How Would Simon Cowell Judge You? Discover The ‘X Factor’ In Your Baseball Letters

Imagine a show in which collectors
go before a panel of non-signers.
They bring their cards and
memorabilia, pleading for signatures.
The winner gets the autographs!

Occasionally, I refuse to help a fellow collector. I’m declining what seems like an innocent request.

“What kind of letter do you write?”

I’ve never furnished a complete text, in fear that a hobby newbie might use the entire letter.

I don’t think I own any collecting trade secrets. My worry is that any former player who saved my letter would turn cynical quickly, after seeing my exact words reappear day after day in their mailbox.

There are too many half-hearted signers out there, men who’d like to find an excuse not to give an autograph to you — or anyone else like you.

Imagine going before Simon Cowell with your letter. Don’t hold back. Do your best to make him like your writing.


1. Be personal. Every former player is different. Every letter should be, too.

2. Say WHY. Not why you want AN autograph. Make the case for why you want THEIR signature.

3. Be YOU. Learn from others, but don’t copy them. As one crusty high school English teacher warned us, “A whiff of the Cliff (Notes) and you’re dead.” He wanted a reason to flunk students — a lack of honesty and originality was a favorite accusation. Some baseball notables want a reason to flunk your letter, too.

Coming Wednesday: Twins pitcher Dave Boswell considers some baseball “what-if’s.”

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