch or spread the bug, causing further delays to these competitions that relieve the boredom of self-isolation.
The really strange thing about this whole pandemic is that my teams are winning. The last few days, I’ve seen the Cubs, Sox, Pacers, Trailblazers, and Timbers all claim multiple victories. This tells me that life is no longer normal. In the real world, I consistently pick the wrong teams to root for on game day. Could this mean that I.U. will start claiming BIG 10 wins and that the Bears and Colts will play once again in the Super Bowl? It all now seems possible.
The Sox have won 6 straight road games, a feat last equaled in April 2017. Unfortunately in the process, Oregon State alum Nick Madrigal injured his shoulder during a slide. Tim Anderson is also on the disabled list. The Cubs have won five straight and the Trailblazers are making a playoff move with a promising start in the Disney bubble. IU alum Victor Oladipo is beginning to show his old form for the Pacers in their third straight win. These are all signs of the Apocalypse!
Can you imagine an NBA championship between the Pacers and Trailblazers, or a Cubs vs. White Sox World Series? I’m beginning to like these shortened seasons with each game having more significance and no fan interference. T.J. Warren of the Pacers just tied Jermaine O’Neil’s franchise record for the most in a three-game span. These things just don’t happen under normal circumstances. It takes a pandemic to bring out the best in my teams.
Will the magic last? I have my doubts. The Cubs don’t have a closer. Craig Kimbrel failed to preserve a three-run cushion last night and had to be benched by new manager David Ross once again. The Cubbies could easily return to last year’s mediocrity after a 9-2 start. At least they’re staying healthy, unlike the rival St. Louis Cardinals who can’t seem to stay out of the way of the virus. The White Sox are helping the Cubs with a chance to take a 3-game sweep from the Brewers. The Cubs are returning the favor by pounding the Royals. I like this Chicago tag-team approach.
The Portland Timbers are in the soccer final four with a match against Philadelphia tonight that could send them into the finals of the MLS is Back tournament. The bubble approach in sports seems to be working much better than the home fields used in baseball. We’re all hoping that sports can survive outside the bubble, especially football fans that are holding their breath for a chance to start the season.
The Indy 500 will now be held later this month without fans. New track owner Roger Penske reversed his plan to drop the flag in front of a full house. Instead, it will be strictly a television event that will undoubtedly continue in all sports into 2021. Buying a ticket to any event will be a rarity, having a devastating affect on the business. I’m just glad to be a fan and not an owner. Many tough financial decisions have been made this year, with no end in sight. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the rare winning moments of my favorite teams. Fly the W.
It’s finally here – Opening Day. I last wrote about it (See Post #1306) almost three months ago, wondering if it would ever happen? There was originally talks of an Arizona bubble where all the teams would stay and play in one place. Instead, the stadiums are open to the players but not the public. I watched a few of the Summer Camp games these past few weeks in empty venues, just glad to have something live on TV. There’s no “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” the only option is to tune in. I may resort back to childhood and listen on the radio. With a few sound effects, it will seem no different than 1955.
The defending World Series Champion Washington Nationals will play the Yankees tonight on the east coast, while the Dodgers meet the Giants in the west. That’s pretty good social distancing. Tomorrow the Cubs start their 60-game journey against the Brewers at empty Wrigley Field. With half a season, every game is worth twice as much! I got in the spirit earlier this week with a trip to my baseball card guy’s house. A couple of items were added to my Sherm Lollar collection, speaking of 1955 baseball. Plus, some catching equipment from that era. Above all, it was good to talk with another avid baseball fan – it’s great to see anyone – period – in these troubled times.
I’ll soon be living next to a Spring Training venue in Florida, as I think back to the cancellation of the March games in Phoenix. I did get a credit for my tickets to those games. I also received autographed cards from Topps for Kris Bryant (Cubs) and Luis Robert (White Sox) after being shorted on my Opening Day lineup purchase. All in all, it was a rough start to the season, but all is now right. We’ll finally hear the words “Play Ball,” following a four month delay in the action. It’s the first season to ever start in July. I’ll tune in for the first pitch. Hooray – it’s Opening Day!
Auto Racing and golf were the first professional sports to come back after the pandemic. Fans can at least watch from home now. U.S. soccer is off and running in Orlando. The Portland Timbers won last night against the LA Galaxy. Soon, the Trailblazers will take the court in the Disney bubble, similar to the soccer model. There’s proven success to this “play-and stay-in-one-place” structure with the completion of The Basketball Tournament tonight in Columbus, Ohio. I was not aware that the non-overtime format was designed by Ball State, Indiana professor, Nick Elam. It assigns a target score in the final quarter that determines the winner rather than wear down players with extra time on the clock. Also, on the Hoosier stage, former IU players, Mo Creek and Remy Abell played starring roles.
I like the controlled environments that have been established for the restart of soccer and basketball. It limits exposure to the bug via outside exposure and travel. I’m not sure that baseball will see similar success by utilizing home fields and regional travel schedules. However, life can’t continue to be contained in a bubble. We need to experiment with other formats, otherwise football will never get underway. There will actually be some fans in the stands around Wrigley Field, as across-the-street rooftop seats are apparently being sold for $350.
Football does have the advantage of protective gear like plastic face guards and gloves to limit exposure on the field. If this is effective, expect other sports to adapt at least long pants and sleeves in the future. There will be many new innovations. Travel to and from the parks will still be an issue, although professional teams have private planes and limos. This is not the case for high school and college players. To be determined!
Every sport is now a safety experiment. Fans will have to wait until the results are compiled. Getting near the players and field are not in the near future. They will retreat to the locker rooms before and after games. Athletes will be kept isolated and this will affect their popularity. Autographs will be hard to get and personal appearances will be prohibited. A 2020 player autograph will be extremely rare and valuable. For example, I just received a Topps Now baseball card signed by Kris Bryant of the Cubs. This will become a prized item in my collection.
The original plan was to get to Spring Training and the Cubs vs. Sox game. It was a Friday the 13th in Phoenix when this game was cancelled, as the dreaded bug made its debut. I did get a credit for the tickets, but it has turned out to be a four-month holding pattern. The Chicago crosstown rivalry is scheduled to restart this Sunday in a Summer Camp exhibition game at Wrigley. The condensed 60-game season officially begins next Thursday with the Nats vs. Yankees on ESPN. The NBA restarts the week after. It means more sports on TV – LIVE!
ESPN stirred some memories last night with the airing of “Long Gone Summer,” the 1998 home run battle between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire. It was the quest to top Roger Maris’ 61 home-run season in 1961. The record had stood for 28 years, once Maris had “outdone” The Babe. I was part of a Cubs season ticket group of nine owners that conducted a draft at the beginning of the season to determine who would get which tickets for what games. I happened to pick 9/13/1998 and set-aside four of what turned out to be the most precious tickets I’ve ever purchased.
On that day my 77-year old father, my 24-year old son, and my best friend all joined me at Wrigley Field. They were special seats in a row by themselves near the Cubs’ dugout, guarded at each end by two elderly female ushers. One I remember for sure was named Louise. Their job was to keep people from walking in front of us, thinking that our wide space was an aisle. The 9 special seats were actually added in the middle of what was once an aisle way when the Ryne Sandburg record contract in the early 1992 spurred the team to add revenue by expanding seating capacity. This was allegedly how they paid a portion of his 4-year $27.4 million deal. Nonetheless, we always called them the “Ryne Sandburg” seats and oddly met him down in that area when he accidentally kicked-over my friend’s beer earlier that year on Opening Day. (See Post #283). Louise would occasionally allow celebrities coming off the field to pass in front of us. This is why the beer incident occurred.
Fast forward to September 13th, as the baseball season was coming to an end. Before the game started we had lunch at the Stadium Club, a perk for VIP Season Ticket Holders. They actually served the same hot dogs as the concession stands but on Cubs china at three times the cost. I remember thinking, “wouldn’t it be something if Sammy hit numbers 61 and 62 today.” McGuire had already topped the Maris record at Busch Stadium 5 days before. Sosa had hit his 60th the day before, setting up the historical drama we were about to witness. Wrigley Field was abuzz as we took our seats, spotting Ryne Sandburg and his family a couple of rows in front of us. The 61st came in the 5th inning, lifting us out of our seats. The Cubs were up 8-3 on the Brewers. Sam-mee, Sam-mee! The fans littered the field and caused a long delay.
Sosa struck out in the 7th and came to bat for the final time in the bottom of the ninth down by 2. 480-feet later, he had tied McGuire at 62. There were hugs all around, as we watched the commotion. To make the day even better, Mark Grace homered in the bottom of the 10th for the “W.” Three generations of family and a best friend make the game even more memorable. “Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Holy Cow!”
Nine years later, my wife bought a commemorative brick following a 12-3 victory over the Cardinals. She was at that game with me along with my son and 9-month old grandson. It’s too bad my dad couldn’t be with us to make it four generations. Instead, the brick reads “3 Generations – Mike, Adam, Gavyn.” Dad died in 2014 at 93, just missing the 2016 World Series run. My wife and I were there, thinking of him. So many great memories of Wrigley Field, but none can top Sosa vs. McGuire.
It was alarming to see a Facebook post yesterday with the headline, “Today is the first Memorial Day without a Major League Baseball game since 1880.” A 140-year old tradition wiped out by virus. Even World Wars couldn’t stop baseball! I read the article by Jean Chery. When it does come back, there will be a Universal designated hitter, not just in the American League. This means another strike against the traditionalists, who believe the game should never change. Well, it at least has to adapt – that’s what asterisk (*) is for! If baseball does have an opening day in 2020, it will mean many an asterisk next to shorted season statistics. It might also mean no fans in the stands or restricted crowds and no hot dog vendors. Peanuts may be allowed in sealed packages as will Cracker Jack, but Popcorn will be Out!
Will others now have to wear masks, instead of just catchers and umpires? Coaches will certainly have to if they intend to “get in the faces” of umpires. At least, we won’t be able to read lips. Will players have to practice social distancing on the base paths? These are all questions that are currently being tossed-around the horn, even in jest. The players are ready, as are the TV crews. “Play Ball!” We should at least be watching the game at home where we can eat all the hot dogs we want. Then, once everybody gets warmed-up, we can start to think about fans at the ball parks. Play it Safe!
I missed my last five baseball games due to a rain-out, a funeral, and the Spring Training virus. It’s been over a year since I’ve been to Wrigley Field and nearly two years since I saw at Cub’s W there. It will soon be time for the All-Star Game. Will we still not see a pitch by then? The fans are getting restless and the economy is suffering. I’ve been doing some collecting to keep my love of the game alive. It’s good that the magazines and sports channels have focused on the history of the game these past few months. Even Armando Gallarraga has been in the headlines, still fighting for his perfect game from ten years ago. Historians are having a field day, while signs remain posted at the gates, “No Baseball Allowed.”
In these times of no baseball or other popular sports, it’s important to savor the past and why a silly game has so much personal meaning. I blame it on my dad, taking me to games as a kid. High school basketball in our hometown, Notre Dame football, and occasional trips to Chicago for the Cubs or White Sox were bonding moments for us. I used the same magic on my son. I can remember fiddling with the TV antenna to watch a game with either of them, although we had an electronic rotor by the time I became an adult. It sure beat aluminum foil or climbing up on the roof. My son also got to see NBA and college basketball, NFL football, auto racing, and soccer with me. We still share an interest in baseball cards, but he’s more for the Cubs than my White Sox.
My dad started as a Tigers fan, but eventually became a die-hard Cubs supporter. As a grandfather, he lured my son to the Cubs side. I had no choice but to play along, although my loyalties still lie with the Sox. It all comes down to one man, that I’ve never met, but a childhood memory keeps our relationship strong. In the 1959 World Series in glorious black & white, Sherm Lollar hit a home run against the Dodgers, and even though they lost the war, it was at least a battle won, and a lifelong attraction to the number 10 that he wore on his back.
Some may joke that I’m still obsessed with this man who has been dead for 43 years. I did see him play when my dad took me several times to Comiskey Park, and still know the line-up of those White Sox teams of the 60’s. It wasn’t for another 46 years before they got back the World Series and actually won. I was there for two of the games in the sweep of 4. It’s too bad Sherm couldn’t have been around. Cancer took him at the early age of 53. Although, he did get a World Series ring in New York before he joined the Sox, and one more with the Orioles as the bullpen coach. It’s also a shame that more catchers have not been voted as Hall-Of-Famers, because they are the heart & soul leaders of any team. The glory always goes to the pitcher. Unfortunately, I don’t think he will ever get the defensive credit that he’s long overdue.
I’m not a wealthy man that can spend a lot of money on baseball cards and memorabilia. They were like gold to me growing up, even though I abused a few Yankees on my bicycle spokes. If I had extra money, I would spend it at the neighborhood store on bubble gum packs and trade the duplicates with my friends. As a retiree, I reverted back to childhood and joined a group of collectors, knowing that I couldn’t compete with their high-priced Mickey Mantles or Ty Cobbs. Fortunately, for me Sherm Lollar was not on the Cooperstown wall and therefore his cards were relatively affordable. As it turns out, however, there were hundreds of them made by various manufacturers over his 28 years of playing and coaching, not to mention photos, articles, ticket stubs, yearbooks, score cards, cartoon likenesses, promotional items, and ads. He was even a Trivial Pursuit question, beanie pin, card game, and coin. Sadly, he never got his own bobble-head or figurine, but there were glasses, plastic cups, mitts, catcher’s masks, and stamps bearing his likeness and/or signature. At the end of his career he owned a bowling alley, and provided a post card for patrons to get his signature. I was able to secure one of these, after his nephew sold some of his personal collection.
I have Sherm Lollar’s signature on cards, photos, scraps of paper, and baseballs. My rarest find is his uniform #10 from the first four games of 1956. It’s hard to imagine that I’ve spent over $4,000 on items that mean little to anyone but me. I will probably never recover that investment even if he somehow gets into the Hall. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much of a movement on his behalf. I care for his memory and family, but I could have never gathered so much of his past on my limited budget. Granted, there are famous teammates and fellow All-Stars of his on some items, adding to their value. I have him in photos along side of Yogi Berra, Bill Verdon, Al Lopez, Marty Marion, Minnie Minoso, Early Wynn, Frank Hayes, to mention a few.
Over the past month, with little to do, I’ve added to to my Sherm Lollar collection, that has to be one of the largest in existence. A photo of him with Billy Pierce showing off #10, another with Frank and Brooks Robinson, plus a couple of magazine pictures have been recently added to my bulging notebook. A 1960 ticket stub, a team photo from the 1951 St. Louis Browns, and a couple additional magazine clippings are in the mail. Within reason, I’ve vowed to add whatever I can, because within my circle of fellow collectors, that I have been separated from during months of social distancing, I’m known as the “Sherm Lollar Guy” and have the t-shirt to prove it!