Merry Christmas To Ted Kremer, My Favorite Cincinnati Red

A work of art
by Bill Kearns!

Time for one more thank-you note.

No Christmas presents have been opened yet. The present I got came seeing guest batboy Ted Kremer talk about his team.
This guy is contagious!
On a baseball postcard sent in care of the Reds (employing him part-time in the front office), I said:
“Thank you for reminding me why I love baseball. Merry Christmas!

Tom Owens”
Who doesn’t know this inspirational story? Start with this Facebook page, to see why Reds fans adore Ted.
The team should have advertised Ted as a part of Redsfest. I’d send him on the winter caravan, too. 
Also, I know that collector Bill Kearns has posted successful autograph responses by mail from Ted. Bill crafted some epic custom cards for the letter, long before Topps wised up and made Mister T a part of its “Traded” set.
Baseball needs more Ted Kremers. Let’s hope the Reds will share his enthusiasm with all fans and collectors in 2014.

Why Autograph Unlicensed Photos?

A custom card is ART.
The featured player
should be honored,
not suspicious.
Explain that in
your letter!

Bob Uecker is the latest.

Even former players are concerned about autographing only “MLB authorized” photos. They want to see that hologram, in the sweet hope that the player’s association is getting some money (that we, the collectors, forked out).

The attitude goes to the extreme shown by Wally Moon, quoted by a collector as replying that he wouldn’t sign “pirated” photos.

To their defense, current and former players seem to believe they’ll help their brethren by only signing the blessed photos. There’s the assumption that you’ll be running straight to eBay and getting rich with your new autograph, so the baseball family wants its profits first.

How can you win against such bias? Try writing:

1. “I made this myself, for myself!” It’s harder to turn down Mom’s home cooking, as opposed to something that came out of a box.

2. WHY them? For example, Bill Kearns makes custom cards of Maine natives. Stress that this person is special, not just another baseball player.

3. “It’s one of a kind.” See that the potential signer knows this isn’t something you’re going to churn out by the hundreds.

There’s no guarantees. However, even with a refusal, you struck out only after you went down swinging.

Tim Virgilio Collects UNC Alums

One sweet custom card, created by
Tim Virgilio!

“Who do you know?”

It’s not a question I ask of collectors to see who has rubbed elbows with greatness. I want to find like-minded hobbyists who’ll bring their brands of inspiration to this blog.

I offered this question to collector Bill Kearns. He nominated fellow fan Tim Virgilio. Here is Tim’s story:

“I grew up a baseball fan and my father was born and raised in The Bronx. He grew up watching and rooting for all of the great Yankees (Mantle, Berra, Ford, etc.). Baseball was what really brought my father and I closer when I was younger. One day, while watching a game, my father tells me about when he was about my age (14 at the time) and how he would cut out photos of the Yankee players and send a letter to them at the Stadium requesting an autograph. This led to my first request for an autograph through the mail. Ever since that time, I’ve been hooked on the hobby.
With over 20 years of collecting autographs, both in person and through the mail, I have acquired quite a number of memorable autographs. When I first started collecting, my focus was to obtain all of the “big names”. Over the years, my focus has changed. Since I am a fan of the New York Mets, I have been focusing on an all-time collection of Mets. This has been a great project since there are players who played briefly with the Mets and those that spent their entire career with the Mets. For this project, I try to get the players to sign a card or photo of the player in a Mets’ uniform. Sometimes it is difficult to find, so I have gotten custom 4×6 photos signed. 
Many times, I will receive nice notes back from the player or a family member telling me about their time with the Mets and asking for additional copies of the photos for themselves, their children, their grandchildren, or others. One very touching note that I received was from a wife of a former player. She had written about how her husband was very bitter about how his baseball career had ended that he had gotten rid of most of his baseball related items. It was only recently that he has regretted that and has started to try to rebuild his personal collection. She stated that he was touched by the custom photos that I had done and was wondering if I would be willing to send more for him. It was a great honor to be asked for such a thing that I did several custom photos of him in the uniforms of the teams that he played for and sent them to him.
Another collection that I have started is my all-time UNC baseball/football/basketball collection. This has been a fun project as it allows me to learn more about the history of UNC sports and many of the great players that have played for UNC. Those players that respond back with memories of their time at UNC often talk very fondly about their time in Chapel Hill, as if it were some very magical place for them.
However, I think that the greatest thing about this hobby is the friendships that I have made. I have several collectors around the country that I do not trade with but send gifts to. Basically, we help each other with our collections by sharing the extras that we have without the expectation of receiving anything in return except a thank you. This has been great because it allows each of us to add to our collections some players that we would otherwise have a very difficult time obtaining. I continue to have a great deal of fun with this hobby and plan to continue it for as long as I can.Another thing about my early beginnings of TTM requests: When I would get returns from players, especially older players that I didn’t see play but my father did, we would open the return mail together and then spend hours talking about the players and what my father remembered about them. Even now, when he comes to visit, he will ask what players I heard back from and we will talk baseball for hours. It is really a great experience for both of us and really continues to bring us closer.”
Thanks, Tim. Meanwhile, find someone to share some baseball with! 

Autograph Resolutions for 2013

It’s time to have fun again.

Happy New Year!

What do I want to accomplish as a fan and letter writer in 2013?

I’m grateful to Bill Kearns, who shared a scrapbook page on his Facebook site. A “while ago,” he began collecting autographs with his son.

My resolution?

I want to be that seven-year-old. I want that face. I want to look at my hobby with those eyes again.

Thank you, Bill and Jonathan.

Coming Friday: One resolution you can do for other collectors.

Is Arnie Beyeler A Hobby Hopeful For 2013 Boston Red Sox Collectors?

The ‘stache is coming!

As a fan, I’ve always hoped that a coach would lead by example.

When I saw the new coaching staff for the 2013 Red Sox, I sought out Bill Kearns for a bit of insight.

The talented Maine ‘grapher had seen then-manager Arnie Beyeler in action with fans and collectors for four seasons. Any predictions how he might behave in Boston as first base coach?

Thanks to Bill, who replied:
“Only IP, mostly because he was here and before he got here, I hadn’t started the Minor League Coaches and Managers set I do every year.
With Torrey Lovullo, Brain Butterfield (Maine Born) they should all be attainable. I would suggest ST, the people that handle the mail in Boston have developed a huge black hole for mail.”
In other words, have hope but act early!

Kudos to Christopher “Smitty on Baseball” Smith for a fine detailing of Boston’s 2013 coaching roster, found here:

Coming Wednesday — Missing out on Freddy Schmidt.

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