Sunday, June 18, 2017

Monte Irvin bids farewell to his fans

Monte Irvin has devoted his life to baseball. Starting in 1938 with the Newark Eagles of the Negro Leagues, Irvin has maintained 75-year love affair with the game. At 94 years of age, he remains an encyclopedia of the sport, contributing to countless articles, books, and documentaries.

In 2009, I had the opportunity to interview Irvin, and he still felt compelled to share what he knew about the game’s great talents of yesteryear.

“I give important interviews,” he said. “If I think I can help, I give a hand.”

Monte Irvin signed photo / Author's Collection
Irvin’s generosity was not only limited to writers and historians, but also to his fans. He fielded countless numbers of autograph requests throughout the years, heightened by his 1973 Hall of Fame induction. He obliged inquiries from all over the world, and used his celebrity to raise money for his alma mater Lincoln University. If there was another Hall of Fame for the way athletes treated their fans, Irvin would be at the top of the list.

Sadly, Irvin is now replying to those that are writing to him with the following note explaining why he can no longer sign autographs. Even though he cannot fulfill the requests of those reaching out to him, his gentlemanly nature is evident in this succinct, yet sincere message.

Dear Fans,

Thank for your interest in baseball and for your support during my career as a player and Hall of Famer. Unfortunately, the years have taken their toll and my declining eyesight prevents further autograph signing. I will always be a part of this great game and I trust it will continue to bring you enjoyment as a cherished sport and pastime.

Best wishes,

Monte Irvin

Yes Monte, you will forever be a part of the game. The years you have spent sharing it with so many will allow your legend and those of whose stories you have told that are no longer here to speak on their behalf to persist for future generations to discover.

* - This was originally published May 12, 2013 for


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