Autograph Collectors: Asking is Free

Posted March 19th, 2010 by Tom Owens and filed in Harvey Meiselman, Johnny Vander Meer, Kevin Elster, Luke Appling, Reggie Cleveland


I’m marveling over the newest edition of Harvey Meiselman’s comprehensive baseball address list. A whopping 246 pages, the list is a collector’s greatest ally in making the most of your efforts. Every collector should own one.

I have an interview with Harvey that I did eons ago. I’ll be sharing that on the blog in the future.

For now, I wanted to focus on the 4-1/2 pages of “Players Who Charge.”

The fees vary, some as low as $1 per signature for Kevin Elster or Reggie Cleveland. Some former players demand cash. Although this statement might sound like some autograph signers are hoping to dodge the IRS, I think some of the motivation is in avoiding hassles with the bank.

During a 1980s card show I covered for Sports Collectors Digest, I listened to Johnny Vander Meer grumble to Luke Appling that he was trying to solicit donations for the Baseball Assistance Team — only to have collectors bounce checks.

I think the list will keep growing. Everyone has the right not to respond, or to charge for their autograph.

I’ll remain grateful for what I receive. I’m not sending any items to be signed. Just 2-3 questions. Furthermore, I don’t second-guess someone who answers questions without signing his name. I read that one ex-player who responded (now in his 80s) has macular degeneration. His “reply” looked dictated. The ornate, loopy cursive appeared to be that of a teen female. No matter. Someone cared enough to give me the gift of his insight.

It is a gift. Every reply. A reply I send a thank-you note for.

An autograph for a fee is a product, with buyers and sellers.

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