When people and organizations ask Ken for an autographed baseball, I politely inform them that we don’t currently own a warehouse of sporting equipment (see “The Singletons are fresh out of autograph items“) yet if they provide a ball, Ken will be happy to sign it.
With certain situations that tug at my heartstrings, however, I’m a little more lenient, so once in a while I scurry around the house in search of a blank baseball to stick under Ken’s nose to sign.
There aren’t many – blank ones, that is. On the last go-round, I stopped upstairs in Ken’s office at a red felt, almost-Santa-like bag filled with over 40 autographed baseballs. One of these days I should buy him a shelf or display case because the baseballs – or rather what’s on them – are fairly impressive even to my amateur eyes.
I wish some of these guys had had better handwriting for me to report what names are on the balls! Ken, without a doubt, could sit here and relay a zillion stories behind each in his collection.
Alas, this is what I see:
? Rawlings official ball of the 1983 World Series signed “To Matthew, Good Luck, Pete Rose.” Unfortunately, our son Matthew, in a creative mood as a kid, tried to decorate the ball further using small rubber stamps so Pete’s scribble has a little company.
? On another ball, Ken’s handwriting reads: “RBI #100 and 101, 8/30/79 vs. Twins in Baltimore”
? “1,000 Major League Hit, pitcher Jim Slaton, Milwaukee vs. Baltimore 7/25/77”
? “First A.L. Grand Slam 5/22/76, 8-4 win over Tigers”
? “1st American League homerun, donated by Jim Perry 4/27/75”
? “Homerun off Juan Marichal 6/13/71”
? “Homerun #23, R.B.I. #100, 9/23/73”
? “RBI #1000 & 1001, homerun Chicago, 8/11/83”
? “9th Consecutive Hit, a club record, 4/28/81”
? “Career Homerun #200, 4/26/81”
? “Hit #1,500 at Baltimore vs. Chicago, double, 1st inning, 8/6/80”
? “American & National 1979 Japan Major League Series”
? “N.Y. METS” with a ball full of faded autographs
? official league ball with Montreal Expos logo and various signatures
? “To Matthew & Justin, Al Bumbry, Padres #4, 1985” (Al is still one of Ken’s good friends; he lives in Baltimore, too)
? “50th All-Star Game” ball
? official ball of 1981 All-Star Game with various signatures
? baseball stamped with “Liga de Baseball Profesional de Puerto Rico”
? many other autographs too numerous to list, however, legible names include Frank Robinson, Earl Weaver, Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken, Jim Palmer and many others
One lone autographed ball not in the red bag with the others, sits amid Ken’s papers and baseball books on his desk. It has one signature – Hank Aaron.