Virgil Trucks + Tigers Update!

Don’t close the
book on Virgil yet!

“We interrupt this broadcast to report…”

I’ve never had “news as it happens.” Until now, perhaps!

Bless you many fine readers who’ve sent get-well cards to the senior Detroit Tiger alum, Virgil “Fire” Trucks.

This tireless signer has been rehabbing on his own disabled list, from a broken leg, hoping to be well enough to field fan mail again.

Here’s a report from his daughter, Carolyn Beckwith:

“Please thank all of his fans for the cards and concern. He has read them and appreciates them so much, as do I. It is a big part of his recovery. He still of course cannot handle the fan mail for now. Maybe later and I will keep you updated on that progress.

Thank you so much for all you do.. Its appreciated so very much.”

Carolyn has noted that her Dad remains as savvy and witty as ever. The injury didn’t extend to his spirit.

Ah, but that’s not all the news.

I’ve received an e-mail from Eli Bayless, director of promotions for the Tigers. During Saturday’s game, the team will make a ballpark announcement and present photos on the scoreboard to honor the 60th anniversary of Virgil’s no-hitter against the Yankees (his second thrown in 1952).

I had e-mailed the team. I did not assume the front office had thought of everything. I sent a polite, specific note saying that Tigers fans would never get tired of celebrating a win against the Yankees!

Did my note make the difference? All I know is that someone listened to someone like me.

One letter can make a difference. Make a difference to Virgil Trucks, if you haven’t sent a card yet.

Send your get-well wishes to him in care of his daughter:

Carolyn Beckwith
55 Salser Lane
Columbiana, AL 35051

Coming Monday: An “Autograph Addict” redfines the definition of a “baseball autograph.”

Get Well Soon, Virgil Trucks!

Daughter and Dad earlier
in 2012, celebrating a
95th birthday!

(Courtesy Carolyn Beckwith)

I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again: Virgil Trucks belongs in the Autograph Collector’s Hall of Fame.
This fabled pitcher has been devoted to answering letters from “fans” who weren’t born when he retired. To class acts like Mister T, we all speak the same language and get the same respect.

The 95-year-old former Tiger suffered a serious fall in late July. Thanks to William at the great blog  “Foul Bunt” for relaying the news to the hobby world.

Yes, this means NOT writing for a Virgil Trucks autograph for now. Holding your letters makes sense. Piles of unopened envelopes won’t speed his relaxation and recuperation. The good news is that he wants to keep delighting collectors with his lightning-fast response times — once he’s better.

Here’s the complete update from Carolyn Beckwith, Virgil’s daughter:

“Thank all the fans for their concern. I am sitting with him now and he said that would help because he can’t answer for awhile and it is so important to him to answer his fan mail. If they would like to send a get well card send it to my address and I can bring them to him. He seems to be doing as good as he can under the circumstances. Still has his awesome sense of humor.

Thank you so much.”

Please, send a “get well” card to this great baseball ambassador. Tell him thanks for his past autographs. Send your support to:

Virgil Trucks
c/o Carolyn Beckwith
55 Salser Lane
Columbiana, AL 35051

I believe in “Fire.” I believe he’ll sign again. All team fandom aside, this is one Tiger we all need to root for.

Coming Friday: Reviewing the book Lefty: An American Odyssey, by daughter Vernona Gomez and Lawrence Goldstone.

A Meaningful NY Yankee Autograph Collection? ‘The Lost Collector’ Found a Way!

Check out this 2005 TTM success from Phil Rizzuto. Says A.J. — “I sent him a nice note and a few memories I had of him, including the way my Italian grandmother and I used to enjoy the way he talked about food on air. I also included a check for a few dollars in hopes that he would sign my card. Not only did he sign my card, but sent a small signed photo (It read: “Tell Nonna I sure would love to have some of those ravioli”) and sent my check back and wrote on it “No Charge, AJ. Scooter #10″. It just goes to show that a sincere letter can go a long way.”

Reader feedback is the best. I love writing about collectors, because it inspires more stories. We can learn so much from each other.

Take A.J., for example. A humble guy, he asked me to withhold his last name. All names aside, you should know him as “The Lost Collector.” This talented fellow blogger shared his personalized plan for collecting what he cares about — along with the tale of how he returned to the hobby after getting overwhelmed with card choices and other challenges. I’m grateful that he tells his story in the following e-interview.

Q: I love the Yankees project. What was the inspiration? You acquired all the signed cards yourself TTM? What was the time span?

A: I’ve been interested in signed Yankees cards via TTM for as long as I can remember. Back in high school (early 2000s), I had TTM success from Gil McDougald (on 1959 Topps) and Mel Stottlemyre (on a 1972 Topps).  I loved having vintage cards signed, and three years ago I had the idea to try and get a signed Topps card of a different Yankees player for as long as Topps has been in the business. I could never send out requests with any consistency, but having this project as my goal kept me interested in the hobby and sending out requests on a regular basis. I had to acquire the cards, research who to send to from which years, and then take the chance of sending. I did in fact acquire all of the cards myself via TTM requests (and many other cards too that didn’t make it into the project). I also managed to complete the project without sending to any players who require fees, which just goes to show how many generous signers there are still out there.

 Q: Steve Kraly is Mr. Binghamton. What kind of response did he supply?

A: I’m glad you asked. I did in fact mention to Mr. Kraly where I grew up, and he wrote me a very nice note back, about two pages in length. He told me a lot about his time playing in Binghamton, such as his stats before being called up. He shared other fond memories, including the fact that he met his wife there. He still lives there and stays involved in the game by being the official scorer of the Binghamton Mets (Double A). I sent him two 1955 Topps cards, asking him to keep one, but he signed both and returned them to me.

Q: THE LOST COLLECTOR is a great title. What’s been different — and better — in your second time around as a hobbyist?

A: The second time around, I feel like I’m a lot more mature and focused (despite my blog title). Back in my early days of collecting, I’d pull a card and immediately look at what it was “worth” in Beckett. That has changed now. I can’t tell you the last time I’ve looked in a price guide. It’s more fun now because the cards have a lot more personal worth to me. I still feel “lost” at times based on all the card issues I missed while I was out of collecting (the certified auto craze and game-used cards really happened while I was gone), but it gives me something to look forward to in trades – knowing that there are so many Yankees cards out there I haven’t seen and don’t own.

Q: I love how you quiz minor leaguers about a future goal. Who’ve been some of the best answers?

I often ask a player who they admired growing up, and what pitcher/batter they most look forward to facing. I get a lot of the usual suspects – Jeter, Pujols, Griffey.

 Q: What’s been the most fun, satisfying parts of having a blog?

A: Having a blog has kept me interested in collecting. Not only does it give me a place to trade and acquire new cards, but it’s a daily activity in the hobby that doesn’t have to revolve around buying new cards or visiting a shop. Every day, I scroll through my blogroll and check out what everyone is talking about. In this sense, it keeps me interested day in and day out.

Sometimes, your
all-time favorite
player still signs
TTM, A.J. found!

Q: Current autograph project/focus/goal?

A: My focus lately has been minor leaguers/prospects. I follow the Yankees minor league system closely, so when I am able to get a TTM success from guys I’m a fan of – whether or not they actually make it to the majors – is an awesome feeling. I would like to start a new project soon, but for now I’m enjoying sending to minor leaguers. I have a five-month-old son, and have gotten a few players to personalize cards to him (Pat Neshek and Virgil Trucks have done it), so perhaps I’ll shift the focus away from my collection and start getting cards signed for him. It could be cool for him to have when he’s older.

 Q: Advice for almost-lost autograph collectors, those who may be getting disillusioned with
lowTTM response rates, scribbly signatures, guys who charge, etc.? Do you see any silver
linings to the dark clouds in the autograph hobby?

A” It’s definitely getting tougher and tougher. I’d advise anyone struggling with the hobby to think of your own project – one that’s both attainable and challenging (i.e. trying to collect a signed team set of 1987 Topps). I’ve never been so inspired to send out requests than I was when I only need a few more cards to complete my own project. It kept me interested and focused, and I’m not sure I’d be TTMing today if it wasn’t for my project’s completion driving me. Lastly, don’t send anything you can’t afford to lose. There’s always the risk, no matter who you send to.

Coming Monday: Remembering Twins pitcher Dave Boswell

Seeing Is Believing: OUR Virgil Trucks Party!

With inflation, a picture is worth far more than a thousand words.

However, these pictures left me speechless.

All of you readers made me proud in April, sending surprise birthday cards to a former Tigers hurler.

Thanks to wonderful Carolyn Beckwith, who shared photos of her Dad’s 95th birthday party. Here’s three looks at a special day for a special man, the one and only Virgil Trucks:

Look closely. Maybe you’ll spot your card!

Happy 95th, Virgil “Fire” Trucks!

Still smiling at age 95!

It’s time to slice up a cake brimming with thanks. Slices of gratitude go to collector friend Kohei Nirengi, When Baseball Was Fun newsletter publisher Bobby Hoeft, the folks at and YOU!

April closed out with Virgil Trucks celebrating his 95th birthday. His amazing daughter Carolyn Beckwith staged a surprise card shower. I’m grateful that she shared a report:

“I received 60 cards at my house and he received 50 plus at his house.  There were 25 brought to the party so he did get in all well over 95.  The mayor of our town of Chelsea also brought him a proclamation.  Also talked to my granddaughter, his great granddaughter Kristen via Skype who is stationed in Germany with her husband. We all enjoyed watching him interact on skype.

He was very humbled and appreciative of all of the fan cards which we do have a picture of and will send soon. The local newspaper came out and took pictures and did a story. The cards were displayed on the table in the shape of a “V”, along with a birthday cake made by my granddaughter his great granddaughter Ashley.

Thank you and the fans so much for making his 95th birthday so special. I am truly blessed to have him and look forward to celebrating his 100th birthday.  I know without a doubt his fans help keep him going.”

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