For most of my memorable life, I have not been big on receiving gifts, especially for birthdays. I have always been appreciative … grateful, but I would much more spend time with people than get things. I know that is a sentiment that most people don’t have until they are much older, but I’ve had it for years. Having dinner with a friend or seeing a show … those are great things. One of the very best birthdays I have had in recent years was a few years ago when I got to play mini golf with my cousin and her 7 year old daughter …. then spending the evening having a good long talk with my cousin.
This year, as I mentioned, I happened to be back in Denver, again for my birthday. My aunt and uncle have always been very understanding folks and greatly supportive, especially in the times I didn’t get along with my parents. They are getting older, but are hardly the type to hole up and watch TV (my uncle just had to have an emergency hip replacement … the emergency was a gold tournament that he was set to play in, and did, and won money in the process …. the two of them not too long ago got back from a tour of Jordan and Israel).
My uncle decided to give to me his autograph collection. There were some genuine prizes: a picture of Stan Musial, a ball signed by Ernie Banks (yeah, Mr. Cub, but a truly class guy and worthy Hall of Famer).
He had one baseball signed by most of the 1956 White Sox. It is a valuable piece of merchandise … sour Hall-of-Famers, and a bulk of them were on the 1959 AL Championship team. I knew that he had this, as he had shown it to me years ago. He had gotten it after he had suffered a boyhood accident that generated a bit of news in Chicago. He also gave me a ball signed by White Sox legend Billy Pierce … and a beautiful picture of Pierce giving him the ball.
But he had one surprise for me …. something he had that I had not known about.
One of the balls he gave me was signed by 14 members of the 1953 Yankees. Certainly, it was a year they won the World Series. There are 4 major Hall of Famers who signed it (Whitey Ford, Phil Rizzuto, Yogi Berra, and Mickey Mantle). Many of the other names are important players from that era (Johnny Sain, Hank Bauer, Gil McDougald). I was floored. I’m not sure what this would appraise at, but it is certainly not an inexpensive item. I offered him some compensation, and reminded him that he had a grandson who might one day want this. He refused, and was sure that his grandson wouldn’t, as he had not shown any interest in baseball yet (he’s in second grade). At some point in the autumn, I will go through the process of authentication for insurance purposes.
I have decided, for the time, that I will hold on to these items and make sure they are properly cared for. At some point, I will check with my uncle’s grandkids, and if any of them get into baseball, I will give them up.