Pitching Coach Herm Starrette Explains Movie “Bull Durham”


Thank you, Herm Starrette.

I love the movie Bull Durham (20th Anniversary Edition)
. I love the interaction on the mound, those conferences and pep talks.

I had to ask a real coach what a real mound meeting is like. What might be the funniest thing ever said — even if you don’t laugh until returning to the bench.
Starrette proved the movie might be more real than we imagined, replying:

“Little Latin kid. Bases load, no outs. can’t tell you his name. He said to me, ‘No problem.’ I said, ‘Yes, there IS a problem.'”

Starrette received World Series rings as Baltimore’s minor league pitching coordinator in 1970, and as Philadelphia’s pitching coach in 1980.

Now, he’s facing the ultimate challenge:

“I appreciate your letter. May God bless you and your family. I’ve had a hard time with prostate cancer. It’s a long haul taking radiation. Thanks. Your friend, Herm Starrette.”

Write to Herm. Remember him. He concluded with:

“Don’t have time to write you the whole story, but a beautiful career and quite educational. Learn a lot from different people.”

Pitching Coach Herm Starrette Explains Movie "Bull Durham"


Thank you, Herm Starrette.

I love the movie Bull Durham (20th Anniversary Edition)
. I love the interaction on the mound, those conferences and pep talks.

I had to ask a real coach what a real mound meeting is like. What might be the funniest thing ever said — even if you don’t laugh until returning to the bench.
Starrette proved the movie might be more real than we imagined, replying:

“Little Latin kid. Bases load, no outs. can’t tell you his name. He said to me, ‘No problem.’ I said, ‘Yes, there IS a problem.'”

Starrette received World Series rings as Baltimore’s minor league pitching coordinator in 1970, and as Philadelphia’s pitching coach in 1980.

Now, he’s facing the ultimate challenge:

“I appreciate your letter. May God bless you and your family. I’ve had a hard time with prostate cancer. It’s a long haul taking radiation. Thanks. Your friend, Herm Starrette.”

Write to Herm. Remember him. He concluded with:

“Don’t have time to write you the whole story, but a beautiful career and quite educational. Learn a lot from different people.”

Pitcher Bob Kipper Enjoys Autographs


One of the best hobby stories of the 1990s starred pitcher Bob Kipper.

Yes, Kipper’s last year in the majors came in 1992. He lost his baseball card collection in a 1997 house fire. That’s when collectors proved why this hobby is special.

The letters started coming. Not autograph request letters, but gifts. Gifts of replacement cards.

I contacted Kipper when writing my 2001 book Collecting Baseball Cards. At that time, he had appeared on 43 different cards. His gratitude hadn’t dimmed. Kipper replied:

“Till this day, I still get a charge out of signing a baseball card of mine. It is definitely a big thrill to be on so many baseball cards. It was my dream to become a major league baseball player. I think it’s a kick to think other individuals would actually want an autograph of mine!”

Finding Josh Wilker’s Cardboard Gods

I just began reading a fascinating hobby-related book. What do baseball cards mean to you? Could they help get you through a difficult childhood?

Those are the questions at the forefront of Josh Wilker’s memoir, Cardboard Gods: An All-American Tale Told Through Baseball Cards
This isn’t the typical “aw, shucks” happy recollection of youth. Wilker writes with painful honesty and insightful humor of his parents and other challenges. He reminded me of the card shop owner I met years ago in Washington state.

“My cards helped me growing up,” he said, telling about coping with two constantly-ill parents. “I’d stare at the pictures until they started moving. Then I could sleep.”

JoshTheAuthor has been a noted blogger since 2006, with a blog by the same name. His essays are funny and insightful. “Me, too!” is a common reaction you’ll have when reading.

I e-mailed Josh, wondering if autographs or correspondence ever become part of his baseball cards-as-life musings. He replied:

“I actually haven’t gotten any emails from former players. A guy who seems to have been Don Stanhouse did once comment on my site. I wrote about that connection here:

In that post, I also mention my childhood desire to connect with Yaz. A couple days ago, someone who’d read an article about my appearance with Bill Lee at Fenway (an article that mentions my yearning as a kid for a Yaz autograph) offered to send me an autograph her husband got from Yaz at a grocery store when he was shilling for kielbasa. That kind of connection is about as close as I get to the gods, which is kind of how I like it, I guess, off in the cheap seats. I mean, it was very sweet to have someone think to share that autograph with me. That’s a big part of the fun of the site, connecting with people who have stories about close but brief or distant and lasting connections with the guys on the cards.”

Read this blog. Get this book. Prepare for a movie! Thanks to Josh, we’ll all be seeing old cards with new eyes.

Phillies Coach Milt Thompson Offers A Lesson For All Collectors


Long before Milt Thompson dished out batting tips, he offered me a valuable hobby lesson.

I believe the year was 1989. I was in St. Louis, working on my book Redbirds Revisited. I was waiting in the Cardinals main office in “old” Busch Stadium.

I heard rubber pounding the pavement outside. A man in his 40s came sprinting to the door, shouting, “Sir, may I have your autograph?”

The “Sir” was faster, slipping in to the restricted office space without signing.

The receptionist greeted Thompson. She had his comp tickets ready for that night’s game.

“Sir?” he asked her with an impish grin. “You know anyone named ‘Sir’? My name’s not Sir!”

Sure, Thompson could have felt ornery, or feared that one autograph collector would attract a swarm of other seekers.

Still, his comment stuck. I’ve done everything possible in the years since to personalize every contact I make with every player and retiree. I’ve wanted to make every person feel unique. I research everyone before writing. My letter proves I KNOW them, but want to know them better.

Thanks, Milton Bernard Thompson!

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