Catcher Bob Schmidt’s Final Autograph?

Years of service, to baseball
and the hobby. Thank you!

Thanks to Reds collector Ron Martin for sharing the news, via

Former catcher Bob Schmidt, part of Cincinnati’s 1961 team, suffered a stroke and is unable to sign autographs.

Schmidt’s greatest statistic?

According to SCN, he signed 97 of 99 TTM requests.

Before everyone crosses him off their baseball address lists, I have one question:

When a retiree has to stop signing because of health matters, do any of you (who own his autograph) ever send a thank-you note? I’d think a note saying, “I kept your autograph all these years” would be quite meaningful.

Just a thought.

Bob Stinson Still Loves Topps

If this was a comic strip, I’d
add a thought balloon to
Stinson’s smirk. Imagine him
thinking, “This is just a
facsimile autograph. The
real one costs $10. Ha!”

Every autograph can tell a story.

Harvey Meiselman, intrepid compiler of baseball addresses, sent customers an update about catcher Bob Stinson.

Stinson has upped his signing fee by mail to $10 per autograph.

Back in 2010, I wrote about Stinson’s dislike of the fabled SSPC set. The 1976 edition was unlicensed. College student Keith Olbermann (long before ESPN or political fame) got his first national taste of baseball journalism, writing the card backs.

Stinson was the final holdout for Olbermann, protesting to the TV personality that the set was unlicensed.

Yes, you guessed it, Stinson’s updated policy states he’ll sign Topps cards only.

Nothing personal, Keith!

By the way, Stinson may just be repaying Topps for the huge faith the company showed in him. From 1970-72, he was on a “Rookie Stars” card…for three different teams.

Why Autograph Unlicensed Photos?

A custom card is ART.
The featured player
should be honored,
not suspicious.
Explain that in
your letter!

Bob Uecker is the latest.

Even former players are concerned about autographing only “MLB authorized” photos. They want to see that hologram, in the sweet hope that the player’s association is getting some money (that we, the collectors, forked out).

The attitude goes to the extreme shown by Wally Moon, quoted by a collector as replying that he wouldn’t sign “pirated” photos.

To their defense, current and former players seem to believe they’ll help their brethren by only signing the blessed photos. There’s the assumption that you’ll be running straight to eBay and getting rich with your new autograph, so the baseball family wants its profits first.

How can you win against such bias? Try writing:

1. “I made this myself, for myself!” It’s harder to turn down Mom’s home cooking, as opposed to something that came out of a box.

2. WHY them? For example, Bill Kearns makes custom cards of Maine natives. Stress that this person is special, not just another baseball player.

3. “It’s one of a kind.” See that the potential signer knows this isn’t something you’re going to churn out by the hundreds.

There’s no guarantees. However, even with a refusal, you struck out only after you went down swinging.

Tim Virgilio Collects UNC Alums

One sweet custom card, created by
Tim Virgilio!

“Who do you know?”

It’s not a question I ask of collectors to see who has rubbed elbows with greatness. I want to find like-minded hobbyists who’ll bring their brands of inspiration to this blog.

I offered this question to collector Bill Kearns. He nominated fellow fan Tim Virgilio. Here is Tim’s story:

“I grew up a baseball fan and my father was born and raised in The Bronx. He grew up watching and rooting for all of the great Yankees (Mantle, Berra, Ford, etc.). Baseball was what really brought my father and I closer when I was younger. One day, while watching a game, my father tells me about when he was about my age (14 at the time) and how he would cut out photos of the Yankee players and send a letter to them at the Stadium requesting an autograph. This led to my first request for an autograph through the mail. Ever since that time, I’ve been hooked on the hobby.
With over 20 years of collecting autographs, both in person and through the mail, I have acquired quite a number of memorable autographs. When I first started collecting, my focus was to obtain all of the “big names”. Over the years, my focus has changed. Since I am a fan of the New York Mets, I have been focusing on an all-time collection of Mets. This has been a great project since there are players who played briefly with the Mets and those that spent their entire career with the Mets. For this project, I try to get the players to sign a card or photo of the player in a Mets’ uniform. Sometimes it is difficult to find, so I have gotten custom 4×6 photos signed. 
Many times, I will receive nice notes back from the player or a family member telling me about their time with the Mets and asking for additional copies of the photos for themselves, their children, their grandchildren, or others. One very touching note that I received was from a wife of a former player. She had written about how her husband was very bitter about how his baseball career had ended that he had gotten rid of most of his baseball related items. It was only recently that he has regretted that and has started to try to rebuild his personal collection. She stated that he was touched by the custom photos that I had done and was wondering if I would be willing to send more for him. It was a great honor to be asked for such a thing that I did several custom photos of him in the uniforms of the teams that he played for and sent them to him.
Another collection that I have started is my all-time UNC baseball/football/basketball collection. This has been a fun project as it allows me to learn more about the history of UNC sports and many of the great players that have played for UNC. Those players that respond back with memories of their time at UNC often talk very fondly about their time in Chapel Hill, as if it were some very magical place for them.
However, I think that the greatest thing about this hobby is the friendships that I have made. I have several collectors around the country that I do not trade with but send gifts to. Basically, we help each other with our collections by sharing the extras that we have without the expectation of receiving anything in return except a thank you. This has been great because it allows each of us to add to our collections some players that we would otherwise have a very difficult time obtaining. I continue to have a great deal of fun with this hobby and plan to continue it for as long as I can.Another thing about my early beginnings of TTM requests: When I would get returns from players, especially older players that I didn’t see play but my father did, we would open the return mail together and then spend hours talking about the players and what my father remembered about them. Even now, when he comes to visit, he will ask what players I heard back from and we will talk baseball for hours. It is really a great experience for both of us and really continues to bring us closer.”
Thanks, Tim. Meanwhile, find someone to share some baseball with! 

Real Men Use Pink Envelopes!

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.

Tomorrow, Feb. 15, all the stores selling racks of greeting cards will start purging excess, leftover envelopes.

A few will sell the envelopes for a penny apiece. Most will be throwing the envelopes out.

Ask. Ask. Ask! I get free piles each year.

Clubhouse attendants. Family members. Often, they’ll sort or pile envelopes for anyone who gets a regular amount of fan mail.

Be different. Different is good. Different stands out.

You want your envelope opened. If it’s opened, why not read the letter? Then, why not give the person the autographs they want or the answers to the questions they asked?

You can still use the standard white envelope for your SASE.

St. Patrick’s Day cards have green envelopes. Easter cards have yellow or purple envelopes. No one wants the pink and red.

Trust me. It works.