Gone at age 24.
What can collectors and researchers learn from such a shock as the accidental death of pitcher Jose Fernandez?
According to the ever-inspiring www.sportscollectors.net, Fernandez had responded to 17 of 67 TTM requests. The last success came in his 2013 rookie season, however.
This isn’t a post about stats, mind you. This is a message about the future.
Hurry up. Fate won’t wait.
Write to those baseball names NOW.
Pitcher Ken Johnson died on Nov. 21 at age 82.
I was intrigued by Johnson’s obituary. Baseball was a huge part of his life. So was his religion. I’d guess that someone who combined both passions in one letter might have hit the jackpot.
Johnson’s TTM responses listed on the amazing www.sportscollectors.net showed a spiffy 93 percent success rate. His signing stopped in 2014, when Mrs. Johnson started writing collectors that Ken’s Parkinson’s disease made writing impossible.
A few collectors grumbled through the years that Johnson’s insistence on personalizing autographs was done to make the signatures harder to sell online.
Maybe. Or, he read every letter and wanted to thank everyone who wrote? He was answering questions for collectors. I think he cared about who wrote.
Pitcher Jack Spring died in August at age 82.
I received a brief reply from him in 2010.
In his final years, he was sending out this inspiring note:
“Due to being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, I find it difficult to write. My signature may appear different, but I want you to know it is my signature. I read every letter and sign everything myself. I appreciate hearing from you.”
Note that he wasn’t sending items back blank. Nor did he ask for a cash payment for autographs, even though he had medical costs to consider.
Until the end, Jack Spring reminded fans and collectors that we matter.