Who’s A Collectible Baseball Autograph?

An obituary got me thinking. I hope it does the same for you.

Bill Behm never wore the Tigers uniform. However, Detroit’s trainer contributed to two World Series winners, the championship teams of 1968 and 1984. How many men got to be a part of both celebrations?

Who is worthy, autograph collectors? Only players? Only those active-duty, cap-and-jersey roster members? Only the people who appear in a card set?

Think hard about your definition of collectible. Bill Behm’s obituary appeared everywhere. Pages and pages of search-engine listings. His passing reminds us that the window of opportunity for unconventional baseball autographs closes quickly.

Coming Wednesday: Hitting the jackpot with one of the last St. Louis Browns!

Virgil Trucks + Tigers Update!

Don’t close the
book on Virgil yet!

“We interrupt this broadcast to report…”

I’ve never had “news as it happens.” Until now, perhaps!

Bless you many fine readers who’ve sent get-well cards to the senior Detroit Tiger alum, Virgil “Fire” Trucks.

This tireless signer has been rehabbing on his own disabled list, from a broken leg, hoping to be well enough to field fan mail again.

Here’s a report from his daughter, Carolyn Beckwith:

“Please thank all of his fans for the cards and concern. He has read them and appreciates them so much, as do I. It is a big part of his recovery. He still of course cannot handle the fan mail for now. Maybe later and I will keep you updated on that progress.

Thank you so much for all you do.. Its appreciated so very much.”

Carolyn has noted that her Dad remains as savvy and witty as ever. The injury didn’t extend to his spirit.

Ah, but that’s not all the news.

I’ve received an e-mail from Eli Bayless, director of promotions for the Tigers. During Saturday’s game, the team will make a ballpark announcement and present photos on the scoreboard to honor the 60th anniversary of Virgil’s no-hitter against the Yankees (his second thrown in 1952).

I had e-mailed the team. I did not assume the front office had thought of everything. I sent a polite, specific note saying that Tigers fans would never get tired of celebrating a win against the Yankees!

Did my note make the difference? All I know is that someone listened to someone like me.

One letter can make a difference. Make a difference to Virgil Trucks, if you haven’t sent a card yet.

Send your get-well wishes to him in care of his daughter:

Carolyn Beckwith
55 Salser Lane
Columbiana, AL 35051

Coming Monday: An “Autograph Addict” redfines the definition of a “baseball autograph.”

Ex-Tiger J.W. Porter’s Writing Helps Preserve ‘When Baseball Was Fun’

Porter’s continued signing by mail makes me smile.
He values legibility, too!

Bobby Hoeft could have managed in the majors.

I’ve written about this Detroit Tigers super-fan before. His newsletter, When Baseball Was Fun, is a quarterly delight.

Part of the joy in each issue is that he coaxes classic insights out of names that autograph collectors adore:

Virgil Trucks
J.W. Porter

Both men are autographing dynamos. Each TTM reply seems more like a lottery jackpot than a mere signature. They go above and beyond in pleasing collectors. For Bobby, they write columns!

In the latest issue, Porter writes about memories of his 1955 rookie season with Detroit, contrasted by today’s minimum salary for major leaguers being increased to $475,000. He concludes:

“For $475,0000 a year, I would warm up pitchers until my hands beld and sign autographs until the cows came home.

I would even learn to write my name so it could be read clearly.”

Just a joke, folks. Try Porter by mail. His pristine penmanship would make him a role model for any current player.

Try the WBWF newsletter. Bobby makes baseball, and reading, fun!

Coming Wednesday: Want to know the “Thrill” in Will Clark? Ask Roger “Super RC” Chen!

Seeing Is Believing: OUR Virgil Trucks Party!

With inflation, a picture is worth far more than a thousand words.

However, these pictures left me speechless.

All of you readers made me proud in April, sending surprise birthday cards to a former Tigers hurler.

Thanks to wonderful Carolyn Beckwith, who shared photos of her Dad’s 95th birthday party. Here’s three looks at a special day for a special man, the one and only Virgil Trucks:

Look closely. Maybe you’ll spot your card!

Ernie Harwell’s Son Remembers

Gray Harwell knows baseball.

He grew up as the son of legendary Detroit Tigers announcer Ernie Harwell.

Most importantly, Gray knows baseball fans. He went to Comerica Park in 2010 to thank members of a grateful city who wanted to pay their last respects upon Ernie’s death.

We can thank the Florida minister for sharing more memories of his father. His book My Father’s Faith is new for this season. Currently, the title is available only as an Amazon.com e-book, although a print version is expected in May.

Here’s Gray Harwell’s e-interview:

Q: When you were young, how did your Dad explain the mystique of autographs?

A: My dad never had to explain the mystique of autographs to me because as a boy I was after autographs from the ballplayers, just as the fans were trying to get dad’s. After an early Baltimore Orioles game ( 1956 or ‘7 ) I was in the clubhouse after the game with my dad when I naively asked a young pitcher who had just lost the game for his autograph. He turned a red angry face towards me and said, ” yeah, I’ll sign in in my blood”.

My mother and brother and I were so used to people coming up to dad for his autograph that we really didn’t even think anything of it  It was just the way it always was for us and we hardly noticed.

Q: How was your Dad with autograph requests by mail?

A: Dad always tried to respond to his mail. He remembered when he was just a fan himself and how much it meant to him when people he admired would write him back. Mom always helped dad with his mail, as a former English teacher she was his “spellcheck’ and editor for just about everything he wrote. At almost 93, she can still beat me at Scrabble!

Q: What baseball content will we find in your book?

A: The baseball content in my book is mostly a summary of the high points of dad’s amazing seven decades experiencing baseball history first hand. There are also some baseball stories that many have never heard, related especially to his faith.

I had the privilege of being the Bible study leader for the Tigers when they were World Champions in 1984. My Father’s Faith recounts some of the great experiences Dad and I enjoyed together in Baseball Chapel that year with Lance Parrish, Darrell Evans, Howard Johnson and others. I also tell how sports writer, Waddy Spoelstra, and Dad were unlikely instigators of Baseball Chapel in the early ’70s.

Q: Anything else you’d like fans to know?

A: I would love your readers to buy My Father’s Faith because I think they’ll enjoy discovering what really made my dad the amazing man he was. As his youngest son, I tell “the rest of his story”, from a very personal perspective.

My mailing address is 12618 Grandezza Circle, Estero, FL 33928. The book in print should be available on amazon .com “in the next few days”, following your blog on the 13th. I’d be glad to furnish a bookplate with my autograph for any of your readers who purchase my book and send me a self-addressed stamped envelope. 

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