An open letter to 2-time World Series champ Aubrey Huff

Dear Mr. Huff:

I’ve never written to you before. Therefore, I hope you’ll consider this blog post a sincere substitute for a letter.

Your new biography Baseball Junkie sounds quite courageous, helping many readers about to take a wrong turn in life.

As someone who’s been writing about correspondence with former players since 2010, I wanted to commend you on your willingness to recognize collectors and fans by mail. In fact, I saw on www.sportscollectors.net that collectors had reported success on 278 of the 486 letters to you they had tracked over the last 15 years.

In other words, your .570 signing average is admirable, considering that some fans were writing you at your team addresses. Nonetheless, potential readers who collect might hesitate to read your life story, considering that getting an autographed copy by mail might be iffy.

I think your book will get some raving fan support, due to the hand-signed letter you’ve been sending with your autograph reply. Muhammad Ali discovered the same thing. A typed message may seem like mere advertising to some. However, a signed item is something more: a collectible worth keeping and sharing. You’ve picked the smarter, second route for connecting with potential readers

Jim Campanis was famed as a “can’t miss” TTM autographer years before his memoir came out. When Born into Baseball appeared, sharing the news in SASEs that included an autograph seemed natural, even welcomed. Although he’s been autographing books purchased directly from him, Jim’s found ways to boost sales by including autographed photos with a purchase.

Thanks again for sharing your heart with so many in the world of baseball. We’ll be watching our mailboxes for more exciting moments from you!

 

 

 

 

A singing player? Groove on Nate Oliver’s 1960s musical baseball memories

The 2006 Chicago White Sox brass must have seen Nate’s 1970 Topps card. He worked that season as the team’s bunting instructor.

Nate Oliver’s life and career couldn’t be squeezed onto one baseball card back.

Forget the stats. This Dodger/Giant/Yankee/Cub has savored adventures that Hall of Famers would envy.

Born in St. Petersburg, Florida in 1940, Oliver received a unique opportunity when signed by the Dodgers organization in 1959. How many newcomers got to perform before a Grapefruit League crowd of friends and family? Oliver remembered:

“Very, very exciting and unbelievable for me to be blessed to be granted such an opportunity. Yes, the gang attended several spring games.”

In Oliver’s 1969 campaign, his second career homer came as a Cub. His blast was part of a 19-0 pounding handed the Padres. The next day, the Tribute had a headline reading, “Break Up the Cubs!” Oliver recalled:

“It helped me to have one of my best performances as a major league player. Finishing that day 3 for 4 with two doubles, a homer, 4 RBI and 3 runs scored.”

Check out the oh-so-cool Trading Card Database website. Oliver appeared in the Dodgers Jay Publishing “picture pack” set in 1965.

Back in 1964, Oliver made news for his performance at Cincinnati’s Crosley Field. After singing the National Anthem, Oliver received appreciative applause during each at-bat. His musical talent didn’t remain a secret at home. How many Anthems did he perform?

“Several, maybe 4 at Dodger Stadium, one LA Lakers, one Anaheim and one Oakland Coliseum. I think that’s it.”

However, check out the awesome P.S. for his singing stats:

“The most memorable was having to stand in for Ella Fitzgerald. Because she could not make it so I was a last-minute replacement. And my good friend Ozzie Smith and the Cards were in town. He was in total disbelief!”

Oliver’s love and respect for baseball still blazes today. As evidence, I’d submit the fine interview captured by Ed Attanasio on the “This Great Game” website.

Autograph collectors: can you do more in 2017?

From wishing retirees a happy birthday to campaigning to get Tim Raines in Cooperstown, Mike Noren connects with each one of his artworks!

My only 2017 resolution for me, hobby-wise?

One day at a time.

One guy at a time.

One letter at a time.

I wrote about artist Mike “Gummy Arts” Noren in August. On Twitter last week, Mike announced that he created more than 400 artworks in 2017.

Be like Mike. Try. Try every day. Baseball loves streaks. 

Onward!

 

 

 

Bob Will: Another Bygone Cub Who’d Savor This World Series

Check out the Baseball Almanac website. Great stats, and a tremendous library of authentic autograph examples!
Check out the Baseball Almanac website. Great stats, and a tremendous library of authentic autograph examples!

Ernie Banks

Ron Santo

Harry Caray

There’s one more name missing from that roster of departed Cub characters.

I’ll never forget Bob Will, the outfielder whose 1960 starting job was won by future Hall of Famer Billy Williams. Nonetheless, Will never stopped loving the Cubs.

I’m flattered he read this blog before his death from cancer in 2011. I enjoyed a couple of conversations with Bob. Near his final days, I was able to convince several former Cubs to call their teammate for one last stroll down memory lane. Even announcer Pat Hughes was among those who shared a telephone chat with him.

Bob never stopped loving the Cubs. He would have loved the 2016 World Series outcome, too.

 

 

Your letter in the Baseball Hall of Fame? It’s possible!

Don Sutton has another unique tie to the Hall of Fame, this one being hand-written! (Photo credit: Adam Fagen/Wikimedia Commons)
Don Sutton has another unique tie to the Hall of Fame, this one being hand-written! (Photo credit: Adam Fagen/Wikimedia Commons)

A collector, part of Cooperstown? 

That’s one fascinating possibility lurking within the correspondence collection kept by the National Baseball Hall of Fame research library. The 25-page list produces many surprises, none of which may be on public display.

Everyone knows that Hall of Famer Don Sutton has been a reluctant by-mail signer for years. Well, the HOF owns a hand-written letter from the pitcher, offering advice to a young player in 1966. An article from the period documents the exchange.

Players like Jackie Robinson saved letters of support from fans. Browsing the list, I found one fan wrote Robinson six times from 1952-55.

Sure, the archive includes lots of business letters: owners, commissioners, journalists. 

However, none of those official missives would match a single hand-written bit of correspondence between players and fans.

That’s the joy of Baseball By The Letters.

 

http://s3.amazonaws.com/finding-aids/BA+MSS+44+Correspondence+Collection.pdf

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