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View Full Version : Who was James Grant MacAlister?


HexsHeroes
10-25-2012, 07:52 AM
.

I really enjoyed the earlier threads about both the Ralph Winnie and Bill Zekus collections. Plus, the Zekus discussion shed alittle light on another collector, Bill Van Buskirk.

Another "old time" collection occasionally referenced is the James Grant MacAlister collection. After his death in November 2004, parts of his collection were sold in multiple auctions over several years by Hunt Auctions. But over the past seven years, I have yet to see any of the more obscure (ultra-rare?) autographs from James' collection appear in Hunt live or internet auctions. Most of the auction items have been of the more common variety. What has happened to the cream of James' collection? James' sister stated that she did not know. The folks at Hunt Auctions only would say that James' collection would be auctioned over several years.

My initial contact with James (I never thought to call him Jim) occurred in 2000, when I participated in one of his monthly autograph auctions, which was advertised in Jeffrey Morey's publication,The Autograph Review (TAR). Over the next four years, I rarely missed bidding successfully in his TAR autograph auctions. I also made several purchases from James, outside of the auctions. During 2004 James began to call me on a nearly monthly basis, to chat about what my current needs were, and about my beloved Tigers (and his Phillies). We frequently shared that we hoped this would be the year for our respective teams, and discussed the strengths and weaknesses of both. While I would consider our phone conversations as being quite friendly (and not so much as business-like), I never felt I could ask him questions about his personal life. I always sensed a very proper, dignified, calm demeanor in his voice. I couldn't help but feel that it would have been rude of me to ask him questions that were more personal in nature. Perhaps I was waiting for him to open that door by asking me the types of questions I wanted to ask him, such as what he did for a living, how long had he been collecting, names of dealers that have been especially helpful, etc. But it never happened. I know he was a deeply spiritual man. The closing salutations to his typed letters bore that out. But I have no idea what he did for a living, or when exactly he began collecting autographs, or who was his first autograph. In his vast collection he had many, many obscure non-Phillies ballplayer autographs, so I know the scope of his collection extended well past the Phillies. My last contact with James was a phone conversation, where he was reviewing my latest group of bids for his current TAR auction. He had a handful of very obscure Detroit Tigers autographs in his collection that he offered to sell to me outright * * *. The conservation ended with James stating that he will get the invoice for the outright sale typed out and mailed to me. I replied that I would have a check in payment back to him shortly after receipt of his invoice. James' typed invoice never arrived. Afew weeks later, I received a letter from his sister Iris stating that James took ill, and eventually died. Since she was not familiar with his autograph dealings, she said that she would not be able to complete any sales or auction transactions. To be honest, I really didn't give a damn about the broken sale. James death was completely unexpected. Several months later, I received a complimentary copy of the Spring 2005 live auction catalog from Hunt Auction. Inside was a note explaining that copy was being sent courteously, of James sister. There was a nice, if brief, biography on James on the front page. But it failed to paint a clear picture of the man behind the vast collection. It's was a shame that James' didn't live longer, to see his beloved Phillies team win the World Series in 2008. For me personally, James Grant MacAlister has been one of the six primary resources contributing to the growth of my collection (along with Jim Stinson, Bill Corcoran, Ron Gordon, Doug Averitt, and Jack Smalling). I was very fortunately to have encountered James when I did.


I would love to hear anything constructive that other members would like to share regarding this collection, and the man that built it.


* * * - items that have not (yet?) appeared in prior Hunt Auction lots of James' collection.

JimStinson
10-25-2012, 03:44 PM
Great Post !
What little I can add is that James MacAlister was a very well respected "old school" collector who put together a massive collection in his lifetime. I remember seeing his offerings through the mediums you mentioned , I think Jeff Morey (another great guy) knew him pretty good as those fellows used to assemble at Cooperstown every year. In remembering back I thought that at the time of his death he had already sold most of his collection and was amazed to learn afterwards that his sister still had a massive collection on hand which was auctioned off. Most of it was in "group lots" that I remember thinking at the time sold for considerably more than it was worth. But in hindsight and certainly by today's standards it was a bargain. I could be wrong but I remember either being told at the time of the auction that , what was being sold was "all that was left" ,
Great material seems to be absorbed into the hobby quite quickly and sometimes dosen;t surface again for many years if ever. Thanks again for giving honorable mention to another of the baseball autograph collecting "pioneers".

Scott Garner
10-25-2012, 05:26 PM
Great post Vincent!
I know very little about him other than he had a terrific collection. I own perhaps 5-10 vintage no-hit pitcher signatures that originated from his collection.

roarfrom34
10-25-2012, 06:38 PM
My first contact with him was back when I was in college (1982) and he would mail me monthly lists that were aphalbetized (i.e. one month was players whose last name started with A; next month it was B, etc.). He was so organized, he knew when the school year was over to send his monthly lists to my home address......I think what I remember most about him was his unique, very neat penmanship....With your order, he always included a handwritten note..

It's been years since I thought of him, so thank you for the pleasant memory (i must have purchased 250 Orioles 3x5's from him over the years).

Tom Hufford
10-30-2012, 01:15 PM
Thanks for starting this thread. Jim MacAlister was one of the best friends I ever had – in the autograph collecting field, or anywhere else.

As best as I can figure, I must have made Jim’s acquaintance in 1969. I was a student at Virginia Tech and was trying to find info on former Tech players who had played in the majors. One was infielder Paul “Buddy” Dear, from Norfolk, who was with the 1927 Washington Senators. I couldn’t find him in the Norfolk telephone book, so I went to the Tech Alumni office in search of info – was he deceased, or where did he live. I was very surprised to learn that he was still in town, and was a retired professor of ceramic engineering at Virginia Tech – but, he still served as an advisor, and had an office in the engineering department. I must have gone by his office every day for two or three weeks until I finally found him there. I had a nice talk with him, and was interested to learn that although he only got into two games with the Senators, he was with the team most of the season after signing out of Tech, and was the road roommate of Tom Zachary. And, of course, he got to see Babe Ruth hit his 60th HR off his roomie. Anyway, after the end of our conversation, Buddy reached into his desk and pulled out several letters. He said, you know, no one hardly ever asked me for an autograph back when I played, but every now and then, now, I get a letter from someone interested in baseball history, and wanting an autograph. You can have these letters – you might like to get in touch with some of these people.” (I guess Jack Smalling might have had an address list available back then, but I wasn’t aware of it). One of the letters that Buddy Dear gave me was from Jim MacAlister.

At that point, I didn’t consider myself an autograph collector. The Phillies had put a minor league team in my hometown that season, and I “worked” for them selling season tickets (didn’t get paid!). Dallas Green was our manager, and there were other managers and coaches coming through town that I had baseball cards of (Dick Gernert, Bill Monbouquette, Elmer Valo, Wally Moses, etc.) So, I got them to sign their cards, but I’d never written for an autograph. I don’t remember if I wrote to the other autograph-seekers that Buddy Dear gave me letters from, but I did write to Jim MacAlister. Probably because he was from Philadelphia, and I figured I could discuss the Phillies with him.

Jim wrote back, telling me about his interests in baseball history, his autograph collecting, and the fact that he was a member of the “Lee Allen research club,” a loosely-knit group of baseball historians who worked with Hall of Fame Librarian/Historian in tracking down “what ever happened to” former major leaguers. That’s another reason I know it was 1969 – Lee Allen had died just after spring training, and Jim wondered if his successor would continue the “research club.” I had already been doing the same kind of player detective work, with Virginia-born players, that Jim had been doing with Lee Allen, but didn’t know what to do with the birth and death data that I had turned up. When Cliff Kachline was hired as Lee Allen’s replacement at the Hall of Fame, Jim put me in touch with him, and then I, too, became a member of the “biographical research club.” Basically, Cliff sent me a stack of blank Hall of Fame biographical questionnaires and a list of players whom Lee Allen had never been able to track down. I took the newly-published MacMillan “The Baseball Encyclopedia” and started trying to track down players who I thought might still be living, basically by looking through out-of-town telephone books in the college library. I had pretty good success locating living players, or family members of deceased players – and my autograph collecting began in earnest. And, I got a copy of Jack Smalling’s address list, and started sending out letters.

Jim told me that he had started collecting autographs as a kid in Philadelphia in the late 1940’s/early 1950s.. He and his friends would go to the ballpark after school and would get players to sign their autograph books as they left the park. He would laugh when he told the story that he and his friends would always ignore the "old guys" because they weren’t players – just coaches – but years later he realized that they were Chief Bender, Al Simmons, Hugh Duffy, Honus Wagner, etc.! Later, the enterprising autograph-seekers discovered that they could go to the train station and wait out on the platform, getting autographs as theplayers from visiting teams got on the train to leave town – they were the only autograph collectors there, not like at the ballpark! Jim continued his autograph pursuit until after he graduated from high school. He stopped for a few years while he was overseas in the U.S. Air Force – then he resumed again when he came back in the late 1950s.

As of 1969, about 9,000 players had appeared in the major leagues. Jim told me that he had autographs of about 3,500, and that Jack Smalling had about the same number. I was impressed – I only had a handful. And he told me that he and Jack both had the same goal – to obtain the autograph of every player to ever appear in the majors. Wow!

Over the last few months of 1969, Jim and I exchanged letters discussing our player research and autograph pursuits. Then one day he made me an offer that changed my collecting dramatically. He wrote something like this – “I have thousands of duplicate signed index cards of living players – all filed alphabetically. As you receive responses from players, if you want to, you can send me your duplicates – as many as you want – and I’ll send you the same number in return. I’ll start with the “A” players – if you send me 20 of your duplicates, I’ll send you 20 different players, in alphabetical order. Or, if you send me 100, I’ll send you 100 different in return. And, I’ll keep track of what I’ve sent you. If we’re down to working on the “C” players, and I get a duplicate “A” that I haven’t already sent you, I’ll include that in the next batch I send. And we can do as long or as fast as you want to, until we go through the whole alphabet. Then we can start working on trades for my deceased duplicates.”

This was a real boon to me – it meant that I could write to 100 players, and if each signed four index cards for me, I could trade with Jim and end up with autographs of 400 players rather than just 100. So, we did this for a couple of years, and we went through all of Jim’s duplicates of living players. Then we did the deceased players, and he would put a trade value on each of his – I’d trade 5, 10, 20, or 50 of mine for one of his, depending on the scarcity of the player. I remember trading about 20 for a Moe Berg 3x5.

I really appreciated what Jim did for me, a young collector. Of course, I was writing to the older players, in order of their debut years, many of whom wouldn’t live much longer. I got a lot of younger players in return from Jim, but that was fine. I realize that in all of our trades, Jim received only a very small number of autographs from me that he actually needed – mostly older “missing” players that I had tracked down and gotten responses from. It impressed me that Jim did this to help me, without a lot in return – and later I learned that he had done the same kind of trading plan with numerous other young collectors over the years. Yes, he was able to build his inventory this way, but he served as a mentor to so many other collectors.

After a number of years, Jim realized that he had gotten about all of the living autographs that he could get, but he enjoyed corresponding with the players so he decided to start on another project – he wrote to every living player, asking them to sign the index cards and personalize them to him – “To Jim, From your friend, ________.” I still have a number of these cards in my own collection, even though I could have replaced them easily with a signature-only card or a card personalized to me. After a while, Jim started getting letters back from players saying “haven’t I signed for you before?”, so for a few years he sent letters using only his nickname “Scotty” in the letter and on the return address!

Jim never seemed to lack for a project. After he figured he’d done about all he could do with index cards, he started on signed postcard-sized photos. He would order photos from George Brace about 500 at a time. Usually, five copies each of each pose Brace had of a player. Jim would then send them to the player, tell the player to keep as many of the photos as they would like, and asked them if they would sign the rest. He had great success, again, because he gave the players something in return. After photos, he returned to collecting autograph baseballs. Then baseballs. I remember Jim sending me several new autograph books, and he asked that whenever I might meet a player in person, to ask if they would sign the book for him – one signature on a page. “Just send it back in a few years, when you’ve gotten it full, and I’ll send you something in trade." Then, “any player you might meet, if you could get them to sign a baseball for me on the sweet spot, I’ll pay you $10 each.” That was in the 1980’s, after I’d moved to Atlanta, and was doing a lot of work with the Braves, and I probably got him over 100 balls. As the cost of the balls and postage rose, I knew I was losing money on every one, but that was fine – I never got any money from Jim anyway, we ended up working out trades for whatever he owed me.

In the late 1980s, Jim finally decided that he would never get the autograph of every major leaguer – something which I’ve only recently accepted (but, I'm still trying!). Over the years, he had acquired a number of very scarce signatures – many from old autograph albums that he had purchased, or from collections that he had purchased from other veteran collectors. He made a number of signatures available to me that I’ve never seen anywhere else, especially those from some 1915-1924 era autograph albums. He’d send me a list of what he had, and ask me to make an offer on the ones I wanted. He never turned down any of my offers, then held the autographs for me and said “just pay me or send me something whenever you can.”

When I lived in the Washington, DC area 1972-79, I visited Jim several times at his home in Philadelphia – sometimes I’d go for the day and we’d go to a Phillies game, sometimes I’d spend the weekend. Jim never married, he lived with his Mom and Dad and sister Iris. He also had a married brother, Ken and a married sister, Nancy. Jim said his Mom liked me because I was from Virginia (Pulaski), too. She was from the Norfolk area. I think I went to Cooperstown with him for the induction ceremonies twice – 1972 and 1974. I’d take the train to Philly, then Jim’s brother would drive us to Cooperstown, as Jim never had a car nor a driver’s license. A couple of other collectors from Philly would go, too. I remember one, Jim Rogge, but don’t remember who the others were.

Jim had his own business, a welding supply company, that was a few blocks from his home. Since he didn’t drive, he always walked to work and back. He was a very active bowler, and bowled in several leagues in the Philadelphia area, sporting a 200+ average per game. I remember him telling me that former major leaguer Marty Kutyna bowled on one of Jim’s teams.

Other than baseball, Jim’s other love was his faith and church. He was very active in the Juniata Park United Methodist Church – about five blocks from where he lived. For about the last decade of his life, he ran regular autograph auctions in Jeff Morey’s bi-monthly “Autograph Review,” with all proceeds going to the church.

Jim’s autograph collection was huge, and filled every nook and cranny of the room he devoted to it. It always remained a hobby for him, and I never heard him mention how much something might be worth, dollar-wise. He enjoyed the friends and comradery the hobby brought to him. I don’t know how much of his collection he sold off before he died – I have a feeling he offered “special” items to selected friends, from time to time, like he did with me. I know that Hunt Auctions handled a large part of the collection, mostly in large lots. I never bid on any of them. One thing Jim showed me years ago was a handwritten letter from Vic Willis, but he didn’t seem interested in letting it go, and I never pressed him on it. I’ve always wondered where it ended up.

My acquaintance with Jim led to his introducing me to Cliff Kachline at the Hall of Fame. I became part of Cliff’s “biographical research club,” and that led me to be in Cooperstown as one of the 16 founding members of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) on August 10, 1971. Jim joined on August 28, as SABR member #22, and he always regretted not having been able to come to the founding meeting.

Jim was born January 3, 1934, and died December 22, 2004, at the age of 70. I knew him for 35 years – half of his life – and was blessed to know him and have him as a friend.

(This ended up being a bit longer than I expected! - Tom)

isaac2004
10-30-2012, 01:42 PM
Thanks for starting this thread. Jim MacAlister was one of the best friends I ever had – in the autograph collecting field, or anywhere else.

As best as I can figure, I must have made Jim’s acquaintance in 1969. I was a student at Virginia Tech and was trying to find info on former Tech players who had played in the majors. One was infielder Paul “Buddy” Dear, from Norfolk, who was with the 1927 Washington Senators. I couldn’t find him in the Norfolk telephone book, so I went to the Tech Alumni office in search of info – was he deceased, or where did he live. I was very surprised to learn that he was still in town, and was a retired professor of ceramic engineering at Virginia Tech – but, he still served as an advisor, and had an office in the engineering department. I must have gone by his office every day for two or three weeks until I finally found him there. I had a nice talk with him, and was interested to learn that although he only got into two games with the Senators, he was with the team most of the season after signing out of Tech, and was the road roommate of Tom Zachary. And, of course, he got to see Babe Ruth hit his 60th HR off his roomie. Anyway, after the end of our conversation, Buddy reached into his desk and pulled out several letters. He said, you know, no one hardly ever asked me for an autograph back when I played, but every now and then, now, I get a letter from someone interested in baseball history, and wanting an autograph. You can have these letters – you might like to get in touch with some of these people.” (I guess Jack Smalling might have had an address list available back then, but I wasn’t aware of it). One of the letters that Buddy Dear gave me was from Jim MacAlister.

At that point, I didn’t consider myself an autograph collector. The Phillies had put a minor league team in my hometown that season, and I “worked” for them selling season tickets (didn’t get paid!). Dallas Green was our manager, and there were other managers and coaches coming through town that I had baseball cards of (Dick Gernert, Bill Monbouquette, Elmer Valo, Wally Moses, etc.) So, I got them to sign their cards, but I’d never written for an autograph. I don’t remember if I wrote to the other autograph-seekers that Buddy Dear gave me letters from, but I did write to Jim MacAlister. Probably because he was from Philadelphia, and I figured I could discuss the Phillies with him.

Jim wrote back, telling me about his interests in baseball history, his autograph collecting, and the fact that he was a member of the “Lee Allen research club,” a loosely-knit group of baseball historians who worked with Hall of Fame Librarian/Historian in tracking down “what ever happened to” former major leaguers. That’s another reason I know it was 1969 – Lee Allen had died just after spring training, and Jim wondered if his successor would continue the “research club.” I had already been doing the same kind of player detective work, with Virginia-born players, that Jim had been doing with Lee Allen, but didn’t know what to do with the birth and death data that I had turned up. When Cliff Kachline was hired as Lee Allen’s replacement at the Hall of Fame, Jim put me in touch with him, and then I, too, became a member of the “biographical research club.” Basically, Cliff sent me a stack of blank Hall of Fame biographical questionnaires and a list of players whom Lee Allen had never been able to track down. I took the newly-published MacMillan “The Baseball Encyclopedia” and started trying to track down players who I thought might still be living, basically by looking through out-of-town telephone books in the college library. I had pretty good success locating living players, or family members of deceased players – and my autograph collecting began in earnest. And, I got a copy of Jack Smalling’s address list, and started sending out letters.

Jim told me that he had started collecting autographs as a kid in Philadelphia in the late 1940’s/early 1950s.. He and his friends would go to the ballpark after school and would get players to sign their autograph books as they left the park. He would laugh when he told the story that he and his friends would always ignore the "old guys" because they weren’t players – just coaches – but years later he realized that they were Chief Bender, Al Simmons, Hugh Duffy, Honus Wagner, etc.! Later, the enterprising autograph-seekers discovered that they could go to the train station and wait out on the platform, getting autographs as theplayers from visiting teams got on the train to leave town – they were the only autograph collectors there, not like at the ballpark! Jim continued his autograph pursuit until after he graduated from high school. He stopped for a few years while he was overseas in the U.S. Air Force – then he resumed again when he came back in the late 1950s.

As of 1969, about 9,000 players had appeared in the major leagues. Jim told me that he had autographs of about 3,500, and that Jack Smalling had about the same number. I was impressed – I only had a handful. And he told me that he and Jack both had the same goal – to obtain the autograph of every player to ever appear in the majors. Wow!

Over the last few months of 1969, Jim and I exchanged letters discussing our player research and autograph pursuits. Then one day he made me an offer that changed my collecting dramatically. He wrote something like this – “I have thousands of duplicate signed index cards of living players – all filed alphabetically. As you receive responses from players, if you want to, you can send me your duplicates – as many as you want – and I’ll send you the same number in return. I’ll start with the “A” players – if you send me 20 of your duplicates, I’ll send you 20 different players, in alphabetical order. Or, if you send me 100, I’ll send you 100 different in return. And, I’ll keep track of what I’ve sent you. If we’re down to working on the “C” players, and I get a duplicate “A” that I haven’t already sent you, I’ll include that in the next batch I send. And we can do as long or as fast as you want to, until we go through the whole alphabet. Then we can start working on trades for my deceased duplicates.”

This was a real boon to me – it meant that I could write to 100 players, and if each signed four index cards for me, I could trade with Jim and end up with autographs of 400 players rather than just 100. So, we did this for a couple of years, and we went through all of Jim’s duplicates of living players. Then we did the deceased players, and he would put a trade value on each of his – I’d trade 5, 10, 20, or 50 of mine for one of his, depending on the scarcity of the player. I remember trading about 20 for a Moe Berg 3x5.

I really appreciated what Jim did for me, a young collector. Of course, I was writing to the older players, in order of their debut years, many of whom wouldn’t live much longer. I got a lot of younger players in return from Jim, but that was fine. I realize that in all of our trades, Jim received only a very small number of autographs from me that he actually needed – mostly older “missing” players that I had tracked down and gotten responses from. It impressed me that Jim did this to help me, without a lot in return – and later I learned that he had done the same kind of trading plan with numerous other young collectors over the years. Yes, he was able to build his inventory this way, but he served as a mentor to so many other collectors.

After a number of years, Jim realized that he had gotten about all of the living autographs that he could get, but he enjoyed corresponding with the players so he decided to start on another project – he wrote to every living player, asking them to sign the index cards and personalize them to him – “To Jim, From your friend, ________.” I still have a number of these cards in my own collection, even though I could have replaced them easily with a signature-only card or a card personalized to me. After a while, Jim started getting letters back from players saying “haven’t I signed for you before?”, so for a few years he sent letters using only his nickname “Scotty” in the letter and on the return address!

Jim never seemed to lack for a project. After he figured he’d done about all he could do with index cards, he started on signed postcard-sized photos. He would order photos from George Brace about 500 at a time. Usually, five copies each of each pose Brace had of a player. Jim would then send them to the player, tell the player to keep as many of the photos as they would like, and asked them if they would sign the rest. He had great success, again, because he gave the players something in return. After photos, he returned to collecting autograph baseballs. Then baseballs. I remember Jim sending me several new autograph books, and he asked that whenever I might meet a player in person, to ask if they would sign the book for him – one signature on a page. “Just send it back in a few years, when you’ve gotten it full, and I’ll send you something in trade." Then, “any player you might meet, if you could get them to sign a baseball for me on the sweet spot, I’ll pay you $10 each.” That was in the 1980’s, after I’d moved to Atlanta, and was doing a lot of work with the Braves, and I probably got him over 100 balls. As the cost of the balls and postage rose, I knew I was losing money on every one, but that was fine – I never got any money from Jim anyway, we ended up working out trades for whatever he owed me.

In the late 1980s, Jim finally decided that he would never get the autograph of every major leaguer – something which I’ve only recently accepted (but, I'm still trying!). Over the years, he had acquired a number of very scarce signatures – many from old autograph albums that he had purchased, or from collections that he had purchased from other veteran collectors. He made a number of signatures available to me that I’ve never seen anywhere else, especially those from some 1915-1924 era autograph albums. He’d send me a list of what he had, and ask me to make an offer on the ones I wanted. He never turned down any of my offers, then held the autographs for me and said “just pay me or send me something whenever you can.”

When I lived in the Washington, DC area 1972-79, I visited Jim several times at his home in Philadelphia – sometimes I’d go for the day and we’d go to a Phillies game, sometimes I’d spend the weekend. Jim never married, he lived with his Mom and Dad and sister Iris. He also had a married brother, Ken and a married sister, Nancy. Jim said his Mom liked me because I was from Virginia (Pulaski), too. She was from the Norfolk area. I think I went to Cooperstown with him for the induction ceremonies twice – 1972 and 1974. I’d take the train to Philly, then Jim’s brother would drive us to Cooperstown, as Jim never had a car nor a driver’s license. A couple of other collectors from Philly would go, too. I remember one, Jim Rogge, but don’t remember who the others were.

Jim had his own business, a welding supply company, that was a few blocks from his home. Since he didn’t drive, he always walked to work and back. He was a very active bowler, and bowled in several leagues in the Philadelphia area, sporting a 200+ average per game. I remember him telling me that former major leaguer Marty Kutyna bowled on one of Jim’s teams.

Other than baseball, Jim’s other love was his faith and church. He was very active in the Juniata Park United Methodist Church – about five blocks from where he lived. For about the last decade of his life, he ran regular autograph auctions in Jeff Morey’s bi-monthly “Autograph Review,” with all proceeds going to the church.

Jim’s autograph collection was huge, and filled every nook and cranny of the room he devoted to it. It always remained a hobby for him, and I never heard him mention how much something might be worth, dollar-wise. He enjoyed the friends and comradery the hobby brought to him. I don’t know how much of his collection he sold off before he died – I have a feeling he offered “special” items to selected friends, from time to time, like he did with me. I know that Hunt Auctions handled a large part of the collection, mostly in large lots. I never bid on any of them. One thing Jim showed me years ago was a handwritten letter from Vic Willis, but he didn’t seem interested in letting it go, and I never pressed him on it. I’ve always wondered where it ended up.

My acquaintance with Jim led to his introducing me to Cliff Kachline at the Hall of Fame. I became part of Cliff’s “biographical research club,” and that led me to be in Cooperstown as one of the 16 founding members of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) on August 10, 1971. Jim joined on August 28, as SABR member #22, and he always regretted not having been able to come to the founding meeting.

Jim was born January 3, 1934, and died December 22, 2004, at the age of 70. I knew him for 35 years – half of his life – and was blessed to know him and have him as a friend.

(This ended up being a bit longer than I expected! - Tom)



That is a wonderful story, thank you so much for the time.

JimStinson
10-30-2012, 01:51 PM
A+++++++++++++++++++++++ Great post Tom !

bender07
10-30-2012, 03:07 PM
Tom - Great post that really gave us insight to Jim and early autograph collecting as a whole!

This isn't the thread to do it, but I think folks would be interested in hearing about your collection in a new thread.

HexsHeroes
10-30-2012, 03:21 PM
.

Thanks for sharing Tom. Just reaffirms the saying that you can brushed with greatness and not even know it. James MacAlister was some kind of great autograph collector, and person to boot.

HexsHeroes
10-30-2012, 03:31 PM
.

Tom, did James ever indicate in the late 1980's how many ballplayer autographs he did have (when he realized he'd never get them all) ?


If not, what would you guess the number to be ?


For what it's worth, Jack Smalling hasn't reach that ultimate goal either.

isaac2004
10-30-2012, 04:04 PM
.

Tom, did James ever indicate in the late 1980's how many ballplayer autographs he did have (when he realized he'd never get them all) ?


If not, what would you guess the number to be ?


For what it's worth, Jack Smalling hasn't reach that ultimate goal either.

To be off topic... but is that Smalling book worth it? Is it more accurate than most TTM databases?

Scott Garner
10-31-2012, 07:11 AM
Super post Tom!
Thanks for sharing this info with us. :)

mr2686
10-31-2012, 10:26 AM
Outstanding post. Makes me want to just sit and look through my collection. Tom, I too would love to hear/see more about your collection.

maddux31
08-27-2015, 10:49 PM
Great to hear about those that led the way for collectors today.

Bpm0014
09-02-2015, 09:52 AM
Great post! Great read!

Cooptown
09-02-2015, 01:43 PM
I can't believe I missed this the first time around! What a truly great read!

Did he attend HOF inductions every year up until his death? I attended from 1989 - 1998; I wonder if we ever crossed paths in the hunt for an auto?

Scott Garner
09-02-2015, 04:56 PM
[QUOTE=Cooptown;1448551]I can't believe I missed this the first time around! What a truly great read!

Absolutely one of the best threads ever.

prewarsports
09-03-2015, 01:31 AM
I have known Tom for several years and his knowledge of the autograph industry and experience continues to blow my mind. PLEASE write these things down and publish them someday Tom!