Yesterday, when cleaning out my office I found a treasure. After being lost for at least 10 years, I found my George Brett autographed APBA card. And there’s a pretty cool story that goes with it, too.
In the early 90’s, after I graduated from college and before I could find a job in my field, I made ends meet by working as a custodian at a church here in Urbana. The receptionist at the church was a very nice lady named Jean who also happened to be the mother of Kansas City Royals trainer, Nick Swartz.
Jean would make a couple trips down to KC during the season to visit Nick and had a chance to meet a few of the Royals players. Not only that, she would get periodic updates from Nick over the phone on how the team was doing. Knowing I was a baseball fan, Jean would fill me in on some of the Royals gossip.
I didn’t want to take advantage of my friendship with Jean but I asked her if it would be ok if she would be willing to take something for a player to autograph for me. She, of course, said yes.
George Brett was an obvious choice. Well, he WAS George Brett. It was 1992 and it was pretty established that he was a future Hall of Famer. There’s that.
But it also that he was on my Illowa APBA League team. I had acquired him for his last season in 1993. I thought about giving him my IAL card but opted for a more suitable card befitting Brett’s hitting prowess. I decided on his 1990 card when he hit .329.
So she took the card and was off to Kansas City.
When she came back, she had my APBA card signed. And this is how it went down (told second hand through her son):
When Nick Swartz gave Brett my APBA card, he turned over a few times, looking it over. Then he noticed the nickname that APBA had given him all these years, ‘Mullet’. He said aloud, “That’s not right! My nickname is ‘Lou’! With a black sharpie pen, he proceeded to cross out ‘Mullet’ on my APBA card.
According to his mom, Nick Swartz, who witnessed this, said “Umm, I’m not sure you’re supposed to do that”, probably not knowing exactly what these APBA cards were or how they were used.
“Ehh, it’s okay”, Brett said. And wrote ‘Lou’ next to the crossed out name. He turned it over and signed his name on the back.
Back in Urbana, when Jean asked me about it, I said, “Are you kidding? George Brett adding that little touch makes it that much more valuable to me in my opinion.” I always cherished that card for that reason.
Then a few more years later, when I moved my office down to the basement, I lost track of it and couldn’t find it despite hours of looking (believe me, I moved file cabinets looking for it).
Last night, however, during a cleaning of my office, I looked in a packet of old APBA cards. Lo and behold! There he was! So glad he’s back.
Let’s see, where did I put him again?