By Carlton Hendricks
already written a story on the
got Joe D. to sign a copy of Hobby Builder magazine with a
picture of him on the cover playing with his trains, but this is
about a different time. That first time was when I was just
giving him a ride in a golf cart at the hotel I work
this story is about the time I actually roomed him. He came with his grand daughter and her kids, at least I think that
was the family connection. Anyway, they had a bunch of luggage and
it was my job as a bellman to escort them all to their rooms.
We were expecting him and I had it worked out with my supervisor that I wanted to check him in when he got there.
I was way on the opposite side the property doing a check in when I got the call
on the radio he was there, about 2 mile distance. I wrapped up that check in a matter of minutes and hit the accelerator.
When I got back to the bell desk the supervisor had it all worked
out. He was waiting for a bellman in the parking lot.
I hopped on one of our big people mover bell carts and headed for
him. There he was nonchalant waiting with his family. I loaded up all their luggage and drove them all to their rooms.
Using the old noggin, I prudently asked Joe if he wanted to take his granddaughter and kids to their room
which of course he said yes to. If I was going to impose for an autograph, I didn't want to do it in front of his
family. I had an old Yankee's popcorn vendors hat I brought with me, which I'd picked up at a card show.
Once the family was ditched, we headed to Joe's room. Other than I was nervous inside, but cool on the outside, it was just a typical check
in. He didn't have much luggage and I recall the one suitcase he had was strikingly
old, like late 1960's old. I mentioned to him something to the effect, "that's a pretty old suitcase Mr. DiMaggio". He boasted back the
to the effect "That suitcase has been all around the
world"...and that he'd just gotten back from Japan. Somehow we ended up back outside his room next to the cart when he gave me my
tip, which I should have framed, darn it. And then I went for
it. I very nicely and politely pulled out my vendors hat and asked if he
would autograph it.
I remember the way he handled it...without looking at me he held out his hand open palm for a pen...like he was so jaded by years of giving autographs he knew the routine
well and had it down. Like hey buddy, have the pen ready if you're
going to bug me!. It was kind of striking....
but I didn't say a word. I always have a pen on me and handed it pronto. I don't think he remembered me from the time before I got his
autograph. He didn't seem surprised I asked, but he did seem a little
curious about the vendors hat. I guess it wasn't the usual thing people asked him to
sign. He signed it and kind of looked at it, and asked me if it had been my
hat. Like did I used to sell popcorn at Yankee Stadium kind of
question. I told him no I'd just gotten it at a card show. I'm pretty sure I politely
asked him to date it. It looks like he signed it on the 21st. It's interesting the way he wrote the date. It looks like he started to write it
8/21/95 but stopped at the slash after the 8, then put the slashes
under and down, like he intentionally wrote the date between the word peanuts and the red Yankee logo. He also wrote his name around the top of the red circle instead of thru it, which is interesting. That was nice he did it with some precision.
And that was it, I was out'a there; mission accomplished!. He did yell at me as I was driving off..."that's the last one Carlton"....Just kidding he didn't do that. But that was the last
one, I never saw him again. He died about four years latter in 1999.