Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Getting the legend's autograph

Wick's World

 


I guess my first collectable autograph came from my second-grade teacher in Chamberlain, South Dakota. I attended first grade at St. Joseph’s Indian School outside of town where they not only didn’t offer pre-school, they didn’t pass out report cards either, at least not to first-graders because we probably couldn’t read anyway. I guess it was up to the nuns who decided if you went to heaven or hell or the second grade.

I was the only kid in school who actually had a parent in Chamberlain. All of the rest of the kids were shipped in from all over the country. The next year I transferred to the all-white school where everybody told me I belonged in the first place.

My second-grade teacher was named Miss Green. The term Ms. had yet to be invented but I’m pretty sure she would have been one had she only been given the chance. She had beautiful handwriting and I cherished my first autographed report card. Miss Green was also very pretty and as a little kid I often wondered why she wasn’t a movie star. Anyone that pretty and who could write like that deserved to be in the movies. I also think I had a crush on her because she gave me all A's except for penmanship and deportment. I understood the penmanship part because I was a scribbler, but I guess I never did learn how to properly deport. Who would want an A in deportment anyway? I was fine with living in the good old USA and had no desire to be deported anywhere unless it was Kansas City, Missouri.

My earliest memories of baseball included an annual bus trip to Kansas City for a weekend featuring real Major League teams. It was the same two teams every summer — the Kansas City Athletics versus the New York Yankees.

I will never forget the day I got my first real autograph. I had no baseball handy when I ran over to catch the Yankees' bus before it departed to the ballpark. We always booked a busload of rooms at the same hotel where the Yankees stayed, so over the years it was pretty easy to meet the players in the lobby or out in the parking lot. The era of coddled millionaires had yet to arrive and most players were more than willing to sign a ball, book or even a piece of paper, especially for little kids like me.

Over the years I had assembled quite the catalogue of signatures from many future Hall-of-Famers like Whitey Ford, Moose Skowren, Phil Rizzuto, Yogi Berra and dozens more. But the first autograph I got was the best one ever. I only had a piece of paper with me, but more importantly, I also had a ball-point pen. I knew I had to move fast because other kids saw the same legend I did and we raced to the open window somewhere near the middle of the bus. The legend was looking our way when I was the first to arrive.

Breathlessly, I timidly asked, “Could I get your autograph, sir?”

“You got a pencil kid?” the legend replied.

I proudly handed him the piece of paper and my prize ink pen. By then the outside of the bus was packed with screaming kids and a few of the fortunate ones also managed to get the legend’s autograph before the bus headed to the stadium.

I was the happiest kid in the world that day. I had my autographed piece of paper, but I never did get my ink pen back from Mickey Mantle.

 

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