Don Mincher’s Autograph Legacy

Rejoining his old team…

Slugging Don Mincher died Sunday at age 73.

How will he be remembered? There’s lots of choices:

  • 1965 A.L. champion Minnesota Twin
  • 1969 Seattle Pilots all-star
  • Minor league mogul…including Huntsville Stars owner and Southern League president

I might add something else to the list: autograph admission fee pioneer.

I scoured the success board on www.sportscollectors.net. Since 2002, Mincher was charging a fee for his autograph by mail. He started out working through a broker, a fan mail clearinghouse. Soon, he was handling his own mail. A shrewd businessman, Mincher must have learned that it wasn’t that tough to keep all the profit.

Reading the results more closely, I see that Mincher was willing to add notations such as “1969 Seattle Pilots.” Several people, such as my friends at www.autographaddict.com, got questions answered.

I’m guessing that Mincher may have given freely to anyone buying a ticket to his Huntsville Stars. Likewise, I think he wasn’t selling individual autographs as much as he was judging the sincerity of each request.

The late Phil Rizzuto was famous for doing this. The check would be returned with a “No Charge!” announcement penned by The Scooter. He’d include an extended personalized inscription (seeing how many words would fit atop a Hall of Fame plaque postcard).

Not that Mincher sent out freebies. Nevertheless, he was one of a breed of autograph signers who seemed to use the fee as a bouncer and velvet rope. The request for money lessens the fan mail load while scaring off casual collectors.

Thanks to men like Mincher, I ask two questions about signing policies: how much and WHY.

Breaking News: Tracy Jones Delivers?!?

The website www.omgreds.com shared these specimens in
December, but reported on 12/15 that Jones wanted to
cancel his free autograph offer. Why did he go through with it?
By the way, this website looks like a great resource
for Reds autograph possibilities!

Tonight’s menu includes crow and humble pie.

I waved the red (Cincinnati Reds?) flag back in January over concerns that Tracy Jones might be toying with the affections of WLW listeners. I didn’t throw stones or call names. However, I did address that I hoped collectors wouldn’t be teased with empty promises.

Jeff Schultz reported on www.sportscollectors.net that he may be the first to find that the former outfielder came through on his promise for a postage-paid autographed card to anyone who e-mailed. Thanks to Jeff, who scored a signed 1987 Topps.

There could be good news at your door soon, too. It may not be that Publisher’s Clearinghouse guy with the balloons and the giant cardboard check. I’ll take TJ as my consolation prize.

People who keep their word get my applause. There’s a new reason for wanting a Tracy Jones autograph!

Coming Wednesday: What did the late Don Mincher teach us?

An Overdue Valentine For Pat Neshek

My hope soared to see the image on
http://www.csnbaltimore.com. Talk
to the man, reporters! He’s much more
than a “herky jerky” hurler…

Pitcher Pat Neshek remains baseball’s best-kept secret.

This is bigger than stats. The Orioles have potential gold to prospect. Neshek is one of baseball’s few remaining personalities, in addition to being MLB’s first-ever hobby ambassador.

I spotted just one website this weekend that might have told a little bit about Neshek’s charm. Well, a correspondent critiqued Neshek’s unique pitching motion. Sigh…

Attention, Baltimore media! Go to the Pat Neshek website. Check out his message board. Talk about a fan following! He’s real. While other ad agencies are posting phoney “all about me” messages on behalf of players, the pitcher is busy reviewing new card sets (giving away the autographed inserts he pulls).

The man posts his updated spring training address, so collectors can get their fan letters sent to the proper location. He offers to trade Pat Neshek autographed cards for ones you’ve collected — for any pro sport.

Emily Post is famous for her book of etiquette. Someday, Neshek should author a book for current and former major leaguers. “How to Treat Fans and Collectors.”

Keep grabbing headlines, Pat. We’re rooting for you!

Baseball History, Beyond Card Sets

The first-ever equipment
manager for the Twins
shared his career story.
A real book, still
available from
www.domeplus.com

Reflecting on yesterday’s post, I realized that so many noted names in baseball history get ignored by collectors.

Why? No cards! Nothing to get autographed.

I’ve yet to find anyone who’s posted news of an autograph from the following:

— Yosh Kawano, former Cubs equipment manager

— George Toma, member MLB Groundskeepers Hall of Fame
(Look it up. No kidding!)

— Gene Geiselman, former Cardinals trainer

— Ernie Hays, former Cardinals organist

— Dick Martin, former Twins trainer

Sure, I’d love to get questions answered by these guys, names I thought would be part of baseball forever.

Most of all, I want them to see my letter. I want them to know I remember.

What out-of-uniform names from team rosters would you add to the list?

My Lost Moment In Cardinals History

In 1988, I dropped the ball.

Working for Sports Collectors Digest, I was in the press booth at Busch Stadium. I met Colin Jarrett, the engineer of the Cardinals radio broadcasts.

Realizing how many years he had worked in baseball, I asked him about some of the favorite parks he had visited.

He named some bygone venues. Then, he handed me a small photo album, with photos of ballparks paintings.

“You collect paintings?” I asked.

He snorted. “I painted those!”

Jarrett explained that he had time on road trips, and that this was a good way of remembering.

He told me he gave the paintings as gifts, or donated some for charity auctions. I believe he said that one of his works was hanging in Mike Shannon’s Restaurant.

When I asked if I could write more about him and his stunning works, Jarrett seemed to grow embarrassed. He said no.

How many times did his name get mentioned on Cardinals broadcasts? Try finding out about Colin Jarrett today.

History’s window closes quickly. Get the stories while you can.

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