SI Vault
September 16, 1996
I could feel myself sitting in the stands as Al Simmons crossed the plate to win the 1929 Series.MARK ZELEZNY, COLUMBUS, OHIO
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September 16, 1996


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I could feel myself sitting in the stands as Al Simmons crossed the plate to win the 1929 Series.

The 1929 Athletics
William Nack's article about the 1929 Philadelphia A's (Lost in History, Aug. 19) showed your readers what once was—and still is—great about baseball. Carmen Cangelosi's quote best summarized the force the game had over people then and to a great extent what baseball should strive to recapture: "You felt good about yourself, about your city, about everyone around you."

What a surprise to see my great-uncle on your Aug. 19 cover. Al Simmons, a.k.a. Aloysius Harry Szymanski, was my grandpa Anthony Szymanski's brother. I grew up hearing all about the A's and Al from Grandpa. I wish Grandpa were here to enjoy this too. My grandpa used to tell me that during the Depression, he chose a year-round job with the Milwaukee fire department at $100 a month over baseball at $150 a month for six months of the year. After he died, we found press clippings he had saved saying that he would be joining his brother Al in the big leagues if he kept playing the way he was, and we found an unsigned Class D contract—equivalent to Class A these days, I've been told.
STEVEN G. SZYMANSKI, Stevens Point, Wis.

My father's third cousin is Edie Madjeski, who was the third-string catcher for the A's around that time. When my father was in his early teens, he went by train from Utica to Syracuse to see his cousin in an exhibition game in upstate New York. During warmups Edie tossed Dad a couple of practice balls and sent him off to a man in a black overcoat for an autograph. Connie Mack signed it on the spot. Dad continued to wander around collecting autographs on the first ball until he had Jimmie Foxx and three other names that I now can't make out on it. The other ball has autographs by Max Bishop, Foxx, Lefty Grove, George (Mule) Haas, Madjeski, Bing Miller and Al Simmons.

My father first gave me these two balls when I was five years old but repossessed them when he saw me heading out to play with them. The next time he gave them to me, three years before he passed away, I had a little better appreciation for their place in history. Your article brought them to life. Thank you.

As a 16-year-old in 1929 and an avid baseball fan and player, I vividly remember sitting on the front-porch steps of a neighbor's house and listening to the 1929 World Series. (We could not afford a radio of our own.)

I have always been a Yankees fan, having seen Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig et al. in their primes, but never have I seen a more talented team than those great A's of Connie Mack's. Their pitching staff—Lefty Grove, Rube Walberg, George Earnshaw and Howard Ehmke—was tops in my mind, and they pitched on a four-day rotation, not a five-day as today's pampered pitchers do.
FRANK J. MAROLICH, Hayden, Idaho

One thing "lost in history" is the small-town atmosphere that surrounded even the great teams in the Depression era. When my father was eight, he and a friend arrived at (or sneaked into) Shibe Park early to capture foul balls during batting practice. After they had eight or nine, an usher appeared and confiscated the balls.

When my great-grandfather arrived at the ballpark—he was attending that day's game with his grandson—both boys were crying over their loss, and he took them to the front office to protest. Naturally (remember, this was 1930), they were let into Mr. Mack's office to plead their case. Sympathetic, but with an eye to the bottom line, the great owner wouldn't allow them to have the balls, but he personally took them down to the dugout, where all the players on that A's team signed a ball for each of them.
FRANK M. UNDERKUFFLER, Farmington, Maine

After reading the article, I called my 73-year-old father in Detroit. He remembers that A's club. We spoke at length about it and about the Tigers of 1934 and '35, whom he loved as a kid. I never knew my dad was such a fan. This story brought an already close bond between father and son to a higher plane. Man, I enjoyed that talk with my dad.
ED HATHAWAY, Livonia, N.Y.

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