Memory Ball Quest
My in-laws dropped by for an extended visit, which gave me a chance to talk in-depth with my 79-year old Father-in-law, Don Sponholz. Now, Don lost his biological Father at age three , and so was raised by his Mother, Grandmother and aunt/uncle…that is, until Chicago White Sox trainer “Packy” Schwartz came into his life by marrying a girl he had dated in his youth—Don’s Mom.
Don was large for his age…and a good ball-player ( first base )….and Packy was the White Sox trainer….so, one really neat result for this high school ball-player was to actually suit up in a Chicago White Sox uniform and take batting and fielding practice with them during parts of the 1947, 1948 and 1949 seasons…awesome for a teenager!
Talk about memories! A few that came from Don as he looked back over the team rosters that I found on the internet were:
Frank Papish: Who could really “neigh” like a horse
Dave Philly: Whose remedy for “jock itch” was pouring 100% alcohol on his
Rudy York: Who was a big American Indian and played first base
Bob Kennedy: Who has a nicknamed “cannon arm”
Luke Appling: Who was really a terribly nice guy…..unless he got upset with
management, in which case he would purposely foul off dozens of
balls to cost them money.
Gus Zernial : Who was a “gentleman’s gentleman”…but often told Packy he would
hate to meet his kid ( Don ) in an alley ( like I said, Don was big for
his age )
As Don explained it to me, after practice, all the players walked back to the showers/locker room through an area where fans could ask players to sign baseballs, etc. Well, Don was in a White Sox uniform, and big for his age, and was asked for his autograph…so on about 10-12 occasions that he can remember, he signed balls for fans. More than likely, other players signed the same ball…or his signature could be solo; no way of knowing.
So, my quest is simple: what better present to give this gentle, intelligent man than a “memory ball” from what had to be some of the happier times of his young life? If anyone out there knows of a “Don Sponholz” baseball ( single or paired with other White Sox players ), please let me know…and help complete a lasting memory for this 79-year old Navy veteran and Father of five.
Last edited by Murph; 12-15-2012 at 08:32 AM.
Unfortunately, Murph, my guess would be that 60+ years on, few, if any, of those signed baseballs are still in existence. Keep in mind that with only around a dozen to begin with, the chances are that they may have been used by kids, may have been discarded, may have been destroyed by bugs, pets, water damage, etc. over time. It's a great thought and a noble cause, but my guess is that your quest may be in vain.
Yep, I know in my head that you are probably right....but my heart still wants to keep trying to find one.