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Digging Deeper: The Day Marty Rice Met Ernie Banks and Hank Aaron

My Chicago Cubs collection includes more than just baseball cards. I’m always on the lookout for rare items, or anything with a story. Sometimes I seek them out, and other times they fall into my lap.

Recently I posted on Twitter a picture of one of my obscure items. It’s a typed letter on Cubs letterhead from announcer Jack Brickhouse, including his signature.

This letter was inside a scrapbook I acquired from my friend Dave (the same Dave who I recently went to Club 400 and the Chicago Sports Spectacular). Several years ago he gave me a stack of scrapbooks he had acquired from an old neighbor. They were mostly filled with local newspaper clippings from the 1970’s on high school sports.

But there were also a couple Cubs game day programs and this letter inside one of the scrapbooks. The letter signed by Jack Brickhouse was sent to Marlin McMillan regarding a request for “Marty” to meet some Cubs players.

There were also a few Cubs game programs inside the same scrapbook. Each one had been written on with who attended the game, and score had also been taken for each game, which I really enjoy acquiring filled out scorecards.

One of the programs had a paragraph written on the front. It was from the July 6, 1974 games against the Atlanta Braves. This was the same game that McMillan had sent a letter to Brickhouse requesting a “Marty” to meet players.

Written on front was Marty Rice’s name, among others and the fact that they got to meet Don Kessinger, Ernie Banks, and Hank Aaron.

A great follow up to the letter I have framed, but I wanted to know more. Maybe even find Marty Rice and ask about meeting these baseball legends. So I searched, and didn’t find much.

Newspapers.com was a help, and I found a little bit on Marty Rice through his local newspaper, Galesburg Register-Mail. It’s a sad ending.

Marty was just 12 years old when he got to meet the players in 1974. He had also been diagnosed with leukemia a year earlier.

Only three articles were found in my searches. Another was baseball related in that he had befriended Minnesota Twins player Danny Thompson, who was also diagnosed with leukemia in 1973.

Thompson passed away from the disease in 1976. Marty Rice also lost his battle sometime between 1974 and 1977. I found this notice from a September 1977 issue of the Register-Mail.

While it was a disappointing end to my research, I like to think Marty is somewhere talking baseball with Ernie Banks and Danny Thompson.

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