Milo Hamilton, Gene Elston: a lesson for us all

hamiltonTwo fabled former announcers died this month. 

Had you written to them?

“What could they autograph? I collect cards and photos.”

Did they ever write a book? That book cover image is something that will forever get an author’s heart fluttering. (Trust me. Been there. Done that.)

Make yourself a photo/custom/etc. Show them you know the book exists. They may think that you’ll be a future reader. A future notch on their royalty statement.

If you want to test-drive a book, go to your public library. It’s called Inter Library Loan. Your library can borrow from any other library in the country. You’re sure to get the book for the normal check-out time. My branch charges only $1.25 (to cover postage).

I was told by a noted author that famous announcers have been much more supportive in his requests for interviews and information than writer/reporters.

Try baseball’s voices (while you can). See if you agree.

Remembering Virgil ‘Fire’ Trucks, super signer

We miss you, Fire!
We miss you, Fire!

Where have you gone, Virgil “Fire” Trucks?

I’d like to imagine Simon and Garfunkel singing to the fabled friend of the hobby who passed away in 2013.

I was honored that the ever-so-kind pitcher shared his thoughts with me about autographs. 

Enjoy that epic conversation-turned-blogpost, one more time.

Tipping our caps to Billy Sample

Sample2BillyCommon question from collectors: 

“He answered my letter. He was great. I don’t like sending thank-you notes, though. I thank them in the letter. Is there something I could do?”

Yes. They support us as researchers and collectors. Support their projects.

Billy Sample rocks as an autograph signer. The awesome says he’s signed nearly 250 requests, a cool 91 percent.

I wrote about Mr. Sample in the past. He described his career, then told about a movie he wanted to make.

Mission accomplished!

Here’s his recent e-mail:

“There are four former major league baseball players in this college frat-like, strongly R-rated, satirical, baseball clubhouse comedy ……Reunion 108, through Amazon and/or through the movie’s IMDb page, can now be ordered for rent or purchase in standard definition in addition to the established DVD availability. We actually have HD-Blu-Ray capability, but this particular Amazon aggregator, didn’t offer that option. There is another one that does, but in all honesty, the movie was shot on the Red Camera and that was the best definition available, and is of exceptional quality …”

Check the movie out. Write him and tell him that you watched it and liked it.

That may not be a standing ovation, but it’s close.

Oriole Fred Valentine is a hobby all-star

Want to learn more about a retired player? Check out the SABR  Biography Project. Ted Leavengood crafted a fine profile of Valentine! See for yourself here:
Want to learn more about a retired player? Check out the SABR Biography Project. Ted Leavengood crafted a fine profile of Valentine! See for yourself here:

Fred Valentine is a stellar signer. A sparkling 95 percent, says the trusty

More than that,  he’s part of the 1960s. (I was, too.)

Here’s some swell memories he shared back in 2010. Enjoy!

Who knows you are writing to former players?

ostenmuellerWe visited with an 86-year-old friend this morning.

When we mentioned visiting Quincy, Illinois, she lit up. “I attended the Quincy Beauty Academy years ago!”

She told about rooming with the family of Fred Ostermueller. “He played for the Pirates!”

His career stretched from 1934-48, with more than 100 major league wins. Born in Quincy, Fred died there in 1957. My friend’s story checks out.

Decades after his death, Ostermueller made headlines (unwanted ones) when the movie 42 was released. His offspring went national claiming that dad was misrepresented in the movie, and that he was nothing like that racist character who beaned Jackie in the head. In reality, the movie had several errors. Robinson was hit in the wrist. Bruce Markusen did lots of valiant journalistic digging, trying to find any surviving facts beneath the lore. 

So, what does this story have to do with collecting autographs or baseball research?

1. Friends, even relatives, won’t be able to help you if they don’t know what your goals are. “Do you know of any current or former major league baseball players?” Then, tell them why you want to know.

2. Success is out there, maybe closer than you ever imagined.