Sep 2, 2010

Card Spotlight: Jimmie Reese 1991 Studio

Can you believe it's September already? For this baseball season, there's 'one month only, one month only' until dreams can come true or be shattered. This man, Jimmie Reese, saw his fair share of September fairy tale endings and tumbles into despair.

He was there at the beginning (ok, well he was born in 1901) He was rumored to be a batboy of the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League (PCL) in 1917-1923, serving in the second Wrigley Field. He was there at one of the ends, giving his life to baseball for 77 years, when he died one month before the strike of 1994. In between, he was a part of the ups and downs that a baseball season could bring.

As a backup infielder (mostly second baseman), for many teams in the PCL (mostly the Oakland Oaks), he contributed to winning squads with slick fielding and timely hitting. He just missed the joys of winning the World Series by one year in either direction during his career. He was on the Yankees in 1930-1931 (they won in 1932) and the Cardinals in 1932 (they won in 1931). Even so, he got to experience baseball on the highest level and performed admirably. He was the roommate of Babe Ruth, famously saying, "I roomed with Ruth's suitcase."

After finishing his playing career, he was in the army and then he scouted and coached at various locations. He finally found his calling at the age of 71 when he was hired by the Angels in 1972 as a fitness coach. He became a mainstay of the fungo art, seemingly able to hit the ball wherever he wanted it to go. Every player would be conditioned by Coach Reese.

September is a story about generations. For the first time, fresh-faced prospects peek out into the major league world and are both excited and nervous by what they see. Maybe they can make history with a home run or strikeout in their first appearance. Maybe they contribute to a winning team or lay the foundation for a rebuilding team. Either way, they must learn from those who were there before: players, managers, and coaches to get a handle of the game.

Jimmie Reese's memory stretched back to the time of Babe Ruth and Connie Mack. Imagine the baseball wisdom he passed on. The ball's for you next kid!

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