Autograph Collectors: Asking is Free

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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