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

Joey Votto keeps Cincinnati odd-ball autograph tradition alive!

From August 27: Votto stares down a fan who battled him a foul ball. Votto would present the fan with a second ball, autographed! (Photo credit: ThatLostDog/Flickr, via Wikimedia Commons)
From August 2: Votto stares down a fan who battled him for a foul ball. Votto would present the fan with a second ball, autographed! (Photo credit: ThatLostDog/Flickr, via Wikimedia Commons)

For the Cincinnati Reds, an autographed baseball is the equivalent to the “get out of jail free” card in MONOPOLY.

Joey Votto’s anger over a fan who outdueled him for a foul ball was rectified by a post-incident autographed baseball

Brandon Phillips used signed-ball diplomacy previously. 

Votto has used autographs to make a statement before, explaining why he wouldn’t sign for Cubs fans.

The inspiring website www.sportscollectors.net notes that collectors through the mail have gotten 365 responses (69 percent success rate overall). However, the last recorded response came in June, 2015.

I predict this won’t be the last time the Cincy slugger depends on autographs to gain center stage.

Artist Mike ‘Gummy Arts’ Noren reinvents baseball cards

barfieldCharmed.

My heart melted when I saw the first artworks of Mike Noren. His “Gummy Arts” sharing on Twitter is a daily delight. He wishes a happy birthday to former players by recreating one of their cards.

I asked for details. Mike responded:

“My interactions with the players I draw are pretty much limited to Twitter. If the player is on Twitter, I’ll tag them in the tweet, and sometimes they’ll respond with a “like” or a retweet or a tweet in response.

Off the top of my head, players who’ve retweeted my drawings include Jesse Barfield, Steve Garvey, Dontrelle Willis, Bret Saberhagen, and Juan Pierre (just today).

I haven’t gotten any of the drawings signed, and I generally don’t sell the drawings. Everything I’ve drawn for my main website () is in an envelope on my shelf— I’m not sure what I’ll do with them, but I’m hanging on to them for now. I’ve done a few projects on commission.

hraboskyPeople can reach me through twitter or at mikegnoren@yahoo.com.”

Be like Mike. Make your own rules. Make this hobby your own.

 

Pitcher George Riley’s grateful response

GeorgeRileyCustomGreg Corrales would be a great hobby coach.
 
On www.sportscollectors.net, many questions were posted on the status of George Riley. Had ANYONE written to him in recent months? Was he still signing?
 
Greg solved both mysteries with his above-and-beyond effort. He made custom cards for Riley, complete with detailed, well-research and finely-written career highlights.
 
Next, Greg asked a question and included cash. I’ll let Greg tell the rest:
 
“I received the following from George Riley today, which I thought might be of interest to you.  In response to my question about what advice he would give to high school pitchers, he had this to say:
 
“I would tell all athletes to get school in first.  You never know [if you’ll] get hurt.  And also, you must maintain your concentration to the max, and success will come.  Work very hard at what you decide on a position.  Pitchers, do a lot of curls.  I always had a twenty-pound dumbbell with me at all times.  Good luck.”
 
Then he went on to add the following:
 
“In the year 2011, I got colon cancer. Then my friend of sixteen years had a spinal cord stroke. Living with her [illegible] paralyzed waist down. I had to give up my [illegible]. If possible if you could help a little, no job, no car. Thanks for the great gift.”
 
Greg’s highlight reel includes many great moves, such as:
 
GeorgeRiley21. Never assuming. How many people look on a hobby forum, expecting someone else to be the first collector to report a successful breakthrough? Past stats aren’t always a guarantee of whether you’ll get a response or not.
 
2. Doing the homework: Check out that card back! I wonder if Riley himself could have quoted all those baseball achievements. That research effort has to win the hearts and minds of iffy signers.
 
3. Giving first: Money isn’t the only choice, although someone in distress like Riley would key on such a gift. Find something off the internet about the player to print out. Send a duplicate card and tell the person to share it with another fan-collector.
 
A standing O of gratitude goes to Mister Corrales!
 
 
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