My Favorite Mariners Minor Leaguer

Spring training is here!

Everyone loves looking at prospects. Get their autograph now, before the world finds out.
The Pulaski Mariners (rookie affiliate, Appalachian League) has a star who isn’t in uniform.
I knew Lynn “Chipper” Cripps first as a gung-ho, always-smiling catcher for my Marshalltown, Iowa high school team. Later, he served with honor as a local police department sergeant, only to face early retirement from being injured in the line of duty.
Lynn never forgot baseball, and baseball never forgot him. After working as clubhouse manager for the Clinton Lumber Kings, he’s signed on for the same role in Pulaski to be near relatives.
Gearing up for a new season at a new address, Lynn still found time to answer some questions. Knowing that he may be the one who gets fan mail to everyone on the roster, I wanted to ask him what he’s seen.
Q: How were your Midwest Leaguers in signing autographs?
A: These young Minor League players that I had the honor to be around were fantastic about signing autographs in person and through the mail. The only difference is when they had time to sit down to do it some would do them right away while others would wait until they received more quantity and then do them.


Q: Do you know if they get any coaching regarding autographs?


A: The only guidance I say they would get from management would be to try and be as professional as you can be all the time.

Q: Does anyone teach the abbreviated, short-hand autograph?

A: Some are really neat about it and some are not what I have noticed as they move up the ladder is that YES the autograph gets condensed.

Lynn’s story is important for another reason. Those behind-the-scenes heroes who keep the farm teams thriving, who help today’s minor leaguers become tomorrow’s stars, are often as devoted to the sport as we are. They have pasts as inspiring as any player. A tip of the M’s cap to you, Chipper!
Coming Thursday: Talking autographs with fabled pitcher Ned Garver


Virgil Trucks Getting Alabama Recognition!

Posted June 30th, 2011 by Tom Owens and filed in Calera Alabama, Cap Anson, Marshalltown Iowa, Virgil Trucks
The same signature remains! Is Virgil covering
first base in spring training?

And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor.”

— Mathew 13:57 (NIV)

I have a bit of good news about Virgil Trucks, an update of the June 15 post, “Alabama Hometown Needs Virgil Trucks.”

The “Welcome To Calera” sign is supposed to be redone this year. Virgil’s name will be added.

However, a Calera Chamber of Commerce representative seemed a bit perplexed when I asked why NASCAR driver Hut Stricklin (who has since moved) was recognized, but not Virgil Trucks.

Answer: only one man is FROM Calera.

I think being a native son is overrated. Virgil Trucks, born in nearby Birmingham in 1917, CHOSE Calera. He’s still living in Calera. Two reasons I’d move his name to the top of any sign.

I found little consolation upon hearing the Chamber rep say that the Calera Historical Society would be meeting in July, and that would be a good time to mention Mr. Trucks.

Virgil Trucks is LIVING history. Celebrate him NOW.

For years, I lived in Marshalltown, Iowa. Cubs fans who read my published work would call or send e-mail. Since I lived in the birthplace of baseball Hall of Famer Cap Anson, fans asked: what landmarks were there to visit? I could have told them I once lived on Anson Street, played in Anson Park and attended Anson School.

Trouble is, all were named after town founder Henry Anson, Cap’s father.

Yes, clouds of racism overshadow Anson’s legacy. Nonetheless, the people wanted to come. I imagined the cash-strapped public school system selling tons of clothes for a renamed “Cap Anson School.” I asked local leaders to consider all the history, to address ALL of Cap’s behavior — the good, bad and the historically-influenced. (Was he more hateful than others, or did newspapers simply listen more to Anson because he was famous?)

I begged Marshalltown to do something. Do anything!

No way. Too controversial. Status quo, please.

Virgil Trucks would be a joy to promote, compared to Anson, the 19th century version of Billy Martin. Let’s hope Calera agrees while the Trucks family can still enjoy the well-deserved accolades.

Coming Friday: meet young collector and Negro Leagues booster Cam Perron