No Fat Lady Singing Yet: Did Red-Turned-WLW Host Tracy Jones Really Just E-Mail Me?

Free, authentic autographs?
Some WLW listeners claim
he made the same offer a year ago
and never delivered. Hmm…

Tracy Who?

I blurted those words as I looked at my e-mail inbox today.

However, I’m not going to disregard any possibility in this hobby.

Supposedly, Tracy Jones responded to my Jan. e-mail. I answered his on-air offer to send an autographed card, postage paid, to any listener.

The only difference was that I included a link to my Jan. 3 column about his offer. The subject line for my e-mail was entitled “Autographed cards? Really?”

No, I’m not the only one. I saw a copy of the e-mail received from another collector. Our messages were different.

Both notes do begin with “Sorry for the delay” and say that signed cards will be mailed out this month.

As Tracy himself might say —

Stay tuned!

Coming Friday: Learn the inside story of “The Autograph Card.”

Red Danny Litwhiler’s Legacy: Go Beyond Stats

I missed out on writing to Danny Litwhiler, who held the distinction of being the oldest Cincinnati Red until his recent death at age 95.

His statistics aren’t overwhelming. Although anyone with more than 100 career homers isn’t a slouch.

His obituary told the untold story about Litwhiler. The outfielder posed for a picture with Jackie Robinson when the Dodgers visited Cincinnati in 1948. The gesture helped quell racial tensions.

Litwhiler’s questionable knee kept him out of the military until 1945. Nevertheless, he found a way to serve the war effort.

He molded future careers for Rick Miller, Kirk Gibson and Steve Garvey as a college coach. During his collegiate career, Litwhiler pushed for innovations like radar guns and Diamond Grit to keep wet fields playable.

In 2000, he teamed with talented author and historian Jim Sargent to write Danny Litwhiler: Living The Baseball Dream.

Phillies fan Stan Price was one of the lucky ones who tracked down Litwhiler before the veteran’s health (and signing) went downhill beginning in 2009. You can tell tons about Litwhiler’s work ethic and love of the game from the photo — which Stan turned into an amazing custom card.

There are still Danny Litwhiler-ish men from baseball’s past out there. Do your homework, and you’ll find men whose biggest victories never fit into a box score.

Coming Thursday: Awesome insights from Twins outfielder Steve Brye.

Cincinnati Reds Pitcher Ted Wieand Rewarded By Topps, Stiffed By Sport Magazine!

He never forgot Topps.

Reds pitcher Ted Wieand may have mixed emotions about his 1960 Topps card.

Back in the 1960s, Topps had a prize redemption catalog for players to use. Much like S&H Green Stamps, Topps offered merchandise as payment for appearance in a set.

Wieand remembered:

“I got a living room suite. I was grateful for that honor.”

His 1960 card designated him as a “Sport Magazine Rookie Star.” Surely, honorees got a ceremony, right? A trophy? Or, a gold watch?

“No. Nothing.”

Even S&H Green Stamps beat nothing.

Coming Thursday: Address king Harvey Mieselman prepares for 2012 directory.

Red Bob Borkowski Shows All-Star Effort

Despite everything, his
autograph still sparkles!

Thank you, Bob Borkowski.

He played from 1950-55. But he’s still in the game, doing his best for fans. And it’s not getting any easier.
His reply came printed in all caps:

“Tom

I’m sorry I can’t answer your ??? because I don’t see too well!!

All I can say is was nice playing in the majors.”

He signed his name on two lines, “Bob” on top, to make sure the signature didn’t get jumbled.

“HOPE YOU CAN READ THIS!!”

The former Cub and Red will get my thank-you postcard. The envelope didn’t get a “Refused.” My request didn’t wind up in his trash can. The letter didn’t come back blank.

He’s still doing his best for us. For fans who never bought a ticket to one of his games. For people who never cheered his 14 career homers (2 each off Preacher Roe and Carl Erskine).

I’m cheering now, Bob.

Tomorrow: Remembering a mother helped snag a Minnesota Twin autograph!

HOFer Waite Hoyt Celebrates Thanksgiving

I think the Hall of Famer never stopped being grateful. Cincinnati Reds fans loved radio broadcasts. A rain delay turned into a celebration, with Hoyt sharing memories of his days as a pitcher.

I’m grateful for Kyle and Tyler Smego, the father-son team behind The Autograph Addict. They show that baseball, and autograph collecting, is best when shared. I first mentioned the pair in an April post.

Kyle uncovered a letter from Hoyt, and a note from Claude Berry, catcher to the stars at the turn of the century. Hoyt died in 1984, Berry in 1974.

These artifacts may be slow to appear. I’ve feared that some collectors never saved notes and letters from former players. One-of-a-kind items aren’t found in set checklists or price guides. How could they be displayed?

My applause to Kyle and Tyler for seeing the historic value in such correspondence. Who couldn’t feel what Hoyt felt when he learned of his Hall of Fame induction? In just a few words, Hoyt set the scene well.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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