I heard from Walt Williams in 2010.
His reply about his nickname and post-baseball career inspired.
A heart attack took him recently at age 72.
Here’s how “The Lost Collector” fared with a Williams reply.
I shared Jack Dittmer’s great letter back in 2011.
Looking back, I see a pattern:
Born 1928 in Iowa
Died 2014 in Iowa
College sports star in….
Year after year, I hear from collectors and researchers who want to make contact with baseball’s past.
How do they bridge that gap?
Simple. Pay attention to the player’s roots. I think Dittmer would have replied, no matter what. After all, he was an IOWAN. However, I took no chances. I noted my commonality with him.
Want to get your letter opened and up your chances for a response? Think geographically.
Pitcher Chris Hammond logged 14 major league seasons for seven teams.
These days, he’s pitching for a different cause.
Collectors have adored Hammond for years. He’s been a faithful signer through the mail. The website SportsCollectors.net says he’s come through on 328 of 356 attempts, good for a 92 percent success rate.
When I saw on the site that some collectors noted they had sent $1 per autograph, I tracked down the hurler to ask about his fee.
“I never have asked anyone for money for my measly autograph,” Hammond replied. “But a friend of mine told me to ask for a $1 donation toward my Youth Foundation. I started a youth foundation over 10 years ago that helps underprivileged kids better prepare for life. The first area we try to help these youth is in the area of getting them to participate in sports. If not, anything they need to help them have the best life they can.”
What sparked his public service for his home state of Alabama? “I do the work I do, everyday, because of the presence of Jesus Christ in me, and the work of the Holy Spirit through me!”
Want to feel good getting some affordable autographs? Using the standard self-addressed, stamped envelope and other hobby guidelines, write to Chris Hammond, 55 Sneh St, Oxford AL 36203. Only $1 per autograph for a good cause sounds good to me. Everybody wins!
Do you want a free image of the guy you are writing to?
Chances are, even that player may have never seen these images before!
A tip of the cap to Ed Mayer, who has passed away at age 84.
I appreciated his past letter from 2010, one worth a curtain call. I praised his 25 years of public school teaching. Forever a teacher, Mayer was famed for sending back personal letters to collectors, praising them on their baseball knowledge.
Too often, obits reinforce how someone died. Here, I’d like to remember how Ed lived. Enjoy this feature showing one old Cub’s gratitude. His wife even mentioned Ed’s fan mail!