|Matt Tavares (left) and Pedro Martinez, both signing autographs
at a Jimmy Fund fundraiser (Photo courtesy www.MattTavares.com)
Matt Tavares is bringing baseball history to a new generation.
The talented author-illustrator’s latest creation is There Goes Ted Williams: The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived (Candlewick Press). I’m thankful to Matt, who agreed to share his own history as a fan and occasional collector.
Q: I love your book Zachary’s Ball. How were the Red Sox autographs collected in the book for the First Book fundraiser? Had you ever tried collecting autographs, in person or TTM, before?
|(Image courtesy www.MattTavares.com)|
A: During the 2004 season, Trot Nixon’s wife was involved with First Book, a great organization that provides books for children in low income families. I’m not sure if it was her idea or someone else’s, but I think she basically just asked Trot to pass the book around the clubhouse and have everybody sign it, so they could auction it off to raise money for First Book. I didn’t even know about it until after the book had been signed. Conveniently, the Red Sox went on to win the World Series that year, which made the book even more special. My publisher, Candlewick Press, is also involved with First Book, so they helped out with the auction. It sold for about $2000!
Q: As an illustrator (but someone who might be asked to sign hundreds of in-person autographs at a bookstore or school visit) what were your thoughts of the legibility of Red Sox autographs?
Q: You mention your Dad in your Author’s Note for the great book, There Goes Ted Williams. What’s your fan history, including Boston games you attended (with him, and later)?
A: I grew up in Winchester MA, a suburb of Boston. My dad took me to a few Red Sox games a year when I was a kid. And of course, I watched tons of games on tv. I always brought my glove, and always wanted to catch a foul ball. In 1990, when I was a sophomore in high school, the Red Sox just needed to win one game in their final series against the White Sox to clinch the division, so my dad bought tickets to all three games, figuring we’d keep going until they clinched. They lost the first game, lost the second game, and finally won it in the final game of the season. That was the game Tom Brunansky made that amazing diving catch near Pesky’s pole to end it. I was sitting in right field in section 7, row 11 (I thought that was good luck). That was one fun and exhausting week! I’ve been to some other big games… the 1999 Red Sox-Yankees ALCS game 3, Clemens vs. Pedro, as well as games 4 and 5 in the ALDS against the Indians that year. Lots of great Fenway memories over the years…
These days, living in southern Maine, I go to more Portland Sea Dogs games than Red Sox games. Portland is the AA affiliate of the Red Sox, so it’s fun to follow the Sea Dogs, then when the players get called up to the majors I already know them.
Q: I know that Cal Ripken Jr. and the late Gary Carter have championed children’s books, encouraging more kids to read. Are there past or present baseball names who’ve communicated with you?:
A: My baseball books have been used by The Massachusetts Teachers Association a few times for their Red Sox Reading program. Through that, I’ve gotten to meet Trot Nixon, Derek Lowe, and Jason Varitek, who were all involved with the program over the years. Recently I signed books at a Jimmy Fund fundraiser where Pedro Martinez was signing, so I got to meet him. I was so excited, I felt like a little kid
Q: For either your Henry Aaron or Ted Williams books, did you correspond with any baseball names (teammates, foes, media, etc.) for your research?
A: Right now I’m working on a picture book biography of Babe Ruth’s early years, tentatively titled Becoming Babe Ruth, due out in Spring 2013, published by Candlewick Press.
I’m grateful to Matt for postponing deadlines to share his own baseball biography. If you want to share the love of the game with young people, start with his books. Like him on Facebook to be eligible for monthly prizes. He gives away an autographed book. For the Aaron book, he added an original sketch of the slugger with his autograph. See it, and learn more at www.matttavares.com
Coming Monday: How to help a former player in need.
|From 1981, better days…|
Pitcher George Riley is still in life’s game.
The world has batted him around since his last days in the majors (1986 Expos).
However, he sounds ready for a comeback. I’m grateful to collector Kohei Nirengi, who shared his note from the former Cub (who autographed the card Kohei enclosed):
“Thanks so much for asking for my autograph. It makes me feel special. I used to have a 97 mph fastball and a curve that would, what we say, drop off the table. I was pitching in the era that money was not what it is today.
As far as my health, last year I had major surgery to remove my entire colon from cancer. So my health is not too good. I was an electrician which I lost. And my house, my dog of 7 yrs. I am living with a friend.
It would be highly appreciated if you could help in any way. It’s difficult, very difficult for me and my life. Because I was always very strong. Thanks so much.
451 Basket Rd.
Oley, PA 19547-9245″
I contacted the Baseball Assistance Team on the hurler’s behalf.
I’m sharing the news with the belief that George Riley wants to sign. He wants to be remembered. He hasn’t demanded a specific fee per signature.
He appears in the 1981 Topps and Donruss sets. Please, send him a donation with your letter. Send him some hope.
Coming Friday: Author-illustrator Matt Tavares shares his Red Sox admiration with young readers.
|Conning Carlton for a
I’ve never been good at footnotes.
My aging memory seems to recall a tale (or urban legend?) in which non-signing Steve Carlton was asked for an autograph by a young man in a wheelchair. Carlton’s teammates urged him to sign.
He agreed, only to watch the fan leap from the wheelchair, laughing at the deception.
If true, I’d claim such duplicity wouldn’t be as bad as deceiving someone with a written autograph request. (Unless someone produces incriminating Youtube footage…)
Think about it. Whether by e-mail or by U.S. Mail, there’s a trail of evidence. One shady letter could be the smoking gun that a reluctant autograph giver would need to shut down the giving (or set up a stiff fee schedule for signatures).
This scam from 2011 wasn’t limited to baseball autographs. However, the ramifications of future fiascos could cause an organized pushback against collectors. Don’t bend the truth about subscribing to a Tigers newsletter, being an admiring little kid or any other tale you can’t back up. With the Internet, former players could Google our behinds as fast as we research them.