Surprise Virgil Trucks On His 95th!

Let’s surprise ‘Fire’ on April 26
with OUR autographs!

Thanks to friend Kohei Nirengi, who shared this e-mail alert.



                        MS. CAROLYN TRUCKS BECKWITH,
                        55  SALSER LANE
                        COLUMBIANA,  ALABAMA   35051

GO TIGERS,   bobby hoeft, founder & publisher of  WBWF

Past blog posts have saluted Bobby and his one-of-a-kind newsletter, When Baseball Was Fun. Bobby has an all-star plan here.

Please, do NOT send  to Virgil at HIS address. Help his daughter stage a special SURPRISE tribute to this super-signer and best friend to the hobby.

Coming Wednesday: Yogi Berra and Ron Guidry autographing details!

Bo (Rosny) Knows Baseball Cards

NOT! Blogger Bo has collected great
card insights from guys like Brian
Kingman (who got mixed up
for Alan Wirth…)

The first time I read the blog “Baseball Cards Come to Life!”, I came to life.

Ever since The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book in 1973, I’ve been curious about how players feel about their best and worst photos on cards.

Seems like Bo Rosny had the same thoughts. I was grateful that he’d share his experiences with other bloggers. Here’s his fun e-interview:

Q: What’s been your history as a TTM collector (years, specialty, etc.)?

A: I actually don’t TTM. I’m a baseball card collector and have gotten a few autographed cards in trades over the years but am not really an autograph collector. I ask questions online (email, facebook, twitter,etc). It doesn’t cost me any postage, and is generally quicker andeasier for the player than a written note.

Q:  Who was the first former player ever to write you about his cards? How did you refine your questions?

A: Pat Ahearne was the first to write back. I’ve kept the questions consistent over the years, occasionally adding something specific, like asking Tim Flannery about his surfboard card.

Q: Have you found former players who collect to the point of trading
(such as Frank Thomas, the 1950s star)?

A: I wasn’t aware of Thomas’s collection. I’d love to trade with a former player (too bad I don’t have any ’52 Topps cards for Thomas)! What other players trade cards?

Ryan Tatusko is a pitcher in the Nationals organization who is a big Nolan Ryan collector. We have been working on a trade on and off for a while but he is obviously very busy during the season! There are also some players who are looking for cards of themselves.  Dan Smith is one who comes to mind.

Some like Kevin Mench ignore the cards. (Yet let the wrong guy get shown on your card, and listen to the screams!)

Q: What percentage of responses are just signatures, versus answers to your card questions?

A: As it is online communication, there are no signatures. I would estimate that I have sent over 4000 emails, over 2000 facebook messages, and almost 1000 tweets. I get about a 5% response rate, which I think is pretty good as this is an unsolicited request, and many of the players are surprised to get contacted this way.

In my day job, part of what I do is finding people online, so it’s a skill I am good at, but I don’t use any special tools or databases, just a lot of hard work (for me it is quite fun!). I imagine my personal database of player contact info would be pretty valuable to people, but it’s not
something I would consider selling.

If you or your readers are looking to contact an individual player, I’d be happy to point you to them. My twitter feed is public – you can see all the people I am following there publicly. Lots of current and a surprising number of former players on there.

Q: What inspired you to start a blog? How has the blog helped you as a fan and collector?

A: My biggest objective with the blog is baseball card trading. Having a blog definitely helps you in the card trading community. Beyond that I wanted to do something different, as there were so many great card blogs out there already. I compiled a few hundred email addresses and started sending emails out, not really expecting to get many responses. I’ve been blown away by how many great responses I have gotten.

I think this whole project has helped me as a fan by getting to see more of the human side of players. I see them much more as people then as far-away beings on the TV screen. I find it much more interesting than seeing a signature on a photograph.

That said, autograph collectors like you who go way beyond the simple autograph are much more interesting to a fan like me, and clearly to the players too. And I think it is great when you can turn the tables and help them out, like the recent exchange with George Riley.

Q: Future goals writing and collecting?

A: Just keep doing what I’m doing! I’m going to run out of players to contact eventually, but hopefully my blog will still be relevant!

Coming Monday: A special way we can honor Virgil Trucks.

‘Driving Mr. Yogi’ 2012 Bookshelf MVP

Author Harvey Araton saved the best for last.

Driving Mr. Yogi: Yogi Berra, Ron Guidry, and Baseball’s Greatest Gift is a title worth remembering. Yankee fans who judge a book by its cover will be sold immediately.

Red Sox fans and anyone else ambivalent about the Bronx Bombers will be glad to know that the “gift” is friendship. The story revolves around how spring training reunited the pair in 1999. Berra befriended Guidry years earlier as a pitcher.

So much of Driving is off the field. Guidry looks after the senior citizen, driving him to and from the Florida ballpark or sharing evening dinners.

In the process, their friendship deepens, despite a quarter-century age gap. Guidry shows up at Berra’s museum in New Jersey or a Cooperstown autograph signing. (Readers learn that Berra averages $20,000 to $50,000 per autograph appearance these days.)

Unlike other authors, Araton paints a complete picture of Berra. This is about far more than quirky sayings. This book describes the pride that powered a 14-year standoff with team owner George Steinbrenner. 

Araton eavesdrops on conversations between the unlikely duo. Guidry is fiercely loyal. Berra isn’t the comical chatterbox past press accounts have claimed. Together, they reveal that the same uniform was just the beginning of all they have in common. One of the author’s greatest accomplishments is allowing us to see Berra through Guidry’s eyes, and vice versa.

Autograph collectors even get some juicy tidbits in this tale. For instance:

Former team public relations director Rick Cerrone tells of asking Berra to autograph the 1984 Sports Illustrated cover.

“What should I write?” Berra had asked.

“How about ‘It ain’t over ’til it’s over’? Cerrone had said.

Berra had nodded and written, “Best Wishes.”

Coach Stump Merrill told of picking up Yogi from their spring training hotel. Merrill would rescue Berra from mobs of autograph seekers.

Merrill noted that Berra was concerned about collectors wanting autographs for resale. “I signed for you yesterday.”

From page 203, Berra sounds more like a collector than signer.

“With a fresh stack of magazines in front of him, Berra resumed signing, firmly and meticulously, nothing like the standard celebrity scribble. He took his cue on that from the men he considered the masters of legibility. Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio.

“They had beautiful signatures,” Berra said in a reverent tone. He bristled over how modern players’ signatures tended to be indistinguishable. For clarity’s sake, whenever Berra asked one of the kids like Evan Longoria to sign a ball, he would also request that they write their number under the name.”

I’ve seen one reviewer speculate that George Clooney could play Guidry and Ed Asner Berra in the movie version of the book. I’d second that notion. Driving Mr. Yogi is a fascinating, insightful tale of friendship reaching across generations. Don’t miss this title.

Coming Friday: How do former players feel about their baseball cards? Here’s the blogger who knows!

Fan Mail Mattered To Jerry Lynch

More than 50 years later, Lynch maintained
that crisp autograph!

The initial obituary of Jerry Lynch is no longer available. I found a more detailed remembrance in the Pittsburgh newspaper. Small wonder, considering that Lynch gained his sparkplug reputation in Pittsburgh.

I salute Taryn Luna from the Post-Gazette for some stellar reporting. This observation from Lynch’s wife Alice leaped out:

“After his retirement, he kept in touch with his fans.

“He always answered his fan mail,” she said. “He signed the picture and sent it back. He was very faithful about this.”

She said his desk has stacks of letters he received since he went into the hospital two weeks ago.”

Remembering Pinch-Hitter Jerry Lynch

Sly smile, wry wit!

One of baseball’s greatest pinch-hitters has left us.

A weekend obituary reported that Jerry Lynch died at age 81.

Lynch delivered in the clutch for me, too. His reply was one of the funniest I’ve ever shared on this blog.

Coming Wednesday: A review of Driving Mr. Yogi: Yogi Berra, Ron Guidry and Baseball’s Greatest Gift.

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