Duane Pillette Leaves the Field At Age 88

Posted May 10th, 2011 by Tom Owens and filed in Duane Pillette, Herman Pillette
Reason to Smile!

Ask a good question, get a GREAT answer.

Duane Pillette proved that possibility with a jaw-dropping 2010 response.

The fiery pitcher and son of a Major Leaguer (pitcher Herman Pillette) died last week at age 88. Duane signed until then end. One collector posted on http://www.sportscollectors.net/ that he received his autograph after reading the obituary.

I wrote about Pillette twice, first sharing my letter, then showing how he tried to restore a bit of civility to autographing.

The clock is ticking. Write to these witnesses to baseball history. They may want to pass the torch to YOU.

Pitcher Duane Pillette Asks The Hobby

Posted January 10th, 2011 by Tom Owens and filed in Duane Pillette, www.sportscollectors.net
Luckily, Mr. Pillette keeps smiling and signing.

“Hey ____________,

Enclosed is a card and index card, pick up a sharpie and sign them”

Would anyone really send a note like that to a former player? Pitcher Duane Pillette, first profiled on the blog back April 15 and April 16, shared this with a collector.

The hobbyist posted his stunning exchange with Pillette on the ever-amazing http://www.sportscollectors.net/ forum.

Pillette returned the collector’s 1952 Topps card signed. However, unsure whether the hand-written demand came from the real collector and SCN subscriber, Pillette added:

” I’m not really sure who sent me this card. I’m a little surprised that in high school you couldn’t find a better piece of paper and maybe next time you send a card to anyone make it sound like a pleasure and not like a job!”

In the past week, SCN subscribers have been rallying to send apology letters to Pillette, who has 142 recorded TTM responses on the website.

The hobby needs our help. The quality of letters you send matter. A thank-you note could convince a willing signer not to stop answering fan mail. Other retirees may start charging, not out of financial need, but from the urge to deter requests by way of a cash penalty. If the ex-player believes that letter writers aren’t sincere, why not scare them away with a fee?

A standing ovation goes to collector Richard Jones. After sharing the letter, he wrote me:

“I was just so upset about this incident. I love collecting autographs. Its a great and fun hobby but people like the author of that horrible letter is what is causing “our” hobby to be more challenging.”

I see a couple of messages in this shocking episode. First, don’t just say “too bad,” shrug and go on collecting. Speak up. Silence and inaction only make a problem grow.

Most of all, Duane Pillette’s challenge tells us to make every letter count. It’s not just for yourself, but for tomorrow’s collectors, too.


Duane Pillette’s Major League Father

Posted April 16th, 2010 by Tom Owens and filed in Duane Pillette, Herman Pillette, Santa Clara University


Pitcher Duane Pillette didn’t have the usual roadblocks up-and-coming hurlers face. Pillette’s first obstacle was his father, major league veteran Herman Pillette.

Fans might think a father with big league experience (a 19-game winner with the 1922 Tigers!) would be the golden ticket to the majors, the perfect parental coach.

“There’s is no doubt that you love the game of baseball–and do I,” Pillette began. “My father was always my hero and I wanted to be just like him. I knew that was impossible, but I swore to myself I would make the majors, although it was against his wishes.

“You see, my dad was a farm boy and he had very little education. Therefore, he seldom made money playing ball. He wanted me to get an education and not always worry about money. He even refused to show me anything about pitching. But I said, ‘Dad, you can’t pay my way to college, so how else can I get that education? I must be good enough to receive a scholarship.’

“He gave in, but said, ‘Okay, you must earn it on your own.’

“I did get that education, and one of the best in the country. Santa Clara, it was a Jesuit (we are Catholic) University, and they are tough. I knew if I could make the grade there, I could make it to the majors.

“But it wasn’t easy, because I received a letter saying I was to join the service. I spent three years, and it made me be tough enough to do anything.

“Sorry, I got carried away. But remember, if you want something bad enough, go get it.

“No, he never saw me pitch, but he read about me, first high school, then college and finally the majors. I wasn’t great, but I stayed eight years, and that made my goal.

“Yes, he was proud of me.

“Remember, whatever you do, do it the best you can and you will be happy.

Sincerely,
Duane Pillete”