Catcher Caleb Joseph shows TTM autograph collectors that Major Leaguers are human, too

For this 2015 makeup game with no fans, Caleb Joseph signed for his invisible supporters.

Applause to the Facebook site “Baseball TTM Autographs” and collector Ryan Hilliard. They reminded us of one shocking but needed fact. Current and former major leaguers are human, too.

Caleb Joseph has been a part of baseball autograph lore since 2015. The Orioles and the White Sox played a makeup game in Baltimore, due to civil rights protests cancelling the original contest. Only the media attended the makeup, due to safety concerns from the local police.

Caleb got into the spirit of a “ghost game.” Before play started, Caleb approached the box seats and started his pantomime impression of signing a real autograph for a real fan. Photographers loved his antics.

Well, Caleb still understands what fans and collectors mean to baseball. When his basement flooded, he sent Ryan and other collectors a photocopied note of apology. He was sorry many TTM cards got ruined by the flood, but he tried to sign even the most-damaged ones. Caleb closed with the offer to collectors that he’d welcome fan mail at home after the 2021 season.

What does the Caleb Joseph story confirm? It points out that major leaguers are people, largely without secretarial staffs to sort and send signed replies. They are busy trying to keep their baseball jobs, all the while maintaining a personal life.

Therefore, I’d urge readers to make their letters and requests as easy as possible to reply to. Especially during the season, it’s unlikely you may land the undivided attention of a current player. When you do, appreciate the backstory that each reply must have. And, consider those damaged cards one-of-a-kind collectibles.

Mets, Orioles General Manager Frank Cashen Dies At Age 88

This “Topps Archive”
blog shared this image
and a great headline
for the obit — one
that would have made
the well-read GM smile.
Check out the blog!

Frank Cashen earned five World Series rings as an executive. His death at age 88 raises a question for me as a hobbyist.

The Orioles and Mets are well-collected teams. I was stunned to check the always-amazing The good news? Cashen was a 100 percent responder, signing for everyone who wrote.
However, only 16 collectors made attempts.
In fact,the general manager surprised a few collectors who wrote, sharing extras of the rare 1992 Topps card made of himself for a special ceremony. Miss the one-day event, and you wouldn’t have gotten the card.
The Hall of Fame will be selecting more owners and GMs in the future. Often, the men don’t get honors until they’re deceased.
The future is now.

Pitcher Herm Starrette’s Signing Fee Matters

Some think of Herm Starrette as a 1960s Orioles pitcher. Others recall him as the pitching coach for the 1980 World Champion Philadelphia Phillies.

I think of him as a fighter.
Starrette, now 75, recounted his prostate cancer battle to me in a 2010 letter
Now, he’s asking for a donation per autograph: $5 minimum for cards and $10 to sign a baseball.
Yes, the money will help offset his mounting medical bills.
According to address list specialist Harvey Meiselman, Starrette has a 97 percent response rate. This is NOT a case of a never-signing-before name saying he’d reconsider autographs if money was added.
If you’ve gotten Starrette to sign before, drop him a note of encouragement. And, while he hasn’t issued a plea for extras, I know that he’s passed out autographed cards to medical staff during his many doctor visits.
Starrette has been giving for years. He seems entitled to ask for support versus his biggest foe yet. Let’s keep him in the game.

HOFer Earl Weaver’s Unanswered Mail

He looked too dignified
to be a professional
wrestling manager…
but he would’ve been

I’m glad I wrote to Earl Weaver when I had a chance.

I never asked for an autograph. I had something to give him.

The last game I ever saw at Minnesota’s Metropolitan Stadium was an Orioles-Twins affair. I don’t have the date or the final score right now.

No stat could compare to the image. I sat on the 3rd base side. I loved going to a game before the game. I loved watching players be boys. That’s when they have the most fun.

Well, manager Weaver was walking across the field, chatting up an attentive Lee May. The skipper threw back his head and laughed. May smiled and nodded, hanging on every word.

“Weaver…you son of a bitch!”

Ever hear all the wind sucked out of a place with one collective gasp? It wasn’t me shouting. Some rabid Twins fan wanted to be heard.

Weaver heard. He scanned the stands. May spread his huge arms, ready for battle. He took one purposeful stride toward my section.

I never spotted the screamer. But I swear I can hear the SQUEAK followed by the sound of running.

“The Duke of Earl” grabbed May’s elbow. He looked at his manager, who burst out laughing. They continued to the dugout, unphased by the muttering buzz from the stands.

Did the O’s like Weaver? I sent him proof. I saw one who would have committed a crime for him!

Was Steve Dalkowski the Inspiration for Pitcher Nuke LaLoosh in Bull Durham Movie?

John-William gave Steve the Hollywood treatment
with these custom cards!

Is Steve Dalkowski Hollywood famous? Did he inspire the young pitcher Nuke, portrayed so unforgettably by Tim Robbins, in the movie Bull Durham?
Collector and historian John-William Greenbaum pondered the question, saying:

“It’s like a lot of things regarding Steve: it’s partially true. The thing is, most of the stories you hear about Steve have some basis in reality, but were either “almost true”, like when he clipped the top of a batter’s ear in his third professional baseball game (although the real concern was not the batter’s ear…he wasn’t even moving and Steve thought he killed him for a few minutes…it did end his career and gave him post-concussion syndrome), or “almost false”. There’s one part where they reference Nuke striking out 262 batters and walking 262 batters…that is something Steve did in 1960 with the Stockton Ports in 170 IP.
But the more Orioles guys I spoke with, since I was under the impression it was all Steve, I found out that Nuke’s off-the-field antics seem to be much closer to a pitcher by the name of Greg Arnold, who threw quite hard and had no idea where the ball was going. Think Ryne Duren wild instead of Steve Dalkowski wild, though. Ron Shelton, who wrote Bull Durham, has sometimes said it was Steve Dalkowski, sometimes he’s said the character was completely fictional, and other times he’s said part Steve Dalkowski, part fiction. Sometimes you get the feeling that he changes his mind. I’m not alone in that sentiment and some ballplayers noted it. Obviously, I can’t get into his head and figure out how much is Steve, how much is Greg Arnold, etc., but I corresponded with one of the very few men to have played with Steve, Ron Shelton (himself a former pro ballplayer), and Greg Arnold, and that was the late George Farson, who by the way caught Steve’s last game in the Orioles organization.

Mr. Farson was friendly with Mr. Shelton at the very least, and what he did was write me with a bunch of facts about Steve, a bunch of facts about Greg, a bunch of facts about the fictional Nuke LaLoosh, and told me to draw my own conclusion. To anyone who reads that letter, Nuke LaLoosh was Greg Arnold with Steve Dalkowski’s arm and wildness. Again, I can’t claim to be Ron Shelton–he knows himself better than I do–but I can claim to have a guy’s opinion with a unique perspective (only pitcher Rick Delgado, whom I’ve not been able to locate but I believe lives in Puerto Rico, also was a teammate of Steve’s, Mr. Shelton’s, and Greg’s).”

One thoughtful, sincere letter can open new doors in baseball history. I can’t wait for the publication of the Steve Dalkowski book, John-William. Well done!

Coming Friday: Meet Laura Brookman, autograph barrier breaker!

Above is a recent Dalkowski autograph from
John-William’s collection.
Of the signed index card, John-William says:
Attached is one of the rarest variations of Steve Dalkowski’s signature in existence; his “playing days” signature.  They’re a bit more common on team-signed balls than index cards and most of the ones I know of were primarily obtained c/o Baltimore Orioles Spring Training in either 1961 or 1963.  However, I would hazard a guess that this one’s either 1962 Rochester Red Wings ST or 1963 Rochester Red Wings regular season judging by the other signed 3×5’s the collector had.  The rarest are signatures like this found on single-signed baseballs; of the (very) few I’ve seen, I believe most to be side-paneled.  A signature of this type found on the sweet spot, I believe, would be the rarest Steve Dalkowski single-signed ball.

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