Cincy’s Gene Freese, Autograph All-Star, Gone At Age 79

Posted July 1st, 2013 by Tom Owens and filed in Cincinnati Reds, Gene Freese, Ron Martin,

How much did Fleer pay
players for appearing in
their 1960s sets? In 1963,
the card came with a cookie.
Were players paid in
baked goods?!?

Thanks to Ron Martin for sharing some sad news:

“I guess that you have heard that a true friend to the hobby of TTM collecting has departed.  Gene Freese a member of the 1961 Ragamuffin Reds passed away last week evidently from complications due to back surgery.  I know that I had gotten several items signed by him through the years including the photo of Pete Rose coming out of the dugout for his first game in the major leagues.  Rose, Frank Robinson, Cardenas, and Tommy Harper who you cannot see in that photo are the only surviving members in that photo.  Where has time gone?”
Mr. Freese (yes, I watched Batman…) died at age 79.
Anyone who played more than a decade in the pre-expansion 1950s and 60s had my admiration.
Most of all, I admired Freese’s ironman ethic serving the hobby. The sterling website credited him for signing 183 of 185 requests.
Sadly, I missed out on him. Examples of his signature were superbly detailed. No G— F—–.
One collector shared on the SCN site that he tried to send Freese $5. The veteran returned the cash with the requested autograph, along with an note claiming that the fiver was half of the signing bonus he received in 1953!
The roster of available signers from the 1950s and 60s is shrinking. Get these hobby heroes like Gene Freese as fast as you can.

Catcher Bob Schmidt’s Final Autograph?

Posted February 28th, 2013 by Tom Owens and filed in Bob Schmidt, Cincinnati Reds, Ron Martin,
Years of service, to baseball
and the hobby. Thank you!

Thanks to Reds collector Ron Martin for sharing the news, via

Former catcher Bob Schmidt, part of Cincinnati’s 1961 team, suffered a stroke and is unable to sign autographs.

Schmidt’s greatest statistic?

According to SCN, he signed 97 of 99 TTM requests.

Before everyone crosses him off their baseball address lists, I have one question:

When a retiree has to stop signing because of health matters, do any of you (who own his autograph) ever send a thank-you note? I’d think a note saying, “I kept your autograph all these years” would be quite meaningful.

Just a thought.

Howie Nunn Has Left The Game

Posted February 20th, 2012 by Tom Owens and filed in Howie Nunn, Ron Martin
An elusive signer leaves us…

In January, I shared the story of Howie Nunn not signing. His wife was moved by the sincerity of Ron Martin. Mrs. Nunn called the hobbyist, telling him about her husband’s failing health.

Weeks later comes news of Howie Nunn’s death. Additional thanks go to Ron.

Two things stood out from this obituary. First, only one sentence mentioned the teams Nunn played for during his major league career. His second career as manager of a machinery and electronics company got the same space.

Secondly, the survivors included his two cherished poodles.

Former players are still people. They have other jobs, careers which they might have gleaned more pride and satisfaction from than their major league employment. They have pets and family.

Honor the whole person when you write.

Coming Tuesday: Learning from Mariner Dave Valle.