Baseball Player Passings Hits Milestone

I first wrote about the Facebook group Baseball Player Passings in 2010.

I applaud founder Dave Lambert and the moderators. The group has surpassed 1,000 members.
I’m grateful to know who NOT to write to. Furthermore, it’s good to see that everyone matters. Even a one-week wonder is remembered with an obituary. A story of their life (noting that baseball was only one chapter).
Lastly, I love any group that reminds us that baseball isn’t about the statistics. It’s about the stories.
The people!

The Moral Of Denis Menke: Hometowns Matter

Let me shatter one myth about baseball retirees.

“But I never saw him play!” you might say. “What do I write to him about?”
The answer is in your return address.
Choose someone who is a native of your state. Or someone who found minor league glory on a team in your state.
I was in a Dodger Stadium locker room in 1988. After a LONG game, I stopped in theHouston  Astros locker room. I saw an exhausted coach, an Iowa native. Should I ask Denis Menke about the Big Red Machine days, playing beside Henry Aaron? What would he be interested in discussing.
“I know who your high school coach was,” I began. “The state high school tournament was held in my hometown. I saw your team just miss a state title.”
I watched the years melt off Menke. He perched on his locker stool. A multi-topic chat ensued.
“Wait!” a reader might grunt. “I don’t want to hear about high school baseball or the minors.”
Ah, don’t forget the bigger picture.
Make a connection. You may have something more in common with that name from baseball’s past than you think. 
Here’s a question for your next letter:
“How did you get from here to there, to the majors/All-Star Game/etc.?”
Sculpt the clay, putting it all in your own words. Watch the reactions. The question works!

A Phone Call From Jerry Coleman

Some recall him as part of the Yankees dynasty. Or the voice of the San Diego Padres. Others pointed to his courage serving in World War II and Korea.

Jerry Coleman, who passed away Sunday at age 89, didn’t want to hear those things from me.
I contacted him years ago for a book project. He called me back, polite and helpful.
Trouble is, he seemed humble beyond belief.
Coleman did his job. Even after describing countless games as a broadcaster, he wasn’t ready to wax poetic about his baseball or military lives.
Checking out the always-awesome, results state that Coleman was returning autograph requests less than a month before his death. He signed for 374 of 386 TTM requests. 
I’m finding tons more examples of how he signed in-person for one and all.
Jerry Coleman served his teams, his country and his fans.

A Message From Ed “Hoggy” Herrmann

Loved that “H”

The former catcher touched many lives of fans and collectors.

The 67-year-old’s December death from prostate cancer was a wake-up call to the collecting community. He was returning autograph requests in failing health, even this autumn. The stellar website credited him with 198 responses in 203 recorded attempts by hobbyists. 
I’ll never forget all the knowledge “Fort Herrmann” shared for free on his baseball tutoring website. An unheralded coach, he shared one universal truth:
“You’ll never hit the ball with the bat on your shoulder.”
Take your swings this year, readers. Write to them.Later isn’t an everlasting option. Leave regrets on the bench. 
Make Ed smile up there!