There is a human element that is easy to forget when doing this. While all of the men I write to appear to be in the prime of their youth (because I only see them on the baseball cards I have in front of me) the fact of the matter is they are quite old and often are not in the best of health. That was the case with Gernert, a first baseman, who spent 11 seasons in the majors with the Red Sox, Cubs, Tigers, Reds and Colt .45’s. My letter to Gernert was returned with a handwritten note letting me know he had suffered a stroke and could no longer write. It is always sobering to get a letter back like this and even worse when I read the news someone I had recently written to has died. It makes me think I need to work even faster, although that is not always possible. As for Gernert, he hit 103 home runs in his career with his best season being 1956 when he hit .291 with 16 home runs for Boston.
Altman spent nine seasons in the majors as an outfielder and first baseman, clubbing 101 home runs for the Cubs, Cardinals and Mets. In his best season, he blasted 27 home runs and drove in 96, while hitting .303 for the 1961 Cubs. He was twice named to the National League All-Star team and was the first player to ever homer twice off Sandy Koufax in the same game. Prior to breaking into MLB, Altman played for three months for the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro Leagues. Following his time in the majors, Altman spent seven years playing baseball in Japan. He documented his fascinating journey through three different professional baseball leagues in a book titled My Journey From the Negro Leagues and Beyond available here.
Marshall played five seasons for five different teams, hitting 29 home runs along the way. He extended his playing career with three years in Japan, playing for the Chunichi Dragons from 1963-65. He enjoyed more time in the majors, managing the Cubs and the A’s in the 1970’s. Following his managing career, he remained in the game most recently working as an advisor for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Last one for the day. Goryl spent six years in the Majors, never playing more than 83 games in a season. His best season was 1963 when he hit 9 home runs and drove in 24 runs for the Minnesota Twins. He was a minor league manager and a coach for the Twins following his playing career. He managed Minnesota for parts of the 80 and 81 seasons and has remained in baseball for most of his life, working in the front office of the Cleveland Indians.
Much like Erskine, I got a survey back from Sievers a long time ago and, much like Erskine, I came across these cards and thought I would like to get him to sign them. Sievers was a hell of a ball player, hitting over 300 home runs in his 17-year career. In 1957 he led the American League with 42 home runs and 114 RBI while hitting a robust .301. If it had been around at the time, he would have been a fantastic fantasy baseball player. I don’t think Sievers is as well known today as he should be. But that seems to be the case with most players who aren’t in the Hall of Fame – and that is why this site exits. Here are Sievers lifetime stats. Take look at what he did from 54-61. That eight-year span compares favorably with any great hitter of any era.
Side note – I just love it when the players stick a return label on the envelope. I think it is so cool that I got mail from Roy Sievers! I still have the one Don Larsen sent when I wrote to him. Because it came from Don Larsen – the guy who pitched a perfect game in the World Series.
I wrote to Erskine a long time ago and he sent back a pretty fantastic questionnaire, with a note about his time in Texas. When I came across this card, I knew I wanted to get him to sign it, but did now want to trouble him with a second questionnaire. So here is the recent card he signed. As I dig further into my archives, I will post his questionnaire. He has always been one of my favorite baseball players as I just loved reading about the Brooklyn Dodgers when I was a kid.
Brown spent seven seasons in the big leagues, pitching for the Senators/Rangers, Cleveland and Montreal. He won 47 games and lost 53 while posting a career ERA of 4.18. He won 13 games for Texas in 1974 while striking out 134 hitters. Both were career highs. After retiring as a player, Brown served as the pitching coach for the Rangers, White Sox and Tampa Bay.
Burgmeier spent 16 seasons pitching in the big leagues, primarily as a relief pitcher. He pitched for the Angels, Royals, Twins, Red Sox and A’s. His best season was 1980 when he went 5-4 with a 2.00 ERA for Boston. He also recorded 24 saves for the Red Sox and was selected to his lone All Star Game appearance.
Mostly a second baseman, Brohamer played nine seasons in the majors for Cleveland, the Chicago White Sox and the Boston Red Sox. Brohamer finished his career with a .245 batting average, 262 runs scored, 227 RBI and 30 home runs.