Pitcher Chris Hammond’s best team yet?

Before it all began for Chris? This pic dates back to February, 1989. (Photo credit: 	KPMcClave/Wikimedia Commons)

Before it all began for Chris? This pic dates back to February, 1989. (Photo credit: KPMcClave/Wikimedia Commons)

Pitcher Chris Hammond logged 14 major league seasons for seven teams.

These days, he’s pitching for a different cause.

Collectors have adored Hammond for years. He’s been a faithful signer through the mail. The website SportsCollectors.net says he’s come through on 328 of 356 attempts, good for a 92 percent success rate.

When I saw on the site that some collectors noted they had sent $1 per autograph, I tracked down the hurler to ask about his fee.

His response:

“I never have asked anyone for money for my measly autograph,” Hammond replied. “But a friend of mine told me to ask for a $1 donation toward my Youth Foundation. I started a youth foundation over 10 years ago that helps underprivileged kids better prepare for life. The first area we try to help these youth is in the area of getting them to participate in sports. If not, anything they need to help them have the best life they can.”

What sparked his public service for his home state of Alabama? “I do the work I do, everyday, because of the presence of Jesus Christ in me, and the work of the Holy Spirit through me!”

Want to feel good getting some affordable autographs? Using the standard self-addressed, stamped envelope and other hobby guidelines, write to Chris Hammond, 55 Sneh St, Oxford AL 36203. Only $1 per autograph for a good cause sounds good to me. Everybody wins!

Try the Publishers Clearing House game plan for increased fan mail success

No envelopes scream, “PLEASE, OPEN ME!” like
the mailings from PCH. Learn from them.

I enjoyed a recent online conversation with a collector I encountered on the always-amazing www.sportscollectors.net.

Someone wanted to expand his success by focusing on Christian baseball players and Bible verse autographs.
I think it’s great any time a collector adopts a special project or a specialty. I’ve seen too many hobbyists give up entirely after wanting one of EVERYTHING.
The one tip I neglected?
End, don’t start, with the letter.
Make your presence known with the envelope. 
Why can’t a Christian collector jot a Bible verse on the back of his envelope?
Or, if you’re trying to build a collection of Cardinals autographs, consider adding “Redbirds Fan” beneath your return address. For the artistically-challenged, splurge for some return address labels with pictures.
Colorful stickers. Rubber stamps. There’s so many extra chances to stand out.
The window clerk at our local post office listened to my wife’s question about decorating Christmas envelopes, providing that the address can be clearly seen and the appropriate postage checked and cancelled. Is it okay?
“Hey…decorate away!” he said.
Someone might help a current or former player sort the mail. Do all the envelopes look alike?
Make the effort. Let it show on the envelope. Let the athlete know how much you want a reply.