Player’s Wife Imposes Autograph Fee?

I tip my cap to Jack Billingham. It’s not the typical “now I charge for autographs” form letter.

After the traditional claim of finding his autographs being sold on eBay and elsewhere, the tone changes.
“I am all in favor of free enterprise and, in fact, encourage it. With this in mind, I hope you’ll understand when I tell you my wife thinks this old ballplayer should get a little cut of the action.”
Then, the former pitcher goes on to request $5 for signing your card, or $10 for an autographed photo or baseball. He thanks the senders (who gets back their unsigned cards) for their interest in baseball history.
Well, if the Billinghams are marketing autographs, I’d challenge them to give a free sample. At least, autograph the “send again, and include money” request. After all, my grocery store gives me a cheese cube on a toothpick before asking me to buy a pound of cheddar. 
Meanwhile, expect the “my mom threw out my baseball cards” jingle to be overshadowed by the “my wife’s the one making me charge for autographs” refrain.

Hobbyists, Celebrate Anniversaries!

Baseball players love streaks. It’s a game of numbers.

Looking back to contact retired players, don’t forget the dates. Anniversaries. Timing makes the difference.
Today is my wedding anniversary.
Diana married baseball when she married me. My collecting, researching and writing all happens through her patience, encouragement and support. It’s love in action. I am so grateful.
Thank your teammates, those who help make your pastime possible. More than once yearly helps!

John Feinstein Unearths Bobby Valentine Autograph Legend In ‘Where Nobody Knows Your Name’ Book

Standing O for John Feinstein.

The acclaimed sports author has created an all-star effort in Where Nobody Knows Your Name: Life in the Minor Leagues of Baseball (Doubleday, $26.95).
Without giggling about some editor’s need to add “of Baseball” to the title, there’s much to like about this book.
How does it feel to be a minor leaguer, either as a player, manager or even umpire?
Fans and collectors need to read this book to walk in those minor league shoes.
(I remembered a man who photographed lots of American Association players passing through Iowa in the early 1970s had pictures at an early card show. I asked why so many well-known veteran players weren’t wearing their caps in the pictures.
“They don’t want to be seen as minor leaguers,” he explained.)
Feinstein captures this anywhere-but-here futility so well. While he looks at current minor league rosters for examples, the author found a minor league jewel in his digging.
Tommy Lasorda managed the 1970 Spokane farm team for the Dodgers. Bobby Valentine was a hotshot prospect called up in 1969. To put him in his place, Lasorda called a team meeting.
“First of all, I want you all to go and get Valentine’s autograph,” he said. “Because someday it’ll be valuable to you when he’s a star in the majors.” 
Feinstein’s book is filled with such gems of ego versus humility. His book shines new light on those rising and falling stars in the minor league sky. Give the title a call-up.
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