Hall of Fame Manager Dick Williams Shared A Laugh And Autograph With Me!

BOO! Scary airbrushing!
The facsimile autograph
looks haunted:

Happy Halloween!

Today is about how much you get, right? Or, how much you give? As in, so many kids trick-or-treated here, there’s no candy left for me!

Here’s another take on giving and getting.

I’ll never forget sitting on the couch with my dad, watching the Oakland-Cincinnati World Series. He fell off the couch laughing his a– off (yes, it’s hard to sit without one of those!) when Johnny Bench fell for the fake intentional walk.

I wrote to Dick Williams long before he was a Hall of Famer, long before he charged for autographs. I never asked for an autograph. I just wanted him to have another perspective on the classic moment.

I related my dad’s comments. I thanked him for making my dad laugh.

Dick sent back an Expos postcard of himself, thanking ME for a great story. He added a note that Rollie Fingers later told him he hadn’t seen that play work since Little League!

As I watched this World Series with my wife, she saw a close-up of Tim Lincecum.

“He looks like a sad Pee-wee Herman before he pitches.”

As oh-so-dramatic Joe Buck recounted upcoming Giants batters, my wife asked for a clarification.

“His name is Hunter Pence? I thought Joe Buck called him UNDERPANTS.”

Future letters? Hmmm…

All I know is that humor can make a difference!

Publishers Clearing House Helps Hobbyists? Welcome to Creative Envelopes 101

Learn from these masterful marketers!

Sorry, I don’t have any balloons or giant cardboard checks to share.

I do have a bit of wisdom that might help your collection.

PCH does a masterful job of sending two mailings for one stamp.

In other words, look carefully at the envelope. Your address is easy to see.
(That’s important as we try to hobby-ize their secrets.)

The front of the envelope has a teaser, blurb or headline. Same for the back.

I’ve noted before in this blog that I think that address label icons alone might compel a potential signer to open your envelope. You might appeal to their patriotism, school spirit or love of the outdoors.

I read on www.sportscollectors.net that, before Phil Niekro became a cottage industry signer-for-pay, he’d RTS (Return to Sender) most envelopes. If a collector noted that they were including a fish story or a picture of their catch, their fan letter would get through.

Doodle a portrait of the player (or yourself) on the envelope. Add their nickname or a subtitle after their name (like Mr. Tom Owens, The Little Blogger That Could!). The envelope back is your empty canvas. If the postal carrier, clubhouse attendant or spouse comments to the signer-to-be, you’re halfway there.

Sure, make sure the address and ZIP code is visible. After that, it’s time to stand out from the pile. I’ve speculated before that old greeting card envelopes get you in the short stack of fan mail.

Years ago, I worked in an office. A co-worker was in the hospital. My get-well card envelope was spotted. “Hey, I’d sign that, too.” Sad faces greeted the news that it was too late, the envelope was licked.

Suddenly, inspiration came. I sliced open the envelope, passed the card around and grabbed the tape. I wrote on the outside: “I had to re-seal the envelope. Someone put in money, then wanted it back!”

My co-worker returned a new man. He didn’t say anything about the card. “Gawd! The nurses passed that envelope around. The doctors wanted to see it. They laughed themselves sick — in a hospital!”

I’m sure he would have signed all the autographs I wanted.

Coming Wednesday: Would funny letters bring more autographs?

Mega-Collection Sold To Aid An Ill Daughter: What Remains For An Autograph Collector?

The media has got it wrong again.

Ken Kallin has a 120,000-piece autograph collection being auctioned to raise money for an ill daughter. The items feature great signatures from baseball, entertainment and other realms of history. The collector began his quest in 1980.

How much is it worth?

How much will it bring?

Why isn’t anyone asking: how did you get the autographs? How much fun was it? Kallin may not have the frames, boxes and binders he once did. No one can take the memories from him, however.

Real collectors love the journey as much as the final destination.

Coming Monday: Envelope insights!

Questions Left By Brave Dave May

The facsimile autograph
might be all you ever see!

Dave May, the player traded to Atlanta for Hank Aaron, has died at age 68.

Son Derrick May shared the news on Facebook. With the obituary, fans learn that the elder May had been suffering from cancer and diabetes. It seems diabetes was responsible for May losing a leg.

Dave May was far from the greatest signer in autograph history. According to www.sportscollectors.net, just six of 20 TTM attempts recorded since 2001 were successful. Most of those happened when fees were enclosed.

Collectors forget that age and illness can stop or hinder even the best autograph signers. May’s son shared that his dad had a 40-year friendship with Johnny Briggs. Look up Briggs and you’ll see that he has a hard-line autograph policy. Your cards are impounded, and a price list is returned. Some collectors have called it a ransom note. When one retiree has luck with such high-pressure moneymaking tactics, it’s a wonder that the stunt doesn’t spread to more retired teammates and other baseball friends. I’d call this the “Eddie Haskell” effect.

I never tried May. If I had one more chance today, I think I’d write him about Derrick. I think some former players tire of hearing their stats recited. Who ever tires of being a proud dad?

Coming Friday: Do envelopes make a difference?

Can FOREVER Stamps Help TTM Autograph Collectors In Other Countries Save Money, Too?

It’s not Halloween yet, so I do not want to be a scary character. You know, a grim reaper who says, “BOO! Got you by the wallet.” See for yourself in this USPS news release how rates will go up in January, 2013.

Here’s a bit of GOOD postal news, though. I wanted some specifics, and got a nice e-mail from the USPS website help desk.

“I understand that you would like to know if your friend would benefit from a FOREVER stamp. I am more than happy to assist you!

Here is some information about Forever Stamps:

The Forever Stamp is a special Nondenominational stamp that is issued to save customers time and money, especially when First-Class Mail prices are changing. The Forever Stamp always represents a 1 ounce First-Class Mail price. Therefore, when a customer buys a Forever Stamp, they pay the current First-Class Mail 1 ounce price and it is always worth the First-Class Mail 1 ounce price no matter how many times the price of the stamp changes in the future. Once purchased, these stamps can be used indefinitely (hence the term Forever Stamp).

Forever Stamps are currently being sold for $0.45.

You can use Forever Stamps for international mail, but since all international prices are higher than domestic prices, customers will need to attach additional postage. The value of the Forever Stamp is the domestic First-Class Mail letter price in effect on the day of use.

I hope you find this information helpful!

Tom, I was more than happy to give you information on Forever Stamps. Please do not hesitate to contact us in the future should you have any more questions or concerns.

Thank you for choosing the United States Postal Service for your mailing and shipping needs. We appreciate your business.

Have a great day!

Kindest Regards,


Translated? Let’s look at the potential that my friend Kohei from Japan faces. Right now, his SASE needs $1.05 for international mail. Of course, slowpoke signers may not respond before Jan. 27. His choices?

A) Use currently-available $1.05 stamp. Be prepared to pay the extra nickel owed the USPS if a reply is tardy.
B) Up the stampage to $1.10 now.
C) Use two FOREVER stamps with 15 cents postage. (Post Jan. 27 value would be 92 cents + 15 = $1.07.) If a signer responds in February or later, Kohei would owe three cents.
D) Use three FOREVER stamps. Be covered for the next few increases?

UPDATE: What’s the best choice? Check out the comments below. You’ll see my vote. What’s yours?

Coming Wednesday: Remembering Dave May.

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