Collecting Autographs in Afghanistan: Let’s Send The U.S. Marines Some Hobby Help

Want to help a deployed autograph collector? Here’s an update from U.S. Marine Tony Moore:

“My address over here is:

Tony Moore
APO AE 09365

I actually have met one other person who works in a different section over here who is interested in sports autographs. He wrote to the Washington Redskins and they sent him a package with a letter and a wide receiver practice ball, which is pretty cool. He collects McFarlane figures and has some that have been autographed. I have given him a couple websites like to look at and see if it might be something that he wants to start doing. I will be sure to spread the cards around.

Obviously there are not a lot of things necessary to be able to conduct TTM graphing. Any kind of cards and/or different sports would be fine. Baby powder will actually serve two purposes over here. One for the prepping of cards and the other for personal use. It gets up to about 100 in the summer and then can get quite cold in the winter where I am at. Envelopes that are the peel and stick kind would be great. Most of the envelopes that we have are the lickable kind and as every TTM grapher knows, they leave a bad taste after a while. Stamps are not a real big deal over here. The great thing is that it does not require a stamp on a letter sized envelope to mail it back to the states. We can mail them out for free. You just have to provide the one stamp on the SASE that you enclose with the card. So that helps a lot by allowing us to send double the requests for a bout the same amount of money.

Well thanks for the story. I will continue to look for anyone else who may be an autograph collector or card collector in general.”

Thank you, Tony. Thank you for serving our country. And, thank you for reminding us what a great hobby this is!

Deployed In Afghanistan: One U.S. Marine Keeps Collecting Autographs By Mail

One “home” team I’ll always cheer!

We’ve got it easy as collectors. Stamps, paper, envelopes, addresses? No problem.

But what if you had an unusual address? What if cards and office supplies weren’t just a shopping trip minutes from home? I found one such collector, inspirational U.S. Marine Tony Moore. He writes…

“I don’t see a problem with you writing about me on your blog. I have read some of your bloggings. I am currently deployed to Afghanistan. Since 2005 I have deployed three times to Iraq, once on the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) (I was on the USS Mesa Verde), and now Afghanistan.

I collected cards as a child but got rid of all but my Nolan Ryan collection when I joined the Marine Corps. I started collecting again in 2006 after returning from my first deployment. I’m not sure why, but it may have had to do with the birth of my first child, Nathan, and the fact that I wanted something that I could pass on once he got older. I now have two boys, 5 and 2, so I guess I will have to split my collection between them. I started collecting autographs of athletes and celebrities at this same time. So far I have sent right at 1000 baseball requests out and about 500 requests to celebrities and other athletes. I have about a 40% return rate but that is rising as I have learned to research signing habits first.

My special interests are the art type cards such as Allen & Ginter and Goodwin Champions. There is no prep work needed on the cards and they include other aspects of the collecting world besides just the big four sports. Although I have not sent any yet from out here, I will be very soon. I was concerned in the past about keeping the cards in good condition through the mail from here. I have gathered all of my “tools” already. I have been sent some cards by members of and also ordered some from, bought the envelopes and stamps, and am now just starting to write the letters to whom I am going to send. One of the first cards I will be sending is a Goodwin Champions Whitey Ford card of him in his military uniform. Hopefully he will be kind enough to sign for free as it is very hard to get cash to include as a donation over here. We use debit cards and cash cards here. I am having the returns sent to my house because I do not want any to get lost in the mail, so we will have to wait to see what my success rate is.

As far as what fellow collectors could for other collectors who are deployed. They could always send us some cards or envelopes. I have had a couple people send me 3 or 4 packs which is just enough to help the craving. The biggest thing is not to forget that we are still out here doing our jobs and putting our lives on the line. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been quite taxing on our military, our families and our country and sometimes people tend to forget that. So if you see a service member in uniform or know of one, let them know that you appreciate the sacrifices that they have made. It still feels good to hear it every now and then.


I’ll be finding out more about how to get Tony and his fellow Marines some hobby care packages. I’ll share the how-to details here. They’re giving us their very best. In return, these all-star Americans deserve nothing less.

One-stop Research For A Team’s Signers, All Thanks To

Spotted on This
gem sold for $119. Roster pennants were never big
enough to credit every guy who helped that

Yes, historical team rosters exist on many websites. Baseball Almanac is a superb example.

But who’s still alive from that past team? Who still answers fan mail?

Incredibly, has all the answers, all in one place.

Become a premium member for $14.99 for one year. This entitles you to the greatest research tools on the website, including the team rosters.

I looked up the 1968 Tigers under “team rosters.” There was a list of 34 names, 11 of which are deceased. Compiling the member experiences of who signs and who doesn’t, the results page is impressive.

I found the names of eight former Tigers who’ve answered at least 90 percent of fan mail requests:

Dave Campbell
Elroy Face
Tom Matchick
Daryl Patterson
Jim Price
Dennis Ribant
Dick Tracewski
Jon Warden

How good are these guys? Try 9 out of 10 times good!

Think about it. Paper, ink, envelope, stamps (not to mention those who include a card or item to be autographed) — it’s easy to think that a request is worth a dollar, even without factoring in the cost of your time and labor.

In no time, $14.99 membership fee will pay for itself. For team collectors, nothing beats Try it!

Baseball Almanac Website Continues As Premiere Online Autograph Museum

The website has great examples
of autographs: Check out
the page of the recently-deceased
hurler here:

 It’s no secret that I feel one of the best websites around is Baseball Almanac.

I first wrote about this treasure trove of baseball info riches in 2010. Founder and webmaster Sean Holtz kindly provided a fun update on his 2011 discoveries. Sean writes:

“My collection has been doing great. In the past year I’ve grown from just below 7,000 different signed cards to my current total of 7,701. Most are new players, rookies from the past few years, but there are probably 50-75 deceased players.

My way of collecting has changed a lot over the years. Now I use eBay to buy as many certified signature cards as possible. Especially the cheap cards for less than popular players that I can get for $1 to $3 – I love them. Even if they are not in a uniform, or in a minor league uniform, or one with no markings. I also deal with two hard core collectors that share their duplicates with me. One lives in New York, the other in Chicago, both are season ticket holders so they get a lot of current players for me as well. One is like me and trying to get one card from every player possible, he lets me know when a PSA or JSA card from a deceased player appears on eBay that I don’t need (which he doesn’t buy first himself). I’m good with that.

Former players have sent about 8 or 9 different signatures. Family members (wives, children) probably another 5 or 6. So they are nice about helping and it still feels really nice and unexpected to receive them directly from the player or family. No others were personalized though, at least not via cards.”

Autographs as free gifts? Unsolicited? Sean’s good fortune comes down to one huge difference.

Some collectors write letters that say they’d appreciate that guy’s signature.

Meanwhile, by Sean’s ACTIONS, he shows that he appreciates said GUY.

As I suggested in an earlier post, Baseball Almanac is a great venue for getting a free, first look at an authentic autograph. Such comparisons are a great, fast help.

Another fascinating element on Baseball Almanac is Sean’s growing database of salaries. Talking with strangers about sex, politics or religion is tricky. The fourth taboo subject is money. Sean feels otherwise. He says:

“The details for the salaries is courtesy of Google. Once they opened Google Books and added Baseball Digest, Ebony, countless newspapers, books, and made them all searchable it has been a huge help. I’ll go there to source a quote and dig for salaries every time I upgrade a player. Many times I’ve found nothing. Many times I’ve found estimates (which I don’t use) and many times I’ve found a lot more data than I had hoped for which I think is a great addition.

If people writing players wanted to ask they should be specific. If they simply wrote can you tell me about your contracts or something general I doubt they would get much of a response. If they asked, please tell me about your first major league contract – how did you feel, where did you sign it, do you remember how much it was for, did it include a signing bonus, were you nervous – and things like that I can almost guarantee they’d get some good responses.”

I’m taking Sean’s suggestions to heart. History is escaping us as retirees pass away. The irony at looking at those bargain prices from past contracts is that so many of these baseball-loving men thought ANY money was a jackpot. To be paid ANYTHING to play the game they loved? For them, a dream come true.

Ty Cobb Disses Babe Ruth in Letter

Did Upper Deck know that Cobb would
want top billing against Ruth?

I troll the Internet weekly, seeking examples of vintage baseball correspondence. I find few.

Is that because letters from baseball players aren’t collectible? Hardly. I feel it stems from a truly small supply. Few letters survived.

I was tickled to see a Ty Cobb letter to a licensing agent. Cobb was concerned about the acclaim Babe Ruth received. Even after he retired from baseball, Cobb’s ego still competed.

Cheers to Nate Sanders Autographs for showcasing this jewel of baseball history. Bidding had topped $3,000 the last time I checked. The moral? Letters matter. And not just for historians. Price guides may not exist for one-of-a-kind finds, but that doesn’t mean hobbyists wouldn’t welcome such revelations in their own collections.