What’s all this?

It all started with a box of keepsakes my father kept on his closet shelf, far from the dirty hands of his only son. The box was full of magic, as far as I was concerned, and I spent many a day staring at it on that ledge, just out of my reach, hoping he would take it down again and show me the treasures it held within. What as in it, you might be asking? Well, I will tell you. It was full of wonder. Postcards and baseballs and other things from the baseball players he had loved to watch when he was a child. Pictures like the one of Ted Williams (above) or Stan Musial.

Scan 173 copy (1)

Or Red Schoendienst

Scan 176

After years of looking at my father’s collection, I got the idea to start my own. Initially this involved me trying to get Red Sox Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski to write me back. My campaign involved numerous yearly letters as well as Christmas Cards, but Yaz was never that interested in becoming my pen pal, so I chose to move on to others and there were certainly plenty of successes. However, one thing that stood out to me when I was a kid was that I could never really get the players to write back to me. Yeah, it was great to get back an autographed card, but what I was really looking for was a little bit extra. Maybe just a few words on a piece of paper, telling me about their careers and what it was like when they played, maybe an entire letter. Whatever the case, I decided I should try for more.

This led to the questionnaire. The idea is not to take up too much of anyone’s time. In fact, it should just take a couple minutes to answer the questions. But it was a ready-made form that would get a response in a way that simply asking questions in a letter did not. Over the years, the questions have changed a little, and there have been times when more than five were included, but for the most part the same core questions have always been asked and the many answers I have gotten back have been amazing.

Of course none of this was ever supposed to be released into the wild. I figured it was just a nice way for me to pass some time and continue the collection my father started in the early 1950’s. But, a job posting for a person to collect the oral histories of World War II veterans eventually convinced me otherwise. While they are certainly short, some more-so than others, these documents still are micro-histories of the men who played the game of baseball in their own words. These are not just the stories of the players we have come to know so much of. Yes, there will be all-stars here, but there will also be journeymen and guys who only ever got a cup of coffee in the majors. When I worked as a sports editor, I liked to say that no one sport ever held more importance in any paper I worked for than any of the other sports. This meant I paid as much attention to the local cross country runners as I did to the football team. That is the case here. All of the stories are equal and hopefully, equally enjoyable.

I have started the site off with a few entries, but will be adding more in the coming weeks and even more as I get more back in the mail. I hope to add oral history video in the future as we get out into the field and interview some of these men in person. I dream that one day we will have a completed questionnaire from every living person who played Major League Baseball. While I know this is not going to happen, for reasons of time and cooperation, it does not mean I cannot try – and have fun in the process. So, take a look around, and make sure to check back regularly for your daily dose of baseball history.

Swings and misses

1988 Score

Jay Aldrich pitched in 62 games for the Milwaukee Brewers, Atlanta Braves, and Baltimore Orioles between 1987 and 1990. In 108.2 innings he posted a 6-5 record with two saves and a 4.72 ERA.

1988 Donruss

Tom Newell saw action in two games for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1987. He pitched one inning and gave up four runs. He pitched professionally from 1985-1991.

1989 Upper Deck

LaVel Freeman appeared in two games for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1989. He struck out twice in three at bats and did not get a hit. He did score a run. Freeman played professionally from 1983-1990.

Letters sent to Tony Fernandez and Bob Sebra were returned as they are both now deceased.

Swings and misses

1988 Topps

Ken Gerhart played three seasons for the Baltimore Orioles, hitting .221 with 24 home runs in 215 games from 1986-1988. He was a starting outfielder for the team his final two years and hit 14 home runs in 1987. However, Gerhart was hit on the wrist by a pitch that season and the injury eventually ended his career.

1988 Fleer

Mark Wasinger played in 50 games for the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants from 1986-1988. In 90 at bats he hit .244 with one home run.

1992 Donruss

A five-time all-star and the 1997 National League Most Valuable Player, Larry Walker spent 17 years in the majors, playing for the Montreal Expos, Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Cardinals from 1989-2005. He hit .313 with 383 home runs and 230 stolen bases, and won three Silver Sluggers and seven Gold Gloves. Walker hit over .360 three times in his career, with his .379 mark in 1999 being his zenith. However, his performance in 1997 is arguably the best of his career. Walker hit .366 that season for Colorado, while smashing a league-best 49 home runs to go along with 130 RBIs, 143 runs scored and 33 stolen bases. Later in his career, he reached the World Series with the Cardinals, but lost to the Boston Red Sox in 2004. Walker, however, hit .357 in the series. In 2020, Walker was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame. He is also a member of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.

Mike Ramsey

1981 Fleer

Ramsey spent parts of seven seasons in the majors, playing for the St. Louis Cardinals, Montreal Expos and Los Angeles Dodgers between 1978 and 1985. In 394 games, he hit .240 with two home runs. Ramsey played in a career-high 112 games for the Cardinals in 1982 and hit .230 while driving in 21 runs.

Ramsey was the 1982 Cardinals’ utility man, seeing action in over 20 games at shortstop, third base and second base. He played in three games of the 1982 World Series, but had just one at bat, striking out against Moose Haas in the bottom of the eighth inning of Game 7. Ramsey did score a run in the game though, as he entered as a pinch runner for Gene Tenace in the bottom of the sixth and scored on a George Hendrick single, to put St. Louis up 4-3. The run ended up being the winning run in the game, as the Cardinals held on for a 6-3 victory.

We featured Jerry Reuss in 2019.

Mike Ramsey – career stats

1985 Topps

Wallace Johnson

1989 Donruss

Johnson spent parts of nine seasons in the majors, playing for the Montreal Expos and briefly, the San Francisco Giants, from 1981-1990. In 569 career at bats he hit .255 with five home runs. Johnson never got into more than 86 games in a season, which happened in 1988 with Montreal. That ended up being his best year, as he hit .309 in 107 at bats.

Johnson was an accomplished college player at Indiana State University. He was an academic All-American and helped ISU reach the regional round of the NCAA baseball tournament. He hit .491 as a senior for the team in 1979 and was elected to the school’s Hall of Fame in 1985.

Following his playing career he went on to be the third base coach for the Chicago White Sox.

Wallace Johnson – career stats

1990 Donruss

Swings and misses

1983 Topps

Randy Johnson appeared in 101 games for the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins in 1980 and 1982. In 254 at bats he hit .244 with 10 home runs. He played professionally from 1979-1985.

1986 Fleer

Curt Wardle pitched in 52 games for the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins from 1984-1985. He compiled an 8-9 record with a 6.13 ERA and one save.

1987 Donruss

Randy Hunt played in 35 games for the St. Louis Cardinals and Montreal Expos in 1985 and 1986. He hit .194 with two home runs.

Jim Rice declined our invitation to participate.

Bobby Mitchell

1984 Topps

Mitchell played for four seasons in the majors, breaking in with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1980 and finishing with the Minnesota Twins in 1983. In 202 games, he hit .243 with three home runs. He was Minnesota’s starting center fielder in 1982 and played in 124 games. He hit .249 that season with 48 runs scored and eight stolen bases.

Mitchell got his first big-league hit in what was his sixth big-league game. It was actually his first at bat though, as he’d been a defensive replacement and pinch runner in his previous five appearances. On Sept. 9, 1980, at the Astrodome, Mitchell came to the plate to lead off the top of the ninth inning with Houston Astros’ Dave Smith on the hill. He singled to right field, but was forced out at second on a Bill Russell groundout. Houston won the game 5-4.

Mitchell did not hit a home run until he was traded to the Twins in 1982. He got his first one on April 23, 1982, when he took Seattle’s Larry Andersen deep in the fourth inning of their game at the Kingdome, helping Minnesota to a 12-4 win.

When his playing career ended, Mitchell went on to coach and manage in the minor leagues. Prior to making it to the majors, he played in the 1967 Little League World Series for the Northridge, Calif., team.

Bobby Mitchell – career stats

1984 Fleer

The push to 600

Friends, first of all thank you for all of the support over the years. It means a lot and helps us preserve the stories of all the players we’ve featured on this site. I am excited to report that yesterday we published our 589th player feature (Mike Stenhouse). That means we’re just 11 players away from 600! In order to help us reach this milestone, I figured I’d do some fundraising. We still have a little swag left over in the form of t-shirts and hats and we continue to get the random LFHP business card autographed by players we wrote to. So, here is what I’m prepared to offer in way of rewards.

Every person who donates $5 will get one LFHP card autographed by a random player. If you have a favorite team, let me know and I will try to send you one from a player who played for that team, but no guarantees. I have a lot of them, but I’m not sure I have one for every team in MLB. Here’s a look at a few we still have. I believe they are Jerry Turner, Ken Forsch and Glenn Hoffman.

For every $5 you donate, you’ll get another business card.

Second level is the LFHP t-shirt. Donate $25 or more and I’ll send you a shirt. (Was going to do $20, but have to cover cost of shipping.) We don’t have a lot of these left, but we’ve got enough to cover basically any size from S-XXXL.

Sorry they are wrinkled, but I’m not really an ironer. (Is that a word? Should be.)

Donate $30 and we’ll send you a hat. Only four of these left. (Again, had to go a little higher to cover shipping. These are New Era snap backs.

Finally, if you can chip in $50 or more, I’ll send you a hat, a shirt, some autographed cards and an LFHP sticker!

As always, this money will be put right back into the site to purchase supplies (stamps, envelopes, cards, etc.), pay our web site fees and, if we raise enough money, used to promote the site on social media.

Guess that’s it. Thanks so much for reading! It’s a lot of fun working on this and I love to hear from everyone who loves baseball’s history as much as I do.

To donate to our push to 600, click here for PayPal or Venmo me @Chris-Grant-192

Once you’ve donated, shoot me a message, either on here or on our Facebook page and let me know which reward you want and a mailing address. I will get it out to you ASAP.

Mike Stenhouse

1985 Topps

Stenhouse appeared in 207 games for the Montreal Expos, Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox from 1982-1986. In 416 at bats he hit .190 with nine home runs. He had the best year of his career while playing for the Twins in 1985. Stenhouse hit .223 with five home runs that season.

Stenhouse played with Pete Rose on the Montreal Expos in 1984. Rose got hit number 4,000 on April 13 in a game against the Philadelphia Phillies. Stenhouse did not appear in the game.

Mike Stenhouse – career stats

1986 Topps