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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Small-Town Heroes: Cards and Autographs

Small-Town Heroes:
Part 1: Cool Connections | Part 2: I Was There
Part 3: Cards and Autographs
In Hank Davis' Small-Town Heroes, he described a scene from his 1995 visit to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to see the Kernels. The scene is in the clubhouse, with the general manager going around to the players, confirming information.

The information the GM is confirming is the particulars for their baseball cards that year. The main card companies weren't printing sets that year, so teams had to do it themselves. The GM took around proofs of the cards.

Davis had just spoken to Kernel John Donati. Donati didn't like to look at his stats. Now, he was looking at a proof of his card.

"Donati tries to look businesslike as he surveys the front and back of his card," Davis wrote, "but a smile is creeping across his face."

I point that out, not only because it brings this back to baseball cards, the big companies had stopped making team sets that year.

But, I bring it up because I have that card, autographed later that summer, along with 21 other cards in the team set.

That's it right there. Maybe Donati was smiling because he was emulating the his photo on the card.

Speaking of Donati, I also got his Fleer Excel card autographed. I had to have gotten it autographed at a different time, the pens used are different.

Donati played in Cedar Rapids that one year in 1995. He ended up playing eight seasons professionally, never getting higher than high-A.

Davis also mentions other players. Jason Dickson, Nick Skuse and Aaron Iatarola.

Aaron Iatarola. Also has a nice view of old Veteran's Memorial Stadium.

Nick Skuse

Jason Dickson

Davis also writes about snapping a picture of a player on the visiting Quad City River Bandits holding a thermometer. It was hot that day and the thermometer showed the temperature at the mound.

Here's the guy who held that thermometer for Davis: Tony Shaver.

It's Shaver's 1995 team set card, signed the next month in August, on a trip to Quad City's home in Davenport, Ia.

Small-Town Heroes:
Part 1: Cool Connections | Part 2: I Was There
Part 3: Cards and Autographs


  1. Very cool how you tied the book, the cards, and your personal experience with them together!

  2. I covered a minor league team for a whole season one of my first years in journalism. Late in the season, they handed out cards of the team. I was always disappointed that I wasn't there when they took the photos for the cards. That would have interesting, and worth writing about.

  3. I loved getting to see players' reactions when they see one of their baseball cards for the first time.

  4. I obviously always thought it would be cool to be there, too, NightOwl, especially in the background. I just took another look at the background of that Iatarola card again. I'm sure I've looked at it before. Still not in there.
    And that's really got to be a cool to get your own card, a validation of everything you've been working for and are working toward.