In the early years of this blog, I received a wondrous reply from Daryl Spencer (the man who slugged the first San Francisco Giant homer ever).
How to remember such a gracious, accomplished man? I thought a tribute to a little-known teammate, his widow, was in order. Here’s the letter I mailed today:
Dear Mrs. Spencer,
I am sorry to learn of the death of your husband. I admired him not just for his Major League and Japanese League achievements, but for his kindness and devotion to through-the-mail autograph collectors and fans of baseball history.
I looked him up on an autograph collector website. Of recorded letters sent to him by hobbyists, 236 of 240 received a reply. That’s a stunning 98 percent success rate.
He responded to a letter I sent several years ago. He answered my questions in fine fashion. His tales turned back the clock, making a recipient of a letter feel like they were a Polo Grounds hero or a star in Japan, too
Every collector who has shown me the autograph they received from Mr. Spencer is a testament to glorious penmanship. Every letter stands out, easily read. I think a current player today, if answering at all, would be content to return an “autograph” of D—- S—–. Nothing but initials and slashmarks.
Most of all, I think those collectors and baseball researchers should be thanking YOU. I’m sure he couldn’t have given all correspondents such attention to detail without your patience and support. While other baseball retirees insist on a cash payment being sent along with a letter, Mr. Spencer was sending cherished gifts to strangers with every autograph – all for free.
He will not be forgotten, on or off the field. Thank you for helping to make all that possible.
Since December, TTM attempts to reach Ned Garver have been met by bad news.
The famed 91-year old history maker of the St. Louis Browns has been hospitalized. His classy sons have been sending back personal notes telling that their dad is too ill to sign autographs.
Please, take Mr. Garver off your “to do” list. He may have signed his last autograph.
If you do want to write, simply send a note of thanks. For decades, Ned and his family have been devoted to collectors, fans and students of baseball history. Now is the time to show that their efforts have mattered.
When he died on Thanksgiving at age 94, collectors lost a friend. The former Red Sox pitcher signed 227 out of 228 recorded requests, says www.sportscollectors.net. I’m astounded at how many hobbyists received notes, photos or other bonuses with their requests.