Pitcher George Riley’s grateful response

GeorgeRileyCustomGreg Corrales would be a great hobby coach.
On www.sportscollectors.net, many questions were posted on the status of George Riley. Had ANYONE written to him in recent months? Was he still signing?
Greg solved both mysteries with his above-and-beyond effort. He made custom cards for Riley, complete with detailed, well-research and finely-written career highlights.
Next, Greg asked a question and included cash. I’ll let Greg tell the rest:
“I received the following from George Riley today, which I thought might be of interest to you.  In response to my question about what advice he would give to high school pitchers, he had this to say:
“I would tell all athletes to get school in first.  You never know [if you’ll] get hurt.  And also, you must maintain your concentration to the max, and success will come.  Work very hard at what you decide on a position.  Pitchers, do a lot of curls.  I always had a twenty-pound dumbbell with me at all times.  Good luck.”
Then he went on to add the following:
“In the year 2011, I got colon cancer. Then my friend of sixteen years had a spinal cord stroke. Living with her [illegible] paralyzed waist down. I had to give up my [illegible]. If possible if you could help a little, no job, no car. Thanks for the great gift.”
Greg’s highlight reel includes many great moves, such as:
GeorgeRiley21. Never assuming. How many people look on a hobby forum, expecting someone else to be the first collector to report a successful breakthrough? Past stats aren’t always a guarantee of whether you’ll get a response or not.
2. Doing the homework: Check out that card back! I wonder if Riley himself could have quoted all those baseball achievements. That research effort has to win the hearts and minds of iffy signers.
3. Giving first: Money isn’t the only choice, although someone in distress like Riley would key on such a gift. Find something off the internet about the player to print out. Send a duplicate card and tell the person to share it with another fan-collector.
A standing O of gratitude goes to Mister Corrales!

Bo (Rosny) Knows Baseball Cards

NOT! Blogger Bo has collected great
card insights from guys like Brian
Kingman (who got mixed up
for Alan Wirth…)

The first time I read the blog “Baseball Cards Come to Life!”, I came to life.

Ever since The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book in 1973, I’ve been curious about how players feel about their best and worst photos on cards.

Seems like Bo Rosny had the same thoughts. I was grateful that he’d share his experiences with other bloggers. Here’s his fun e-interview:

Q: What’s been your history as a TTM collector (years, specialty, etc.)?

A: I actually don’t TTM. I’m a baseball card collector and have gotten a few autographed cards in trades over the years but am not really an autograph collector. I ask questions online (email, facebook, twitter,etc). It doesn’t cost me any postage, and is generally quicker andeasier for the player than a written note.

Q:  Who was the first former player ever to write you about his cards? How did you refine your questions?

A: Pat Ahearne was the first to write back. I’ve kept the questions consistent over the years, occasionally adding something specific, like asking Tim Flannery about his surfboard card.

Q: Have you found former players who collect to the point of trading
(such as Frank Thomas, the 1950s star)?

A: I wasn’t aware of Thomas’s collection. I’d love to trade with a former player (too bad I don’t have any ’52 Topps cards for Thomas)! What other players trade cards?

Ryan Tatusko is a pitcher in the Nationals organization who is a big Nolan Ryan collector. We have been working on a trade on and off for a while but he is obviously very busy during the season! There are also some players who are looking for cards of themselves.  Dan Smith is one who comes to mind.

Some like Kevin Mench ignore the cards. (Yet let the wrong guy get shown on your card, and listen to the screams!)

Q: What percentage of responses are just signatures, versus answers to your card questions?

A: As it is online communication, there are no signatures. I would estimate that I have sent over 4000 emails, over 2000 facebook messages, and almost 1000 tweets. I get about a 5% response rate, which I think is pretty good as this is an unsolicited request, and many of the players are surprised to get contacted this way.

In my day job, part of what I do is finding people online, so it’s a skill I am good at, but I don’t use any special tools or databases, just a lot of hard work (for me it is quite fun!). I imagine my personal database of player contact info would be pretty valuable to people, but it’s not
something I would consider selling.

If you or your readers are looking to contact an individual player, I’d be happy to point you to them. My twitter feed is public – you can see all the people I am following there publicly. Lots of current and a surprising number of former players on there.

Q: What inspired you to start a blog? How has the blog helped you as a fan and collector?

A: My biggest objective with the blog is baseball card trading. Having a blog definitely helps you in the card trading community. Beyond that I wanted to do something different, as there were so many great card blogs out there already. I compiled a few hundred email addresses and started sending emails out, not really expecting to get many responses. I’ve been blown away by how many great responses I have gotten.

I think this whole project has helped me as a fan by getting to see more of the human side of players. I see them much more as people then as far-away beings on the TV screen. I find it much more interesting than seeing a signature on a photograph.

That said, autograph collectors like you who go way beyond the simple autograph are much more interesting to a fan like me, and clearly to the players too. And I think it is great when you can turn the tables and help them out, like the recent exchange with George Riley.

Q: Future goals writing and collecting?

A: Just keep doing what I’m doing! I’m going to run out of players to contact eventually, but hopefully my blog will still be relevant!

Coming Monday: A special way we can honor Virgil Trucks.

Baseball Assistance Team On Deck

Put this one in your e-mail address book, please.

Last week, when I learned about Cubs pitcher George Riley’s need from collecting friend Kohei Nirengi,  I knew the baseball family would rally.

My first stop was www.BaseballAssistanceTeam.com.

Don’t assume that all former players know about BAT. Financial aid is available, all granted on an anonymous basis.

If you ever receive a reply like Mr. Riley’s, fast help awaits.

Just e-mail the details, including a contact address of the retiree in need, to


I received an immediate confirmation e-mail that an aid application would be mailed to Mr. Riley.

Coming Wednesday: Saying goodbye to Phillies pitcher Dennis Bennett

Rooting For Cubs Pitcher George Riley

From 1981, better days…

Pitcher George Riley is still in life’s game.

The world has batted him around since his last days in the majors (1986 Expos).

However, he sounds ready for a comeback. I’m grateful to collector Kohei Nirengi, who shared his note from the former Cub (who autographed the card Kohei enclosed):

“Thanks so much for asking for my autograph. It makes me feel special. I used to have a 97 mph fastball and a curve that would, what we say, drop off the table. I was pitching in the era that money was not what it is today.

As far as my health, last year I had major surgery to remove my entire colon from cancer. So my health is not too good.  I was an electrician which I lost. And my house, my dog of 7 yrs. I am living with a friend.

 It would be highly appreciated if you could help in any way. It’s difficult, very difficult for me and my life. Because I was always very strong. Thanks so much.

Deepest Thanks,

George Riley
451 Basket Rd. 
Oley, PA 19547-9245″

I contacted the Baseball Assistance Team on the hurler’s behalf.

I’m sharing the news with the belief that George Riley wants to sign. He wants to be remembered. He hasn’t demanded a specific fee per signature.

He appears in the 1981 Topps and Donruss sets. Please, send him a donation with your letter. Send him some hope.

Coming Friday: Author-illustrator Matt Tavares shares his Red Sox admiration with young readers.

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