Standing ovation for noted Browns pitcher AND autograph signer Ned Garver

Since December, TTM attempts to reach Ned Garver have been met by bad news.

The famed 91-year old history maker of the St. Louis Browns has been hospitalized. His classy sons have been sending back personal notes telling that their dad is too ill to sign autographs.

Please, take Mr. Garver off your “to do” list. He may have signed his last autograph.

If you do want to write, simply send a note of thanks. For decades, Ned and his family have been devoted to collectors, fans and students of baseball history. Now is the time to show that their efforts have mattered.

Ned Garver’s Son Talks Autographs

A good pitcher and great storyteller.
Get this book!
Typical childhood? Imagine watching your dad mobbed by pen-wielding strangers. Consider seeing your dad shuffling more letters and envelopes than 10 secretaries.
Such was life for young Don Garver and his much-adored pitching dad Ned. I’m grateful for Don, who was willing to give the hobby a look back at life with a high-profile parent.
Q: How old were you when your Dad played?  
A: I was born in 1944 so I was on the scene for most of his playing days.  I remember very little about his time at St. Louis.  I was 8 years old when he was traded to Detroit and I have a lot of memories of the years in Detroit.  The players and families did a lot of things together on off days during the season and during spring training.  Lots of days at the beach and a lot of good eating.  His years with Kansas City were my favorites.  I was old enough to be batboy each year during spring training.  What an experience!  I never got out to Los Angeles.

Q: It’s obvious that your Dad carefully reads all his letters from fans and collectors. What was his method for handling the mail so well over the years? (After all, he had coaching in baseball, not in being his own secretary! And, on, I saw that collectors who recorded their attempts tracked Ned Garver at a perfect 415-for-415 in replies!).    

A: He read and answered all of his fan mail just as he does today.  He looked at fan mail as his duty to the fans.  He never asked for help and nobody read his fan mail but him. I never heard him complain about having to deal with fan mail.

Q: You knew him as a dad. How did it feel seeing fans clamor for an autograph from Ned, from people who saw him in a very different way?  

A: When eating out it was normal to have our table visited by autograph seekers.  We didn’t think anything of it. And I never saw him turn them away.  After the games it was normal to be approached by a large group of autograph seekers as we stepped out of the clubhouse door.  I was always with him in the clubhouse after the games.  I had a uniform in Kansas City and spent most games watching from the bullpen.  When we walked out of the clubhouse I would walk over to the exit gate where my Mother would be waiting.  She never missed a ballgame unless one of us was sick.  There were a few players that walked right through the crowd and never signed anything, but most of them were like Dad.  They signed until they were all gone.  I knew that was the way it was going to be every night.  And I was smart enough not to complain about it.

Q: Your dad’s letter was very humble, replying about his continuing devotion to signing autographs being “It’s always been my policy.” I pointed out that the majority of people writing him today may not have been born when he pitched. Why do you think he’s still so devoted to pleasing fans and collectors, when others from his era might hang up their pens and say ‘I’ve done enough.’?

A:  I believe he will continue to try to please fans and collectors as long as the majority of them are respectful and sincere in their request for autographs.  There are quite a few people who try to take advantage of him by asking for things that are just unreasonable.  Some examples:  Sign a dozen baseballs with stats – no postage, no tip, no thank-you, no please.  Some people want him to write a few pages telling his most memorable events in the big leagues.  That is why he wrote the books.  To tell them about his baseball life.

Players of today don’t sign autographs.  Maybe they don’t get paid enough!  So, fans of today can’t get anything from the players of today but they still like to collect autographs, baseball cards, signed baseballs, etc.  In an attempt to get some autographs they started contacting players of my Dad’s era and found that a lot of them not only gave them what they wanted but provided them with addresses of other old-time players that were glad to help them out.  

Q: Based on the recent letters you’ve seen your dad receive for autograph requests, would you have any tips for writing former players in their 80s (besides sending the SASE)?  

A: Be respectful, always make the return mail process as easy as possible.  Everything is worth more if it is signed.  So if they sign something for you send them a few bucks to show your appreciation.  Don’t overdo it on the signing.  Asking them to sign 5 baseball cards is enough.  Use your head!  Be kind!

You want to thank Don and Ned for their devotion to the hobby? Order Ned’s new book (autographed, of course) for only $25 postpaid from:

Don Garver (Ned’s son)
113 Avalon Drive
Bryan, Ohio 43506

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.

St. Louis Brown Ned Garver’s 1951 Book Is 2014’s Must-Have!

Ned Garver remains a winner.

He hasn’t taken the mound since 1961. However, his new book Catch 20…too! How one pitcher won 20 games on a team that lost over 100 will be remembered as one of his greatest accomplishments.
The fascinating 184-page book recounts how Garver won 20 games on a struggling St. Louis Browns club that lost 102 in 1951.
Authors Ronnie Joyner and Bill Bozman have preserved an overlooked slice of baseball history. Together with pictures from Garver’s personal collection, this is a book that’ll stun even the brainiest baseball fan.
Joyner and Bozman give a great recap of Garver’s season. “Ned’s Notes” allow Garver himself to offer detailed color commentary from every victory. He’s remembered it all, recapping conversations with teammates and foes.
This isn’t fluffy encyclopedic stuff. Garver interweaves episodes from his entire career, comparing them to 1951. For instance, he tells about his regret over accidentally beaning Brooks Robinson in 1957. 
Conversely, Garver isn’t shy about sharing his feelings from 1951 over Larry Doby and Early Wynn (the latter being the avenger who delivered a retaliatory fastball message at the Brown hurler’s head). Perhaps, Wynn knew how dangerous Garver was as a hitter. He accented his 20-win achievement with a .305 batting average.
The book’s end is priceless. Garver himself begins his memory of win 20 with, “If you were going to write a script for Hollywood, I think that scenario was as good as it gets:”. It’s a great story, told in all-star fashion by the man called “The Team” by St. Louis owner Bill Veeck. 
An introduction from Dodgers pitcher Carl Erskine and box scores from every Garver victory make this the perfect time capsule.
To get a postpaid copy autographed by the unforgettable Brownie, send a check or money order for $25 to:
Don Garver (Ned’s son)
113 Avalon Drive
Bryan, Ohio 43506

Pitcher Ned Garver Talks Autographs

Ned still has a gorgeous
Ned Garver is a wonder.
Now age 88 (born Christmas Day, 1925), he was a fearless pitcher whose 129 wins may have neared 200 with more contending teams.
Despite many hard-luck losses, he’s remained undefeated as a hobby all-star. A recent check at confirmed that Ned Garver was perfect. Of 415 recorded contacts by collectors, Garver responded EVERY TIME.
I wrote to him, simply to ask about his history as a superstar signer of fan mail. He responded:
“When I was pitching well — late ’40s and early ’50s, I got lots of mail. Come back from road trip and there would be perhaps a thousand in my locker. The club assigned a person to deal with the mail. 
I bought 3-by-5 pictures to send — no envelopes [SASE] mailed in. When I had knee surgery, I got thousands — needed help.
That’s has always been my policy.”
What about fan mail today? Does he ever get a donation of thanks?
“I support a few charities and my church — never asked for help. RARELY does anyone send donation — even if they request much.
I am old — it has become more difficult — but I enjoy mail.
Coming Monday: A review of Ned’s fine new book “Catch 20…too! How One pitcher won 20 games on a team that lost over 100.”
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