Finding Hall of Fame Postcards Cheap

Autograph collectors have loved them for decades. The postcards depicting Hall of Fame plaques have been a mainstay in many collections.

Once, when most HOFers signed for free, a bonus postcard would be included with a reply. Bob Feller told me years ago that the Hall gave him bundles free for his own use.
Us old-time hobbyists wince at the climbing prices of the postcards, now 50 cents each.

Even worse? Look on the HOF website and see that postage and handling begins at $7.99.
Or maybe not.
For a collector who needs only an annual update of that year’s inductees, the $7.99 seems like a punishment for someone wanting just two postcards.

Here’s an alternative:

Call the Hall of Fame switchboard (607-547-0397). Ask to be connected to the gift shop. Have a credit card handy. Ask if you can place a small order by phone.

Shrewd collectors have found that the shipping charges have been as low as $2 for a few cards.
HOF workers will ask collectors to send in a FAX for a large order.

Worst of all, don’t get soaked by dealers who are re-selling new cards for a few bucks each. Order straight from the source for the best deal.
Coming Friday: A review of the fun new book Baseball Fantography.

Lefty Gomez Daughter Knows Autographs

Far after his 1989 death,
specimens like this
are common on ebay,
averaging $10 to $15

I’ve tried to imagine growing up as the child of a baseball star.
The riches and the famous family friends? Nah, too easy. What’s mind-blowing is the idea that the mailbox would be filled with letters from strangers.

That’s what prompted me to send questions to Vernona Gomez, daughter of baseball Hall of Famer Vernon “Lefty” Gomez and the co-author of Lefty: An American Odyssey.

Q: How did your Dad feel about fans and autographs? What versions of his autograph did you see?

A: Lefty enjoyed the fans and signing autographs. He signed as ‘Vernon Lefty Gomez’ and ‘Lefty’ Gomez, but not as ‘El Goofo’ — not his name.

Lefty read fan mail and autographed fan mail for free. I have read many of his fan mail.
Q: Do you sign autographs, such as your book?

A: Yes. I am doing book signings for Lefty, An American Odyssey, across the nation. As an author, I’m happy to sign the Lefty book and only the Lefty book at the book signings.

Q: Have you ever signed the Hall of Fame plaque postcard featuring your Dad?

A: No, I do not sign Lefty Gomez’s Hall of Fame cards. His induction is based on his accomplishments in baseball. Only Lefty should sign the card.

Coming Wednesday: Where and how to get those cool HOF postcards.

Yankee Lefty Gomez Stars In New Book

Although he’s been gone more than 20 years, Yankees Hall of Fame pitcher Vernona “Lefty” Gomez may be baseball’s literary Rookie of the Year this season.

Credit daughter Vernona Gomez and Lawrence Goldstone for co-authoring Lefty: An American Odyssey (Ballatine Books, $28).
This title could be called an overdue biography. In 1978, author James Michener first offered to write Lefty’s life story. Schedule conflicts scuttled the partnership. However, Lefty’s daughter volunteered to take over the project.

The book is fascinating on so many fronts. First of all, equal time is devoted to Lefty’s wife, Broadway star June O’Dea. Their marriage lasted just shy of 56 years.

Continuing that theme, the book gives great insights to the Yankee wives who were friends of Mrs. Gomez. Rarely are players of that era shown as off-field people. The couple may have been the first to hear from Joe DiMaggio (a Lefty roommate years earlier) that he planned to re-marry Marilyn Monroe.

For collectors, this book has more than a half-dozen remarkable autograph anecdotes.

Joe McCarthy used autographs to monitor a player curfew during road trips, Gomez later shared.

“Joe gave a baseball to the elevator operator in the team hotel. As the guy took a player up to his room, he asked the player to autograph the ball. When the clock struck twelve, he collected no more signatures. We all knew what Joe was doing but we still had to get our signatures on that baseball.”
After the manager checked for missing autographs (of AWOL Yankees), he’d allow the hotel employee to keep the baseball.

For the 1933 wedding of Gomez and O’Dea, the priest told Lefty that all the altar boys wanted to be in the celebrity service. Only two were needed. When Lefty offered to give autographed team baseballs to the other boys, all the kids decided they’d rather have the souvenir than be in the ceremony!

Gomez was a regular at Hall of Fame weekend induction ceremonies at Cooperstown, signing autographs for one and all. Once, he offered his own view of autographing:

“How do you know your career is over? The fans don’t give you a clean ball to autograph. Instead, they offer you one filled with other autographs and say, ‘See if you can squeeze your name on it somewhere.’”

Before Joe Garagiola and Bob Uecker, baseball’s resident wit wore Yankee pinstripes.

Remarkably, the Hall of Famer’s daughter offers a journalist portrait of her dad, far removed from his famed one-liners. One chapter details his infidelity and a near-divorce. Another looks at the alcoholism that resulted from a grueling post-baseball schedule as a Wilson Sporting Goods nation-wide representative.

Ultimately, Lefty shows a joyous, grateful man who dedicated his life to the sport he loved. Put the pitcher on your reading schedule.

Coming Monday: Author Vernona Gomez talks “Lefty” and autographs.

Get Well Soon, Virgil Trucks!

Daughter and Dad earlier
in 2012, celebrating a
95th birthday!

(Courtesy Carolyn Beckwith)

I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again: Virgil Trucks belongs in the Autograph Collector’s Hall of Fame.
This fabled pitcher has been devoted to answering letters from “fans” who weren’t born when he retired. To class acts like Mister T, we all speak the same language and get the same respect.

The 95-year-old former Tiger suffered a serious fall in late July. Thanks to William at the great blog  “Foul Bunt” for relaying the news to the hobby world.

Yes, this means NOT writing for a Virgil Trucks autograph for now. Holding your letters makes sense. Piles of unopened envelopes won’t speed his relaxation and recuperation. The good news is that he wants to keep delighting collectors with his lightning-fast response times — once he’s better.

Here’s the complete update from Carolyn Beckwith, Virgil’s daughter:

“Thank all the fans for their concern. I am sitting with him now and he said that would help because he can’t answer for awhile and it is so important to him to answer his fan mail. If they would like to send a get well card send it to my address and I can bring them to him. He seems to be doing as good as he can under the circumstances. Still has his awesome sense of humor.

Thank you so much.”

Please, send a “get well” card to this great baseball ambassador. Tell him thanks for his past autographs. Send your support to:

Virgil Trucks
c/o Carolyn Beckwith
55 Salser Lane
Columbiana, AL 35051

I believe in “Fire.” I believe he’ll sign again. All team fandom aside, this is one Tiger we all need to root for.

Coming Friday: Reviewing the book Lefty: An American Odyssey, by daughter Vernona Gomez and Lawrence Goldstone.