Why Autograph Unlicensed Photos?

A custom card is ART.
The featured player
should be honored,
not suspicious.
Explain that in
your letter!

Bob Uecker is the latest.

Even former players are concerned about autographing only “MLB authorized” photos. They want to see that hologram, in the sweet hope that the player’s association is getting some money (that we, the collectors, forked out).

The attitude goes to the extreme shown by Wally Moon, quoted by a collector as replying that he wouldn’t sign “pirated” photos.

To their defense, current and former players seem to believe they’ll help their brethren by only signing the blessed photos. There’s the assumption that you’ll be running straight to eBay and getting rich with your new autograph, so the baseball family wants its profits first.

How can you win against such bias? Try writing:

1. “I made this myself, for myself!” It’s harder to turn down Mom’s home cooking, as opposed to something that came out of a box.

2. WHY them? For example, Bill Kearns makes custom cards of Maine natives. Stress that this person is special, not just another baseball player.

3. “It’s one of a kind.” See that the potential signer knows this isn’t something you’re going to churn out by the hundreds.

There’s no guarantees. However, even with a refusal, you struck out only after you went down swinging.

Brave Taylor Phillips Tamed 1956 Redbirds

Does he look like a
‘T-Bone’ to you?

Lefty Taylor Phillips offered me a quick reply to questions. He ended his letter, “Thanks for thinking of me. God bless.” He even added a favorite Bible verse (Romans 12:13).

What surprised me most is that he used the F-word.


I keep asking players about career highlights. Retired players are used to “my biggest thrill” questions. I want to hear about the most fun they had that year. I haven’t had any takers on the question until Mr. Phillips.

Some biographers love the snarky comment about this pitcher’s lifetime batting average being only .053, just six-for-113 in six total seasons. I pointed out that his were six hits more than I ever had in the majors! I asked which singles were most memorable:

“All of them!”

And fun?

“The most fun one: I drag-bunted and the ball went to center field.”

Of course, I won’t pass up a chance to hear about someone’s best day ever (fun optional). For Phillips, I was sure that day would have been Aug. 9, 1956. He was pitching before a home crowd in Milwaukee’s County Stadium. At game’s end, he owned a three-hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals. What were the high points for the young left-hander? Phillips answered:

“First Major League start. Complete game. The three hits I gave up, Don Blasingame, Wally Moon, Stan Musial, all left-handed hitters.”

(Thanks to http://www.retrosheet.org/ for preserving these moments of baseball history.)

Tomorrow: New York Met Bud Harrelson tells how Casey Stengel made a difference in his career.

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