Pat Neshek is coming! Santa Claus joins the Houston Astros

Posted December 11th, 2014 by Tom Owens and filed in Houston Astros, Pat Neshek
Santa Junior?

It’s not just the beard.

If you want to see the spirit of Christmas during the 2015 season, tell Houston fans to check out this guy. 
Scratch that. Free agent acquisition Pat Neshek is Christmas every day of the year.
Guaranteed, the Astros will have a league leader in “most autographs given” and “best signature” categories. 

The Moral Of Denis Menke: Hometowns Matter

Posted January 9th, 2014 by Tom Owens and filed in Denis Menke, Dodger Stadium, Houston Astros

Let me shatter one myth about baseball retirees.

“But I never saw him play!” you might say. “What do I write to him about?”
The answer is in your return address.
Choose someone who is a native of your state. Or someone who found minor league glory on a team in your state.
I was in a Dodger Stadium locker room in 1988. After a LONG game, I stopped in theHouston  Astros locker room. I saw an exhausted coach, an Iowa native. Should I ask Denis Menke about the Big Red Machine days, playing beside Henry Aaron? What would he be interested in discussing.
“I know who your high school coach was,” I began. “The state high school tournament was held in my hometown. I saw your team just miss a state title.”
I watched the years melt off Menke. He perched on his locker stool. A multi-topic chat ensued.
“Wait!” a reader might grunt. “I don’t want to hear about high school baseball or the minors.”
Ah, don’t forget the bigger picture.
Make a connection. You may have something more in common with that name from baseball’s past than you think. 
Here’s a question for your next letter:
“How did you get from here to there, to the majors/All-Star Game/etc.?”
Sculpt the clay, putting it all in your own words. Watch the reactions. The question works!

Grady Hatton Dies at 90…Ending Mystery?

Posted April 12th, 2013 by Tom Owens and filed in Grady Hatton, Hank Bauer, Houston Astros,

Cancer claimed Grady Hatton Thursday at age 90.

A crisp sig, until the end!

Hatton was a sure-thing signer. He added “1952 All-Star” on request.

Questions were questionable, however.

All I got was a crisp autograph when I wrote. The questions were ignored.

Reviewing the archives of, I saw that I wasn’t alone.

In 2004, Hatton wrote to one collector that he’d get in trouble with players if he answered questions.

I met Hank Bauer at a 1980s card show. A bubbly Boog Powell loved chatting with him at an after-hours reception for card dealers.

Powell would tell anyone anything. Bauer was more careful.

“We had a sign on the clubhouse wall,” Bauer said. ‘What happens here stays here.'”

Before the Las Vegas rules. You know, what happens in Vegas…

No more worries about keeping confidences, Grady. Thanks for the signature.