My favorite baseball player as a kid was Hank Sauer – left fielder for the (then) hapless Chicago Cubs. I tried – desperately – to get his autograph. My dad would take me to Wrigley Field and I’d gallop down the steps to troll for autographs. I remember one day Hank was walking a few feet away. I screamed at him “Hank! Hank! Mister Sauer!” He looked at me like I was a 9 year old lunatic. And walked on. . . . .
Some years ago, I had an article published which talked about Hank and how I was never able to get his autograph. Someone read the article and sent me a note that Hank was living in Milbrea, California. The address was included. Sooooo, I sent him a letter – including a copy of the article. And I mentioned that I was his biggest fan in the world. A few weeks later, I arrived at my office one morning and there was a package on my desk. In the corner was a return address sticker shaped like a baseball. Between the stitching, it said “Hank Sauer.” My eyes filled with tears and I opened the package. Inside was a large album full of original pictures of Hank (a few signed), original baseball cards and. . . . a priceless handwritten sentiment – “To Scott – my best Chicago fan.”
Hank passed away in August 2001. But I will always relish the fact that I “hit the high note” in my autograph collecting career. It wasn’t a George Washington letter. Or Henry VIII. I got Hank Sauer. . . .