Hank Aaron, Joe Torre and My Mom

(Editor’s note: Bob Coldeen has been a long-distance collector pal of mine for a few years, and I have always appreciated his many stories about how he acquired his autographs as a kid, including but not limited to while serving as spring training bat boy in the 1960s. Enjoy these stories from Bob, one at a time in three installments!-Matt)

On the day the Braves came to Lakeland, Florida to play an exhibition game against the Detroit Tigers, I could not get excused from school. My mom, however, was going to the game.

As a budding, avid baseball card and autograph collector, I asked her if she could try to get Braves autographs for me. I handed her a stack of cards and told her that of all the players, Hank Aaron was the most important.

After school I walked home and waited anxiously for my mom to return from the game, hoping that she had some success.

I met her at the door, excited. “Hi, mom! Were you able to get any autographs?”

“Joe Torre was really mean to me,” she blurted out.

“What?” I had never heard of someone having a negative experience trying to get an autograph of a baseball player.  “What happened?”

My mom said she asked him if he was Hank Aaron and he got really mad.

I couldn’t believe it. “Mom! The pictures of the players are on the cards!”

My mom tried to explain, “Well, I don’t know who the players are. You asked me to get Hank Aaron so that was what I was trying to do.”

After that, I was almost afraid to ask, “Did you get any autographs?”

She reached into her purse and pulled out autographed cards of Hank Aaron, Ed Mathews, Joe Torre, Warren Spahn and half of the team including the manager.  She had done as well as I could have, probably better.