When I was a kid I was a notorious letter writer. These were the days before the proliferation of cable television so forget about e-mail or the Internet. Unless one was making an un-fiber optic and scratchy-sounding, long-distance hard line phone call, the only way to communicate someone not in the same zip or area code was to write a letter.
Everyone got letters from me. Relatives, friends, athletes, writers, etc. Most of these letters were mailed unsolicited and more than 50 percent were to people that could probably be categorized as celebrities. Regardless, almost everybody replied — especially the athletes, who usually sent back autographed photos of themselves and nothing else. I always thought that was odd and a bit presumptuous because I didn’t ask them for an autograph. I guess I was just looking for a pen pal.
But generally speaking, from my experience media people were the worst at answering mail.
Anyway, there was an interesting story on Slate.com today where writer Bryan Curtis, who seemed to share my passion for letter writing, received a response from former Phillies pitcher Don Carman 15 years after it was sent. It seemed as if Carman stashed a bunch of his mail into a box before moving and forgot about it. When cleaning out his garage recently, Carman came across the old box of letters, but rather than simply pushing it to another side of the garage or tossing them out, the old lefty sat down and answered them all.
Meanwhile, I don’t think I’m ever going to get a response from Dave Winfield. However, Mike Schmidt appears to have dictated a letter to a secretary to send to me back in 1983. The same goes for O.J. Simpson, who sent along a 8×12, personalized autographed photo. Larry Bowa never did that, which fits because 20 years later that guy would barely even look at me.