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Project 55

About a year and a half ago I proposed a project to my good friend and former Giant Ryan Theriot; I wanted to do something really cool for Tim Lincecum. I proposed my idea to Ryan since Timmy was a two time Cy Young award winner. I told him I would love to do a special piece to honor that feat and thus Project 55 was born.

Over the course of a year and a half I collected 73 autographed Major League baseball’s individually signed by every single Cy Young winner starting with 1956's Don Newcombe through 2013 Max Scherzer. 73 baseballs, National and American League. I searched far and wide for these balls, some being easy to find and others very difficult but I was on a mission to find every one and stay within a budget.

Some balls were purchased from dealers and others through private signings but with every purchase I made I knew I was a step closer to making this project a reality. The most difficult and expensive ball nobody would ever guess. Like most people I would assume Sandy Koufax or Don Drysdale would be the ones and a player like Warren Spahn would be the most difficult.

To my surprise the most difficult and expensive was the 1974 winner Dr. Mike Marshall! Once I obtained that ball I knew I was well on my way. I had purchased my last ball (Max Scherzer) in December. I did it! 73 baseballs of history all signed on Major league baseballs and authenticated by only the best!

I had been corresponding with Timmy letting him know my progress and plans. He was pumped and could not wait to get this piece! My next project was to make nameplates for every player. There are many multiple winners of the award from Roger Clemens (7x) and of course Tim (2x) and many others. My original concept was to encase the balls by decade but with so many repeat winners it would be very costly and much more time would be needed. I decided to make the name plates with the years the player won the award.

With the name plates finished it was time to construct a shadow box that would display all the balls. We decided on 12 baseballs per row making six rows (which equals 72 baseballs in total). Unfortunately we were not able to put in the Scherzer ball because making another row would be too massive and heavy of a piece, so with that being said everything was custom ordered and took about a month to make.

When the custom Shadowbox came in it was huge!!! We put the balls in one by one into custom holders so there was no way for them to get loose or damage the balls. Next the glass went on and it was done. I could not believe it was finally finished and it would soon be in front of Tim Lincecum!!!

The Trip...

With the piece being so large there was no way I was going to ship it or let anyone get near it until it was in front of Tim. The only way that was going to happen was to load in up in an SUV VEHICLE AND drive 14 hours to Seattle. We carefully loaded this massive piece of memorabilia into the SUV and started the journey from San Carlos to Seattle. I have never been so stressed not wanting anything to go wrong along the way.

14 hours of driving and praying that there would be no bumps in the road. It was a long drive to say the very least. I left on a Sunday at 2:00 pm and did not make it to the hotel until 4:00 am Monday morning! The drive was nonstop except for two gas stops and two meal breaks. I was exhausted when I hit the pillow at about 4:30 am but somehow I could not fall asleep because I was so pumped up to hand this over to Timmy. Many things raced through my mind, would he like it? Would he be cool? Was I going to pass out from exhaustion??? Well there was only one way to find out...

The Meeting...

Was I tired? No way!!! This was it. I was on my way to Tim Lincecum’s house! The Cy Young piece had made it without a hitch and it was time to take it to its destination.

As I pulled up to his house I did not even have time to think about it, there he was waiting outside. I got out of the car and we said our hellos. I opened the back of truck and took the blankets off the piece. He was totally blown away and had a huge smile on his face! We carried the piece into his home. I visited with him for about an hour.

I cannot stress enough how cool Tim Lincecum is. In this business you meet a lot of athletes and celebrities. It is so awesome when they are as nice and genuine as Tim Lincecum. You would never even know he was a famous baseball player, just a good guy who is laid back and is very humble.

He totally expressed his gratitude for my effort on the piece. I could have not been more proud to have done this for him. It was truly an awesome experience and something I will remember for the rest of my life.

Tony Rohatch

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