One Last Hit For Slugger Gail Harris

According to the always-superb, Harris
was a sure-fire signer until the end,
adding photos, notes and other bonuses
for the best fan letters!

I am a Nick Diunte fan.

The praise doesn’t end at fine writing. If Nick was a prospector, the other guys panning for gold would never see him. Suddenly, he’d appear with news of the mother lode. As a baseball researcher, he finds treasure where no one else is looking.

As proof, check out his latest, a tribute to the recently-departed Giants/Tigers slugger Gail Harris:

Nick added in a note:

I wrote to Gail Harris about two months ago asking to talk with him about his time in New York. He sent me back (at his cost) an envelope filled with photos (some autographed) and a few photo copies of some typed stories he had about playing for the Giants. He told me to e-mail or call him. I waited about a month because I had a few other things in front of it I had to get to. I e-mailed him at the end of October with no reply. He didn’t return my phone call either. He passed away on the 14th of November, so I am sure he was too sick to get back to me. Something must have hit him quickly. Anyway, as your encourage on your site, write to guys when they come to mind. Harris gave a Hall of Fame response. Enjoy it.

Thanks, Nick!

Coming Friday: Saying goodbye to the son of a legend.

A St. Louis Brown Shines As Autograph All-Star

This logo and
lots of other gems
are waiting at
Make it official: I’m a Nick Diunte fan.
Any article of his is a treat. Nick isn’t the pompous professor of baseball-ology type of journalist. His writing is smart, yet FUN.
That’s why I had to share this note:
“I figured that this article might be of interest to you and your readers. It was inspired by the great TTM return I had earlier this month from Frank Saucier, who after a few months, not only signed by items, but sent along a few articles about his career and his military service. The articles he sent fueled the article that I wrote. He’s the second old timer who has sent me a multiple page reply of articles and photos about his career after I talked a little baseball in the letter.”

Beyond Steve Sax: Paying For Autographs

Chris Potter (left) and Steve Sax
(Photo courtesy of Chris Potter Sports)

 Thanks to Nick Diunte for sharing a recent fine feature on his “happening” blog, Nick is an all-star journalist, someone with a deep appreciation of baseball and all things collectible. A kindred spirit!

Nick wrote about Chris Potter, the new intermediary handling fan mail for Steve Sax. Potter’s business has a website. Most encouraging is his motto: “The Collector’s Friend.”

In my original feature about Sax choosing to stop signing autographs by mail for free, I mentioned Potter’s role only in passing. Potter is seeing that unsigned cards get returned with a price list. When some ex-players stop signing, they may trash all their mail.

As Nick points out, Potter’s involvement can benefit needy retirees, such as 95-year-old Danny Litwhiler. This man, unlike Sax, never raked in millions during his career.

Last week, I mentioned that former Negro Leaguer Louis Clarizio Jr. would sign for pay. Using an autograph as a way to help someone in need can make sense, especially for someone with a one-year career who played mainly for the love of the game.

However, I can’t help missing the GIFT aspect of the autograph, the service of signing. Add money, and the personal interaction disappears. It’s like purchasing a loaf of bread at the supermarket. The humanity, the idea of one baker making a treat just for you, is replaced. The autograph is now an assembly-line product, something that anyone can own, not a reward for your captivating letter.

In fact, I can’t help but feel sad for the letter writers who try to send memories to a former player like Sax. These days, your cash matters more than your words to many retirees.

Coming Tuesday: Collecting Japanese baseball autographs

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