Autographed player postcard photos for free? How?

Posted December 8th, 2014 by Tom Owens and filed in Doug McWilliams, J.D. McCarthy, Jack Smalling
Bay Area photographer McWilliams
found many clients on the Oakland roster.

Ask.

Once, teams like the St. Louis Cardinals provided all their players with postcard-sized photos to send.

I learned from baseball address pioneer Jack Smalling that he figured one out of seven requests of “if you have a photo of yourself you’d be willing to include for my collection, I’d be grateful” paid off.

And asking is free.

However, players were once so eager to please the public that they’d order their own postcard photos, footing the bill on their own.

Some of the last great independent postcards came in the 1970s from Doug McWilliams. He’d get hired by individual players who wanted to have photos to share with fans and collectors.
Where were these sold? Nowhere!
You had one place to get the postcards. From the depicted guy. You had to be given one.

A generation later, many retirees exhausted their postcard supply. You’ll see some thrifty former players photocopying their remaining postcard to send.

The postcards are great stories in themselves. Find a checklist online for postcards like J.D. McCarthy or McWilliams. Ask in your letter about the postcard’s history. If you can print out a black and white scan of the card (some will appear on eBay), do it. Even if you don’t get the postcard, you could get a great story.

Speaking of stories, Mr. McWilliams has one. You’d be surprised to know how many Topps cards came from his lens. His photo archive has been donated to the Hall of Fame. And he even did postcards once for ballplayer-turned-Country Western star Charley Pride. 

One Response to “Autographed player postcard photos for free? How?”

  1. Sorry if this gets posted twice! I wrote an old-timer earlier this year and he included a player postcard in the response. Turns out it’s a team issue from the early 1950s. I was pretty humbled.

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