Getting Ty Cobb’s Grandson’s Autograph

Here’s news you can use!

“Spitball Magazine is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2013 CASEY Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year is: Heart of a Tiger: Growing Up with My Grandfather, Ty Cobb by Herschel Cobb and ECW Press.

Mr. Cobb will be presented with his CASEY Award, a specially-made blue & gold Louisville Slugger, at the 31st Annual CASEY Awards Banquet from 2-4 p.m. at Crosley’s Sports Bar & Eatery, located at 4910 Vine Street, St. Bernard, OH (a suburb of Cincinnati).

For more information, please visit:”

Editor Mike Shannon added:
“The book is also still in the first edition, which is important in the book collecting world and the future re-sell value of a signed copy. Also, … and this is very cool … Mr. Cobb told me today that he will be signing in GREEN INK … just as his famous grandfather did!
I will ask him to inscribe all books with a special “CASEY Awards Banquet, Cincinnati, Ohio, March 9, 2014” inscription, in addition to whatever else you ask him to inscribe, such as “To Billy, a great fastball hitter at UK.”

I hope you will be present at the Banquet, but even if you can’t make it (and I know some of you live too far away to come), I can get a book signed for you and mail it to you afterwards. So … please let me know if you want me to include you … and how many copies … in my order to the publisher.

Cost will the cover price, $25. Plus $3 if I have to mail your copy. Spitball will make a few bucks on each copy we sell, but I hope you don’t mind that. Good cause and all that.

And please, forward this email to anybody I left out whom you know will be interested in coming to the Banquet or ordering a signed copy of the book.

My best,
Mike Shannon, Ed.
Spitball: The Literary Baseball Magazine”

A Final Tribute To Virgil “Fire” Trucks


Autograph collecting needs more heroes like Virgil Trucks.

The late pitcher remained grateful to the end. He appreciated fans and hobbyists as much as we adored him.

I wanted to share the thank-you note sent in response…

to MY thank-you note!

I had sent “Fire” a postcard picturing Ty Cobb’s glove. On the back, I thanked him for his years of signing autographs, knowing that he had to stop signing once a broken hip required hospitalization.

Here was his surprising unsolicited reply:

“Hi, Tom,

Thanks for your wonderful card. Also for all the nice things you do for Caroline and I. We both appreciate your help and thoughts.

I’m sorry about my short note and writing. I’m writing this in rehab and have several weeks to go. Yes, Caroline is one sweet person and I’m glad she is my precious daughter.

Enclosed is a card for you if you care for it.

Again, Tom, thanks for all you do, and my best to you forever.

Virgil Trucks

P.S. I met the famous Ty Cobb. Very nice person.”

My best to you, forever, too, Virgil Trucks!

Coming Thursday: Greatest minor league response ever?

Ty Cobb Disses Babe Ruth in Letter

Did Upper Deck know that Cobb would
want top billing against Ruth?

I troll the Internet weekly, seeking examples of vintage baseball correspondence. I find few.

Is that because letters from baseball players aren’t collectible? Hardly. I feel it stems from a truly small supply. Few letters survived.

I was tickled to see a Ty Cobb letter to a licensing agent. Cobb was concerned about the acclaim Babe Ruth received. Even after he retired from baseball, Cobb’s ego still competed.

Cheers to Nate Sanders Autographs for showcasing this jewel of baseball history. Bidding had topped $3,000 the last time I checked. The moral? Letters matter. And not just for historians. Price guides may not exist for one-of-a-kind finds, but that doesn’t mean hobbyists wouldn’t welcome such revelations in their own collections.

What Should I Write To Them About? Golf!

Here’s a quick tip for the holiday weekend:

Baseball is a sport. Players are sportsmen. Some might define the term as “doing stuff outdoors.”

Golf has strange ties to baseball. It’s the top activity for someone’s off day. Charity tournaments. Every former player I’ve tried to call (even the 80-somethings!) are often “out on the course.”

The Tom Stanton book is a fun read. How could golf appeal to a superstar baseball player? The clues are all in Stanton’s fine dual biography.

Sadly, some former players might have considered baseball their job. Golf was their PASSION.

Make a connection in your letter. Golf might be a perfect opportunity.

Jewish Major Leaguers Star In Book

Dave Cohen is an inspiration to all baseball letter-writers. Yes, THAT Dave Cohen. Mister Georgia State University Athletics. The Voice of the Panthers.

While some fans think a letter has to be limited to “what was your greatest thrill” type of query, Cohen spoke from his heart. How did faith and ethnic pride buoy a career? Hard questions, yes. However, the result is an eye-opening book.

I wrote to the author. He shared the highlights of his discovery in his kind, thoughtful reply:

“The premise behind the book was to learn about who some of these Jewish former major leaguer’s were and to hear their stories. Most Jewish baseball fans are somewhat familiar with the careers of Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax but how many of them know anything about the careers of the other Jewish ballplayers? Who were they and how did they leave their mark on the game? What were their experiences in the game? Since the beginning of Major League Baseball or professional baseball as we know it, among the thousands and thousands that have played, the number is in and around two hundred of those that were Jewish. It’s such a small number that, to me, among baseball fans it’s a special minority. On one hand there were players like Al Rosen, Steve Stone and Ron Blomberg, who I think understood why I was doing this book and why it is important to recognize their accomplishments.
There were also a couple of players who questioned as to why I, or anyone, would single out players based solely on their religion. I think it just comes down to the ethnic pride within the various communities whether it’s the Jewish community or the various Latin-American or Asian-American communities who follow the various players with a shared or common back round or heritage.
For this first publishing I interviewed seventeen former players. Two interviews were done in-person although I had met four of them in-person. The rest of them, except one, were conducted as phone interviews. Although I would have loved to, time and cost prohibited me from traveling around the country to meet them all in person. The only former player who did not want to talk on the phone was Ken Holtzman but he did agree to be interviewed via e-mail so that’s what we did. Surprisingly enough he answered most of my questions in complete detail. There were a few questions that he did not want to elaborate on and that’s ok too.
There were not really many instances during the course of my interviews where a player was not clear about what I was referring to. I did pre-interview research on each former player and knew much of the time where I was leading the conversation. The nice thing I found with some of these players and their interviews was that those who were lesser-known or who maybe did not have long careers, they seemed to be enthusiastic that someone had taken the time to research their baseball career and was interested in talking to them about it. They were, I think, genuinely please to be recognized and to be included in the book.
I think the best thing to do if you are planning on including a personal question in your request is, again, to do a little research on the individual and maybe come up with something more pertinent to his career. Google is a wonderful tool! As I mentioned, I found some of the former players I interviewed to be open and enthusiastic that someone had taken the time to read up on their career and to show an interest in their accomplishments. Depending upon the player, there may be some who do not want to talk about certain subjects. Either they’ll let you know by not answering or you’ll hopefully get an informative answer. Should you be talking to the former player in person it might even lead to a longer conversation.
From my conversations with Barry Latman he related to me that he never saw the side of Ty Cobb that Cobb was portrayed to be meaning racist and anti-Semitic. According to Latman, while they did meet in-person on a few occasions, most of their correspondence was done via letter writing. Remember, it was the early to mid- 1950’s. I did not get the opportunity to view all the letters. The only one I was able to read was the copy of the one he sent me to include in my book. Having visited Cobb’s hometown of Royston, Georgia and having read a little bit about him and his life and career my guess is that he was a product of his environment and the time period. His reputation on the baseball field may not have matched his off the field demeanor quite to the extent that is often portrayed. I don’t know that for sure but Latman never witnessed it.”
Baseball fans can order Matzoh Balls and Baseballs online at as well as the Barnes & Noble and Borders online sites. They can also visit Various independent bookstores carry it as well including A Cappella Books in Atlanta, which has autographed copies. Visit online at or call them at 404-681-5128 or toll-free at 1-866-681-5128.
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