Hold Your Own Press Conference

Sure, you might not get the same
coverage Prince Fielder did. You never
know if you don’t try!

Don’t be a hobby victim.

If some bratty player sends you a rude response to your autograph request, go public.

The sports media is giving current and former players a free pass. “Journalists” have little idea about the autograph hobby. Many overwhelmed reporters will take a player’s claims about being exploited on eBay seriously.

Tell your side of the story. Offer scans of the evidence.
Watch how fast a team rep responds to put out your bad news fires.

Take to the Internet. Somebody will listen.

Somebody like me!

Coming Friday: You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll want popcorn. Hear from player-turned-screenwriter Billy Sample.

Move Over, Bull Durham! Outfielder Billy Sample Has Written His Own Baseball Movie

Hello, Hollywood!

“Coming soon to a theater near you…”

Oops! Try this:

Coming Friday: Former Ranger/Brave/Yankee Billy Sample shares the inside story for Reunion 108, a baseball movie he’s written and is producing. For more information, check out www.reunion108.com.

Worst Personalization Ever? It Could Happen To You, TTM Baseball Collectors!

No real collector
deserves this!

This cautionary tale comes courtesy of Canadian collector Tony O’Neill.

Before you glance at the picture and say, “But I don’t collect hockey,” read this one closely and be warned.

Tony replied after seeing the recent opinion piece by Anonymous about overzealous security guards hounding collectors at charity events. Tony added:

“On a similar note, sometimes this happens with mail requests. That is the reason for this email. I want to share with you what happened to a collector on a forum I regularly visit. Although I don’t know him personally, I have “talked” to him through the board and by email and have helped him out for photo requests for players. It is almost exclusively hockey requests, but as you realize, it’s the same as requesting any athlete’s autograph.

This collector genuinely loves his hobby, he makes his own custom photos with the team logo, and also collects multi-signed items like team photos, photos with more than one player featured etc. Recently he sent a request to a player on one of the minor league hockey teams. He sent two photos and received them back. The player, being Russian I assume, must have some preconceived ideas about TTM collectors. Or maybe the other players were giving him warnings about eBay dealers, I don’t know.

Is Baseball Next?

Regardless, as you can see from the scans from this collector, the photos were ruined. The collector was so mad and upset, he ended up throwing them in the garbage, but not before scanning them first luckily.

On the advice of other forum members we urged him to contact the team. He did and this was the response:

Hi _____

I am extremely sorry this happened.  Nail (Yakupov, the player) takes his fan mail home and then just brings it back sealed ready to send out.

I have addressed this with his representative.  I will make sure we get something sent back out to you.

Mark Glavin
Assistant General Manager

So hopefully this will work out for him, but it’s this stigma that we are all in it for the pittance we could get on eBay, really makes it disheartening sometimes. But the good thing is, for every bad apple there is a Bob Friend, Virgil Trucks, and in hockey Johnny Bower and Henri Richard who enjoy their mail and will throw in a few “extras.”

I’m grateful for Tony’s input. Realize this radical responder was just a minor leaguer, not an NHL star. Such stunts could occur at any level of pro baseball. Baseball players may copy these TTM temper tantrums soon. As Tony’s helpful tale illustrates, be ready to contact a team front office (or even a league commissioner) to complain. Silence will serve no one.

Coming Wednesday: The ultimate reply to bullying behavior from abusive autograph signers.

Best Inscription Ever?

Does this man look
like a comedian?

This smile comes courtesy of reader Kohei Nirengi.

Kohei lives in Japan. His return address didn’t escape the notice of former Mariners pitcher Stan Thomas.

Thomas included a short note with his autograph:

Send sushi!

Kohei laughed, by the way.

Coming Tuesday: Worst inscription ever?

Calling Judge Judy: Are Baseball Autograph Collectors Guilty Until They’re Proven Innocent?

It’s time for this blog’s first-ever guest column.


I was contacted by someone who wanted to remain anonymous. They didn’t want their name in the hobby, or the Internet, to distract from their message.

I agreed with their feelings. Do you?


The next time you enter a charity celebrity event, be ready for the unfamiliar feeling of the attention being focused on your every move. While the cameras may go off as your favorite athlete enters the room, rest assured multiple people are scrutinizing your actions well before you approach with a pen in hand.

The war is on against the common autograph seeker in the eyes of event organizers and security personnel. Show up to the door of an event brandishing more than a program or a scorecard, and you are automatically labeled a dealer who is out to ruin their celebrity event by asking for, you guessed it, a signature!

Never mind that you paid a few hundred dollars to attend, or that the names of the athletes were prominently advertised to get you to purchase a ticket; the moment you pull out a card, photo, or ball during the cocktail hour, you have now become the target of the overzealous security guards looking to protect these players from the ever-so-harmful “Sharpie brigade.”

Ever since the collecting boom of the 1980s, aficionados have been increasingly cautious in preserving their memorabilia and the items they choose to get signed. Nowadays, asking for a signature on the sweet spot is no longer reserved for the hardcore collector; the average fan knows to ask for it, too. They carry neatly arranged books of trading cards and photos, looking to preserve their signatures on items of their choice. 

A majority of the players are happy to oblige, knowing that one of the reasons people paid to be there was to get their signature. When informed, most of the players find it ridiculous that security would go out of their way to prevent patrons who purchased an expensive ticket to restrict them from bringing in some personal items to be signed. Most attendees want to get their one or two items signed, possibly pose for a picture, give their thanks, and move on.

Within the last few years, security has been increasingly confrontational, proudly remarking that they are keeping the dealers out of these events by not allowing patrons to bring in personal items. Expensive charity events that were once friendly to autograph collectors have been spoiled by the uniformed personnel trying to throw their weight around. Part of the reason the people pay to support the charity is to have the experience of getting their desired mementos signed by the advertised special guests.

One would be remiss if they didn’t acknowledge that these are private events and the organizers are free to make their own decisions on what is permissible. Often, security is making these decisions on their own whims because they don’t like collectors. Buying a $300 ticket doesn’t guarantee you the right to turn it in to your own personal card show, but organizers and security are unfairly painting everyone with the same brush.

When an event advertises dozens of former professional athletes to attend, do they really think people are only going to try to get the program signed? Excited supporters have enjoyed building their collections over a number of years and when one pulls out a few common cards of a player from 20-30 years ago; people need to realize these cards were produced in massive quantities, held on to by multitudes and are readily available.

Are there dealers that attend these events, hoping to track down a signature of a Hall of Famer or a reclusive non-signer?Yes. Are people asking for nine cards to be signed at once at a public event bring attention to themselves? Yes. Is everyone that looks organized or eager to get a signature trying to sell their wares? No.

This aura of suspicion has filtered down to public in-store appearances, where the owners insist on one getting only the promotional item signed, again in their paranoia to ward off potential dealers that they think are going to profit mightily from a signed card one day. Do yourself a favor and check the completed sales price of a signed, in-person baseball card of a living player. I’m sure that $2.79 that one could possibly get from a signed card is going to look to autograph collecting as a full-time job.

These misrepresented collectors are the true baseball fans, the ones that love the game, the ones whose devotion is so strong, they spent their hard-earned money on the jerseys, baseball cards, photos and balls, all from which MLB and the MLBPA have profited. Don’t lump them in with the dealers because they collect; this is part of the culture of baseball that has developed long before Topps encouraged one to “Own the game.”
I second this emotion. You will face the “us versus them” mentality when you seek an in-person signature this year. I’m sure of it. Not from the signer, but from workers wanting to be more important than they are. Being able to demonize an innocent hobbyist is an easy route to looking dynamic. In the eyes of many, the best way to be a hero is to invent an enemy.

Sadly, we’re getting lumped into the latter category.

Is it time for “I’m a collector, not a dealer!” T-shirts?

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