St. Louis Brown Ned Garver’s 1951 Book Is 2014’s Must-Have!

Ned Garver remains a winner.

He hasn’t taken the mound since 1961. However, his new book Catch 20…too! How one pitcher won 20 games on a team that lost over 100 will be remembered as one of his greatest accomplishments.
The fascinating 184-page book recounts how Garver won 20 games on a struggling St. Louis Browns club that lost 102 in 1951.
Authors Ronnie Joyner and Bill Bozman have preserved an overlooked slice of baseball history. Together with pictures from Garver’s personal collection, this is a book that’ll stun even the brainiest baseball fan.
Joyner and Bozman give a great recap of Garver’s season. “Ned’s Notes” allow Garver himself to offer detailed color commentary from every victory. He’s remembered it all, recapping conversations with teammates and foes.
This isn’t fluffy encyclopedic stuff. Garver interweaves episodes from his entire career, comparing them to 1951. For instance, he tells about his regret over accidentally beaning Brooks Robinson in 1957. 
Conversely, Garver isn’t shy about sharing his feelings from 1951 over Larry Doby and Early Wynn (the latter being the avenger who delivered a retaliatory fastball message at the Brown hurler’s head). Perhaps, Wynn knew how dangerous Garver was as a hitter. He accented his 20-win achievement with a .305 batting average.
The book’s end is priceless. Garver himself begins his memory of win 20 with, “If you were going to write a script for Hollywood, I think that scenario was as good as it gets:”. It’s a great story, told in all-star fashion by the man called “The Team” by St. Louis owner Bill Veeck. 
An introduction from Dodgers pitcher Carl Erskine and box scores from every Garver victory make this the perfect time capsule.
To get a postpaid copy autographed by the unforgettable Brownie, send a check or money order for $25 to:
Don Garver (Ned’s son)
113 Avalon Drive
Bryan, Ohio 43506

Eddie O’Brien, Gone At Age 83

One half of one of the most amazing Topps cards of the 1950s is gone.

Eddie O’Brien amazed me in 2010 with a letter that told about that famed card with his brother, his brief stint as a Pirates pitcher and getting scouted by Bing Crosby.
The always-amazing tallied 152 responses in 166 tries for Eddie O.
Eddie was famous, too, for taking the 1954 card (or the Archives) to his brother John for a second autograph. I don’t think most TTM collectors requested the effort. It was usually a surprise. Two autographs, one stamp, giving “double play” new meaning.
Great friends to the hobby remain. Write them while you can.

Pitcher Ned Garver Talks Autographs

Ned still has a gorgeous
Ned Garver is a wonder.
Now age 88 (born Christmas Day, 1925), he was a fearless pitcher whose 129 wins may have neared 200 with more contending teams.
Despite many hard-luck losses, he’s remained undefeated as a hobby all-star. A recent check at confirmed that Ned Garver was perfect. Of 415 recorded contacts by collectors, Garver responded EVERY TIME.
I wrote to him, simply to ask about his history as a superstar signer of fan mail. He responded:
“When I was pitching well — late ’40s and early ’50s, I got lots of mail. Come back from road trip and there would be perhaps a thousand in my locker. The club assigned a person to deal with the mail. 
I bought 3-by-5 pictures to send — no envelopes [SASE] mailed in. When I had knee surgery, I got thousands — needed help.
That’s has always been my policy.”
What about fan mail today? Does he ever get a donation of thanks?
“I support a few charities and my church — never asked for help. RARELY does anyone send donation — even if they request much.
I am old — it has become more difficult — but I enjoy mail.
Coming Monday: A review of Ned’s fine new book “Catch 20…too! How One pitcher won 20 games on a team that lost over 100.”

My Favorite Mariners Minor Leaguer

Spring training is here!

Everyone loves looking at prospects. Get their autograph now, before the world finds out.
The Pulaski Mariners (rookie affiliate, Appalachian League) has a star who isn’t in uniform.
I knew Lynn “Chipper” Cripps first as a gung-ho, always-smiling catcher for my Marshalltown, Iowa high school team. Later, he served with honor as a local police department sergeant, only to face early retirement from being injured in the line of duty.
Lynn never forgot baseball, and baseball never forgot him. After working as clubhouse manager for the Clinton Lumber Kings, he’s signed on for the same role in Pulaski to be near relatives.
Gearing up for a new season at a new address, Lynn still found time to answer some questions. Knowing that he may be the one who gets fan mail to everyone on the roster, I wanted to ask him what he’s seen.
Q: How were your Midwest Leaguers in signing autographs?
A: These young Minor League players that I had the honor to be around were fantastic about signing autographs in person and through the mail. The only difference is when they had time to sit down to do it some would do them right away while others would wait until they received more quantity and then do them.

Q: Do you know if they get any coaching regarding autographs?

A: The only guidance I say they would get from management would be to try and be as professional as you can be all the time.

Q: Does anyone teach the abbreviated, short-hand autograph?

A: Some are really neat about it and some are not what I have noticed as they move up the ladder is that YES the autograph gets condensed.

Lynn’s story is important for another reason. Those behind-the-scenes heroes who keep the farm teams thriving, who help today’s minor leaguers become tomorrow’s stars, are often as devoted to the sport as we are. They have pasts as inspiring as any player. A tip of the M’s cap to you, Chipper!
Coming Thursday: Talking autographs with fabled pitcher Ned Garver

Valentine Strategy For Autograph Collectors?

I think autograph collectors send their symbolic pink and red hearts to the wrong people.

When you write a current player at home or a retiree, family members are gatekeepers. They support the signers, keeping them signing FOR US. 
Therefore, writing to someone and saying, “You can keep an extra card if you want” may not have the desired effect.
These men still believe they have ice water in their veins. Shrug. Shrug. Seen it all.
They may be unphased at your offer.
Instead, in a salute to the family who tolerate fan mail (and I was once told by a weary Al Kaline that his family’s property tax bill got lost in a basket of autograph requests), write, “I’ve enclosed __ extras for you to share with your family or fans.”
Then, put the yellow sticky note on each with the words: “For you to share.”
Some collectors groan, “But it’s okay when all 11 cards come back autographed to me…”
Make a real effort. Truly give. Retirees re-gift extras to other collectors. (Ever get a custom card, thinking it was meant for someone else? Nope. Some generous creative collector shared, and you benefit, too.)
Besides, the suspicious wives, mothers, kids and grandkids may change their tune about those supposedly greedy-selfish autograph collectors.
Happy Valentine’s Day!