Why Giant Phil Nastu Signs Autographs

Why must we wait for a funeral to say something good about someone? Why not share that compliment when the do-gooder is there to take a bow?

That’s what I thought about as I wrote to Phil Nastu. Yesterday, I wrote about his kindness in tracking down a collector named Mike Micho, when the autograph reply never reached the intended party. USPS returned a shredded envelope, identified by Nastu’s return address label.

Nastu hunted down Mike on the Internet. He replaced the cards from his own collection, used his own postage and wrote the collector a second time, adding a note of explanation.

I told Nastu how stunned I was, and how I hope everyone will learn about his kindness. He shared these thoughts with me:

“In regard to the ripped card, I just thought if someone took the time to want to get my signature, the least I could do was try and return it.

When I got finished playing, I didn’t have many of my cards. But over the years, fans have asked me to sign one card and keep one for myself, which is pretty cool.”

Nastu’s autograph attiude is amplified by his explanation:

“I was always taught to be respectful to people and would hope to receive it back. It has always been an honor for someone to want my autograph and would never think of charging for it.”

Speaking of cards, Nastu relayed this 1979 Topps tale:

“The good and bad: wanted to have a baseball or basketball card since I was a kid. Good news when I was told by Sy Berger at Topps that I was going to be on a card I was thrilled. He then told me even though I had some time in the majors, he had to put me on a prospect card, because they needed to put more position players on. He actually paid me for a full card because he felt bad.”

By the way, “Thanks” preceeded Nastu’s autograph at the bottom of the page. When’s the last time you were thanked for being a collector?

Coming Monday: How a young autograph collector delighted Chuck Estrada.

Twins Pitcher Jim Strickland Missed Two Seasons In The Military, But He’s Not Complaining

Strickland debuted in 1971.
Why couldn’t Topps show
him in a REAL ballpark for
its 1973 set?

Pitcher Jim Strickland hasn’t been on the mound for more than 35 years. There’s still time to cheer for him.

This man of faith threw baseballs. He’s not throwing blame today. Strickland put his career on hold for military service. He’d be entitled to some bafflement, if not bitterness. His march to the majors became a march for Uncle Sam in 1967-68. I began with the “what if…” question. Strickland replied:

“The time off had an unknown effect. The experiences might have extended my career.”

Someone who sees what they gained, instead of what they may have lost? That’s worth a standing ovation.

I remember adding that Twins Rookie Stars card to my 1972 Topps set, seeing him with Rick Dempsey and Vic Albury. How did the card make him feel?

“All rookies got $5 to sign with Topps (1964). I don’t remember how I reacted (to the first card), because I never collected cards as a kid.”

There’s no doubt to how Strickland reacted on May, 19, 1971. That’s when he relieved Jim Perry at Anaheim Stadium, getting his first win as a Twin. The win wasn’t in Minnesota, but it did seem like pitching at home. Strickland added:

“My first game was very special. Being from southern California, I was able to pitch in front of family and friends. The most tense moment was the first batter (ground ball to short).”

How did Strickland fare versus the Angels? Thanks to http://www.retrosheet.org/, you can see for yourself!

I thanked Strickland for his military service. He thanked me for being ME.

“Tom, Thank You for being such a fan. Thank you for the questions. God bless you.


Proverbs 3:5-6

Coming Wednesday: Tom’s latest ’10 Most Wanted’ contacts, St. Louis style

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