Kerry Robinson Reminds: Ask Carefully

Robinson has kept
his sig sweet.

As I reflect on 2011, I think I might have found a trend. I’m suffering from a malady, a syndrome.

Let’s call the problem “Collectors Who Try Too Hard.”

Why do some retired players choose to respond? Perhaps, I’ve rekindled too many memories for them.

I’ve wanted to write to former Cardinals outfielder Kerry Robinson.

He worked as a scout for the organization in 2011.

Naturally, Cardinals fans would think that every former Redbird would love the question, “What are your memories of playing for future Hall of Fame manager Tony LaRussa?”

Read about Robinson in the 2005 book Three Nights in August, by Buzz Bissinger. Actually, LaRussa co-authors the book, in that he feeds Bissinger juicy tidbits about the team, providing unheard-of access to team meetings and other insider reflections.

LaRussa turns Robinson into a favorite target, a catch-all for complaints. Everything Robinson does peeves the skipper.

Good hobby friend Rich Hanson told of seeing Robinson at a Cardinals Caravan winter tour stop. Fans wanted the former player to tell about playing for LaRussa.

“No comment,” he told listeners.

The moral? Just because everyone else adores a manager, batterymate or superstar teammate doesn’t mean that the person reading your letter will.

(Merry Christmas, everybody!)

Coming Monday: Who’s on Tom’s last “10 Most Wanted” list of 2011?

SportsCollectors.Net – The Perfect Hobby Gift

A hobby buddy. Yourself. Give someone the gift of a membership to http://www.sportscollectors.net/.

Aside from more postage stamps, it’s the best $14.95 purchase a collector can make.

I had a question from a blog reader. A good question.” Is it worth it?”

Absolutely!

Before I offer any other details, note that I am not an affiliate. I’m not getting a penny if you join. Doesn’t matter. This advice is my Christmas gift to you.

Let’s take Steve Sax. Please, someone should!

(Just kidding, Rookies of the Years.)

Well, anyone who belonged to SCN would have seen that Sax got “autograph happy” in early 2011. You’d see under “Latest Sigs By Mail” results posted by other members. Likewise, all past results are tabulated. Just search the site to see his signing history.

I’ve said many times how helpful Harvey Meiselman’s address list is, along with the quarterly updates he sends to customers.

However, three months may be too long to get word of some tough name who’s on a signing spree. The message board has many categories. If a collector spots an obituary of ANY retired player, word spreads.
The same instant updates happen for invalid or updated addresses. In fact, in many cases, collectors will share the exact address they used to gain a success.

The “about” page of the site details other helpful hobby data found within.

So many readers of this blog are fellow SCN members. SCN has 6,267 premium (dues-paying) members. I was moved by the a post for the holiday season. Members can post their trade and want lists. One member suggested filling want lists as GIFTS, not as parts of a transaction. Strangers giving autographs to each other!

There’s giving on the site each day. Collectors with decades of experience answer posted questions daily.

There’s so many great people in this hobby I’ve yet to encounter. SportsCollectors.Net has been a major resource for me in telling readers about this blog when it first launched. Tips from SCNers have helped me harvest the best baseball tales for you. I’ve saved time, money and frustration in knowing who’s answering fan mail, all through this great autograph resource.

I’ve belonged for years. I hope you’ll join the SCN team, too. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

Coming Friday: My best letter-writing advice of the year? My gift to you.

Collectors Matter to Ed Herrmann

How popular was Herrmann with
the ChiSox? I found this art on
wwwmearsonlineauctions.com
this 1972. An estimated 3,000
prints were made and sold!

I wrote about Ed Herrmann, the 1970s backstop who’s trying to help his injured son with medical bills, earlier this month.

I received this hopeful e-mail from the all-star catcher this morning. He wrote:

“Mike Baker shared your blog with me and your note for fans to send donations with autograph requests.  It is a wonderful Christmas surprise each time I receive a donation in the mail.  I can’t thank you enough for sharing this information.  It is a long, long road for my son Jim’s recovery and every dollar is a huge help to him and his family.

Thank you again for your kindness and generosity.
Merry Christmas.

Ed “Hoggy” Herrmann”

This is the season of miracles. Even if you have his autograph, send a thank-you. Send some hope. Money is only one way of helping. Share Jim Herrmann’s story with someone else.

Ed Herrmann
13153 Tobiasson Rd
Poway, CA 92064

I told Ed Herrmann, “I’m sure many people have told you what a good player you were. Let me tell you that I think you’re a good Dad.”

Baseball is only one way of becoming an all-star.

(Thanks to collector and SCN member Mike Baker for his aid with this story!)

Coming Thursday: Why is a membership in www.sportscollectors.net the best holiday gift a hobbyist could imagine?

Goodbye, Steve Sax

Don’t like the facsimile?
The real one’ll cost you!

No, this isn’t an obituary.

However, hobbyists might be better off thinking that Steve Sax is dead and gone.

As search engines post their “most searched topics of 2011,” the popular http://www.sportscollectors.net/ has been buzzing over “No More Free Steve Sax Autographs.” This news post on the website message board brought 136 posts and nearly 3,900 views.

The “successes” section of the site noted that Sax had signed 123 of 264 recorded requests, a 46 percent success rate.

That number is bound to plummet. Sax has entered into a deal with a fan mail handler. It costs $20 for one signed card now.

Angry responses flew on the hobby website. Just one collector pointed out that, in the past year, Sax was sending solicitations with autographs, noting that he could help collectors with an investment opportunity to “expand your income base.”

The man who contracted to handle Sax autograph requests said that Sax made a deal with him. Sax, despite sending out notes for collectors who want to be investment customers to contact his secretary, claimed that he was unable to handle the number of letters? Ironically, in a web search, I found that Sax has a website touting his skills as a motivational speaker.

My advice? Let Steve Sax go. Ignore the hobby dealer who’s handling the mail. Spend the $20 on writing to 22 more retired players. More retirees will follow Sax’s path. Write now.

Why Didn’t He Answer My Fan Mail?

The facsimile autograph is the
closest most collectors
have been to a Fick sig.

Sometimes, collectors may never know why they didn’t get an autograph reply.

Or, clues might not appear for years.

This “comeback” story about Robert Fick is a feel-good feature, for a couple of reasons.

First, it’s nice to think that someone can be happy again after overcoming alcoholism.

Secondly, Fick remained one of the most consistent non-signers of the past decade.

Why didn’t your letter get an answer? Hmmm…

It will be fascinating to see if four years of sobriety gives Fick a different outlook on fans and collectors.

(Thanks to Frank Barning for the Fick link. Frank, famed from his days as Baseball Hobby News, is writing a fun “Barnstorming” blog that spotlights key chapters in hobby history.)

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