25 May 2015

a final word (for now) on memorials

first, let me take a moment to note that today is memorial day. hopefully, we all take some time out of our day to remember those whose service required the giving of their lives.  there have been too many.

many of you know that one of my mini collections is cards that feature memorial armbands or patches.  as an aside, even though the 1999 fleer tradition rod beck card represents the harry caray memorial in my binder, i could not pass up these three sammy sosa cards from 1999 topps stars when i found them in the bargain bin at the lcs a couple of months ago.  here's harry, comin' at you!
now, in addition to beck, i've got quite a few cards in the memorials binder commemorating uniform tributes to teammates, owners, relatives, team employees, victims of tragedies, and others from 1909 through 2014.  however, try as hard as i might, i have not been able to find cards for many of the memorials.  i'll use this post to show some of them using images i've found online.

this 1925 postcard of walter johnson
shows the big train wearing a black armband for christy mathewson.  both the senators and the pirates wore the armband during the 1925 world series.

thanks to uniwatch, i have this photo from 1929 of babe ruth, tony lazzeri, and lou gehrig
wearing black armbands for their former manager miller huggins who passed away late in the 1929 season.

this is a photo from 1931 featuring chuck klein of the phillies
he's wearing a black armband for the team's owner william baker, who died in december of 1930.  baker was known as a tightwad whose penny pinching led to the team's fall from pennant winners in 1915 to 15 consecutive losing seasons.

in may of 1950, pirates slugger ralph kiner graced the cover of sport magazine
his jersey features a black armband that the team wore towards the end of the 1949 season for their teammate tiny bonham. bonham had been hospitalized following a game in august, and had surgery to remove his appendix.  unfortunately, he died due to complications from the surgery on september 15.

in 1956, the orioles former treasurer, howard jones, passed away. the team added black armbands to their uniforms as seen on this getty images photo of tito francona
francona is wearing it on his left sleeve, although i've seen another photo with it on the right.

i found this next photo online at spokeo while searching for a different armband.
that's a picture of the angels' jim fregosi waiting to bat against the yankees in july of 1962.  i couldn't find any information about the armband, but knowing that the angels were playing in dodger stadium (or chavez ravine as the angels referred to it) that season, i took a chance and asked dodger historian mark langill if he had any information regarding the memorial.  he was kind enough to answer my question, noting that angel manager bill rigney's father passed away earlier that month, and it was most likely that the armband was worn in the elder rigney's honor.  langill included a copy of a page from the sporting news that noted rigney had missed the previous series to attend the funeral, but returned in time for the games against the yankees.

in 1964, the houston colt .45's wore a black armband for teammate jim umbricht.  this is a picture of manager nellie fox's jersey showing the armband
and here's a photo of ken johnson pitching with the armband
umbricht had been diagnosed with lymphoma late in 1963 following a season in which he posted a 2.61 era in 35 games.  he passed away in april of 1964, and the team, in addition to the armband, retired umbricht's number 32.

i mentioned earlier that i found the jim fregosi photo from 1962 while looking for a different armband.  the memorial i was searching for was the armband that the angels wore for during the last homestand of the 1978 season in honor of their murdered teammate lyman bostock.  the closest i could come was this photo of the club
recognizing a moment of silence in chicago the day after bostock was killed.

the dodgers played an exhibition series in japan following the 1993 season, and they added a memorial patch to their jerseys for that series.  you can see just the edge of the black rectangular patch on tommy lasordas jersey in this photo
the patch was worn for owner peter o'malley's longtime assistant akihiro 'ike' ikuhara who first joined o'malley in 1965.  ike was 55 when he died from stomach cancer in late 1992.

in 1995, the a's lost their owner walter haas, jr. to prostate cancer, and they wore a circular patch with his initials and a dark green armband on their right sleeves in his memory.  here's a getty images photo of mark mcgwire that shows the patch, but not so much the armband
the armband shows up better on this getty images photo of terry steinbach
haas had been the ceo of levi strauss & company since the late 1950's, and he bought the a's from charlie finley in 1980 in order to keep them in the bay area.

across the bay eight years later, in august of 2003, bobby bonds passed away at the age of 57.  the giants, the team for which bonds had played for the first seven years of his career, added a patch with his initials for the remainder of the season.  here's a getty images photo of bobby's son barry wearing the patch
i met bobby bonds at a hot stove dinner in the late 1970's or early 1980's, and he signed my autograph book for me.  he seemed nice, but the thing i remember most is the crushed velvet shirt he was wearing.

card manufacturers didn't seem to use many photos from blue jays home games in the late 2000's.  unfortunately, that meant that i couldn't find any cards that showed the memorial that the team wore during home games only for their former chairman sam pollock in 2007.  instead, i only have this getty images photo of frank thomas to share
pollock worked for the blue jays from 1995-2000, but was better known for his twenty years as an executive with the montreal canadiens of the nhl. pollock helped to build the habs dynasty from the late 1950's into the 1970's, and has his name engraved on lord stanley's cup twelve times.

also in 2007, the nationals
and red sox,
along with virginia tech alumnus joe saunders of the angels, all wore the virginia tech 'vt' logo (the nationals and saunders wore hats, while the yankees added the logo to their hats, and the red sox put the logo above the red sock patch on their sleeves) in response to the killing of 32 people by a gunman on the university campus on april 16, 2007.  the nats wore the vt hats on april 17 as noted on this 2008 topps year in review card (thanks jeff!),
while the yankees wore the logo on may 23.  joe saunders wore the virgina tech hat during his start on april 20, which is commemorated on his card from the 2008 topps year in review insert set
the red sox also wore the logo on april 20, the same day that they wore another memorial.

the green jerseys and caps that the red sox wore that day (here's another photo featuring david ortiz)
were in honor of the boston celtics' legendary coach and executive red auerbach, who had passed away the previous october.

another one day memorial was worn by the padres in 2011.  they wore their 1984 throwbacks (minus the ray a. kroc memorial) on july 14, and added a memorial patch for their former manager dick williams who had died a week earlier.  here's a photo of heath bell from that game
and here's a better look at the patch which featured williams' initials,
and was not done in the same manner as the kroc memorial - in order to differentiate the two, i would imagine.  williams, of course, led the padres to their first pennant in 1984, and was elected to the hall of fame thanks to his four pennants, two world series titles, and 1,571 career wins as a manager.

in addition to wearing memorial patches for johnny pesky in 2012, the angels sported the stan musial memorial patch in 2013.  here's coach alfredo griffin showing the patch
while the angels had no connection to pesky or musial, former cardinal slugger albert pujols considered stan the man to be a friend and insisted that the team wear the patch during a july series with the cardinals. because they were already wearing a patch for their team doctor, lewis yocum, the angels wore the musial patch only on their batting practice jerseys.

also in 2013, the astros wore a patch honoring the houston fire department and the four firefighters who died during a hotel restaurant fire on may 31.  the astros wore the patch, visible in the getty images photo of jd martinez below
for their june 4-6 series only.

the rangers, meanwhile, wore a 'support west' patch on their right sleeves on july 5 (seen here in this getty images photo of adrian beltre)
to bring attention to aid efforts for the city of west, texas and the families of the 15 people killed by a fertilizer explosion on april 17.

in july of last season, the a's held a 25-year reunion for their 1989 world series championship team.  one member of the team, that year's cy young award winner bob welch, had died at the age of 57 the previous month.  prior to the game, members of the 1989 team each laid a rose on the pitching mound in welch's memory, and the team added a 'bw' patch to their jerseys.  here's a getty images photo of luke gregerson from that july 19 game
and here's a photo of welch's teammates sporting the patch
i am glad that the a's took time to honor welch during this reunion, and i'm glad that welch won his second ring in 1989 instead of 1988.

so far this season, there have been memorials worn for oscar taveras (cardinals), ernie banks (cubs, royals, yankees), minnie minoso (white sox), al rosen (indians), lon simmons (giants), and sara buck (phillies). whether or not they get posted here, i'll certainly be on the lookout for those memorials in this year's update set and next year's offerings, too.

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