Bill Kearns Collects Maine-ly Players

“The Original One” is a
unique subset in Bill’s collection!
Bill Kearns is a great online ally. He provides early-breaking news on deaths for the Baseball Player Passings site on Facebook. He’s mentioned which deceased players signed for him. I wanted to know more about his unique hobby background. I’m grateful he’s provided this e-interview.
Q: Do you remember who (and when) your first TTM autograph came?
A: Yes it was George Bamberger. He has since died, so he gets added to that list.
We started this hobby about 11 years ago and we had about 50 baseball cards to our name. That card of Mr. Bamberger was given to us by a friend (along with about 70,000 others) and we have still beeen feeding from that large collection ever sense. But it recent years we have graduated to making photos (those that you see in BP are actually a 4×6 photo, made to make like a baseball card.)
Q: Tell me about the Maine players collection, please!
Great set…Maine certainly is not a hotbed for baseball stars but we seek them out. There are 19 living ML’ers from Maine and we have them all. The saddest is of Dan Walters, as we learned, became a San Diego police detective and was shot an paralyzed while off duty, told to us by his mother who gave us a signed card. Tought way to learn of such a tragedy.
We have many minor leaguers too. They are harder to find but keep searching

Q: What’s a typical letter like for you? Typed or handwritten? What do you ask to get signed? Ever ask specific questions?
A: We do so many its a standard letter, with areas to change player info, both signed by us. Son Jon will write occasional on the “real important ones” and used to write many as part of his “homework” as a youngster.

 Q: What kind of notes or letters have you gotten back?
A: We get lots of notes and letters back. We keep all of them. It kinda authenticates them. We have a pen pal Frank “The Original One” Thomas and we must have 300 multi page letters from him

Q: I saw the breaking news about Pascual Perez. Some collectors might ask, why pay attention to obituaries? It’s too late for an autograph!
A: Yes, put its good to know and often will brink back memories and perhaps that is baseball’s best quality. LIke when I read that Bob “Hawk” Taylor died this past June, I had to go for a long walk. He was my 1st baseball hero, I was about 6-7…and yah, it hurt.

Q: What advice do you have for setting hobby goals or collection types?
A: I tell all younger collectors that I know and have known, have fun, go with players that inspire you but try to do the hobby in “set” or “subsets”. For example, if you like the Red Sox, have a set of Red Sox that you can continue to work on. Like the Maine born players, players born your birthday, players that share your name, school or even subsets of players that achived a rare event…like home run 1st at bat, or even better, player 1st pitch home run…it brings in the reserch realm.

Q: How are you keeping up on addresses and other autograph news?
Many sources, addy books, on line ask friends ask players

Q: Guys who scribble their “names.” Guys who charge, or never respond. Lots of people have lists of what’s wrong with this hobby. What’s RIGHT about this hobby right now?
A: It is fun and challenging. We do alot of the older players because, they are better signers. And it brings the history factor. We go to alot of Portland SeaDogs games and hound the RedSox prospects and the in-coming teams. This past summer we got about 1,000 autographs of the SD’s (overkill) not at all because we “gift” many of them to friends in the hobby instead of trading.

Q: What’s your hobby game plan for 2013?
A: Love the old guys love the Sea Dogs…adding more autographs to sons and friends “baseball scrapbooks”. Imagine a scrapbook of autographs chalk full of players that share your name, birthday, Maine born and much more….

Coming Monday: News from Virgil Trucks

Winter Ball For TTM Collectors Means Asking!

Good luck, “Tusk!”

Ever wonder why players don’t just work out in the off-season? Why do they head to other countries for a second season of winter ball? (Washington Nationals pitching hopeful Ryan Tatusko announced his departure for winter ball in Puerto Rico via facebook last week!)

I think one reason is the bonus of learning from each other.

I’m guessing many of you have been sending the identical letter for years in your requests. Some of you write in spurts, sending one tons of requests at a time. You assume there’s a best time of year to get autographs.

Is there one best way to collect? I do know that comparing your style to other collectors will never do any harm.

Whether online or face-to-face, it’s likely that you have regular contact with another collector. Instead of gabbing about the weather or politics, ask about their recent collecting successes and setbacks.

1. Who’s signed for you by mail recently?
2. How long did it take?
3. What address did you use — and where did you find it?
4. What was your letter like?
5. What did the signer sign?
6. Who’s the next name on your hobby wish list?

Hobby pals might assume you know what they know. In college, a professor told me, “If your mama says she loves you, check it out.” Asking is free. (It wasn’t in college…)

Coming Wednesday: a homegrown secret to win over any signer.

Offering a Memorial Day Salute To ‘Baseball Player Passings’ Facebook Page

Back in 2010, I saluted Facebook’s “Baseball Player Passings” page. Dave Lambert shared the story of the site’s unique origin.

The site thrives. Before any obituary surfaced ANYWHERE online, one of the 500-plus members posted word that Kevin Hickey had died.

Small wonder. I see that 14 administrators collaborate to keep the news flowing.

Members seek out gravesites of deceased baseball names. Obituaries are posted.

Want to be part of an all-star team? members of BPP include former baseball players, the media — names that would produce double-takes from the most jaded collectors.

Two things inspire me most about Baseball Player Passings:

1. Baseball history isn’t limited to a few superstars. Recent obituaries posted included Lil (Mrs. Stan) Musial and John Kuenster, former editor of Baseball Digest. I’ve seen obits on many “girl’s leaguers,” the pioneering women of the AAGPBL. As I look to write to other baseball history makers, it helps me to dig deeper.

2. Each new entry on the page reinforces a simple message for me:


Retired players dying in their 50s? This isn’t a hobby for procrastinators.

Check out the Facebook page. Join. Enjoy the memorials. I hope you’ll be posting about how you received a nice letter from a recently-deceased retiree…while there was still time.
Coming Wednesday: An elusive autograph and MORE from Masanori Murakami.

Baseball Passings Serving the Hobby

If autograph collectors field an all-star team in 2010, David Allen Lambert should be first on the roster.

A collector since 1981, Lambert is serving the hobby, and baseball world, by forming the Facebook group “Baseball Passings.” He’s offering a respectful, meaningful way to note the obituaries of anyone connected to the majors, Negro Leagues or the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Additionally, online tributes can be left for those who have died.

Lambert, a talented online genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society, detailed the origins of “Baseball Passings.”

Q: I’d like to know what inspired you to create Baseball Passings. One individual player’s death?

A: Since I was a teenager I was interested in the oldest living baseball players. This came into play when I first wrote to Smoky Joe Wood of the (debut 1908 Red Sox). After that I wrote to all players from 1910-1919, then 1920-1929 and so on. Long before a regular list of the older players was provided on a regular basis to the Hall of Fame I was doing it still in high school.

From a variety of sources from SABR, to collectors I started a round robin email regarding the passings of former MLB, AAGPBL, and Negro League players. I thought in the age of social networking I would give it a try on a Facebook group. This enables others to post passings, and I have made the leaders in the Baseball research field and hobby field who have joined my group as honorary group administrators.

Q: Have teammates or family members of the deceased contacted you?

On Facebook I am friends with the daughters of George Cisar, and Jim Roland. They both have responded to the posts either on the wall of the page, or personally to me. I am also honored to have my friend who is Babe Ruth’s grand-daughter be part of the group.

Q: Some collectors might think, ‘Why do this? It’s too late to get autographs from someone who’s died.’ How has this helped you as an autograph collector?

A: I think more just saving postage for collectors regarding writing to some who has died. I feel like we are providing a service to have the widows, and or family of the ball players from having to reply to requests after their loved one is gone.

Q: How can readers join the Facebook group or help you as you keep gathering info about Baseball Passings?

If you are a member of Facebook, simply type “Baseball Player Passings” in the search bar. If not, you can reach the group directly at:!/group.php?v=wall&ref=search&gid=238999221854

Q: Who have you met or discovered in your baseball research?

A: The photo shows Lambert with Silas Simmons at his 111th birthday in 2006. I was responsible for re-discovering this former Negro League Ballplayer back in 2005. I was honored to be at his birthday celebration and present him a plaque from SABR(Society of American Baseball Research).

I was also responsible for exposing the fact a Florida man who died was not the real baseball player Bill Henry from the Red Sox, and other teams of the 1950s and 1960s which made national news.

Thanks to David Allen Lambert for one potent reminder: write to your favorite retired players TODAY.

Readers: who are other unsung heroes of the hobby who deserve a tip of the cap?

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