Now that I have a new toy to play with I can start posting stuff that I had wanted to feature for a long time.
The Dale Murphy autographed ball was a birthday present from my grandmother last year. Autographed balls sort of became a yearly present from her, and she helped build most of my Braves collection. The first auto ball I ever got was from a card shop down in Conyers. I don't remember the name, or even if they are still in business, but it was a small shop in a strip mall and they had a ton of cheap Braves cards. I would go these once every other week or so and pick up a little pile of Braves. One day they had a Phil Niekro autographed ball for $25 and I snapped it up. This was back in the mid-'90s and I had never seen a ball for sale in a shop that was in my price range before, let alone one of my favorite player. A few years later I got the idea to get autographed balls from every player who had his number retired by the Braves. So my grandmother got me an Eddie Mathews ball for a birthday present, then a Spahn, an Aaron (with a '58 Topps All-Star card thrown in!) and finally this Murphy. A project I have planned for one of these days is to build a custom display to show off all five. I probably need to stretch my carpentry skills quick though, because one the Big Three pitchers decide to hang 'em up there will be a few more numbers displayed at Turner Field.
Dale has a pretty nice looking signature as you can see. The NL MVP 82, 83 is extra cool since he was winning those awards when I first really got into the Braves. Granted, I liked Bob Horner and Phil more than Murph, but every Braves fan was proud of their superstar back then. A couple of years later my grandmother started really getting into the games as well. My grandfather and I would be watching them every night while she sat and read a book, but after a while she ended up as big a fan as us. Her favorite player was Greg Maddux. She knew that when Greg pitched the game would usually not be "lousy", as she called just about every Braves loss whether the score was 1-0 or 12-3. The past few years she watched more games than I did. My goofy work schedule had me listening to most of the games on the radio or following on GameCenter over the net while she was glued to the TV almost every game night. West coast trips were a pain in the butt, but she would sometimes stay up till midnight watching them. We'd usually talk about the games the day after the late nights where I got to watch the game on TV.
Ah, the shiny serial numbered sticker that proves this is a real ball with a real sticker. None of my other baseballs have one of these, although I do have a COA for most of the others. I forgot to ask for one for the Spahn, so now it's obviously fake to everyone else but me. The season is over and there's not much to talk about the Braves anymore. I recently talked with her about Chipper's batting title and the fact that Hampton is finally off the books and that we might be able to spend some of that money on someone good now. It's a long offseason with no baseball though. Baseball will be back next spring, and until then I have these autos to remember the good times watching the games with her.