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JimStinson
06-02-2012, 11:34 AM
Someone asked me the other day about a Government postcard they had just bought somewhere and asked me if I had ever heard of the person it was addressed to on the reverse and the name was "Ralph Winnie". It occurred to me that there is probably alot of new collectors in the hobby that have never heard of Ralph so I thought I'd share this.
Ralph passed away in 2004 after a long battle with cancer. In the mid 1980’s Ralph and I developed a running correspondence and spoke regularly by phone. He started collecting baseball autographs in the 1940’s and seemed to know EVERYTHING about baseball and baseball autographs. He was modest, never boastful, never brash. Always positive, always helpful especially to new collectors . He was a virtual encylopedia of autograph facts and folklore. He began collecting by writing players through the mail and could tell you little known facts about the signing habits of the stars and non-stars spanning almost 50 years. What made his collection so unique was that after writing to most of the retired players like Ty Cobb, Cy Young, Honus Wagner etc he turned his attentions to contemporary players of the day. While most collectors could say they had a Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays in their collection, how many could say they had a Mickey Mantle signed one week after his first at bat or a Willie Mays signed two months before he played his first major league game? Since he collected everyone and anyone who ever appeared in a major league baseball game his theory was “A rookie player never turned down an autograph request” This method would prove useful too for the “cup of coffee” players who vanished or died shortly after debuting in “The Show” names like Woody Crowson, John Carden, Webbo Clarke, Wenc Gonzales, Charlie Peete & Dick Wantz just to name a few. Later in the 1970’s through 1990’s his collecting shifted to obtaining his autographs in-person at the ball park and at spring training games. He developed close friendships with many former ball players among them Red Rolfe and Bob Feller.
His collection became so massive that during the 1970’s and 1980’s many news agencies carried stories about his collection and he was a frequent guest on radio talk shows in the Pacific Northwest where he lived. Around 1990 Ralph mentioned to me that he had been thinking about selling his collection. We discussed various options and finally settled on the idea of his sending me a package every couple months or so. Since he collected by debut year the idea was to send me his collection by specific year, I’d make an offer we’d agree and I’d get another debut year when he could pack it up. We started with a package of players who played from 1876-1880. Little did I know at the time that we’d be doing that for almost 12 years ! My last conversation with him was about two weeks before he passed away, he was calling to say goodbye. We ended up talking about his favorite team the Seattle Mariners.
One of many great people I've met in this hobby. Yes there always was and still are FAR more Good guys than bad.

ss
06-02-2012, 11:44 AM
Fabulous story Jim. Thanks for sharing that with us.

David Atkatz
06-02-2012, 11:49 AM
Here's one of Ralph's GPCs, purchased from you many years ago.
"Handsome" Harry Howell, who pitched the Highlanders' very first win.

http://i82.photobucket.com/albums/j245/datkatz/howell_gpc.jpg

earlywynnfan
06-02-2012, 11:58 AM
Great story! I know I have one of my totally obscure autos that's address to Ralph. Great to have some background!

Ken

JimStinson
06-02-2012, 12:12 PM
Thanks for posting that David, very cool to see one of Ralph's GPC's. I was going to picture a few with my post but they were not handy. But I did find one

mr2686
06-02-2012, 12:23 PM
Jim, that was a wonderful story, and the kind of stuff I really miss hearing about the hobby. Along the same lines, over the years I've collected a few autographs that were either GPC's to a Dr. John Davis Jr or that were signed on his stationery. After about the 4th one, I looked him up on the internet and found he had been an Optometrist in Topeka (he passed away in 2002) that had quite a collection of baseball and sports autographs as well as political etc. Just knowing that I had a small piece of a collection from someone like that, for some reason, just makes it that much more special.
It also makes me wonder if someone in 20 or 30 years will see some of the stuff we all collect and feel the same when they put it in to their collections.

prewarsports
06-02-2012, 01:24 PM
Great story AND he liked the best team in Baseball, my beloved Seattle Mariners! Now if only they would get some new owners for the team!

Mr. Zipper
06-02-2012, 08:24 PM
Great story! Now I want to add a "Ralph Winnie" to my collection.

7nohitter
06-02-2012, 08:39 PM
Someone asked me the other day about a Government postcard they had just bought somewhere and asked me if I had ever heard of the person it was addressed to on the reverse and the name was "Ralph Winnie". It occurred to me that there is probably alot of new collectors in the hobby that have never heard of Ralph so I thought I'd share this.
Ralph passed away in 2004 after a long battle with cancer. In the mid 1980’s Ralph and I developed a running correspondence and spoke regularly by phone. He started collecting baseball autographs in the 1940’s and seemed to know EVERYTHING about baseball and baseball autographs. He was modest, never boastful, never brash. Always positive, always helpful especially to new collectors . He was a virtual encylopedia of autograph facts and folklore. He began collecting by writing players through the mail and could tell you little known facts about the signing habits of the stars and non-stars spanning almost 50 years. What made his collection so unique was that after writing to most of the retired players like Ty Cobb, Cy Young, Honus Wagner etc he turned his attentions to contemporary players of the day. While most collectors could say they had a Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays in their collection, how many could say they had a Mickey Mantle signed one week after his first at bat or a Willie Mays signed two months before he played his first major league game? Since he collected everyone and anyone who ever appeared in a major league baseball game his theory was “A rookie player never turned down an autograph request” This method would prove useful too for the “cup of coffee” players who vanished or died shortly after debuting in “The Show” names like Woody Crowson, John Carden, Webbo Clarke, Wenc Gonzales, Charlie Peete & Dick Wantz just to name a few. Later in the 1970’s through 1990’s his collecting shifted to obtaining his autographs in-person at the ball park and at spring training games. He developed close friendships with many former ball players among them Red Rolfe and Bob Feller.
His collection became so massive that during the 1970’s and 1980’s many news agencies carried stories about his collection and he was a frequent guest on radio talk shows in the Pacific Northwest where he lived. Around 1990 Ralph mentioned to me that he had been thinking about selling his collection. We discussed various options and finally settled on the idea of his sending me a package every couple months or so. Since he collected by debut year the idea was to send me his collection by specific year, I’d make an offer we’d agree and I’d get another debut year when he could pack it up. We started with a package of players who played from 1876-1880. Little did I know at the time that we’d be doing that for almost 12 years ! My last conversation with him was about two weeks before he passed away, he was calling to say goodbye. We ended up talking about his favorite team the Seattle Mariners.
One of many great people I've met in this hobby. Yes there always was and still are FAR more Good guys than bad.

Jim,
By you posting this I now know about a man I've never heard of before...I have an appreciation for what he did and who he was....Thank you.
Will you share some of the auto's he sent you?

stat192
06-03-2012, 06:40 AM
I also have some Winnie autos in my collection. Would pay top dollar if anyone out there has that Wence Gonzales auto.

JimStinson
06-03-2012, 08:41 AM
I sold the Webbo Clarke and the Wenc Gonzales at around the same time and really blew it on pricing. I offered them in one of my e-mail updates a long time ago and priced them at (I think) $350.00 each. They sold in about 10 seconds and must have recieved another 50 calls. I can't remember who bought them today, but at that time for almost a year I had several collectors asking me to relay messages to the owner/owners and to my knowledge he/they never would sell them.
I'll try and find some of Ralph's examples and post them here in the next day or two. On a related note there was in the collection a Hank Aaron GPC that was postmarked BEFORE his first major league at bat and had a long handwritten note. I sold it and the fellow that bought it showed it to Aaron at a card show and Aaron said "I never signed that", So I refunded the purchase. A few years back some early Hank Aaron pre major league handwritten letters were offered at auction and sold for ALOT of money , If I recall a couple of them brought in the 20K range. I went back to look at Ralph's the one Aaron said was "never signed by him" and the handwritting was a dead on match to the handwritting on the letters (smile), I still have it around here somewhere I'll post an image soon as I can find it

travrosty
06-03-2012, 09:48 AM
i saw a boxing sonny banks autographed photo once being offered for 50 bucks a few years ago and I knew it was worth more than that. haven't seen a sonny banks (opponent of muhammad ali) offered up since then. The guy didn't know what he had and it sold for the 50 (i didn't buy it). I know a guy or two that would pay 750 or 1000 dollars for one right now.

Den*nis O*Brien
06-03-2012, 01:14 PM
Here are two examples, from Ralph's collection, obtained from Jim Stinson Sports some time ago (Thanks Jim!). The Ray Caldwell is a particular favorite of mine. While pitching, for the Yankees around 1910 or a little later, he was struck by lightning on the mound. After being revived, he finished the game and beat the A's 2-1. When we speak about good people in the hobby, Jim Stinson ranks among the best. I always get honesty, knowledge and good conversation when dealing with him.

chaddurbin
06-03-2012, 02:19 PM
jim,

i really enjoy your stories. not necessarily the subjects (i don't feel the urge to get one of his gpc), but your enthusiasm for the hobby comes through in sharing these tales. we desperately need that around here.

Leon
06-03-2012, 02:36 PM
Thanks for the great stories Jim. They are the best ambassador there can be in the sports hobby. Much appreciated.