Nearly four decades after leaving the Major Leagues due to a knee injury, former Detroit Tigers infielder Wayne "Chuck" Scrivener still receives fan mail and requests for autographed baseball cards.
"It's really amazing to me that after all this time, every month I get a piece of fan mail or two from people," the longtime Birmingham resident said. "People love baseball, and they collect cards and memorabilia, and they get my address and send me fan mail. My wife says, 'I can't believe you're still getting fan mail.' I can't believe it either."
Scrivener, who has gone by "Chuck" since his father gave him the nickname as a youngster, started playing baseball soon after he could walk. The son of a retired baseball pitcher, Scrivener recalled his first baseball bat was crafted from one of baseball great Roy Sievers' old bats, one of his dad's old teammates.
"I was so excited to have my first bat. My dad used to love throwing me batting practice and playing catch," Scrivener said. "My dad was from Georgia, and they would say 'chuck,' meaning to throw the ball. So, he would say, 'let's go have a chuck,' or 'let's go chuck,' and that became my nickname. To this day, they call me Chuck. Nobody calls me Wayne."
Growing up in Virginia, Scrivener was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 1968, bringing him on to their minor league team as a utility infielder. As a .400-hitter in junior college, he was confident he would move up to the majors quickly.
"Reality kind of hit me upside the head when I got to the big leagues," he said. "In high school and college, they may have one really good pitcher on a team. There's always that one ace. But, all those guys end up in the professionals, so instead of facing one good pitcher, I was facing all these ace pitchers."
While Scrivener said he could hit the fastball, he had some trouble with the breaking ball for some time. Still, he could play the infield and hit the ball, earning him a spot with the Tigers from 1975 to 1977, where he played 145 games.
"I still have the first ball I hit, and the first home run," he said. "To some people, that might not mean a thing, but I cherish that ball, I tell you."
It was about 1976 that Scrivener said the Tigers brought up a couple guys named Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker from the minors during spring training.
"I noticed him right away. He was smooth and had good hands, and was a good hitter," he said of Trammell. "I don't know why I said it, but I remember saying, 'Alan, you look good out there. In a couple years you could have my job.' Son-of-a-gun, a couple of years later, he did."
Scrivener later signed with the Toronto Blue Jays, but a torn ligament in his knee at the start of the season led to his release. After a short stint in the minors, he left baseball and has since worked in retail management.
“The longer I'm removed from my career, the more I appreciate it," he said. "It was a lot of work. People don't realize it. You have to put in a lot of time and effort to be a success at anything, but baseball is a much more specialized sport... to be in a fraternity like major league baseball is pretty cool."
Photo: Laurie Tennent