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Can I Have Your Autograph

Can I Have Your Autograph
One of the stories Tommy Lasorda tells has remained with me over the years and I have retold this story a countless number of times on the radio.  “When I was a kid, I was a school patrol boy for the school system in Philadelphia,” said Tommy.  “I knew that every year they picked the best school patrol person and gave them tickets to a baseball game, free of charge.  I wanted to go to a game.  So, I did a great job, rain or shine, protecting the other kids crossing the street, and I won the trip.  We went to Shibe Park, where the visiting team always had to walk a ways down the outside of the park to the visitor’s entrance door.  The kids would stand there and ask for autographs from the visiting players.  I asked this player from the New York Giants for an autograph, and he shoved me aside.  As he turned, I noticed the No. 12 on the back of his jersey.  I looked for his number in the program and found out his name was “Buster” Maynard.  Well, several years later, I was pitching in the Dodger Minor League system with the Montreal team and we were in Atlanta.  I was the starting pitcher and retired the first two batters when I heard the P.A. announcer say over the loud speaker, ‘Now batting, #12, Buster Maynard.’  This is the guy who had shoved me out of the way when I was a kid.  So, with the first pitch, I threw right at his head.  His cap went one way and his body the other, as he hit the dirt.  I threw the next pitch in the same place, and down he went again, only this time I hit him.  Confused, he got up and trotted down to first base.  After the game, I was leaving the park and this guy came up to me outside the locker room, and said, ‘I’m looking for Tommy Lasorda.’  “I said, ‘I’m him, who are you?”  He answered, ‘I’m Buster Maynard.’  He continued, ‘I have been in the Major Leagues for years and there are only two reasons a pitcher would throw at a batter.  Either he hit a home run off of him or he doesn’t like him.  Since I have never seen or heard of you before, I can only assume you don’t like me.  I want to know why?’ “I know you were in the Major Leagues and when I was a kid, you wouldn’t give me an autograph.”  ‘You’re serious, said Maynard,’ and he turned, shook his head in disbelief and walked away.  “Because of that,” Tommy said smiling, “I have always told my players to sign those darn autographs; you never know who they may grow up to be.” 
                                                    Andy Purvis


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