Pat Neshek Still Shines As Hobbyist

Give this collector an “A’s” for effort!

The New York Times offered an awesome tribute to hobby ambassador Pat Neshek last week.
Tyler Kepner is one of my favorite baseball journalists. However, he didn’t address two questions:

1. How many players would send a clubhouse attendant to ask for someone else’s autograph?

2. How many current players wouldn’t confess to collecting autographs?

I hope everyone reads the whole feature. In the final paragraph awaits a surprise.

One autograph reply could have changed Neshek’s career!

In college, he wrote Virgil Trucks. All Pat got in return was a FOUR-PAGE letter offering advice to a young pitcher. It seems that “Fire” was a double inspiration…on the mound, and as someone who demonstrated how to sign autographs with style and grace.

Goodbye, Virgil Trucks

Even in his final year, Virgil insisted on a signature
that denoted every letter in his name. He will be missed!

Winter storm Virgil brought some sad news.

When I saw the headline of the newest-named storm, I wrote to Carolyn Beckwith, the daughter of fabled pitcher Virgil Trucks. They both share a fine sense of humor. I knew that the pair would love the headlines of “Virgil” conquering America.

I was too late. “Fire” passed away Saturday at age 95.

According to the Detroit News tribute, this hobby hero wanted to sign autographs during his final days in the hospital. In his final months, he hadn’t been well enough to handle fan mail.

However, this baseball ambassador was legendary for his above-and-beyond replies to fan mail throughout his life. He shared his autograph philosophy in this 2011 blog feature.

Virgil’s funeral comes Thursday. The World War II veteran will be buried in a military cemetery.

As I spoke to Carolyn , I thanked her. Virgil’s family supported his eternal dedication to fan mail. In our last conversation, I asked him why he was so kind and thorough answering autograph requests of people who may not have even been alive during his career.

“We all love baseball,” he replied.

I’ll never forget Virgil Trucks. Amazingly, I don’t think he ever forgot any of us.

Send Virgil Trucks Your Thanks

Mister T loving
the cards at his
birthday party.
Let’s do it again!

Do you have room for one more name on your Christmas card list? Do you have an extra thank-you card needing a home?

Thanks to the reader who mentioned the sad irony of having all of Virgil Trucks’ mail RTS-ed. There seemed to be no way to mail a note of gratitude to one of the game’s greatest ambassors.

I pointed this out to Virgil’s daughter. She replied:


I think that would be wonderful. I know he read every get well card and was so blessed by them.
Thank you on behalf of my Dad too.
Here’s our chance to fire up “Fire” one last time. Please, do not ask for an autograph. No SASEs. If you’re wanting a chance to be thankful before Thanksgiving, here it is.
Mr. Virgil Trucks
c/o Carolyn Beckwith
55 Salser Lane
Columbiana, AL 35051
Thank you, everyone. Meanwhile, check out the heroic effort by James Webb. Yea! Add your name and your support to this online petition.

Happy Veterans Day, Virgil Trucks

The WWII vet is still looking up!
He served the U.S. Army in World War II.
He threw two no-hitters.
He honored fans and collectors with untold autographs for more than a half-century.
Virgil Trucks is a hero on so many fronts. That’s why this last curtain call must be so hard.
The fabled hurler suffered a broken leg this year. Sadly, his time away from signing is becoming permanent. The update is from daughter Carolyn Beckwith:
“I had a long visit with Dad on Monday. He was sleeping in his recliner when I got there. He looked good and said he felt pretty good. We talked about fan mail and autographs. He has carpel tunnel in both hands and his fingers don’t have feeling in them. He has been dealing with this for quite some time. It has gotten to the point now it is hard for him to hold a pen in his hand. His autograph is not good and he feels it is time for him to end what has brought him a tremendous amount of joy, hearing from his fans.
His greatest wish has always been to be inducted into Cooperstown. He asked me to tell you, if the fans want to send a letter to Bud Selig, he would appreciate that so much.
Thank you Tom and please thank all of the fans for the cards and concern for my Dad.
Please, no more autograph requests to his Alabama home. The family has been RTS-ing mail since the injury. For those of us who received signatures, letters and encouragement from Mr. Trucks, we are grateful.

Hometown Motivation From Virgil Trucks

“Fire” inspired new ideas
for a fan letter appeal.

I think I’ve connected the dots.

My wife just began her 35th year of piano teaching this year. She was honored with a lovely feature in a monthly local magazine.

Everyone who knew her provided their copy. “I thought you might like an extra one of these to share.”

Rewinding my memory, I recalled a telephone conversation last year with Virgil “Fire” Trucks. I had asked about the typical letter he gets from fans and collectors.

“They try to tell me about parts of my career. They’ve looked it up. They may think I don’t know, but I know.”

I’m going to try the same.

No, not articles about my favorite piano teacher. I will see if the retired player I’m writing to has been featured in print (or online) in the last month. I’m guessing that most former athletes in their 50s or up aren’t surfing the ‘net to see their headlines.

However, that doesn’t mean they don’t care. I’ll print off the first page, then say, “If you haven’t seen the whole thing and are interested, let me know. I’ll send you the rest.”

Another guess? They may write back, only because their wife/kids/grandkids/etc. would like to see it.

My wife has a collection of the same clipping about her career milestone. She’ll love sharing every copy, knowing that the clipping came from someone who cared. Chances are, the person you’re writing for an autograph will do the same.

Coming Friday: Collector Bill Kearns shares his hobby.

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