Future Hall of Famer: Goose Gossage
Goose Gossage was an increadible pitcher for the New York Yankees. He is probably most famous here in Kansas City for giving up a homerun to George Brett. I wrote to Mr. Gossage and got this great letter back. My guess is that he will soon be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
To: Mr. Kelsey’s Fifth grade class,
Work hard at all you do. You will be rewarded for all of your hard work. We think good things, and good things happen. We thingk bad things and bad things happen, it’s that simple.
Art Howe was the long time manager of the Houston Astros. I wrote to him to ask him to sign a baseball card for me. (My wife and I are trying to collect the entire 792 card set of 2004 Topps and get them all autographed. So far we have over 200) Mr. Howe signed my card and wrote a short not to the students.
Get your education!!
Another project that I am working on is to get the autographs of everyone that was on the 1985 Royals team. That was the year they won the World Series. So far, I have a baseball signed by a big chunk of the team as well as baseball cards signed by two of them that have since passed away (Dan Quisnberry, and Dick Howser). I wrote to Pat Sheridan who was an outfielder for the Royals during that time. He signed my baseball cards and also sent a great letter. It reads:
Dear 5th grade,
The most important thing that could say would be hapy and thankful for what you have and strive to be the best you can be. Try to make a difference in someone’s life. Finish school and thank God for every day.
Thanks, Good Luck
Carl Erskin was a great pitcher with the Los Angeles Dodgers. When I wrote to him back in 2001 he not only sent a great letter but several signed baseball cards of his own. In his letter he says:
Hello Martin and hello 5th graders –
You have been in the minor leagues so far in school – now you’re getting close to moving up to a higher classification – middle school then on to the high school – That’s the same way I went through baseball to get to the Dodgers.
Learn the fundamentals well – reading especially. When I got to the big league I found out the best players did all the little things very well – made few mistakes that cost a win.
Personally as a pitcher I had to make a decision on every pitche – making good discisions is alwo what you must do. Then just like a pitcher you must have good control – when you lose control (go with a bad crowd) you usually lose. Be a winner.
It is fairly rare to get a letter from a current major league baseball player. I wrote to Michael Cuddyer during spring training a couple of years ago and got a nice little letter back (and a couple of signed baseball cards). The letter says, “Play hard & dream big!”
A couple of years ago my class wrote letters to baseball players as part of a big baseball unit that I taught. As a class we decided to write to Tom House. Mr. House had a very interesting career and is still very active in sports medicine. He was a very good major league pitcher and he was the guy that caught Hank Aaron’s 715th homerun. He was in the bullpen and when Hank hit the homerun it came right to Tom House. He later went on to become a pitching coach and worked with Nolan Ryan. In his letter he says:
Mr. Kelsey :
Thanks for the letter! It’s nice to know someone remembers me . . .
To answer your questions:
#1 My toughest hitter in the national league was Steve Garvey. In the American League it was Thurmon Munson.
#2 Catching Hank Aaron’s #715 was the most exciting part of my major league career. It got me in the Hall of Fame, Trivial Pursuit (the board game) and in many baseball books and readers.
#3 My hero when I was a 5th grader was (and still is) Sandy Koufax, a pitcher with the Dodgers.
Finally, if you have access to a computer check out my website http://www.tomhouse.com/ . There’s some neat stuff on it.
Good Luck –
Jim Bouton had a successful major league career with the New York Yankees and went on to write several baseball books, including “Ball Four.” He also helped invent the chewing gum Big League Chew. Mr. Bouton sent a very interesting letter, especially in response to me asking him what advice he would give to students. He said, “Do not look up to other people. In most cases they are not heros* They are simply people who have mastered a particular skill *some of them can’t even spell.” I thought it was really interesting that he made a spelling mistake and caught it and pointed it out.
Preacher Roe was an outstanding pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers. From his letter it sounds like he is uncomfortable giving advice but he has some good things to say.
To Martin Kelsey
I am not very good at these things. I would say live a good clean life. Try to find a goal for what you want to do and try hard and be sure you learn how to say no.
Best wishes to you and all your students.
I have gotten a chance to meet Mike Sweeney on several occasions, usually late at night after a Royals game. He almost always comes out and sign autographs. One night I had an 8X10 picture of him that I asked him to sign to students. He immediately took the time to ask me questions about my class and thank me for being a teacher. He signed the picture, “To Kelsey’s Class Never lose sight of your dreams! God’s many blessings. Mike Sweeney”
Former major league shortstop and general manager Dal Maxvill sent a great letter where he laid out what he would tell students in 5 points. He says:
I would ell your 5th grade students to:
1. Stay in school – make plans for college
2. Stay away from drugs – only “losers” do drugs
3. Get involved in sports and other school functions
4. Listen to your teachers – they are your “roadmap” to a bright future
5. Communicate with your parents – they are the best friends you will ever have.
My best wishes and good luck to all of you – enjoy life!