I can't believe I haven't mentioned this one before. After all, I've had it for years. But, better late than never I always say.
Around 15 years ago, a friend of mine was reading a baseball book. It was a book made of a collection of letters. The author had written various baseball players and asked them to tell a story from their playing days, or something like that. He actually got enough responses to make a book out of it. That was interesting enough. But, what really caught my eye was the level of players. Roger Clemens was one of the responses.
Now, I knew that the first rule of TTM autograph requests was that the better players probably wouldn't respond. Go after the minor stars. Better yet, bench players. But, this guy got letters? Amazing.
Would it work if I tried it? I had no idea.
So, I tried an experiment. The most amazing event I had ever attended was the 1999 All-Star game at Fenway Park. It's still easily top two or three baseball games I've seen live. What if I did a project around that? So, I wrote some letters. I wrote to every member of that team, as well as the coaching staff. I asked them all the same question. "What do you remember most about the 1999 All-Star game?"
I wasn't going to get any responses. I was prepared for that. Well, no actual answers at least. After all, I wasn't going after the middling players. I went right to the top tier.
But, I actually got some stuff. Most of it was the kind of SWAG you might expect. I got some fan club informational pamphlets. The Rockies players sent back postcards saying they required a donation for an autograph. (Were I a Rockies fan, I probably would have taken them up on it.) Cal Ripken sent a Drink Milk sort of advertisement. Tony Gwynn, for some reason, sent what looks like a photocopy of his entry in the Padres Media Guide. Like, 20 pages of photocopies in a manilla envelope.
I also got some autographs. Some players sent autographed cards. Jimy Williams actually sent an autographed 8x10 photo. I was pretty impressed since I never actually asked for an autograph, and certainly didn't supply anything for them to sign. It was all on their dime.
I was thrilled with the collection I was forming of 1999 All-Star game items. It was a cool little bunch of memories of a wonderful game.
Then, this came in the mail from Rangers reliever Jeff Zimmerman.
In case you can't make it out, here's what it says.
Thank you for your letter. I appreciate your support and interest in my career. Hopefully you are enjoying another exciting season of Red Sox baseball and Pedro will be back soon. The time spent in Boston during the '99 All Star game was amazing. The 3 days were an absolute blur leading up to the game but once I got on the mound time stood still. My most powerful memories were of the All Century Team introductions and the moving response Ted Williams received from the crowd and players. Being on the field and seeing him surrounded by both teams with McGuire and Gwynn in the forefront gave me chills. I wanted to go shake his hand but did not feel worthy among all the other great players out there. Definitely a magical time. Thanks for your interest. Best Wishes. - Jeff Zimmerman.
This letter is beyond amazing for so many reasons. First, IT'S AN ANSWER! I mean, the guy took time mid-season to hand write a page long response. Mind boggling.
Second, it's on Rangers stationary, which is just really cool.
What I really like, though, is the line about not feeling worthy to shake Ted Williams's hand. If you remember, Zimmerman was hardly a prospect. He came from out of nowhere to have the best half season of his life leading up the the 1999 All-Star break. So not exactly McGuire and Gwynn, but he a major league pitcher. An All-Star in fact. And he was hesitant to approach Williams. If you watch the video of the ceremony, you can clearly see Zimmerman lurking in the back of the crowd. Looking on with awe, but not getting any closer.
This letter definitely has a place of honor in the collection. It's a pretty unique glimpse into one of my favorite memories.
And my best TTM response ever.
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