Tim Virgilio Collects UNC Alums

Posted February 19th, 2013 by Tom Owens and filed in Bill Kearns, Matt Harvey, New York Mets, Tim Virgilio, UNC
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!

Posted February 14th, 2013 by Tom Owens and filed in envelopes, greeting cards, Valentine's Day

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.

Coach Wendell Kim’s Legacy

Posted February 12th, 2013 by Tom Owens and filed in GiantsFarmPhotos.tumblr.com, Wendell Kim, www.sportscollectors.net, www.wk20.com
A now-poignant tribute, circa 1977, shared at

Fans of the Giants, Red Sox, Expos or Cubs would know the name.

Coach Wendell Kim

Because he wasn’t a regular in card sets, Kim never topped want lists. A check at www.sportscollectors.net revealed that only three attempts were recorded. He returned all.

Kim’s last response was in 2007. Recently, his wife has been sharing the bad news.

Only 62, Wendell Kim is coping with Alzheimer’s Disease. He’s been in a care facility for three years, unable to sign autographs. Remove him from your baseball address lists, please.

Bravely, Natasha Kim preserves the legacy of her fan-friendly husband at www.wk20.com.

Some of us groan at non-responses. “Why hasn’t the guy signed? What’s wrong with him?”

Other collectors fret over their letters. “What’s wrong with me?” Typed or hand-written? Change the approach?

Sometimes, the answer is c) none of the above.

I’m grateful for what the Kims have shared, then and now.