Joe Adcock, Bobby Thompson, Frank Crossetti, Carl Erskine, Birdie
Tibbetts, Johnny Sain, Danny Cox and Jimmy Piersall, to name just a
They are just a few of the players who signed cards or notes
for Lincoln collector Norm Mueller.
They also are just a few of the players whose autographs will be
available for purchase at Saturday's silent auction at Zion
The silent auction is part of the school's huge annual pancake
and sausage breakfast.
The event is so popular that vehicles are directed to park in the
old Walmart lot across the road and grab a shuttle to the front
doors of the school. Every year, all who come agree the food served
was well worth the short wait.
Along with gallons of pancake mix hitting the grills, 3,850
pounds of whole hog sausage has been processed and awaits final
preparation before hitting the discerning palates and plates of the
The event begins at 7 a.m. Saturday and runs till 1 p.m. and
always has an interesting silent auction to go along with the great
This year is no different, and thanks to Norm Mueller's
generosity, it also will offer rare, hard-to-find autographs and
other sports memorabilia for baseball fans and sports collectors --
all donated by Mueller.
Mueller started collecting cards, autographs and sports
memorabilia in 1965, and he has served his hobby well. When asked if
he had a room for his collection, Norm explained that the entire
three-room second floor of his home is filled with what he and his
wife, Patricia, have gathered over the years.
Norm is a Cardinals fan and wanted to don his Cardinals sweater
before getting his picture taken with the trove of items he has
donated to the school. Norm says he and his wife attend eight to 10
Cardinals games a year, and he professes that of all the Cardinal
players he has seen over the years, Stan "the Man" Musial was and is
Norm has loved the Cards and baseball since a youngster. He says
that as a youngster he would have two TV sets and the radio on so he
could watch and listen to more than one game at the same time.
When asked what his most prized memento was, he said it is a
Cooperstown baseball bat that has 72 autographs on it.
"There isn't any room for any more signatures," Norm said. He
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Norm was asked if he could say what the biggest difference is
between collecting almost 50 years ago and collecting today. "It's
more expensive today," he said. Norm alluded to the fact that
autograph shows now can be very expensive compared with the old days
when players would freely sign something for a fan.
Autographs now also need certificates of authenticity that
weren't needed when he started. Now, with so many forgeries,
documentation is essential and means perhaps five to 10 times more
money than an undocumented signature.
Norm and Patricia have been to many shows as well as Cardinal
caravans, but he has gotten a great many of his autographs the
old-fashioned way. He wrote to the players and simply asked if they
could return their autograph in a stamped, self-addressed envelope
he had included. Norm admitted he never heard from a great many
baseball legends, but his collection shows that a great many did in
fact send him a signature.
Among those he has met across a table are baseball icons Joe
DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams. He says his least favorite
player to converse with was Willie Mays. "He's pretty arrogant,"
Like many fans Norm is saddened by the steroids scandal. And
although Mark McGwire ended his career as a Card, Norm thinks no
player linked to steroids should ever be inducted into the Baseball
Hall of Fame.
Norm told of a little bit of collector's luck a few years ago. He
went to a game in Peoria when Cub legend Ryne Sandburg was managing
the Peoria Chiefs. Norm said there were 8,000 people at the
ballpark, and his name was drawn to win a Sandburg autographed bat.
Five years ago Norm started asking for the autographs of MLB
umpires and has received a strong reply from the profession. Norm,
who has been an IHSA- and ASA-sanctioned umpire for 29 years, said,
"They are very appreciative of the fact that they haven't been
forgotten and what they accomplished."
This Saturday, the community will be able to bid on Norm's items
as well as enjoy a great meal, all the while helping Zion Lutheran
But remember, the silent auction will go all nine innings. And
the final bid won't count until the last out is made at 1 p.m.