Thursday, August 14, 2014

AAGPBL Calls: Girls Leaguers Still Sign!

A book deadline is calling.

I need to say, "See you in September." Not forever, but only until I can help get one epic story back into print.

Meanwhile, you'll find an archive of more than 900 posts here to keep your summer sizzling.

When I return, I'll have news about the much-anticipated new and expanded edition of Belles of the Ballpark, thanks to talented co-author Diana Star Helmer and Summer Game Books. The AAGPBL survivors who are still physically able are signing by mail, by the way. I heard from 13 who answered questions for the book. Some were 90 and above. Write to these wondrous women soon.

Thank you for your support of the blog since 2010. I've always insisted that I'm about the stories behind the signatures, instead of mere autographs.

You'll see more of why this project has been so important this fall. When September call-ups happen, I'd be grateful if you'd promote me back to your active roster.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Goodbye, Detroit Tigers Catcher Bob 'Red' Wilson

To the end, he signed first name and nickname.
Gotta love those 1950s players

Bob "Red" Wilson passed away Aug. 8. He didn't write me the longest reply in 2010, but it was one of my most memorable returns.

I wasn't alone. The last check at the ever-reliable www.sportscollectors.net says that Wilson signed 131 out of 135 requests.

The 1950s players are going fast. They feel a special obligation to fans, even those not born when they played. 

Plus, so many from that decade never stopped being fans. Wilson wasn't big on discussing himself. Ask about Frank Lary or Al Kaline, and he lit up. When you're writing to the men of the 1950s, don't forget to ask about the stars they admired.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Mind-Melding With Future Seattle Mariners: Insights From An Appalachian League Clubhouse Manager

This is a baseball first for me.

My friend. On his own baseball card!

Lynn "Chipper" Cripps is the real thing. He deserves a real card.

The clubhouse manager told his Facebook universe about his Pulaski M's, Seattle's Rookie League affiliate. On Tuesday, he shared news that the Choice minor league team set had arrived.

Plus, he noted that he started getting autograph requests himself. "Gotta laugh," he added.

I asked what he saw from the young players surrounding him. His response:

"The guys were super excited as l was to receive our first batch of ball cards. There were card collectors and autograph seekers at our stadium the first day the Appalachian League cards came out. It's a blessing to to have a picture of yourself on a ball card, kind of an awestruck type moment. Most of the guys are first-year players, so they were super pumped. I have probably signed about a dozen ball cards so far for people who have came to our home games. Since the cards just came out the other day, lm sure the actual fan mail card/autograph hounds will be sending them via mail shortly. Yes plenty of Sharpie pens around here, pal. The biggest thing for fans to remember is be patient and respectful when seeking an autographed card from a player or staff member."

Lynn reminds every one of his friends with mere-mortal occupations that he loves his job. However, he's mentioned that his life as a "clubbie" can feature 17-hour days. That's right. He's logged hours of 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. during homestands. Therefore, getting fan mail to players might be just one umpteen daily duties he tackles.

Therefore, especially when writing to youngsters in the low minors, realize that teams will do the best they can getting letters to players. That's the patience he hints at. And, when you're deciding if you just want player autographs, realize that the clubhouse manager loves baseball just as much as anyone in that starting lineup. Unsung heroes are worth collecting, too.

Thank you, Chipper!




Monday, August 4, 2014

Former Chicago Cubs Pitcher Ed Mayer Reminds Us Why Autographs Matter

Photo courtesy Brian Salgado
Many thanks to collector Brian Salgado for this great update:

"I wrote to Mayer asking for a signature on his 1958 Topps card because he threw out the first pitch at my four-month-old son's first game at Wrigley Field. Not only did he sign the card, but he sent the letter pictured in the attachment. 

It reads:

"Hi Brian:
"Thank you for the nice letter. I'm glad that your family enjoyed the game and Noah was a winner! 
"Say hi to Noah's grandparents for me. Real fans like you make the game of baseball special and I am proud to have played ball for the Cubs. 
"I have a nice article on the internet. Google search Eddie Mayer/Cub and pop on the entry that says 'Almanac.'
"I hope you enjoy it.
"Best Wishes,
Ed Mayer"

"This is unofficially my son's first autograph through the mail and his first letter from a former player. He's off to a good start, I'd say! "

When I wrote about Ed Mayer back in 2010, sharing his letter, I learned he was a former teacher, too.

I love the lesson the ex-hurler delivers, a lesson for all of us.

Brian's example shows that a personal letter matters. You won't always get such a class response as what Mr. Mayer sent. However, you'll land the former player's major league effort when you share of yourself.

Additionally, the Ed Mayer victory for Brian unlocks the secret of the hobby.

The thrill won't come from a price guide. Sharing the stories behind the signatures: that truly matters.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Baseball Hall of Fame Plaque Postcards Still A Bargain

Spotted this on eBay.
Collectors can buy
direct from the
Hall of Fame
gift shop.
I just checked in with the Baseball Hall of Fame.

I published a blog post back in 2010 about the famous postcards showing member plaques.Who doesn't own at least one autographed?

 Each year, eBay dealers and other schemers try to sell the unsigned postcards at huge profits. 

Collectors see the minimum postage and handling costs in the Hall of Fame catalog or online, worrying that only a few cards would be costly.

Postcards are different. Buy direct!

I was told by the HOF that the same 2010 prices apply today. Just 50 cents per postcard, and $2 shipping and handling for up to 20 postcards.

Check out the prior post for more details, including the Hall of Fame gift shop phone number. You can place credit card orders or FAX in bigger requests.


Monday, July 28, 2014

How 'The Big Hurt' Hurt The Hobby

Cooperstown should
honor this Thomas, too,
for always-precise
penmanship. Check out
the personal website
of the FIRST Frank Thomas
here!
The OTHER Frank Thomas is trying.

Yea for speaking out against steroids in his Cooperstown induction speech.

What I'm still puzzling over is a career of abbreviated autographs. 

If he was catcher Cliff "C.J." Johnson, it might not matter as much. Fans were sure this Frank Thomas could be a future Hall of Famer.

I remember an elderly collector telling me in the early 1990s about paying big bucks and standing in line at a hobby show for an "F-- T --" autograph. He asked if that was his REAL autograph. Thomas threw in a silent grin for free. 

I loved the New York Times article earlier this year by Tyler Kepner about illegible autographs. I hope more people keep the conversation alive this year.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Former Chicago White Sox General Manager Roland Hemond Honors Hall Of Famer Bill Veeck

The Charleston River Dogs minor
league team gave the first 1,000
fans at their 7/19 game this
amazing bobblehead. Credit son
(and team president) Mike Veeck
for the creation, marking the year his
dad would be 100 years old!
Roland Hemond should write the Hall of Fame plaques. I asked him about his one-time boss, Chicago White Sox team owner Bill Veeck. I'm moved by his tribute that he was so kind to share with a fan.

"Bill Veeck was the most incredible person I have met," he wrote. "Bill suffered war-time injuries that led him to 36 operations over his lifetime. Yet, he never complained. But I'm sure he was in pain on a day-to-day basis.

"He was highly intelligent, creative, extremely well read, a visionary, daring, creative, loved people of all races, and awaked the others that baseball is a great game. But, on-field promotions could enhance the popularity of the game with joy for people of all ages and draw them to the parks and to return whenever possible.

"I cannot do him justice in a short letter."

Nor I for you, Mr. Hemond!