I was intrigued by Johnson’s obituary. Baseball was a huge part of his life. So was his religion. I’d guess that someone who combined both passions in one letter might have hit the jackpot.
Johnson’s TTM responses listed on the amazing www.sportscollectors.net showed a spiffy 93 percent success rate. His signing stopped in 2014, when Mrs. Johnson started writing collectors that Ken’s Parkinson’s disease made writing impossible.
A few collectors grumbled through the years that Johnson’s insistence on personalizing autographs was done to make the signatures harder to sell online.
Maybe. Or, he read every letter and wanted to thank everyone who wrote? He was answering questions for collectors. I think he cared about who wrote.
In his final years, he was sending out this inspiring note:
“Due to being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, I find it difficult to write. My signature may appear different, but I want you to know it is my signature. I read every letter and sign everything myself. I appreciate hearing from you.”
Note that he wasn’t sending items back blank. Nor did he ask for a cash payment for autographs, even though he had medical costs to consider.
Until the end, Jack Spring reminded fans and collectors that we matter.
No matter how well you do in making your case to a current or former player, chances are your request might seem like just another demand to an autograph signer.
What if someone convinced a potential signer that the request was for them, them, them?
Tim Virgilio has done that with his “Signatures for Soldiers” charity, raising more than $3,000 to benefit Military Missions in Action.
Nick Diunte and his Baseball Happenings site shined (as usual) getting Tim to share his vision of what autographs can do for the greater good. Nick’s feature pointed out that Woody Williams and Jim Leyritz were the first two notables to aid the Signatures for Soldiers team.
Tim is a licensed clinical social worker who has worked with former combat veterans for the last nine years. He chose carefully in finding an organization that’s adept at serving disabled vets.
To find out how you can purchase autographs for a great cause or help Tim’s efforts, write to him at email@example.com or find the Facebook page by the same name.