Two Questions For Autograph Set Collectors

Posted May 16th, 2010 by Tom Owens and filed in Maury Wills


For anyone working to complete an autographed card set, I applaud you. It’s not an easy or fast task.

However, I’ve got to ask two questions, based on the online comments I see from frustrated through-the-mail collectors.

1. Are you sending only one card? I see the “he didn’t sign” or “he kept my set card” all the time. Sending one card means you’ll get your most desired card back if the person signs.

2. Are you explaining that you’re working on a goal of a completed set? The guy you’re contacting knows about goals. He worked to make the majors. He worked to keep his job. Every day included a goal for him.

For older sets, I’d think a collector could add, “If you’re unable to autograph the card enclosed, I’d be grateful if you could return it, so the card could go back in my set.” You might convince an on-the-fence signer that way.

Think it’s impossible to praise a cup-of-coffee player, someone with sad stats from a too-brief stay in baseball? Try pointing out that this person wore a major league uniform AND became one of only 660 people to appear in that year’s set. Not everyone who plays in a season gets in that year’s Topps set, right?

(Maury Wills just seconded me on this one…)

5 Responses to “Two Questions For Autograph Set Collectors”

  1. Tony says:

    Good point. Although sending one card is no guarantee either. I sent Steve Garvey my card from the 1977 OPC set and got back TWO cards signed, but not my card. I know this was an exception, or a mistake. But I wish I got my card back. I was lucky I had an extra, but I haven’t decided yet to try again.

  2. Tom Owens says:

    Thanks for the reminder, Tony. There’s no sure thing in autograph collecting. I have faith in Garvey’s signing, though. I watched him talk to a boy at a 1990s Portland hobby show. The kid said he didn’t buy an autograph ticket, but would like a signature.

    “Sorry, I’m under contract to only sign for ticket-holders in the auditorium,” Garvey said. Before the sad boy could walk away, Garvey added, “But my contract only covers what I do at the show. I’ll be done at 3 p.m. I’ll be going out those doors. Ask me then.”

    I checked. Garvey signed for everyone outside — for free. I think a boy invited a few friends. Better than the Mean Joe Greene Coca-Cola commercial!

  3. Tony says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for for his signature, and I’m sure it was a mistake. I received his autograph in person in 1991 on a baseball and card in Toronto and he was super nice. Just one of those lessons, “Don’t send something you can’t afford to lose”

  4. Tom Owens says:

    Well said, Tony! No doubt that you are a grateful collector, too. Most of all, thanks for the reminder not to risk any collectible in the mail when seeking an autograph. Years ago, a well-known retired player included extras in my letter, sending me more signed cards. “Are these yours?” he asked. “If not, please return them.” Not mine. I returned ’em.

    It’s amazing how well popular retired players do in keeping cards sorted with the proper SASEs.

  5. Greg says:

    I love the Steve Garvey anecdote!

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