Finding Hall of Fame Postcards Cheap

Autograph collectors have loved them for decades. The postcards depicting Hall of Fame plaques have been a mainstay in many collections.

Once, when most HOFers signed for free, a bonus postcard would be included with a reply. Bob Feller told me years ago that the Hall gave him bundles free for his own use.
Us old-time hobbyists wince at the climbing prices of the postcards, now 50 cents each.

Even worse? Look on the HOF website and see that postage and handling begins at $7.99.
Or maybe not.
For a collector who needs only an annual update of that year’s inductees, the $7.99 seems like a punishment for someone wanting just two postcards.

Here’s an alternative:

Call the Hall of Fame switchboard (607-547-0397). Ask to be connected to the gift shop. Have a credit card handy. Ask if you can place a small order by phone.

Shrewd collectors have found that the shipping charges have been as low as $2 for a few cards.
HOF workers will ask collectors to send in a FAX for a large order.

Worst of all, don’t get soaked by dealers who are re-selling new cards for a few bucks each. Order straight from the source for the best deal.
Coming Friday: A review of the fun new book Baseball Fantography.

Lefty Gomez Daughter Knows Autographs

Far after his 1989 death,
specimens like this
are common on ebay,
averaging $10 to $15

I’ve tried to imagine growing up as the child of a baseball star.
The riches and the famous family friends? Nah, too easy. What’s mind-blowing is the idea that the mailbox would be filled with letters from strangers.

That’s what prompted me to send questions to Vernona Gomez, daughter of baseball Hall of Famer Vernon “Lefty” Gomez and the co-author of Lefty: An American Odyssey.

Q: How did your Dad feel about fans and autographs? What versions of his autograph did you see?

A: Lefty enjoyed the fans and signing autographs. He signed as ‘Vernon Lefty Gomez’ and ‘Lefty’ Gomez, but not as ‘El Goofo’ — not his name.

Lefty read fan mail and autographed fan mail for free. I have read many of his fan mail.
Q: Do you sign autographs, such as your book?

A: Yes. I am doing book signings for Lefty, An American Odyssey, across the nation. As an author, I’m happy to sign the Lefty book and only the Lefty book at the book signings.

Q: Have you ever signed the Hall of Fame plaque postcard featuring your Dad?

A: No, I do not sign Lefty Gomez’s Hall of Fame cards. His induction is based on his accomplishments in baseball. Only Lefty should sign the card.

Coming Wednesday: Where and how to get those cool HOF postcards.

Giants, A’s Broadcaster Lon Simmons Downplays Hall Of Fame Status As Ford Frick Winner

Thankfully, the ghost
of Frick hasn’t put
an asterisk by
Simmons’ name!

Any Bay Area baseball fans will recall his calls. He’s the voice that beckoned Giants and Athletics followers. He’s Lon Simmons.

In an amazing reply of blunt humility, the acclaimed broadcaster questioned his 2004 Frick Award honor from the Baseball Hall of Fame. He wrote:

“I did not and do not feel I deserved to be inducted into Cooperstown. But it was the first year fans were allowed a vote in the process. Bay Area fans cast enough votes for me to join the final ten and it didn’t take a great number of votes from the committee to give me the honor.”

Simmons did accept the award. He recalled the ceremony:

“I was overwhelmed by the fact that there were fifty Hall of Famers at the ceremony, most of whom I was privileged to speak about and with in my time with the Giants and A’s. Also a good friend from my years with the A’s — Dennis Eckersley — was inducted in the same ceremony.”

Didn’t make it to Cooperstown that year? Relive the glory courtesy of the Bay Area Radio Museum, offering a replay of Simmons’ acceptance speech!

Coming Friday: Simmons salutes Giants broadcaster Russ Hodges!

Jimmie Foxx, John ‘Double X’ Bennett Show Value of Baseball Family Autographs

An overlooked HOFer.
A great article
appeared on

Every signature has a story.

Sadly, these histories have devolved into:

1. How and where I got it.
2. What I paid.
3. What it’s worth today.

The lack of a good #3 answer stops some collectors from exploring a great sector of the hobby: baseball family members.

Collector/historian John Bennett is a veteran school teacher. Additionally, he’s a superstar presence with the screen name “Double X” on the forum. The milestone moment when he reached his 15,000th autograph by mail is preserved as one of the forum “sticky” posts.
Was that old news? Well, John had racked up more than a 1,000 signatures before joining the SCN community!

If someone has an autograph history question on the forum, “Double X” buzzes in like a JEOPARDY champion. John chose his nickname to honor Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx, after striking up a correspondence with Foxx’s daughter.

Where did the idea first arrive for John to write to famous family members of baseball legends. He says:

“Hi Tom- originally with the ttm sends, I was trying not so much to get autographs as to do research. As part of a project I had several of my students write to the surviving relatives of Hall of Famers to ask them about their famous fathers.

The students received memorable replies from Nanci Foxx, John Hooper, Walter Johnson’s daughter Carolyn Thomas, and a shorter reply from Dick Sisler, whom I learned later was gravely ill at the time and who died a couple of years later. The Foxx, Hooper, and Johnson replies were so good that they were put in their respective files at the Hall of Fame for the use of future researchers.

I have written to the children of some Hall of Famers first to have them sign HOF postcards and later to sign FDC when the baseball stamps came out about a dozen years ago. I’ll have to go to the binder to check, but in addition to the above I know I had replies from Josh Gibson Jr and Eddie Collins Jr.

While working on the Podres book I found Johnny’s wife Joanie to be extremely helpful, and I also got a surprise call from Joan Hodges when she heard we were working on the book.”

I was grateful that John pointed out the knowledge of Mrs. Podres and Mrs. Gil Hodges. Baseball spouses have heard all the stories. They kept the scrapbooks and knew which reporters told true tales. More team alumni associations are popping up yearly. I’d hope they’d forward mail, as does the Hall of Fame.

Also, it’s a chance to applaud the biography John and his family collaborated on with Podres. It’s a great tale from an overlooked Dodgers gladiator. John floated the hint that he’s considering releasing the title on kindle. Petition the author here!

For more from the daughter of Hall of Famer Foxx, enjoy this 2006 article from Gordon Edes comparing “Big Papi” to “The Beast.” Read closely, and you’ll see one talented collector/researcher quoted.

Coming Thursday: Pitcher Bud Byerly teaches me a lesson.

Marlins Voice Dave Van Horne Reveals Origin of His Signature Homer Call: “Up, Up and Away!”

In my eyes, Dave Van Horne is a Hall of Famer.

Ford Frick Award winner Van Horne is being honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame this year. No, he is not an inductee. He will not have a plaque. However, I still think he has a Hall of Fame voice. I’ll never condemn a broadcaster who signs “HOF” with his award-winning year after.

For someone thinking that a Frick winner is common, consider this: the award began in 1978. Only one man has been honored each year. I think this puts Van Horne in select company.

Van Horne has been a baseball broadcast tradition since 1969. He sent me a reply I’ll treasure. I consider it a preview of the acceptance speech he’ll be making in Cooperstown later this year.

I asked the man who called the first Montreal Expos game in 1969 about his first place of employment, Jarry Park:

“A very unique ballpark, built in the corner of a huge municipal park facility, just north of the downtown area, north of Mount Royal. It really didn’t compare to other ballparks of that time (1969) but I guess, in a way, it was not unlike Colt .45 Stadium.”

Van Horne solved one mystery, in part.

“‘Up, Up and Away’ began in the 1970 season. ‘Stole’ the line from the 5th Dimension hit song. I don’t remember the first time I used it, but it probably would have been after a home run by Bob Bailey, Mack Jones, Coco Laboy or Rusty Staub. I’m just guessing here.”

Everyone ALWAYS asks baseball insiders to name an all-time all-star team. I wanted Van Horne to tell me the “go to” players who helped him take care of his business. In short, an all-time INTERVIEW team!

“Best interview subjects over the years. There was so many. Staub, Bobby Wine, Gary Sutherland, Ty Cline, Ron Fairly, Ron Hunt, Gene Mauch, Cal McLish and many other Expos. Making the short list of non-Expos: Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Willie Stargell, Billy Williams, Ron Santo, Phil Niekro, Jerry Reuss, Steve Garvey, Willie McCovey, Tommy Lasorda, Danny Murtaugh, Felipe Alou, Buck Rodgers and many, many others to numerous to mention here.”

Could you tell someone why you’re a baseball fan? Let this award-winning Marlins ambassador go first. Sense the gratitude and awe in Van Horne’s heart-felt assessment of the sport:

“I’ve always loved the game. I’ve enjoyed being in the company of so many wonderful people, on and off the field. Every day, every game, a new adventure. No one knows what’ll happen one pitch to the next. Strong, fast, gifted athletes playing a game that requires the mastery of so many skills; who could ask for anything more than to be able to watch them play the game, every day, every season, for a 43-year career (and counting).”

To borrow from another hit song, in Van Horne style, I second that emotion.

Tomorrow: Pat Gillick, baseball’s newest Hall of Famer, shares his roots.

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