The first of what will be thousands of hand-written questionnaires filled out by Major League Baseball players decades ago are about to be sold at auction, with proceeds aimed at making them accessible online for baseball fans around the world.
The questionnaires were in the archives of Bill Weiss, a baseball historian who accumulated about 125,000 of them before his death in 2011. Hunt Auctions is presenting the first 23 of them, many from Hall of Famers, at the upcoming All-Star FanFest Auction in San Diego.
The one-of-a-kind documents are mini biographies of the players. Many were filled out just after the players were drafted as teenagers, including George Brett, Gary Carter, Ron Santo and Billy Williams. Brett was just 18 at the time and had been drafted by the Royals only a month earlier. In it, he writes of his ambition to work in baseball “his whole life as an occupation.”
Others were filled out while the players were in the minor leagues or early in their major league careers and include those from Harmon Killebrew in 1958, Pee Wee Reese, Ralph Kiner, Walter Alston and George Kell in 1945, Bobby Doerr in 1946, Minnie Minoso in 1948, Gaylord Perry in 1959, Bert Blyleven in 1969, Ozzie Smith in 1978 and Steve Carlton in 1966. Killebrew wrote that his desire was to play in the majors “for ten years”. He played for 20.
The one-page documents were used by Weiss to create baseball guides he published for teams and leagues beginning in 1947. Graham Womack wrote about Weiss’ massive archive of baseball information in a story for Sports on Earth in 2014. Weiss had also worked as a statistician and scorekeeper in the minor leagues, spending nearly 70 years collecting information, publications and other materials. He saved virtually everything.
The players were asked to answer questions about their height, weight, baseball experience, nationality, hobbies, baseball thrills and experiences to date and their long-term goals. Some were more expansive than others. The late Gary Carter, who went on to a Hall of Fame career as a catcher, mentioned collecting baseball cards, stamps and coins among his hobbies in his 1971 answers. Carter also mentioned “hitting three homers in Little League All-Stars” as one of his accomplishments as a youngster.
The work to preserve Weiss’ collection in digital fashion through the San Diego Baseball Research Center is underway, but the project will require a huge commitment. Hunt Auctions is turning over the net proceeds from the questionnaires toward the work that will make that happen. The upcoming auction is the first of several over the next six months that will feature the handwritten questionnaires.
Pre-sale estimates range from $200-$1,000 for each of those in the first batch, which is currently open for bidding at HuntAuctions.com.