Sid Bream spent over a decade in the big leagues, playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros.
He played in two World Series during his time with Atlanta and is best known for ‘The Slide’ in game seven of the 1992 National League Championship Series, where he scored the game winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning against his former team to send the Braves to their second straight World Series.
Now a corporate chaplain living in Pittsburgh, he turned 60 years old on Monday. He’s still got a great sense of humor which was on display as we talked about collecting cards as a kid, seeing himself on a card for the first time, Greg Maddux’s funky signature, the uptick in his autograph requests through the mail and his personal memorabilia collection.
TR–Do you remember the very first time you were asked for your autograph?
SB-I can’t say I remember the very first time but I can remember the first time I signed a card. I remember thinking ‘Oh my goodness. Are you ugly or what?’ I was at spring training and somebody brought the card out. My first cards were from Albuquerque when I was playing in Triple A. I had cards out and I had the opportunity to sign some of those cards before we got into my rookie cards with the Dodgers. I do remember signing it and wondering why they couldn’t get a better side of me.
(Editor’s Note: he was also in the 1982 Vero Beach Dodgers set in AA ball).
It was a special thing. I grew up collecting baseball cards. I would get them for the bubble gum that was in the packs and I would put the cards on my bike spokes to hear the clatter. Who knows who I went through? Probably Mickey Mantle and maybe even Babe Ruth, as old as I am. To think that I was on card really brought a lot of joy.
TR–Did you manage to hold on to any of your own cards over the years?
SB-I did. It’s probably not the best place for them but I have most of those old sets up in my attic. I have them sitting up there. It’s funny, when I was playing the game, my kids had the Nolan Ryan, the Ken Griffey, Jr. and the Barry Bonds cards. They never ever asked to get them signed until after I was out of the game of baseball. Then they said ‘Dad can you get this card signed? I said ‘Why didn’t you ask me that when I was playing? It would have been a whole lot easier.’ We have managed to get some of those cards signed over the years.
TR–Sometimes it seems as though players today don’t care to sign or don’t take pride in their signature. Have player’s signatures gotten worse over the years?
SB-If you ever saw Greg Maddux’s signature, which I’m sure you have, you would say what in the heck is this? I called down to the Braves because they always have a stockpile of signed balls. I asked if they could send me up a dozen of Greg Maddux’s signed baseballs. I had some charities that I was dealing with. Well, I didn’t receive them.
I reached out to Greg himself and asked if I sent out a dozen balls would he sign them for me. He said sure. I sent the balls out and in the process I got a dozen balls in the mail from the Braves. I look at the signature and thought ‘Who the heck is this’ They usually have the name on the top of the box to tell me what was going on. I wondered who they sent me.
Then Greg sent the balls back to me that he signed for me. Sure enough, it was the same signature. I’m thinking ‘Maddux, can’t you do a little better than that?’ You wouldn’t in your wildest dreams be able to figure out that it was Greg Maddux’s signature.
TR–Players signing for fans through the mail is a fun, longstanding tradition in the hobby. With the current technology and information sharing, it seems that this part of the hobby is growing. Do you sign for fans through the mail?
SB-Right now I am probably getting just as much mail as I did when I was playing. What it has allowed me to do is raise a lot of money for charities. I ask for a dollar donation for every card. All of that goes to charity. Over the years, I have been able to do quite a few thousand dollars for charity. That has been nice.
Lately, a lot of the reruns of old games are playing and in that time frame I have really seen an uptick in the mail because people are watching those games. All of a sudden they are going through their cards and think ‘Hey let me send a card to Sid Bream.’ That has been neat other than the fact that it takes me some time to go ahead and sit down and sign those cards. It’s a fun thing. It is amazing. If someone sends me a card without the donation in it I go ahead and send them back a piece of paper saying what I require. If they send it back, they send it back. If they don’t it’s no big deal. For my time, all of this money is going to charity. It has been a good thing. It has allowed the fans to bless a lot of charities thorough me and it’s been an honor to do it and I’m glad to be a part of it.
TR–Do you have an office or room where you have your memorabilia displayed?
SB-I have two places. I have the basement downstairs that has pictures and posters of us winning over the years. I have my World Series jerseys framed. I have some of the pictures with the Pirates. I have a picture of the slide. Up in my office, I have a bunch of World Series baseballs. I have my first home run that I hit off Mike Krukow. I have the home run ball I hit off Nolan Ryan. I have a couple of places that I collect those things and they are just nice pieces to commemorate those great times.