When Would Rogers Hornsby Sign The Most?

“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”

— Rogers Hornsby
I couldn’t help but think of Hornsby’s famous quote. That’s the reason I accelerate my TTM letter writing after the regular season ends. I know that minor league coaches are back home (as evidenced by Mark Dewey’s reply). Also, some current players are famous for letting the letters pile up during the regular season.
I’m thinking of the retirees, however. Come World Series time, they may start missing their past life. Signing autographs and sharing memories may be the next best thing to being there. I think October is a fine time to start amping up the fan mail quantity.
Readers: when do you get the most replies from retirees?
By the way, you need to stop by the Baseball Almanac quotes page to see the other tidbits of wisdom “Rajah” left behind. He even talked about autographs!

Three Lessons From Former Players

Who needs fortune cookies? The hobby has been sending me messages! Such as…

1. This hobby is humbling: When Mark Dewey replied politely, he began his letter, “Dear Mr. Owens.” People called my Dad MISTER. That means I’m old?!?

2. Count your hits, not your misses: This coming week, I’ll share a fantastic reply from RICH Billings, the 1970s catcher. He made an incredible observation about Ted Williams. What I’ll try not to bemoan is how the envelope looked like an origami project run amok. Mister Billings had enclosed a card. Not since I put dupes in my bike spokes has such a result been seen. Nonetheless, I’m grateful to the Postal Service. This was my first disabled list envelope in eight months.

3. Don’t believe every card you read: If any of you write to Billings, note that he is not a DICK. The 1971 Topps card reproduced his signature as RICH BILLINGS. Still, Topps insisted on identifying him as “Dick.” Billings signs his autograph as “Rich.” Even his return address label confirms his first name of choice.

Readers: what lessons have your TTM responses taught you?

Pitcher Mark Dewey Fanned His Friends

Mark Dewey has an all-star attitude.

I just got a one-page letter in response to questions that began with an APOLOGY for a slow response to my July letter. Collectors are counting years with some responses. A few weeks? The difference between the mystery reply or the guy who writes that your letter got lost in a pile, Dewey noted, “I was away from home all summer (working as a pitching coach) and am just getting to much of my mail.”

Dewey added a Bible verse to his signature. Additionally, he shared a smile, proving that Christians aren’t without a sense of humor. When asked about batting 1.000 for the 1994 Pirates, he responded:

“I’ve milked a lot of mileage out of this one. whenever I tell people I led the National League in hitting in 1994, they soon figure out I was 1 for 1 and say that doesn’t really count. I respond, ‘Hey, I didn’t have any say in how often I got to bat, but I produced every time.'”

Through the power of http://www.retrosheet.org/, I uncovered a personal highlight for Dewey from 1995. He fanned seven New York Mets in one relief stint. Dewey replied:

I remember it was a day game at Candlestick and the weather was sunny with strong winds (not surprising at the ‘Stick). I pitched 4-1/3 or 4-2/3 innings, I believe, and I remember thinking I sure was striking out a lot of guys, many of whom were former teammates from my time with the Mets.”

In 1996, Dewey’s final season with the Giants, he reached a career milestone with 78 appearances. What about all the extra bullpen time? Dewey wrote:

“I actually kept a journal when I played and knew exactly the number of times I warmed up without getting in the game. I don’t remember the exact number, but I believe it was about 25-30 times. The Lord blessed me with a strong body and arm, and I trained faithfully — this allowed me to enjoy all those games in 1996.”

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