"This is Bruce Kimm…I’m Calling From My Office…In Wrigley Field"

Posted June 20th, 2010 by Tom Owens and filed in Bruce Kimm, Jimmy Wynn, Ted "The Famous Chicken" Giannoulas


I’ll never forget those words.

It was a short conversation. There was a game to play. A future to map. Nevertheless, he wanted to thank me for my letter of support.

In 2002, when I sent a batch of 100 thank-you letters to my favorite past and present baseball players in the shadow of a possible player strike, I used “official” stationery. My letterhead included my phone number and email address.

I did not enclose SASEs. I wasn’t expecting written replies, let alone phone calls. But the calls came. Ted “The Famous Chicken” Giannoulas, Jimmy “Toy Cannon” Wynn and fellow Iowan Kimm, interim Cubs manager. Others sent e-mail.

Well, why have I stopped adding that contact info with the current letters I send?

I never thought of saying, “Excuse me. I want to record this for posterity.” Or, I would hate to miss a meaningful impromptu call in the bathroom. Besides, I can’t imagine trying to tell a career highlight story on someone’s answering machine.

And e-mail? E-mail begs for brevity. I’ve gotten three page heart-felt letters from retirees. I have a hunch they’d never fill screens with as many details. I predict that someday collectors will have albums filled with e-printouts. But not me.

There’s something special, something permanent, about what comes in that return envelope.

How would you feel, readers, getting phone calls or e-mails, instead of replies in your SASE?

“This is Bruce Kimm…I’m Calling From My Office…In Wrigley Field”

Posted June 20th, 2010 by Tom Owens and filed in Bruce Kimm, Jimmy Wynn, Ted "The Famous Chicken" Giannoulas


I’ll never forget those words.

It was a short conversation. There was a game to play. A future to map. Nevertheless, he wanted to thank me for my letter of support.

In 2002, when I sent a batch of 100 thank-you letters to my favorite past and present baseball players in the shadow of a possible player strike, I used “official” stationery. My letterhead included my phone number and email address.

I did not enclose SASEs. I wasn’t expecting written replies, let alone phone calls. But the calls came. Ted “The Famous Chicken” Giannoulas, Jimmy “Toy Cannon” Wynn and fellow Iowan Kimm, interim Cubs manager. Others sent e-mail.

Well, why have I stopped adding that contact info with the current letters I send?

I never thought of saying, “Excuse me. I want to record this for posterity.” Or, I would hate to miss a meaningful impromptu call in the bathroom. Besides, I can’t imagine trying to tell a career highlight story on someone’s answering machine.

And e-mail? E-mail begs for brevity. I’ve gotten three page heart-felt letters from retirees. I have a hunch they’d never fill screens with as many details. I predict that someday collectors will have albums filled with e-printouts. But not me.

There’s something special, something permanent, about what comes in that return envelope.

How would you feel, readers, getting phone calls or e-mails, instead of replies in your SASE?

Thanking Baseball 100 Times

My first crisis in faith as a baseball fan came in 2002. I had survived ugly uniforms, artificial turf and a season with no World Series. But seeing the All-Star Game skid to a 7-7 tied halt pushed me over the brink. Rumors of another strike seemed too much.

I couldn’t change the game on the field. I could preserve the game in my head — and my heart.

I wrote 100 thank-you notes that year. I wrote to the names in MY baseball history. Stars of seemingly-ordinary games that I attended or followed by TV or radio. The outcomes may have been meaningless to the standings, but not to me. Baseball “stars” who may have seen their glimmer fade fast still sparkled in my memory, and I wanted them to know. Other times, I sent overdue gratitude. For instance, I thanked Lulu Harwell for sharing Ernie with the baseball world all those years.

Breaking every rule of autograph collecting, I did not enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope for anyone I contacted by U.S. Mail. I was writing my biography as a baseball fan, sharing one page of the story with each member of my personal Hall of Fame.

The phone rang three times. The first call came from Jimmy “The Toy Cannon” Wynn, astounded at the story of him being the first baseball card I ever found in a pack (1969). Ted “The Famous Chicken” Giannoulas phoned next, commenting on my assessment of the ludicrous lawsuit he faced against a cup-of-coffee pitcher. Most amazing of all, fellow Iowan Bruce Kimm, then-interim manager of the Chicago Cubs, called me from his Wrigley Field office before a game. He said he appreciated the praise I offered for his role in Mark Fidrych’s success. Asking how his team was that day, his cryptic reply sticks with me:

“The Cubs will be fine.”

Other replies thanking me for my appreciation followed by U.S. Mail. I’ll share those in the future. My “success rate” isn’t the important moral of this story. What’s vital to remember is that fans like us matter. Speak up. Speak out. Let those you appreciate hear your cheers once more, even if it’s only inside an envelope.