Joe Garagiola Isn’t Done Yet!

Thanks to Daniel Solzman for this update:

“Joe Garagiola had major surgery in the last few months and is finally starting to return fan mail.  He called yesterday asking about what I sent as he saw the envelope but my photo was either lost or misplaced.”
At age 87, Joe may have fanned some worried thoughts in the hobby, when letters this fall got the “Return to Sender” treatment.
My faith in Joe remains. Back in the 1980s, as co-editor of Sports Collectors Digest, I was surprised that Joe was a reader. He phoned more than once to ask about former players in need. When he started asking for donations by mail, signing autographs to aid the Baseball Assistance Team, I knew how sincere he was about helping fellow players.
Since then, he’s turned his energies to serving children at the St. Peter Mission School
The Baseball World of Joe Garagiola may not have logged its last chapter, after all!

Baseball Assistance Team On Deck

Posted March 26th, 2012 by Tom Owens and filed in Baseball Assistance Team, George Riley

Put this one in your e-mail address book, please.

Last week, when I learned about Cubs pitcher George Riley’s need from collecting friend Kohei Nirengi,  I knew the baseball family would rally.

My first stop was

Don’t assume that all former players know about BAT. Financial aid is available, all granted on an anonymous basis.

If you ever receive a reply like Mr. Riley’s, fast help awaits.

Just e-mail the details, including a contact address of the retiree in need, to

I received an immediate confirmation e-mail that an aid application would be mailed to Mr. Riley.

Coming Wednesday: Saying goodbye to Phillies pitcher Dennis Bennett

Johnny"Double No-Hitter" Vander Meer Despised Deadbeat Collectors

Posted July 4th, 2010 by Tom Owens and filed in Baseball Assistance Team, Johnny Vander Meer, Luke Appling

Don’t assume why some former players who sign for pay have a “cash only” policy..
(Yes, I count a donation as a payment.)

I met former pitcher Johnny Vander Meer at a 1980s sports collectors show. At that time, he wanted a donation to the Baseball Assistance Team (BAT).

He growled to Luke Appling about the hassles of dealing with personal checks. I could see that he felt that collectors bounced checks on purpose, trying to cheat “Double No-Hit” out of a signature and BAT out of a donation.

“Cash is easier!” he proclaimed.

Sure, the temptation of a retiree to “forget” to tell the IRS about all the fivers that come in the mail weekly is a possibility. I won’t assume that all autograph signers have tax fraud on their minds. Avoiding problems with the bank could be another motivation.

Readers: how do you feel about sending cash in the mail for an autograph?