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 or find the Facebook page by the same name.

Negro Leaguer collects collector letters

In words, in his own artwork, in two languages, Kohei Nirengi loves baseball!
In words, in his own artwork, in two languages, Kohei Nirengi loves baseball!

I am a Nick Diunte fan.

I read his great interviews and fantastic features at and Nick’s love for the game and his attention to detail set him apart from other writers.

His fact-finding talent resurfaced during a recent discovery he made online.

He found amazing footage in the documentary Extra Innings: Preserving the History of the Negro Leagues. (Please, take a look at the Youtube clip.) There’s former Kansas City Monarch Bill McCrary with a binder. He’s proud to show a letter he preserved from a fan in Japan.

That’s no ordinary fan. That’s blog reader and friend Kohei Nirengi.

Yes, so many retirees read our letters.

Many are thrilled more than you’ll ever know.

And this is the tricky part. I believe Mr. McCrary wasn’t stunned by a letter from another country. He was impressed seeing that someone made a special effort to learn his story and contact him with a personal letter.

Your postmark doesn’t matter. Your sincerity and dedication do.

Thank you, Nick. Thank you, Kohei!

Negro Leaguer Jim Zapp retires from autographs

I spotted this on a 2006
website. Zapp had a knack
for small autographs that
would stand out without
ruining the look of a card
or photo!

An autograph may last forever, but the signer may not.

A tip of the cap goes to top baseball blogger Nick Diunte at “Baseball Happenings“.
He received word from the son of Negro Leaguer Jim Zapp that his dad’s health has ended his autographing days. 
The letter Nick received was quite touching. It’s clear proof that the fan mail mattered to Mr. Zapp. Additionally, his son wanted to find out about acquiring Allen and Ginter cards of his father. 
A thought? Anyone who didn’t get their A&G sent for an autograph should consider sending a gift to the Zapp family. A gift of thanks. 
And, remember that letter. There are former players who appreciate us, too!

Bob Boone & More! Catching Up With Catchers

Check out Nick Diunte’s
success, to see how
the back-up backstop’s
autograph still shines!

I’ve heard from all kinds of autograph collectors, including the position hobbyists. So, here’s some updates about four names linked by job, a quartet of guys making news the hobby right now…

Applause and thanks start with collector Dan Brunetti. After two Return to Sender (RTS) rejections from Bob Boone, in care of the Nationals and later his home address, Boonie signed. I’m thinking Dan scored c/o the team.

Time is dwindling on attempts to get members of the 1950s Yankees dynasty teams. Nick Diunte, one of my favorite baseball writers, had to wait more than a year to get backup catcher Charlie Silvera, now 88. Read how Nick kindness moved the Yankee. Meanwhile, let me cast my vote for an always-worthwhile read at Nick’s “Baseball Hapenings” website.

Also, I wanted to share Ron Martin’s great summary of the career of just-deceased catcher Matt Batts, who did sign for me once. Thanks to Ron, an inspiring Reds fan and collector, noted:

“I guess that you may have heard that the former Red Matt Batts passed away this week.  He was 91 years old.  He was better known for his baseball exploits as a member of the Red Sox and Tigers’ organization but he finished his career in 1955 and 1956 with the Reds.  He was  one of Satchel Paige’s first catchers and also caught the second of Virgil Trucks’ two no-hitters.  He was also the catcher when Jack Harshman set the all time White Sox record of striking out 16 batters on July 25, 1954 against Ted Williams and the Boston Red Sox.”

Lastly, I wanted to weigh in on what seemed like an upbeat story about a retiree deciding to charge for TTM autographs. Catcher Mike Fitzgerald (1983-92) is wanting $5 for signing each baseball card, $10 for balls and other larger items. The note from baseball address king Harvey Meiselman said that the money would be used to pay off a son’s student loans.

Well, upon closer inspection at shows that the one-time Met and Expo hadn’t returned any requests since 2011. Collectors who’ve waited more than two years for a reply have gotten a letter from the son, indicating that, upon payment, he’ll see that his father signs the cards promptly.

In a way, it’s like a ransom note. Will peeved collectors who’ve written off Fitzgerald as a lost cause bite? Years ago, the ex-catcher sent out autographed Christian testimony cards as bonuses. Now, it’s easy to wonder if even his son and money will keep him motivated to sign.

Honoring John “Mule” Miles

Miles was intent on
keeping Negro Leagues
heritage alive!

Thank you, Nick Diunte!

He’s a great fan, collector, historian and writer. His www.BaseballHappenings.Net site is informative fun.

Look at the tribute page he’s created to honor recently-deceased Negro Leaguer John “Mule” Miles. Anyone with a story about a surprising response from the man in the 2007 Allen & Ginter set — please add your memories.

Miles never stopped sharing with fans. Before Topps recognized his worth, “Mule” was unknown to many collectors.

More than one hobbyist got a note from the celebrated Negro Leaguer saying that HE looked forward to what the mailman would bring each day.

Just like us.