Eddie O’Brien, Gone At Age 83

Posted February 24th, 2014 by Tom Owens and filed in 1954 Topps, Bing Crosby, Eddie O'Brien, John O'Brien, Pittsburgh Pirates

One half of one of the most amazing Topps cards of the 1950s is gone.

Eddie O’Brien amazed me in 2010 with a letter that told about that famed card with his brother, his brief stint as a Pirates pitcher and getting scouted by Bing Crosby.
The always-amazing www.sportscollectors.net tallied 152 responses in 166 tries for Eddie O.
Eddie was famous, too, for taking the 1954 card (or the Archives) to his brother John for a second autograph. I don’t think most TTM collectors requested the effort. It was usually a surprise. Two autographs, one stamp, giving “double play” new meaning.
Great friends to the hobby remain. Write them while you can.

Pirate Dick Groat Still Loves Baseball

Posted August 13th, 2012 by Tom Owens and filed in Dick Groat, Pittsburgh Pirates
Sixty years later, expect the
same autograph — maybe
even more ornate than in 1952!

I’ve” been asking some of the greatest autograph signers in hobby history why they do it.

I thank them. Then, I ask why they’ve been so kind for so long.

Pittsburgh Pirates fans will be the first to understand the short, sincere reply of Dick Groat:

“Love of the ‘game’

Greatest Life in the World

Dick Groat
1960 N.L. MVP

You may not get a one-page letter back from the steady shortstop. You will get fast, crisp signatures, along with the acknowledgement that you’re part of the same team. HIS team. The team that believes in baseball.

Coming Wednesday: How Antiques Roadshow hurts our hobby.

“The Baseball Hall of Shame” Reopens With “The Best of Blooperstown” — Strange, But True FUN!

One cool fact: 86-year-old
sports artist Jack Davis,
illustrator of previous editions,
came out of retirement
to adorn this cover, too!

Major League Baseball can laugh at itself!

Authors Bruce Nash and Allan Zullo are back again. (Take that, Simon and Garfunkel!) The pair have revived their “Baseball Hall of Fame” series with a fifth title called The Best of Blooperstown.

This offbeat book combines a “best of” format, while adding 40 percent new stories.

In tales as recent as 2011, the five newest inductees include Orlando Hudson, Denard Span, John Lindsey, Lastings Milledge and Chris Coughlan.

My favorite tales? Nash and Zullo uncover a pair of gems for autograph collectors. Once, Will McEnany substituted his uniformed twin brother in the Pirates bullpen. Not only did he fool skipper Chuck Tanner, the reliever’s kin signed autographs for fans. Talk about a rare variation to collect?

Also, readers discover why outfielder Al Smith once signed autographs only for fans who claimed to have the same last name.

This book is fun reading for a full nine innings. Each story may run one or two pages. Read it during the commercial breaks for your next televised baseball game viewing.

Best of all, the infamous wrong-doers in this book share a laugh with the authors. There’s no denials or finger-pointing over what went wrong on the field. I could imagine the highlighted subjects signing autographs for a collector who wrote them about their diamond misdeeds. The players seem to appreciate the recognition. After all, they won’t be forgotten, as long as Nash and Zullo are the keepers of the game’s hilarious history. I’m glad they’re back and on my bookshelf again.