By Justin Evans
Since growing up in Wheelersburg, Ohio the home of Cincinnati Reds scout Gene Bennett, I have pretty much always been a Reds fan. On August 8, 1992 at the age of 8 I attended my very first major league game. Lasting 16 innings the Reds beat the Giants 4-3.
Two years before my first major league game I attended a card/autograph show at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio. They had professional baseball players and scouts that were from the area such as Al Oliver, Larry Hisle, Don Gullett, Johnnie LeMaster, Gene Tenace, Rocky Nelson, Gene Bennett, and Wayne Blackburn.
From that moment on I was hooked onto baseball and collecting autographs. It wasn’t until 20 years later that my autograph collection changed my whole aspect of the game of baseball.
In 2010 I started to write baseball players not necessarily for their autographs but to ask them questions about their life before, during, and after their major league career.
Since then, I have received more than 350 questioners of some of the greatest baseball moments in history. Some players answer my questions with one or two words and others fill the page front and back.
After a couple years of sending out questioners I wanted to share their stories with others. So, I started up a Facebook account where I scanned and posted every letter in my collection. Shortly after that I opened up a Facebook group called baseball autographs where I wanted others to share their autograph successes and stories.
Since then, I have met some of the greatest people out there. Either it being a former player or just a fellow collector, it has been a great experience to get the chance to hear their stories and build a friendship based on baseball.
So, if you ask me what baseball means to me I have to think back to a letter that I received from 1944 Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Barney Mussill.
Barney wrote this simple quote that will stick with me for the rest of my life.
“Baseball Friends Are Forever”