Return to sender

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That yellow sticker is always the worst thing I can see when I go to the mailbox. It means my attempt at information gathering has failed and usually puts an end to my quest to secure a survey from that particular player. Unfortunately over the past few days I have received far too many yellow stickers in the mailbox. As you can see, the one pictured above came back on a letter I had sent to Jim Rivera, an outfielder who spent 10 years in the big leagues. After further investigation I learned that Mr. Rivera now resides in a nursing home and is no longer able to write. I also figured out he was 95-years old, which probably explains a lot.

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1959 Topps

Manuel Joseph Rivera picked up the nickname ‘Jim’ somewhere along the way. He first arrived in the big leagues in 1952 with the St. Louis Browns. In 1952 he moved on to the Chicago White Sox which is where he spent the bulk of his career. Rivera led the American League in triples with 16 in 1953 and in stolen bases with 25 in 1955. That season he also led the AL in being caught stealing (16). HIs best season was 1954 when he hit .286 with 13 home runs, 18 steals, 61 RBI and 62 runs scored for Chicago. His final season in the big leagues was 1961 when he played one game for the White Sox and 64 more for the Kansas City Athletics.

Jim Rivera – career stats

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1959 Topps

There was no return to sticker on my letter to Pedro Ramos. Instead the person who received it opened it up and mailed it back to me in the enclosed SASE. Apparently Mr. Ramos now resides in Nicaragua and since it is pretty difficult to find addresses, much less guesstimate return postage from a foreign country, I will have to give up on the Washington Sentors’ hurler.

Ramos pitched for 15 years in the big leagues, starting in 1955 with the old Washington Sentors and finishing in 1970 with the new Washington Sentors. He is one of just nine players in the history of baseball to play for both incarnations of the Senators. I will let you go ahead and try and figure out who the other eight are on your own. Playing primarily for bad teams, Ramos led the American League in losses four times but also won 117 games in his career (against 160 losses). In 1956, he surrendered a home run to Mickey Mantle that almost left Yankee Stadium.

Pedro Ramos – career stats

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1959 Topps

I am going to stick this one in here although I guess technically it is not a complete loss. Gardner did sign my card although he did not fill out the survey which is always pretty disappointing. Ultimately I feel like I would rather have the complete survey back than the card as it is far more interesting, but this should make a nice addition to the archives.

Gardner broke into the big leagues in 1954, playing 62 games for the New York Giants. He managed to stay employed in professional baseball for the next 32 years. His playing career lasted 10 seasons with his best years from 1956-1960 when he was the starting second baseball for Baltimore and the Washington Senators. He remained in the game for three more seasons as a reserve infielder for the Twins, Yankees and Red Sox. Over the next 18 seasons he worked as a minor and major league coach as well as managing in the minor leagues. His first shot at managing a Major League club came in 1981 when he took over for John Goryl with Minnesota. His tenure with the Twins lasted until 1985 when he was let go mid-season. His final stint as a manager happened in 1986 when he replaced Dick Howser in Kansas City following Howser’s brain cancer diagnosis.

Billy Gardner – career stats

 

 

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