Signing Updates For Joe Garagiola, Ned Garver

Thanks to Daniel Solzman for an important update:

“In my request that was finally returned signed in today‚Äôs mail, the following note was enclosed with my check returned:
Dec. 28, 2013
‘Mr. Garagiola is very sorry to be returning your request.  Due to his recent stay in the hospital he will be discontinuing his autographing program for St. Peter Indian Mission Schools.  Thank you for your interest.'”
This seems to be a polite way of saying that Joe may not be well enough, after all, to keep signing autographs. I wouldn’t be surprised if his family goes the “Return to Sender” route for future mail.
Ned Garver, meanwhile, is still doing his best to satisfy TTM requests. His son says that Ned will add a “To ____” personalization for any purchased books on request. However, the 88-year-old Ned isn’t up to detailed inscriptions.
And this is not the place to ask. Why? Ned’s included it all in the masterful retelling of 1951 and the rest of his surprising career.

Joe Garagiola Isn’t Done Yet!

Thanks to Daniel Solzman for this update:

“Joe Garagiola had major surgery in the last few months and is finally starting to return fan mail.  He called yesterday asking about what I sent as he saw the envelope but my photo was either lost or misplaced.”
At age 87, Joe may have fanned some worried thoughts in the hobby, when letters this fall got the “Return to Sender” treatment.
My faith in Joe remains. Back in the 1980s, as co-editor of Sports Collectors Digest, I was surprised that Joe was a reader. He phoned more than once to ask about former players in need. When he started asking for donations by mail, signing autographs to aid the Baseball Assistance Team, I knew how sincere he was about helping fellow players.
Since then, he’s turned his energies to serving children at the St. Peter Mission School
The Baseball World of Joe Garagiola may not have logged its last chapter, after all!

Hurray For Chris Speier!

Love this photo! What
charity would Chris
donate this card to?

“It’s me, not you.”

That sounds like some overused line from some romance novel.

Nevertheless, it’s an appreciated confirmation in the case of Chris Speier. For years, the long-time infielder-turned-coach has been a good TTM signer in care of his teams. You needed to write him during the season.

Mail to his Arizona home either got a RTS or items were sent back unsigned in your SASE.

I applauded Speier for not trashing everyone’s items. Also, for more than 40 years, he’s maintained a legible autograph.

Now, according to Baseball Address List author Harvey Meiselman, Speier has spelled out his autograph policy. He returns a typed message that says he won’t sign at his home and he won’t return the items.

The only baffling part of Speier’s update? He writes that items will be donated to charity.

Really? The Phoenix Salvation Army will sell used clothing and Speier commons?

It would be coolest if he was autographing everything before he donated.

Don’t get me wrong: I’ve always been a Speier admirer. I remember Joe Garagiola praising the “young shortstop” on NBC Game of the Week. He pointed out that Speier was backing up the pitcher. If the return throw from the catcher got loose, Speier would make sure no runner advanced.

All I want is him not heading for the recycling bin with fan mail. If you say you’re going to give our cards to charity, make the play.

Seeking More Good Joes (As in Garagiola)

I’ll never forget my first conversation with Joe Garagiola.

As co-editor of Sports Collectors Digest, I ran a letter to the editor. A 1940s Phillie was suffering from Alzheimer’s. His daughter wrote to say that her dad loved greeting cards, carrying them in his pocket until they disintegrated. Even though her father couldn’t sign autographs, she hoped readers would write to him.

Joe subscribed! He vowed to get the Baseball Assistance Team to help. When Joe started requesting donations to BAT for autographs, his move made sense. I believed he was sincere. He had told me many instances of how BAT served former players in need. His current donation policy for autographs, along with a new cause, is detailed here on this helpful website outlining signatures for charity.

In coming installments, I hope to get more feedback from current and former players who support charity through autographing. Questions I’ll be asking:

1. What is the charity?
2. Why do they support this cause?
3. How much have they raised through autograph signing?

I don’t want to be a cynical grump, but I have harbored small doubts about the vague “I give it to charity” comments. WHAT charity? While I feel good about helping a good cause, I don’t like feeling that the signer will never see my letter. Instances in which retirees send thank-you notes for donations show me these men are active supporters of the charities, giving me an extra insight into their personality.

Readers: what questions do you have about the charities that autograph signers support with your donations?

Cardinals Teammate Diering Wasn’t Surprised By Joe Garagiola

Joe Garagiola was baseball’s first Bob Uecker.

The former catcher transformed baseball TV broadcasts.
Always funny, always smart, always himself. Even a boring,
one-sided game would be fun with Joe behind the mike.

Even beyond his retirement years, Joe kept spinning great baseball yarns.
Just Play Ball
is still classic Garagiola. It’s a book worth reading.

Chuck Diering debuted with the Cardinals in 1947. Being
a fellow St. Louis native allowed him to know Garagiola well.
Diering wrote:

“I wasn’t surprised because Joe was always a good speaker when we attended affairs at times.

“Being a catcher, he always had lots of time to talk to other players and have stories to tell.”

The secret to Garagiola’s success? All that squatting around!