Saturday, September 4, 2010

You can't always get what you want

This card has special meaning to me.

I've always cheered on the pinstripes.  As a kid, I learned quickly how life can give you great things and how they can be taken away.  I still remember hearing the news about Thurman Munson crashing his plane, but at that age, I don't think I fully comprehended what that meant.  The innocence of childhood.

My best friend at the time was a little older than me and he got it.  I looked up to my friend, but I was envious at the same time.  We both collected Baseball cards, but his collection was out of my league.  He had tens of thousands of cards.  Doubles, Triples, Quadruples of everything.  It was hard, no, impossible to keep up with him.  To this day, I still don't know where he got the money to buy everything.

In 1979, his new obsession was collecting Hall of Famers autographs.  He had every postcard from the Baseball Hall of Fame, just like this one.

He was systematically getting them autographed, and I was jealous.  I asked him how he did it and he explained he did it mostly through the mail.  Clearly, this was something I had to do, so I asked him to help me.  He told me how he had just gotten back Lefty Gomez autograph by sending it to the Yankees.  I didn't understand how, since Gomez wasn't playing anymore, but I took him for his word and sent two index cards, 1, because I couldn't afford the HOF postcards and 2, in hopes that I might get two autographs back to show him up.

Early in the !979 Baseball season I mailed out my request to Yankee Stadium and several months later nothing had come back.  I gave up hope.  Even at that tender age, I wanted to "one up" my friend, but clearly it was not in the cards.

On the Saturday after Thurman Munson's passing, my friend came over to flip cards. Yep, back then we didn't care about corners and gradings, we flipped cards to the ground, even bounced them off of walls.  When I got to Munson's card, I stopped the game and told him I couldn't chance losing it to him.  At the time we had tied for a few rounds, so there were quite a lot cards riding on that flip.  I told him to just take the cards,  I wanted to hold on to Munson.

An argument ensued, which my mother had to break up.  After things settled, she told me the mail was in and I had a letter from the Yankees.

I ran to the kitchen, my friend shadowing me, and ripped it open.  Inside I found this.

It was Bob Lemon's Autograph with a note saying "Sorry, Lefty isn't here.  Thanks for being a Yankee fan."  

Well that sucked!

Boy was I embarrassed, and confused.  Lemon wasn't even the manager for the Yankees anymore.  He had been fired back in June, it was already August.  At the time, I didn't even know he was a Hall of Famer.  I asked my friend if he wanted to trade for it and, of course, he had no interest because he already had Bob Lemon's autograph.   Clearly I would never be able to get "one up" on my friend.

I felt the second index card underneath it and figured "great, I have doubles of something I don't want."  Here is the index card that was under the Bob Lemon auto.

To this day, I still get chills looking at this card.  Two days after the news of his death, here was Munson's auto in my hands.  And even better, my friend didn't have Munson's autograph.  It was the ultimate pull, the ultimate "one up."  I felt like I was in a movie.

And so, the song is correct; 

"You can't always get what you want,
but if you try sometimes, you just might find,
you get what you need."

Not only did I wind up with a Hall of Famer,  but I got a cherished auto and what I think is a pretty good story.


  1. Oh wow, you were right about me enjoying this, awesome story, and congrats on the amazing piece!!!