Getting Your SASE Forwarded?

The USPS has been kind
through the years delivering
my SASEs missing postage.
However, if moving, I want
to know I’ve done everything
to keep the autograph SAFE!

One hopeful bit of recent news on centered around former Seattle Mariner Alvin Davis. Collectors who wrote to the former first baseman in 2008 were seeing autograph results materialize.

I’ve been pondering how to contact a former player who takes YEARS to respond.

There’s a strong possibility I could be living in a different state in 2013. The U.S. Postal Service forwards for only six months?
My only solution has been to include in the return address section of my SASE the address of my parents. I’m sure they’ll be rooted to the same spot.
Readers, is there a better way? I’ll be grateful to share any other ideas.

Coming Wednesday: Antiques Roadshow, Part 2

New Harmon Killebrew Book Worthwhile

I grabbed Harmon Killebrew: Ultimate Slugger (by Steve Aschburner, Triumph Books) to relive my childhood.

I grew up in Central Iowa. I remember WHO Radio being a Twins station. Families felt safe going to the Twin Cities. They weren’t scary cities like Chicago or St. Louis, but a place where your cousins lived and Met Stadium bordered farm fields.

This 2012 Killebrew book is bittersweet, in that the author confesses that he wishes he could have written a first-person “as told to.” Instead, the book is a catch-up effort after the Hall of Famer’s 2011 death.

Nevertheless, talented researcher Aschburner makes the most of the opportunity, even gleaning some nuggets of special meaning to autograph collectors. Such as:

In 1985, Killebrew’s hometown of Payette, Idaho, had two business boosters who imagined painting red stitches on the white high school gym dome, then adding a huge facsimile Killebrew autograph. The plan was scuttled only when students protested giving priority to only one former resident.

In a 1959 game, Killebrew exchanged autographed baseballs with President Dwight Eisenhowever. He claimed the ball was for grandson David. When Killebrew met David in 1970, he told the slugger how he had kept the signed ball all those years.

Overheard behind the Metrodome batting cage? Killebrew to Joe Mauer: “Your swing is perfect Joe. Now work on that autograph.”

Autographs may have played a role in Killebrew’s retirement. Aschburner recounts a Killebrew tale during his final year, 1975. He signed baseballs for two kids at Anaheim Stadium. He overheard the kids discussing the autograph.

“Well, is he any good?”

“He used to be.”

Killebrew concluded, “I mean, kids tell it like it is, and he was right. It was time for me to quit.”

Avid Twins fans will love the book most. Ashburner slows down the narrative, piling on details about other Twins and the team’s history. Someone tuning in strictly for Killebrew tales may get impatient.
As editor, I would have shaved content.

Of course, dedicated Twins-atics might protest. Where else will you get a comprehensive rundown of every word Jim Bouton wrote about Killebrew in Ball Four? Or, what all got said during Killebrew’s two appearances on the David Letterman show?

All in all, Ultimate Slugger fills a void in Hall of Famer history. If you remember this “Killer” (autograph or not) and smile, you’ll want this on your reading list.

Coming Monday: a challenge for on-the-move TTM collectors.

Does ‘Antiques Roadshow’ Hurt Our Hobby?

I never thought I’d see a dark side to this entertaining PBS show that seems to be shown nightly on our nearest station.

Happy stories. Happy people.

However, I think the show’s “value” virus has afflicted too many collectors.

One of the happiest parts of this blog has been spotlighting fellow collectors. Collectors who build collections around their own interests, not a price guide.
I’ve been in contact with more than one collector who is afraid to be profiled. They think I want to write about their net worth, not their hobby specialty.

“I don’t want to discuss the size of my collection or the value of my best autographs.” Then, they add that they fear for the safety of their collection and their family.

The stories I seek are the “What is it?” and
“How did you get it? along with WHY?
I don’t do values. Watch these guys
for a “How much???”

I am not ANTIQUES ROADSHOW. I am not an appraiser.

Here’s my brand of appraising. Your autographs are worth as much, or as little, as you care about them. Or, for someone with visions of dollar signs and sugar plums dancing in their heads, the autograph could be worth as much as the next guy will pay.

Ages ago, I received a phone call that interrupted my dinner. (No, it wasn’t a political candidate…)

“I saw your name in Sports Collectors Digest,” the caller began. “You gotta help me.”

Sigh. Yes?

“I want to know how much a Ty Cobb autographed baseball is worth.”

Looking back at my lukewarm-plate, I blurted a fair figure.

“Wait. That can’t be.”
I began to say how I based my estimate range on several factors. He interrupted.
“I paid $300 more than that. My wife’s gonna kill me.”
I paused, stared at the ceiling, then lied — for a good cause.

“Tell her it’s a good price…but do your homework next time, okay? My dinner’s cold. Good luck.”

Coming Friday: a Harmon Killebrew biography, plus the world’s biggest autograph?

Pirate Dick Groat Still Loves Baseball

Sixty years later, expect the
same autograph — maybe
even more ornate than in 1952!

I’ve” been asking some of the greatest autograph signers in hobby history why they do it.

I thank them. Then, I ask why they’ve been so kind for so long.

Pittsburgh Pirates fans will be the first to understand the short, sincere reply of Dick Groat:

“Love of the ‘game’

Greatest Life in the World

Dick Groat
1960 N.L. MVP

You may not get a one-page letter back from the steady shortstop. You will get fast, crisp signatures, along with the acknowledgement that you’re part of the same team. HIS team. The team that believes in baseball.

Coming Wednesday: How Antiques Roadshow hurts our hobby.

Baseball Fantography Book Dazzles

We are not alone!

Did you whip out your pocket camera (or cel phone) to try to capture a single image from your last trip to the ball game? It’s been happening for years.

Baseball Fantography: A Celebration in Snapshots and Stories from the Fans (Abrams Image, $19.95)  proves it. Author Andy Strasberg began, sharing informal pictures from his days as a baseball fan, then executive.

He’s shared what others have shared with him in book form. Pictures of long-gone ballparks. Snaps of superstars being human — signing autographs, relaxing at spring training — not posing from the professional photographers.

The fans have provided a sentence or three in context, captioning their fascinating flashes of baseball history. Of course, notable photo contributors can be found, such as Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith.

I was dazzled by the comments from baseball photographer Doug McWilliams. You’ll love the look of Strasberg photographing McWilliams photographing players for Topps in the 1970s. McWilliams traces his beginnings back to attending PCL games to make his own “photo cards.” He’d return with photographs of players, getting autographs on his creations. Sound familiar?

My only quibble about the book is its size. The book measures approximately 7-by-9. I wanted the typeface larger and the photos bigger. I’d love a coffee-table edition of this. Scrapbook sized!

Most of all, I want more photos. I’m sure I’m not alone. A second volume has to come soon. Andy Strasberg has a winning idea. Make some space on your bookshelves.

Coming Monday: a few words from Pirates legend Dick Groat.