Beyond Steve Sax: Paying For Autographs

Posted January 9th, 2012 by Tom Owens and filed in Chris Potter, Nick Diunte, Steve Sax,

Chris Potter (left) and Steve Sax
(Photo courtesy of Chris Potter Sports)

 Thanks to Nick Diunte for sharing a recent fine feature on his “happening” blog, Nick is an all-star journalist, someone with a deep appreciation of baseball and all things collectible. A kindred spirit!

Nick wrote about Chris Potter, the new intermediary handling fan mail for Steve Sax. Potter’s business has a website. Most encouraging is his motto: “The Collector’s Friend.”

In my original feature about Sax choosing to stop signing autographs by mail for free, I mentioned Potter’s role only in passing. Potter is seeing that unsigned cards get returned with a price list. When some ex-players stop signing, they may trash all their mail.

As Nick points out, Potter’s involvement can benefit needy retirees, such as 95-year-old Danny Litwhiler. This man, unlike Sax, never raked in millions during his career.

Last week, I mentioned that former Negro Leaguer Louis Clarizio Jr. would sign for pay. Using an autograph as a way to help someone in need can make sense, especially for someone with a one-year career who played mainly for the love of the game.

However, I can’t help missing the GIFT aspect of the autograph, the service of signing. Add money, and the personal interaction disappears. It’s like purchasing a loaf of bread at the supermarket. The humanity, the idea of one baker making a treat just for you, is replaced. The autograph is now an assembly-line product, something that anyone can own, not a reward for your captivating letter.

In fact, I can’t help but feel sad for the letter writers who try to send memories to a former player like Sax. These days, your cash matters more than your words to many retirees.

Coming Tuesday: Collecting Japanese baseball autographs

One Response to “Beyond Steve Sax: Paying For Autographs”

  1. Spiegel83 says:

    Good point. I have been having a great time handwriting letters to past players that I watched as a kid. I mention the memories and love that I got from watching them play. Money for a charity and getting an auto is okay. Money just for two seconds of there time is B.S. to me.

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