Monday, June 27, 2016

Questionnaires from 1945 Filled out by Walter Alston and Pee Wee Reese

A couple weeks back I highlighted a questionnaire filled out by Steve Garvey in 1970 (Link Here) for legendary Baseball biographer/statistician William J. Weiss.  Since the 1940's Weiss had been in contact with just about every professional ballplayer in the game, and used the information he gathered to put together sketchbooks filled with data on both minor and major league ballplayers.  Along with the Garvey I previously highlighted, Hunt Auction also has completed questionnaires from the Weiss collection of a couple other Dodgers players: Walter Alston and Pee Wee Reese.  Check those out in this post.
Featured on the right is the questionnaire filled out by Dodgers Hall of Fame manager Walter Alston in February 1945 (Auction Link Here).  Click on the pic to embiggen.

At the time, Alston had just become a player-manager the season prior for the Trenton Packers - a minor league affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers.  Although he would still play on the field for a few more years it would become obvious that his future role in the game would be as the skipper.  In the questionnaire above he recounts an interesting Baseball experience with Branch Rickey related to his second year of professional ball in 1936 and as a rookie player-manager four years later.  He writes: 
My second year of pro ball was highlighted one day when Mr. Rickey came to look us over.  I struck out the first five times at bat but won the ball game in the 10th inning with a home run.  I felt pretty disgusted even after hitting the home run until he (Mr. Rickey) complemented me for not giving up.

My experience as a manager began in 1940 with Portsmouth, Ohio.  The team had been going poorly and I was made manager about the middle of the season.  My first day as manager was a doubleheader with the rival team, Dayton.  We won both games and my five hits and eight trips helped - 2 (SP?) home runs.
Below is the questionnaire filled out by infielder Pee Wee Reese in December of 1945 (Auction Link Here)  At the time Pee Wee had just missed his third straight season due to his service in the US Navy during WWII, and was in preparation for returning to the game.  When asked about his most interesting or unusual experience in the armed forces he wrote the following on the questionnaire:
Most interesting day -- the day that I was discharged.

UPDATE:  I just ran into an older article that focuses on the work of William J. Weiss.  Check it out.  Via Graham Womack at Sports on Earth; "Race Against Time."
It started with a small office. When that office was full, six years after he moved in, Bill Weiss constructed a back office. Then he filled his basement, another office, his front porch, his garage and, eventually, an annex he built to his house. By the time of his death at 86 on August 16, 2011, nearly every corner of Weiss's San Mateo, California home was filled with his life's work: baseball history. A statistician and official scorekeeper for several minor leagues, Weiss spent close to 70 years accumulating historical material, rarely throwing anything away. His wish and the sizable task he left five friends he appointed to a board of trustees? Preserving his collection.
From what I understand, all proceeds from the sale of these questionnaires will go to an effort to digitize the entire collection of over 125,000 questionnaires available for all, through the San Diego Baseball Research Center.

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* Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *

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