Gerald Carpenter knows the ‘art’ of TTM baseball autographs

CarpenterGeraldGiving, or getting?

I write about using maximum effort when contacting former players. Gerald Carpenter is a master collector, making everyone he writes to feel like a star.

How? By creating a gift for each player. A fun caricature. He’s sharing all that he creates on a art gallery blog, including all the autographs he’s receiving.

I asked Gerald to reveal more of his hobby game plan. He kindly replied:

“I use Crayola colored pencils, and heavy drawing/ watercolor paper. I used to use paper that was 12″x18″ but I switched to a smaller 8 1/2″ x 11” because it is less than a third of the price for paper, envelopes, and postage, and takes less time and pencils.

I used to send just one drawing in the mail, but in the last year or so I have always been sending two: one for them to keep and one to hopefully sign and return. I think I’ll keep with the practice of always sending two.
I think I have a fairly good success rate, especially with former baseball players, so there can’t be too many keeping them for themselves.

(Images courtesy of Gerald Carpenter)

(Images courtesy of Gerald Carpenter)

I like the personal written responses I get from the players, almost as much as getting the autographed drawing returned. It’s like a nice little bonus.”

Gerald shared some of the notes. Hall of Famer Goose Gossage wrote back that he got a kick out of the drawing. “Job well done!” None other than John Rocker added, “I never looked so good!” Phil Niekro praised Gerald’s artwork, also. 

Bravely, Gerald noted that Mrs. Bob Bailey had a tip for the artist. She felt her husband had “ice blue” eyes. 

“Eye color is really tough to see on a baseball card or old photo, but it shows up prominently in my drawings,” Gerald noted. “I appreciate any criticism, and my style has gradually changed over the years to accommodate repeat criticism. I also had one player, and only one, respond that he wasn’t signing the drawing because it didn’t look like him.”

(Of course, former players don’t have the smallest egos in the world. I’m guessing there may be more than one out there ready to object to a light-hearted, fanciful perspective.)

In my request letters to the players,” Gerald explained, “I express that I am a fan of baseball and the many interesting stars and personalities involved with the game. I ask him to please keep a drawing for himself, and to please sign and return the other. I include a self-addressed stamped envelope. I think it’s implied that I made the drawings myself. But maybe I should stress that more.

I get contacted from time to time from people wanting custom drawings. I will happily do any and all drawings people want me to do, whether it’s a favorite player or a family member. There’s a gentleman in Oklahoma who has me draw a lot of pro wrestlers, and he takes those to conventions to get signed. A nice lady in California has used my drawings in her book, Garlic Fries and Baseball, and website http://soundsofbaseball.com/sample-page/
There’s contact information on my website.”

Anyone wanting more information, or wanting to offer the artist some well-deserved applause, write to geraldscarpenter@yahoo.com

Meanwhile, think of what makes your letter stand out. We’re not all artists. However, we can paint pictures with words.

Hardball Passport Collects Ballpark Memories

Players get box scores. Why not fans, too?


Scorecards. Scorebook magazines. How do you keep track of all the memories of the games you’ve attended?

Peter Robert Casey has a winning game plan in Hardball Passport. He’s developed web applications for baseball and basketball fans to track their game-going adventures. 

Peter has one cool past as a sports fan. Peter held community management and strategy roles with Team Epiphany [on the Nike Basketball account], Five-Star Basketball, and the New York Knicks, and spent five years on the brick-and-mortar side of community building at Columbia University’s Teachers College. 

In 2009, he became the first media-credentialed microblogger in college basketball history when I received a press pass to cover St. John’s University men’s basketball team exclusively via my personal Twitter account. 

I asked him for more details on the inspiration that’s driven him to create such insightful, fun apps. He replied:

“Below are the answers to your great Qs and attached is a copy of a photo of me at the United Center. This past fall, I saw all 30 NBA teams play a home game in 30 straight nights. Story here: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/basketball/hoops-junkie-30-day-nba-arena-journey-hits-final-stop-article-1.1539956

30 baseball games in 30 days next?!?
I need to go back into the archives and find one of me at the ballpark.

Q: What memories do you savor most over the first-ever baseball game you attended?

While I can’t definitively say this was the first game I’ve ever attended, one of the earliest games I remember going to was a Yankees-Royals tilt in ‘88 or ‘89 at the old Yankees Stadium with my travel baseball team.

We sat in the cheap bleacher seats while Bo Jackson (K.C.) and Rickey Henderson (N.Y.) were playing left field, and we were yelling for their attention. It was a personal highlight when they turned around and acknowledged us.

The Yankees lost, but it was amazing to get to see one of my childhood heroes, Don Mattingly, play in person for the first time. And you can’t forget hearing Bob Sheppard’s iconic voice announcing his name when he came up to bat. I’ll never forget that.

Q: In your baseball fan career, what experience do you have with in-person or through-the-mail autographs?

A: One of my fondest memories as a kid was getting Lenny Dykstra’s autograph during a scheduled signing session at the local video rental store. Remember those?

I also met Rich “Goose” Gossage and James “Catfish” Hunter at the same baseball card show and got their signatures. Talk about a great pair of baseball nicknames. Unfortunately, I was never successful with yielding through-the-mail autographs, though I definitely purchased a player address book when I was eight or nine in the Kings Plaza Mall (Brooklyn, N.Y.).

Q: As you’ve perfected Hardball Passport, what kind of input or feedback have you gotten from current or former baseball players/staff?

A: Hardball Passport Travelers love to log their old games and get their personal stats: Total number of games attended, ballparks seen, best performances witnessed and teams’ records for games they were at. Also, the box scores are instrumental in enabling fans to relive their own memories of going to the ballpark with their friends or family. That kind of feedback makes me smile.

The iterative requests have also been consistent: Fans want to log Spring Training games, the World Baseball Classic and have even more personal stats: Total ERA when they’re at the ballpark, who’s hit the most home runs or had the most strikeouts. The feedback has been terrific and very helpful.

Q: How can this blog’s readers learn more and stay informed about Hardball Passport?

A: Readers can learn more about Hardball Passport’s benefits and features here: http://hardballpassport.com/aboutus, and can stay informed about updates by following us on Twitter: @hbpassport. But the best way to get addicted to Passport’s nostalgia is to create an account. It takes less than a minute. I hope they love it.”

I do. And I hope that readers take Peter’s cue to look deeper at the history they witness every time they head to the ballpark. It’s not just “my team lost.” There before you are 50 uniformed men living their dreams. Someday, some of them might be delighted to know you witnessed one of the best days of their lives.

That’s Baseball By The Letters!

What’s RIGHT With the Autograph Hobby?

Posted September 21st, 2012 by Tom Owens and filed in Rich Gossage

Cherish every great
signer!

The list seems to grow every year. I’m sure I’ve added on complaints. The highlights (or LOWlights) include:

Players who charge for autographs.

Players who don’t respond.

Players who scribble their names.


It’s time to make a new list. One that details what’s RIGHT with the hobby.

I believe that current and former players out there still love baseball as much as I do. It’s a common language we speak. Because of this bond, they’ll respond to my letters. I’m not going to count the misses, only the hits.

Dwell on what might not happen, and your fate is sealed. I remember a quote from Rich Gossage, saying that he’d get revved up when he could see the fear on the face of an opposing batter. Don’t be that batter — or that collector.

Believe that this hobby is dying and your letters will suffer for it.

Coming Monday: Memories of Roger Maris autographs from his #1 fan.