Am I jinxing former ballplayers when I write to them TTM asking for a little bit of their time? Am I, without knowing it, punching their eternal clock? For a while, it really felt like this was what happened. Let me explain. Also know that when I talk about these people, I am not making fun of the deceased. I actually respected every one of these people as players and people...so, this is just an instance of Can't Hit The Curve pointing out a weird coincidence.
Exhibit A: Mark Fidrych. Mark "The Bird" Fidrych was a phenomenon back in the day. Weird guy, weird delivery, wacky antics on the mound...and he was a fucking monster his rookie year. Nobody could hit him and he ended up winning like 20 games or something. Then...well, then he kind of faded away into obscurity but remained a favorite because of just how strange he was. So, I write to The Bird and he sends back a beautifully signed Topps All Time Fan Favorite and index card made out to me. I was really happy because I had been out of the TTM game for a looooong time. Well, Mr. Fidrych has an accident on his property four days after I receive my mail from him. Obviously, I'm bummed.
Exhibit B: John Wooden. Former UCLA men's basketball coaching legend, John Wooden, was kind enough to sign a small piece of hardwood floor (and an index card) and inscribe "UCLA" underneath. Very cool return and made me extremely pleased. Now, considering his age, it was not a complete surprise that Mr. Wooden passed away. But, he died THE DAY I received his package. This freaked me out a little.
Exhibit C: Jim Fregosi. Dies the same year that I get a return back from him. He signed and returned three cards from his Florida home. At least I think he lived in FL. Anyway, the same year may not seem a big deal but with the other two...maybe more than mere coincidence. Mr. Fregosi was far too young to pass away.
Exhibit D: Greg Halman. Minor leaguer, yes. But, the kid might have been a big star if I hadn't have decided to write him a letter and ask for a signature. I did and now he's gone. The CHTC curse struck Mr. Halman and he was stabbed to death by his own brother in the Netherlands. This is actually a very sad story and hearing about it really struck me kind of hard even though I never know Greg Halman personally.
Exhibit E: Duke Snider. Hall of Fame Dodger, The Duke was always generous with his time and signed tons of fan mail over the years. He was a class act. But, Mr. Snider passed away just two months after I sent him a card (a Topps reprint, I believe) to sign...which he did, sending it back within a week. Duke Snider's passing was huge for collectors. I feel bad for jinxing him.
Exhibit F: Virgil "Fire" Trucks. Mr. Trucks was likely the best ever TTM signer...given a strong run for his title by Mr. Pat Neshek. Anyway, Mr. Trucks was famous for going above and beyond when someone asked him for a signature. Plus, he was an amazing pitcher back in the day AND he is the uncle of uber-guitarist Derek Trucks (one hell of a talented family). So, I send Virgil a card (one card, mind you) and ask politely if he will sign for me. In the mail, I receive a package...of SEVEN cards...I sent the dude ONE. Virgil Trucks was that kind of guy and he passed away a mere month after I had received his letter back.
So, I'm starting to think I may be cursing those who are so kind to sign their autographs through the mail. Maybe it's dumb luck or coincidence. But, I'll tell you...it felt really strange to have all these folks pass fairly soon after signing for me. Just weird.
Happy collecting! Get your TTM's out, folks. This seems like a long-forgotten area of our hobby!