Ask Santa For 2011 Baseball Address List

I’ve met this Santa. I believe!
(Thanks, Ken Vergauwen)

I think there’s been a new law passed that Christmas starts as soon as the last trick-or-treater leaves the front step. I’ll never dismiss a jolly thought, no matter the date.

As I assemble my wish list, a “must have” is Harvey Meiselman’s 2011 Baseball Address List. He’s started taking orders on the new edition, which will ship no later than Jan. 4.

Quoting from his announcement:

“NEW FOR 2011

1) the 2011 edition will have over 3,000 address updates and almost 500 new addresses from the previous edition.

2) There will be a column added to the main address section (right next to the column that denotes signing fees) and it will let you know of players who have less than a 25% success rates through the mail on various collectors forums. This will allow you to judge whether you want to send out an expensive rookie card or baseball to someone who has a 10% success rate and possibly lose that card.
1) The deceased players information will be in a separate section. Players mailing addresses will also be in their own separate section. That way, if you’re only interested in the addresses that can yield successful autograph requests you have them all together in one section. If you need the death information, it’s indexed and printed in alphabetical order in a separate section. The best of both worlds.

2) Ex-MLB players who work as managers and coaches for major or minor league baseball teams during the season are now included in the regular address section. This way, lets say a player you want to write to, lives in CA but is a coach for a team in PA during the season. You’ll instantly know what the best address at the time is to use. 

3) Broadcasters, writers, General Managers, Owners and Ford C Frick Award winners and JG Taylor Spink Award winners have been expanded for 2011.”

Why order early? Besides bragging rights about being first on your block with Harvey’s list, know that the nearly 500 new addresses are jackpots awaiting collectors. I’m guessing that a few of these folks may sign freely for a few months, all due to the novelty of receiving fan mail again. Then, they might start charging for signatures. Or, the signing power might be disconnected entirely.

Check out for more information. This is NOT an affiliate link. I get nothing but peace of mind, knowing fellow collectors are using the best resource imaginable. The $35 is a wise hobby investment, knowing you’ll benefit your collection while supporting Harvey’s pioneering work.

Unraveling The Mystery of Oriole Jim Frey

I’ve had the image in my head for more than 30 years.

I’m outside Metropolitan Stadium, ready for the Orioles to arrive. Sharpie in hand, I’m ready for autographs.

A few, like Jim Palmer, come alone by cab. Well-dressed guys heading into The Met.

Then, I see a car pull up near the visitors entrance. A convertible. The passenger is wearing an Orioles uniform. It’s coach Jim Frey.

True story. Unfortunately, I know only the story’s beginning.

I see on that Frey’s signed 138 of 145 fan mail requests. I’m not wanting autographed cards. I just want to know where the O’s coach went in uniform. Think he’ll tell? It’s worth a two-stamp gamble.

Hobby Alert: Five Signs Of A Great Signer

Who do you write to?

The list of retired players is shrinking. I confess: I’ve waited too long for several deceased signers.

Then, how do you keep the mail flowing and the successes returning? I don’t base my future mailings simply on the age of the people I’m contacting. As I look at reports from other collectors, these are signals to move a former player from a possibility to a “must contact.”

1. He signs fast. I’m impatient, so I cheer for anyone who returns fan mail in two weeks or less. Plus, I think fast signers are the most generous. Everybody gets something.

2. Personalization. That means the signer truly reads each letter. Therefore, my questions will get read.

3. Multiple items. I’m asking about three subjects. If someone doesn’t mind signing six cards at once, he won’t mind answering more than one question.

4. Adds an item. Older players are grateful to the true fans. When they enclose a photocopied article or even a photo for some fans, chances are greater I’ll get a thoughtful reply to my questions.

5. A new address. I believe some retirees who move might be sad over a drop in fan mail. If I can reach them during that lull, I might get a better response from the increased free time.

Readers: what clues do you seek about someone’s signing habits before writing?

Ump Denies Dave Wickersham 20th Win

From the 1964 Topps Giant set,
foreshadowing “Wick’s” giant year!

Pitcher Dave Wickersham amazed me. Here was my question:

“In the book THE BALLPLAYERS, it reads in part about you: “…going 19-12 and missing a 20-win season only because of his first ejection from a ballgame.” What’s missing from the story?

Instead of a simple, “I was robbed,” Wickersham recounted the entire shocking episode. How can history slip through your fingers? Relive the fateful day in the hurler’s own words:

“The score was 1-1 in the seventh in Yankee Stadium. Men on first and third with two outs. Phil Linz bunted a ball towards first base. Norm Cash could stand on first base and field the ball. The ball was going so slow that Linz could almost outrun it.

The ball was rolling and took a teeny hop. It hit Cash’s glove and dropped to the ground. He immediately picked it up as he stood on the base.

The umpire Bill Valentine called Linz safe (the runner on third scored, the runner on first went to second base.) I thought Linz was safe. Cash started jumping up and down (he had the ball). Valentine started walking away down the right field foul line, Cash right beside him hollering at him (still holding the ball). The runner on second started for third.

I hollered, “Time out!” Nothing happened to my request. Valentine and Cash were getting further down the right field line. The runner on second base kept going towards third base. I hollered, “Time Out” again louder! Still nothing.

So I start running down the field toward Cash and Valentine. I come up to Valentine from behind and tap him on his left shoulder and said, ‘Time Out, Bill!’ He turned to me and said, ‘You’re out of here.’

I was shocked. I started walking towards our third base dugout. When I crossed an imaginary line behind the pitcher’s mound and home plate, John Stevens the home plate umpire said to me, ‘Where are you going?’

I told him through tears (I had never been kicked out of anything before in my life), ‘He kicked me out.’

Then I headed to the dugout and up to the locker room. When a player is kicked out, he is fined automatically ($50 minimum back then). And I never got notification of a fine. We won the game, 4-2, in nine innings. That supposed out at first base would have put the game into the top of the 8th.

Lots more happened after that and Valentine has since admitted that I should not have been thrown out. I also told him I thought his safe call was the correct call.”

Be sure to check out the fantastic batter-by-batter account offered by

Pitcher Dave Wickersham Discovered by Hall of Famers Branch Rickey, George Sisler

Pitcher Dave Wickersham’s career began with the greatest expectations. Instead of being promised the moon by some amateur scout, two baseball giants scouted the young hurler. Hall of Fame first baseman George Sisler and fabled general manager Branch Rickey convinced Wickersham to try the Pirates organization, signing him in 1955.

Wickersham remembered:

“Branch Rickey started the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and had the best mind of anyone I’ve ever met. A wonderful man. I really did not get to know George Sisler. He seemed very humble.”

 The budding moundsman shared Rickey’s faith and beliefs. That translated to honesty and humility in every mound meeting with concerned coaches. Wickersham wrote:

Tomorrow: relive the epic FIRST-PERSON story of how an impulsive umpire deprived Wickersham of his only 20-win opportunity.

“I never argued with a manager. Sometimes, they would ask how I felt. It was always, ‘Good!’ Only once when I said that did we lose in late innings.”