We have kind of a cool cover story by Ross Forman in the Jan. 30 issue of SCD, essentially an interview with Amos Otis, a pretty fair country ballplayer back in the 1970s and early 1980s.
I had always like Otis, a solid hitter and great base stealer who had been a member of my beloved Mets before being traded to the Kansas City Royals after the 1969 season. In what looked like a bum deal for Otis, things turned out just fine; he was a standout on those great Royals clubs throughout the 1970s (and 1980 AL Champs).
I was most intrigued by an item in Forman’s story where Otis talked about his feelings about signing autographs, and more importantly, his own efforts at getting some things signed from other former players as he attends autograph shows and reunions around the country.
This direct from the article: One of his prized pieces is a signed item featuring cast members from “The Andy Griffith Show,” including Gomer Pyle. He also has multiple baseballs signed by Hall of Famers, plus footballs signed by Johnny Unitas and Dan Marino, among others. Otis’ collection also includes autographs from Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Muhammad Ali.
“I enjoy collecting,” he said.
His wish-list includes autographs from some of the present-day players, “who I know for sure will be in the Hall of Fame, such as Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez and Derek Jeter,” he said. “If I get their autographs now, I don’t have to worry about trying to get them later on.”
And, Otis added: “What I normally do is, I ask those future Hall of Famers to put HOF on the ball when they sign it, along with their name, and then the year they go in, I’ll just put the year on it myself. I haven’t come across anyone who wouldn’t do it, but the one guy who was a little skeptical was Lee Smith. He finally did it for me.”
As you might expect, that was the part I found fascinating, since Smith wound up with about 45 percent of the vote announced on Monday, a number that – after seven year’s on the BBWAA ballot – makes eventual enshrinement more than a little iffy and his skepticism well founded.
Over the years, I can remember hearing stories about players viewing that maneuver about prematurely signing “HOF” with great superstitious trepidation. Reggie Jackson is one who comes to mind, an interesting observation for a pretty clear first-ballot guy, to say nothing of a guy on the fence.
I’d be interested to hear readers’ recollections concerning this particular superstition.