Monday, November 29, 2010

2011 BBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot

The Baseball Writers Association of America has just released the Hall of Fame ballot for next year's induction class.  There are 19 new candidates, as well as 14 hold overs who remain on the ballot because they recieved at least 5% of last year's vote.

You can read the entire press release at the BBWAA's website, right here.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Failure #15: Phil Niekro

The rejection letters just keep rolling in!

I was happy to hear back from Phil Niekro.  Mr. Niekro is one of four players in the Hall of Fame who have played for the Toronto Blue Jays.  Although this was a failed attempt, he was nice enough to include a price list instead of just returning an empty envelope as one of his peers recently did - ahem, ahem...

Mr. Niekro was known for his brilliant use of the knuckle ball, earning him the nickname "Knucksie" because of his ability to get people out with that confusing pitch.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Christmas Wish List

As my list of failed requests continues to grow, a fascinating thing to look at is the various monetary requests given by some of the players.  I've received autographs from seven former players through the mail for free, but some are not quite so generous.

Here is the list as it stands so far...

Rollie Fingers, $10
Brooks Robinson, $37.99 and up (at his website)
Goose Gossage, $20
Whitey Ford, $20
Phil Niekro, $10 and up

Pretty modest requests (and they would certainly be much higher at a sports collectible store), but at this point I just can't justify spending that much on a signature.  Maybe that will change some day.  If anyone would like to donate to help my cause, I'd certainly be grateful!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Failure #14: Ralph Kiner

Ralph Kiner is the 6th oldest living Hall of Famer out there.  He has a storied career and has even spent time in the broadcast booth as an announcer for the New York Mets.

Today i got a somewhat curious envelope return.  You see, I had originally addressed this envelope to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.  They received it and then covered up the address with a personal address for Mr. Kiner.  It then arrived in Florida and was marked "Return" in bright blue ink, and proceeded to be sent back to Pasadena to my mailbox.


My first thought was that Kiner had pulled the same move as his fellow Hall of Famer, Red Schoendienst (remember the detective work I did?), but a Google search seemed to reveal that this envelope was most likely not written on by Mr. Kiner.

Anyway, this is my 14th failure to only 12 successes.  I'm craving something good to show up in the mail soon.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hall of Famer Periodic Table

Here is an interesting idea -

Someone in internet-land has decided to fill their time by creating a periodic table of elements - only they have substituted Baseball Hall of Fame inductees for the elements.

It is worth checking out - maybe more so if you are a science kind of person. 

You can find it right here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Failure #13: Whitey Ford

Former Yankee pitcher Whitey Ford had one heck of a career.  His accolades are seemingly endless - just take a look at his Wikipedia page.  He is a great ballplayer and someone who would have been a great addition to my collection.

Unfortunately, Mr. Ford is on the same response program as Frank Robinson.  When I opened my stamped and used return envelope, I saw my original letter and also the blank 3x5 card with no autograph.  Sad. 

Mr. Ford did do one thing differently.  He took the time to scrawl "Send $20.00!" on my letter.  Very official looking!  This one is a bit different than the formal request from players like Gossage and Fingers, nor was it an outright denial like Ripken.  Rather it seems like he took the time to personally (I'm guessing on that - maybe he has an assistant do this?) scrawl this message on my letter.

Very interesting. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Non-HoF Autographs: Erik Kratz

I totally forgot about this one.

Erik Kratz is a ballplayer who has spent the majority of his career in the minor leagues, but this past year he got his first chance to play at the major league level when his number was finally called by the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The story may have been one of the most heartwarming of the entire baseball season.

But as you can tell from the above photo, this item is not a Pirates cap - in fact, it isn't even from a Pirates minor league team.  The above photo is of a signed New Hampshire Fisher Cats cap.  The Fischer Cats are a AA Minor League affiliate for the Toronto Blue Jays.  Erik was drafted by the Jays, and played for several seasons in their system.

That still doesn't explain the hat.  Well, I graduated from Eastern Mennonite University, which is the same school that Erik graduated from.  We even had a few classes together.  A fellow EMU employee who was good friends with Erik and who worked there gave me this game worn cap because he knew I was a fan of the Blue Jays.  A few years later I was at an event on campus that Erik was speaking at, and I got him to autograph the cap for me (which is a little hard to make out in the picture).

A side note - at this very same event, Charlie Manuel, manager of the Phillies, was there as the main speaker for the evening.  I got his autograph on the program for the night, but unfortunately that memento got misplaced in our move from Virginia to California.

Side Note:  I just learned that Erik has been signed by the team he grew up cheering for - the Philadelphia Phillies.  Very cool!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Toronto Blue Jays in the Hall of Fame

I grew up near Toronto, Ontario, and at the age of 9, the Blue Jays won back to back World World Championships.  It was in that moment that my passion for baseball, and for the Toronto Blue Jays, was really born.

Currently the Blue Jays have zero Hall of Fame inductees who entered the Hall affiliated with the Blue Jays.  Hopefully Roberto Alomar will change that when the Baseball Writers Association smartens up and elects him in his second year of eligibility.

There are four players in the Hall of Fame who played for the Toronto Blue Jays but were inducted under other Major League teams -

Rickey Henderson
Dave Winfield
Paul Molitor
Phil Niekro

Three of them were crucial in the Blue Jay's championship seasons.  Unfortunately, I do not currently have an autograph from ANY of these players.  The closest I came was at last summer's All Star Fan Festival.  Henderson was signing there (amidst angry complaints from those in line when he refused to sign baseballs or memorabilia AND stayed on his cell phone the ENTIRE time he was signing), but the line was far too long by the time we figured out where he was signing.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Failure #12: Carlton Fisk

Well, that didn't take long!  Just one day after sending out an initial wave of e-mails to the representation of several Hall of Famers, I received my first response back regarding Mr. Carlton "Pudge" Fisk - a Hall of Fame catcher.

Here is the e-mail I recieved this morning from his representatives...

Dear Ben,

Thank you for your interest in Mr. Fisk.  Unfortunately, due to a contractual obligation Mr. Fisk is unable to honor your request.  We wish you the best of luck.


bs logo for sig
Kim Zayotti
Founder, CEO
265 Franklin Street, Boston, MA 02110
617.951.3799 x210 phone
617.951.1354 fax

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

An Idea...

I'm throwing around the idea of e-mailing Hall of Famers who have not responded to my letter request.  At this point I'm not sure how many have e-mail accounts that are accessible to the public, but I'm sure that many have business associates who would answer my e-mail.

I'm thinking it would be interesting to talk about this project in the e-mail and point them to the website so that they can see it unfold.  It may also give me something to publish - hopefully one or two people will respond electronically, and I can share those messages here.

Thoughts?  Does that sound like it might be interesting?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Failure #11: Ozzie Smith

Yesterday I was super excited to see that two of my envelopes had returned, and saddened to find that both were failuresOzzie Smith - all star shortstop, Hall of Famer, and acrobatic player - "DOES NOT ACCEPT FORWARDING" (see the two stamps on the envelope?).

I had heard a rumor that this was true from another website, so this was far from unexpected, but it is still disappointing to see another failure in my quest to get an autograph from every living Hall of Famer.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Failure #10: Frank Robinson

And here's to you, Mr. Robinson.  I finally got some mail today!  But alas...

Frank Robinson - former player and manager - opened up my letter, took out the self addressed stamped envelope, placed my letter and blank 3x5 card in, and sent it back.

No autograph.  No explanation.

Not cool.

On the other hand, Mr. Robinson was a part of that illusive group of four without an address, so I guess I should be happy that it found its way to someone who opened it and sent it back.  Now if only I knew what it would take to get him to sign.  Maybe money?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Rest in Peace, Sparky Anderson

I knew that the quest for an autograph from every living Hall of Famer would be a never ending quest, but I figured that new members would be elected before someone passed away.

Today, the baseball community was saddened to hear about the death of Sparky Anderson.  Just three short months ago I found Mr. Anderson's signature waiting for me in my mailbox.  It was the tenth Hall of Famer autograph in my collection, and now it has a much deeper and more bittersweet nature.

My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and those who knew him well.  The baseball world has lost an icon.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bob Feller signing at Spring Training

I thought it might be interesting to give you some background on one of my Hall of Fame autographs in the current dry spell of collecting.

The very first success post on this blog is for the first Hall of Fame autograph I obtained - that of Mr. Bob Feller.  I got his signature well before I had even the slightest inkling of starting this crazy project.  My aunt (a die-hard Cleveland Indians fan) and I went to spring training a few years ago and caught several Indians games in Arizona. 

Mr. Feller has been a mainstay at those games.  He sets up a folding table down the third base line and signs pre-selected photos during the game for $15, or something like that.  You can't bring your own item - such as a baseball, book, or customized photo - only the ones he has on the table. 

He was my grandfather's favorite player, and a Hall of Famer, so I decided to stand in line and get his autograph on this classy old photo of him throwing in the 1948 World Series (sadly, this was the last time Cleveland won a World Series).

Oh, and he has a funny look on his face in the above photo, because he was eating a hot dog while signing for me.