Last weekend marked the last Plano Card Show at the Southfork Hotel and we were a little part of history, too, as it was the last event ever held at the facility. Frankly, it was kind of bittersweet for me as the catering manager and overnight clerk made a point to come by and give me a big hug. They loved having us and we certainly enjoyed their hospitality. That type of relationship is invaluable when you’re promoting a local show. The show was a success with more than 50 tables occupied. In addition, for the first time we had two autograph guests signing simultaneously and both of our guests were tremendous with the fans who came to see them.
Joe Bob Isbell is a card collector himself who played with the Cowboys in the early 1960’s while Wally Moon played with many future Hall of Famers as a Cardinal and Dodger star during the 1950s and 60s.
It was amazing to learn that a collision with Jackie Robinson permanently damaged Wally’s hand. Frankly, in 2015, it’s tremendous to hear about first person stories about a great time in baseball history (you can read about it in his book, which you can order from Wally’s website).
The funniest part for me was when I checked to see if he needed anything he asked me if I had met his granddaughter and her young man. Well, I realized that I had seen them before–when I charged them their admission at the door without realizing who they were. A little embarrassed, I did immediately give them back their admission. They laughed and said “Well, it was only a $1 each, so no big deal.”
With all of that going on, I did not get to chat much with collectors but one of my favorite customers who has given us plenty of good ideas for this column came up with a new one. This will be far from complete, but here are some great examples of how the name may not remain the same. The nice man pulled out a 1969 card of “Woodie” Held. The spelling of his nickname had usually been “Woody”. Yes, Topps and Post were not always sure to call him Woodie or Woody.
But this issue had been going on for quite a while. In the 1940s and 50s there was pitcher named George “Red” Munger. And I swear it appears there was a dead even split whether the card companies called him George or Red each year. I vividly remember spending a good 20-30 minutes back in my Beckett days trying to sort out how to name him and to ensure all the cards were properly linked to him. Now, I may have been one of about five people who truly cared but I felt such accomplishment at sorting out those cards. In 1965, we had a “Hawk” Taylor card. Funny since Hawk had cards all the way back to 1958 using given his name of Bob.
But George Munger was not the only George to have a name change. Hall of Fame manager Sparky Anderson was called George on his earliest Topps cards as a player. Keeping the given name of George just wasn’t very popular back in the day. It’s funny to imagine if Babe Ruth, Tom Seaver and Ken Griffey Sr. had gone by their given names throughout their careers.
Topps sometimes opted to go with nicknames even when most fans still referred to the players by their real names. Remember when Tim Raines became “Rock” and Dwight Gooden became “Doc”?
Have a favorite name change story? I’d love to hear it.