Signatures for Soldiers: Autographs for a cause

Underrated pitcher and great guy. Check out his stat page at Baseball Almanac!
Underrated pitcher and great guy. Check out his stat page at Baseball Almanac!

Me. Me. Me.

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 signaturesforsoliders@yahoo.com or find the Facebook page by the same name.

Reflecting on 2014 baseball deaths

Going. Going. Gone.

Credit to research wizard Sean Holtz and his ever-impressive website, www.baseball-almanac.com.
Here’s a list of all the baseball alums we lost in 2014.
The last one of the year to say goodbye was Bob Usher. A great signer, he sent some impressive memories back in 2010. 

Pitcher Jeff Robinson Departs At Age 52

Keep www.baseball-almanac.com
bookmarked. They have an awesome
collection of authentic autographs.

I was touched to see this obituary of pitcher Jeff Robinson, deceased at age 52.

The comments posted for this former Tigers pitcher included his grieving wife. She was editing the obit. Her added comments show another side to the departed moundsman.
Some collectors might have experienced Mrs. Robinson’s kindness years earlier.
Many who got confused, sending cards of pitcher Jeffrey D. Robinson might get a polite, hand-written note explaining the mix-up.
She was the perfect teammate.
The obit notes that Robinson has twin sons playing baseball on the community college level. I bet she’d help them with their fan mail, too. Let’s hope they get the chance.

Recalling Two Talks With Twins Second Baseman Bobby Randall

Check out Randall’s
stats and philosophy at
www.baseball-almanac.com!
That piercing stare. Those eyebrows. That dramatic grin.
There was nothing minor league about Bobby Randall.
 I encountered him as a 1976 Minnesota Twin. I was in a Kansas City hotel lobby. I had my Twins collection in a small shoebox, alphabetized.
Guess what infielder stood nearby, poking a teammate, pointing at me?
“What are you going to do with all that?” he challenged. 
“Take it home and put it with the rest of my collection,” I answered as sincerely as possible. 
I produced his Topps card and asked for his autograph (please).
Pause. Smile. Signature.
Flash forward. I’m a journalism student at Iowa State University. I pitch a feature idea on the baseball team’s coach, former major leaguer Bobby Randall.
He’s polite during the interview, listening intently and acting like I’m The Sporting News editor. Every answer is sincere and detailed. His sole home run (off Chris Knapp) wasn’t a tape measure blast, so he made it sound like anyone could have cleared the fence. He became embarrassed when I asked about signing autographs and getting fan mail. 
At the end of our talk, I confide that I got his autograph those years ago in Kansas City. I tell him the story, thanking him again for signing. “You should have told me!” 
I was surprised, covering Cyclone baseball games for the Des Moines Register, that fans weren’t getting his autograph. Didn’t they know who he really was?
He volunteered to speak to my wife’s day camp group. A devout Christian, the coach taught by action and example. 
I like to think that I might have encouraged a Twins rookie to keep an open mind about autograph collectors. He expressed other thoughts that day at Iowa State — a great warning to in-person collectors. Nevertheless, I never saw him turn his back on a fan. Plus, I know that Bobby Randall remains a TTM all-star signer today. He’s a prize in my collection of stories behind the signatures.

Welcome, Yankee Hank Workman: Updating 100 Oldest Major Leaguers

Hurray for
www.baseball-almanac.com!
Meet the newcomer, Mister #100

Give a standing ovation to the “Baseball Almanac” website!

If you want to try to reach baseball’s oldest alums, do it now. The website has great resources on each survivor.
Last week, we saw Mike Sandlock take over the top spot. The “rookies” who’ve been added are only 88 years old each.
Write them while you can!
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