Bob Boone & More! Catching Up With Catchers

Check out Nick Diunte’s
success, to see how
the back-up backstop’s
autograph still shines!

I’ve heard from all kinds of autograph collectors, including the position hobbyists. So, here’s some updates about four names linked by job, a quartet of guys making news the hobby right now…

Applause and thanks start with collector Dan Brunetti. After two Return to Sender (RTS) rejections from Bob Boone, in care of the Nationals and later his home address, Boonie signed. I’m thinking Dan scored c/o the team.

Time is dwindling on attempts to get members of the 1950s Yankees dynasty teams. Nick Diunte, one of my favorite baseball writers, had to wait more than a year to get backup catcher Charlie Silvera, now 88. Read how Nick kindness moved the Yankee. Meanwhile, let me cast my vote for an always-worthwhile read at Nick’s “Baseball Hapenings” website.

Also, I wanted to share Ron Martin’s great summary of the career of just-deceased catcher Matt Batts, who did sign for me once. Thanks to Ron, an inspiring Reds fan and collector, noted:

“I guess that you may have heard that the former Red Matt Batts passed away this week.  He was 91 years old.  He was better known for his baseball exploits as a member of the Red Sox and Tigers’ organization but he finished his career in 1955 and 1956 with the Reds.  He was  one of Satchel Paige’s first catchers and also caught the second of Virgil Trucks’ two no-hitters.  He was also the catcher when Jack Harshman set the all time White Sox record of striking out 16 batters on July 25, 1954 against Ted Williams and the Boston Red Sox.”

Lastly, I wanted to weigh in on what seemed like an upbeat story about a retiree deciding to charge for TTM autographs. Catcher Mike Fitzgerald (1983-92) is wanting $5 for signing each baseball card, $10 for balls and other larger items. The note from baseball address king Harvey Meiselman said that the money would be used to pay off a son’s student loans.

Well, upon closer inspection at www.sportscollectors.net shows that the one-time Met and Expo hadn’t returned any requests since 2011. Collectors who’ve waited more than two years for a reply have gotten a letter from the son, indicating that, upon payment, he’ll see that his father signs the cards promptly.

In a way, it’s like a ransom note. Will peeved collectors who’ve written off Fitzgerald as a lost cause bite? Years ago, the ex-catcher sent out autographed Christian testimony cards as bonuses. Now, it’s easy to wonder if even his son and money will keep him motivated to sign.

Trying Not to Go Batty Over Matt Batts

Posted August 27th, 2010 by Tom Owens and filed in Bill Nowlin, Matt Batts, SABR

I own more than one Bill Nowlin baseball title. He’s one of SABR’s finest researchers and interviewers. Enjoy his profile of Matt Batts on the SABR website here.

Nowlin got Batts to move beyond complaining about the Browns record in 1951. The catcher enjoyed hitting .300 there. Plus, Batts seemed to savor the team of characters, from Bill Veeck and Satchel Paige to Eddie Gaedel.

I tip my cap to my insightful wife for that educated guess on Batts’ cryptic autograph. Thankfully, Batts didn’t write, “Rosebud.”

Seeking the Secret of Matt Batts, Circa 1951

Posted August 26th, 2010 by Tom Owens and filed in Matt Batts, St. Louis Browns
Matt’s Favorite Year. Why?

Catcher Matt Batts threw me a curve!

I sent him three questions, along with a sheet to reply. All he signed was…

Matt Batts
1951

The records aren’t helping. The Red Sox shipped him to the St. Louis Browns in 1951.

Batts led the American League in errors AND passed balls in 1951.

Offensively, he had more homers and RBI in other seasons. Batts debuted in 1947. Detroit used him as a starter in 1953.

Why 1951? I’d welcome any suggestions, please. To quote my baseball-wise wife:

Think outside the box SCORE!

Batts was a World War II vet. What was going on in his off-the-field life in 1951?