Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Autograph Man

There's a funny article on about a pitcher who's catching up on his fan mail this off-season -- 15 years late. The author of the article is one of many people who contacted the pitcher, Don Carman, when he was a little kid and was surprised to hear from him so long after the fact.
As it turns out, I am not Carman's only recent correspondent. In October, a Philadelphia TV station reported that Doug Ferraro, 23, received an autographed card from Carman in response to a letter that he had mailed out 16 years before. This was now a legitimate mystery, so I called Carman in Florida to find out what happened.

"My wife told me it was time to clean the garage," Carman said. "So, I started digging through the stuff and found a box behind my tools. I opened it up and saw it was a bunch of fan mail, 200 to 250 letters." For Carman, this was a slight embarrassment. During his career, Carman had worked diligently to sign and return every one of the two or three letters he received each day. Judging from the date of Ferraro's card and the price of my stamp, he must have gotten our batch of letters some time in 1991, the year he left the Phillies for the Cincinnati Reds. "That year was the year I moved; I got a different house," he said. "I even remember putting them in the box, because it was unusual for me to do that. I thought I'd watch a football game and leisurely do them. It never got done."

Carman could hardly bear to throw the letters away. But at age 47, he didn't have the enthusiasm to pick through them, either. So he paid his son Jackson, who is 8 years old, $4 to open and sort them. Then they sat down together, with Jackson, who never saw his father play, marveling at the rapturous odes inside. ("Dear Mr. Carman: You are my favorite baseball player. … ") At first content with merely signing the cards, Carman got caught up in the spirit and started writing notes to the now-grown kids. He lugged the envelopes down to the Naples post office, where he discovered that most of them included 25-cent stamps. "I told the postman I needed 250 10-cent stamps, and 250 4-cent stamps, and he just looked at me like, 'What are you doing?' "


Luke Cage said...

Noooo friggin' way!!! Now I've heard it all.. got admire the guy's persistence to return and write back every fan mail letter he received. Kudos to him for that, but dammmn!

Lt. Cmdr Oneida said...

I think it's sweet he did that, most people would have just thrown them away

Michelle Pessoa said...

It's a nice story. Obviously he knows he wasn't a great or memorable player, so having people writing to him must've meant something.