Sunday, June 12, 2011
1959 Topps, Lee Tate
#544 Lee Tate
Here is a card that I got signed through the mail last month. The reason that I went through the trouble of buying a card of Lee Tate and sending it to him is because Lee is the only person that I could find that played professional ball in my hometown, has a card of himself, and signs through the mail.
In 1952, Lee was the second baseman for the Salina Blue Jays. The Jays were in the Western Association and were affiliated with the Phillies. I really do not know much about the professional teams that played here in the '40s and '50s, so I sent along some questions with my card that Mr. Tate was nice enough to answer for me.
When I asked him if he had any fond memories (good or bad) of his time in Salina, he replied-
"I liked Salina
The bugs were plenty
It was hot"
When I asked how the pro ballplayers were treated by the locals, he said-
"We were treated real good"
I then asked him if there was anything that he liked or disliked about the ballpark in Salina and he said-
"I was young and it was a ball park to play in"
The last question I asked was what was his favorite memory from his playing career at any level and he wrote-
"Playing in the Major Leagues
Taking 2 month trip with the Cardinals to Hawaii and Japan"
So, I didn't learn as much about about pro ball in Salina as I had hoped when I decided to do this, but it is still cool that I have an autographed card of guy that played here professionally.
Lee played in 51 games with the Cardinals in 1958 and '59. He hit just .165 in that stretch, but he did drive in five runs and hit one home run.
I love the inscription that Lee included on the card. "To Zach, Wishing you the best, always, Lee Tate, '58 & '59 Cardinals" That is pretty cool.
Here are a couple of pictures of the old ballpark. Both of these were found at a local BBQ restaurant. It is a pretty unique layout and if you look close enough, you can see that some light poles are actually in play. Today, the grandstand is still standing and the site hosts rodeos, monster trucks, and demolition derbies. But, for me, it is always fun to attend one of those events and think that "if I were here right now in 1950, I might be watching Mickey Mantle play".
This card is of the black numbered variety and it set me back six dollars.
As for the CWS contest, North Carolina and Vanderbilt have advanced to Omaha. There should be a few more teams that punch their ticket today and then we will know them all by tomorrow night (barring any inclement weather).