MEMPHIS — Avron Fogelman has led a distinguished life as a civic leader, philanthropist and overall “baseball man” — a real mentsch. During more than three decades, the former owner of the Kansas City Royals also built a phenomenal personal memorabilia collection that’s been well documented by the media, including Sweet Spot.
But Fogelman, a real estate developer, has developed a 221-page, thesis-sized catalog of his collection. It is meticulously organized into 41 photographic “chapters.”
Many established collections find their way from in-home shrines to public venues. Fogelman’s has made its way to the public and is now between hard covers as well. More collectors should follow his example.
Single-signed baseballs are organized by milestones in what can only be described as an exhaustive collecting feat. It also contains unique pieces such as Joe DiMaggio’s No. 9 jersey from his rookie season with the 1936 Yankees. Yes, No. 9. He became No. 5 when Frank Crosetti, then No. 5, became No. 1. The Yanks placed DiMaggio fifth in the batting lineup behind Lou Gehrig and insisted Joe D take No. 5.
Fogelman actually obtained the jersey from Barry Halper, Yankees minority owner and the late collecting king.
Fogelman’s collection also features the pinstripe pants of Roger Maris on the day he stroked season home run 61 in 1961; a Hank Aaron uniform from 1974, when he slugged his record 715th homer; and a pair of pants Sandy Koufax wore in 1964, his 20-5 season with a no-hitter and seven shutouts. Little known fact: He’s apparently the only pitcher to have three nine-pitch, three strikeout innings.
Fogelman also likes special notations. Do you have a Dan Lenhardt ball in your collection? He hit two grand slam home runs in the same week for two different teams; and both were hit in Fenway Park. It’s all written out on a ball.
He has a Jim Deshaies-signed ball from the last of eight consecutive strkeouts in a pitching start against the Dodgers in 1986. And hhis Bob Nieman signed ball notes his first two major league at bats — both home runs.
The stories go on and on. We’ll close with this one. He owns the glove Jimmy Croney of the Cubs used in becoming the first player to register an unassisted triple play, It was on May 30, 1927.