Make Autographs Count on Memorial Day

Posted May 31st, 2010 by Tom Owens and filed in Bill Mauldin, Gary Bedingfield

Who should I collect?

What do I say in a letter?

Two good questions asked by many a collector. My answers are:

1. Anyone with personal meaning in your own life is a hero. Seek their autograph.

2. Tell the person why they matter. Thank them for what they’ve done.

On this Memorial Day, I’m thinking about my late father, who served in the Air Force just after World War II. My memories of him confirm that I’m doing the right thing. I’m hoping to make contact with baseball’s surviving World War II vets.

There’s more than one book published about baseball’s role in World War II. For a quick start, I’d point everyone to a league-leading historian. For the last 10 years, Gary Bedingfield has been remembering baseball’s wartime contributions. His patriotic website and blog have kept me writing to these men still here with tales to share.

I’ve even sought the great Bill Mauldin stamp out this spring. Ask any vet what “Willie and Joe” cartoons meant to them. You’ll be amazed at their answers.

Thank you to every veteran reading this today. Thanks to all supporters of “Baseball By The Letters.” Upon this 100th post, I’m still delighted to be here.

The Secret Nickname of John “Mitty” Gray

Posted May 30th, 2010 by Tom Owens and filed in Danny Kaye, James Thurber, John Gray


The nickname “Mitty” had nothing to do with the defense of pitcher John Gray.

This 1950s hurler explained the history of “Mitty” in a generous reply, writing:

“‘Mitty’ came from the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. In the show, a sound poc-de-poc-de-poc would come on and Danny Kaye would go into a trance, daydream about himself doing wonderful things. Well, in college, I had a 1940 Ford coupe and I would sit waiting for a frat brother to get into the car. The car would go poc-de-poc-de-poc.

The movie came out in the late 1940s. You would have to see it to make sense to you.

No one in the last 50 to 60 years knows my Mitty story.”

Although it seems that amazon.com doesn’t have the movie on DVD currently “in print, you can find copies of the great story by James Thurber, Secret Lives of Walter Mitty and of James Thurber (Wonderfully Illustrated Short Pieces) (No. 1)

Gray was a “Mitty.” Both were dreamers. Both never gave up. I’m betting both would say their stories had happy endings.

The Secret Nickname of John "Mitty" Gray

Posted May 30th, 2010 by Tom Owens and filed in Danny Kaye, James Thurber, John Gray


The nickname “Mitty” had nothing to do with the defense of pitcher John Gray.

This 1950s hurler explained the history of “Mitty” in a generous reply, writing:

“‘Mitty’ came from the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. In the show, a sound poc-de-poc-de-poc would come on and Danny Kaye would go into a trance, daydream about himself doing wonderful things. Well, in college, I had a 1940 Ford coupe and I would sit waiting for a frat brother to get into the car. The car would go poc-de-poc-de-poc.

The movie came out in the late 1940s. You would have to see it to make sense to you.

No one in the last 50 to 60 years knows my Mitty story.”

Although it seems that amazon.com doesn’t have the movie on DVD currently “in print, you can find copies of the great story by James Thurber, Secret Lives of Walter Mitty and of James Thurber (Wonderfully Illustrated Short Pieces) (No. 1)

Gray was a “Mitty.” Both were dreamers. Both never gave up. I’m betting both would say their stories had happy endings.