Monday, July 21, 2014

Who'll Be Next Non-Player in Baseball Hall of Fame? A Scout, Perhaps?

Pat Gillick gave me hope for the future regarding the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Would more front office wizards be honored? I think Atlanta's John Schuerholz will have a spot in Cooperstown, someday.

Someday may not come too soon.

Or will it?

I asked Roland Hemond in a letter his feelings. After winning the Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award, I hoped the distinguished GM might see a different HOF future. One that might even welcome scouts?

In 2013, he sent this most kind reply:

"This coming May 3-5, the National Baseball Hall of Fame will open an exhibit, "Diamond Dreams," which will include scout reports from scouts that they submitted to their respective organizations. This exhibit will have a section of "who signed who" from way back. 

I hesitate to list my preference of naming my first inductee, as I want to do justice by awaiting the tabulations and making a very careful study."

Meanwhile, enjoy one of the best bios of Hemond I've ever found, crafted by noted baseball historian Bill Nowlin. 

Coming Thursday: Remembering Bill Veeck

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Red Sox Pinch-Hit Hero Bill Renna Leaves Life's Game At Age 89

Bill Renna died in June at age 89.

Here's a look back at his kind, grateful letter from 2010

Monday, July 14, 2014

Babe Ruth's Daughter Brings Autograph Collectors Hope

The www.antiquetrader.com
site documented this selling
for more than $62,000 in a
2008 auction. Ruth's daughter
makes it sound like there may be
many autographs still out there
from her famous father.
It might be easy to be low on hope right now.

No regularly-scheduled games through Wednesday.

Plus, it's Monday.

Well, I spotted this happy comment from CBS News this weekend. Babe Ruth's daughter claims that he never refused an autograph request. Drivers, start your imaginations!

Let's hope the second half of this season finds more Babe-like behavior with our requests.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Orlando Cepeda, Al Rosen Go To Bat For 'Havana Curveball'

Young Micah and his Grandpa: Two Heroes to
know and love in "Havana Curveball"
Back in 2012, I found one great baseball story. As you know, this blog is about the stories behind the signatures.

And Al Rosen offered his signatures for the cause, a dozen signed baseballs to help fund an amazing documentary idea.

That vision is now reality! In August, Havana Curveball (once entitled 'Got Balz?') makes its world premiere.

Filmmaker Marcia Jarmel had this to share:

"We are just now getting the word out to players, but just last week we received a wonderful endorsement from Orlando Cepeda: 

"Great film, real baseball, tremendously authentic!" 
-- Orlando Cepeda, San Francisco Giants, Hall of Fame 1999

I know that Dusty Baker has a copy and is planning to watch with his son, but no word yet. We also have had great support from Al Rosen, who signed a dozen balls for us during our crowdfunding campaign.

As for your second question, funny you should ask. We are inviting people, schools, organizations, public libraries, baseball teams, etc. to bring the film to their own community. Anyone interested, can reach us at: distribution@patchworksfilms.net. We have upcoming screenings in New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Tallahassee, Orlando, Seattle, and Frankfurt on the books right now.  

People can also find out when the film is coming to their area by joining our Facebook group at: https://www.facebook.com/havanacurveball or our Twitter stream at: https://twitter.com/HavanaCurveball. The trailer and some other short videos are also to be found at: www.havanacurveball.info."

If you know a synagogue, a college campus, local film festival or independent cinema, please, share this news with them. This uplifting documentary belongs on every movie screen. If you believe in baseball and the power the game has to unite people, this is the story for you. Havana Curveball is worth seeing...and sharing.



.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Mets, Orioles General Manager Frank Cashen Dies At Age 88

This "Topps Archive"
blog shared this image
and a great headline
for the obit -- one
that would have made
the well-read GM smile.
Check out the blog!
Frank Cashen earned five World Series rings as an executive. His death at age 88 raises a question for me as a hobbyist.

The Orioles and Mets are well-collected teams. I was stunned to check the always-amazing www.sportscollectors.net. The good news? Cashen was a 100 percent responder, signing for everyone who wrote.

However, only 16 collectors made attempts.

In fact,the general manager surprised a few collectors who wrote, sharing extras of the rare 1992 Topps card made of himself for a special ceremony. Miss the one-day event, and you wouldn't have gotten the card.

The Hall of Fame will be selecting more owners and GMs in the future. Often, the men don't get honors until they're deceased.

The future is now.






Thursday, July 3, 2014

Recalling Two Talks With Twins Second Baseman Bobby Randall

Check out Randall's
stats and philosophy at
www.baseball-almanac.com!
That piercing stare. Those eyebrows. That dramatic grin.

There was nothing minor league about Bobby Randall.

 I encountered him as a 1976 Minnesota Twin. I was in a Kansas City hotel lobby. I had my Twins collection in a small shoebox, alphabetized.

Guess what infielder stood nearby, poking a teammate, pointing at me?

"What are you going to do with all that?" he challenged. 

"Take it home and put it with the rest of my collection," I answered as sincerely as possible. 

I produced his Topps card and asked for his autograph (please).

Pause. Smile. Signature.

Flash forward. I'm a journalism student at Iowa State University. I pitch a feature idea on the baseball team's coach, former major leaguer Bobby Randall.

He's polite during the interview, listening intently and acting like I'm The Sporting News editor. Every answer is sincere and detailed. His sole home run (off Chris Knapp) wasn't a tape measure blast, so he made it sound like anyone could have cleared the fence. He became embarrassed when I asked about signing autographs and getting fan mail. 

At the end of our talk, I confide that I got his autograph those years ago in Kansas City. I tell him the story, thanking him again for signing. "You should have told me!" 

I was surprised, covering Cyclone baseball games for the Des Moines Register, that fans weren't getting his autograph. Didn't they know who he really was?

He volunteered to speak to my wife's day camp group. A devout Christian, the coach taught by action and example. 

I like to think that I might have encouraged a Twins rookie to keep an open mind about autograph collectors. He expressed other thoughts that day at Iowa State -- a great warning to in-person collectors. Nevertheless, I never saw him turn his back on a fan. Plus, I know that Bobby Randall remains a TTM all-star signer today. He's a prize in my collection of stories behind the signatures.








Monday, June 30, 2014

Baseball-Crazy Cartoonist Scott Hilburn Shares 'Argyle Sweater' History

From Feb. 11, 2011. Did the Flyin' Hawaiian
ever know he was a comics all-star, too? Visit
www.theargylesweater.com to keep daily tabs
on this funny fellow fan!
Last week, I wrote about seeing Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt appear in the "funny papers." 

I pondered whether cartoonists were well-connected folk who knew anyone and everyone. Would it matter saying to a major leaguer that you saw them honored in the comics?

Here's the kind reply from creator Scott Hilburn himself:

"Hi Tom,

I'm not specifically a Dodgers fan - but a huge baseball fan in general.  

I've never been to a Dodgers game (I live in Dallas) but only because I haven't had the opportunity yet.

I try to catch the closest ballgame when I travel and I hope to, one day, visit every stadium.

I've included a few players in my comic before. Shane Victorino immediately comes to mind.

No feedback from any of the players though."

Thanks to Scott for his time, and for funny stuff worth sharing with any real-life counterpart.