Something unexpected happened to me last week, something about which I had, quite honestly, completely forgotten.
I got a mailing from the National Personnel Records Center, with which I had applied for a copy of Cannonball Dick Redding’s military service file from World War I. I was hoping the files might explain why he was hospitalized and died at Pilgrim Psychiatric Center on Long Island in the 1940s.
I can’t even remember when I sent the application — or what the amount of the fee was I had to pay to submit said application. I just assumed, frankly, that my request would get lost in the massive shuffle of the equally massive bureaucracy of the federal government and the U.S. military.
But hark! I got a response, dated Feb. 20, 2015 and signed by archives technician Michael Thierry. I was ecstatic, despite the fact that, in the interim between my sending the request and receiving this response, Gary Ashwill received an unedited copy of Cannonball’s death certificate, which revealed that Redding died from the debilitating effects of syphilis.
Even with that, though, I was excited to receive any sort of documents or records from the government about this legendary pitcher and should-be-Hall-of-Famer.
But, after opening the mailing and reading the letter, which I posted above, I just had one thing to say.
Here’s the first paragraph of the letter from Mr. Thierry:
“Thank you for contacting the National Personnel Records Center. The Official Military Personnel File (OMPF) needed to answer your inquiry is not in our files. If the OMPF were [sic] on July 12, 1973, it would have been in the area that suffered the most damage in the fire on that date and may have been destroyed. The fire destroyed the major portion of records of Army military personnel for the period 1912 through 1959, and records of Air Force personnel with surnames Hubbard through Z for the period 1947 through 1963.”
So, I suppose, that is that. The letter went on to suggest that I apply and pay for Redding’s “Final Pay Voucher,” and the packet included a description of an FPV and an example of what one looks like and what it includes — and, of course, a blank application with a note that the fee is $25.
So I’m not sure if I should sink the money, time and energy into trying to get something that won’t tell me much that I a) already know, or b) how much Cannonball earned from his service, which would be interesting but perhaps not all that earth-shattering.
What do you think? Should I go for it?