Friday, May 25, 2012

Unpossible Autograph Friday- Jim McDonald- Oriole #54

Today's player is one of the stranger "unpossible" autograph situations that I have run across during my time collecting Orioles' autographs. I just read about Jim's passing this week, but the thing is that he died in 2004, and no one in the baseball community seems to have known about it until recently. Both his and pages added information about his passing in recent months, and a fellow collector pointed it out just this week on SCN, which is what grabbed my attention. Before his passing came to light, I had just figured that he didn't like signing TTM requests, and by all accounts I've come across, it doesn't sound like he was a great signer even during his "actual" lifetime.

I guess that Jim had kind of fallen off the baseball map, because in this age of the internet, it's pretty hard for a former MLB player to pass away without someone knowing about it. Normally, player deaths are widely known within a matter of hours, or at least days, but for eight years to pass is unheard of, at least in my experiences. I've heard of some players, like fellow Oriole John Anderson, who have left the country and more or less disappeared, whether intentionally or otherwise, but all accounts seem to indicate that Jim stayed in the US.

Jim pitched in the Majors for parts of nine seasons from 1950-58 for the Yankees, White Sox, Orioles, Browns, and Red Sox and had a career record of 24-27 with a 4.27 ERA over 136 games. He made his Orioles debut on April 17, 1955 and became the 54th player to appear in a game with the O's. His career highlight likely was that he was a member of the 1953 World Champion Yankees, and his being a member of a Yankees Championship team makes his unnoticed passing even stranger.

I picked up this signed 1955 Bowman "Orioles" card a few years back. He is clearly wearing the Yankees pinstriped jersey in the picture on the card, but he was "photoshopped" into an Orioles cap and this is widely considered an Orioles card, so it works for my collection. He was definitively pictured as an Oriole on his Crown card, but I have only ever seen one signed copy of that.

RIP Jim, sorry if this post is about eight years overdue.

To briefly explain the misspelled/made up title of these weekly posts: Every Friday, I profile a former Oriole who has passed away. I've substituted the word unpossible for impossible as an homage to a line from "The Simpsons". Young Ralph Wiggum, who is as sharp as a bowling ball, says "Me fail English? That's unpossible."


Matthew said...

Wow, what a job they did on that "Orioles" cap. The bird is nearly vertical from tail to beak. At first I couldn't even tell what it was. It looks a little like an orange lightning bolt if you're not looking at it close up.

Orioles Magic said...

Very true Matthew, I guess our technology has improved just a little bit over the years!