Mark Twain Today: Sign Fan Mail or ‘Die’?

“The report of my death was an exaggeration.”

— Mark Twain

No, the superstar author wasn’t trying to avoid getting fan mail by faking his own death. He just cleared up a mistaken reporter who confused Twain with an ill relative in London.

There’s more confusion over the motives of several retired baseball players. Fan mail has been returned with a “Deceased” notation. Not a “refused” or “RTS.” As if the hobby world will cease and desist only when they think the signer is dead, suddenly making a rumor real?

According to, the latest mystery man has been John Goryl, former infielder and Twins manager. One check with baseball address king Harvey Meiselman clouds the picture. According to Harvey, Goryl moved across town.

The humorous part of this development mirrors any Mark Twain story. Will a baseball retiree stop getting pension checks after trying to throw autograph collectors off the trail? Could Major League Baseball announce the “death” to the universe?

Harvey noted that more than one collector-customer of his Baseball Address List has found a retiree returning mail “deceased,” even when the person is anything but. Health problems could be a factor. Or, the former baseball player feels he’s given enough back to fans, as was the case of Bill White.

The message for this disturbing trend is clear: don’t assume willing signers will give out autographs forever, even when they’ve been out of the spotlight for years. Those tasting anonymity may be the first to put their pens down.

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