TTM Signers Charging $100 Fees

Fee-charging autograph signers haven’t hijacked this hobby…yet.

I counted five pages of prices in Harvey Meiselman’s 2013 Baseball Address List.

Bargains remain. Sid Bream, Dana Kiecker and Reggie Cleveland ask just one dollar per card autograph.

The top fees are $100 per autograph from two Hall of Famers, Yogi Berra and Bob Allen.

Oops. Wait a second. Hmmm…

Bob Allen. I looked him up.

Debut 1961 Cleveland Indians. Reliever for five seasons. Career 7-12, 4.11 ERA.

Wait! The page has a Bob Allen autographed card. Was that a $100 acquisition, too?

I contacted Sean Holtz, the talented founder, researcher and webmaster for the site. He replied:

As for Allen his signature is about 25 years old. Can’t remember exactly the year. I live in Florida, have my whole life, even went to middle school right next door to where the Expos did their Spring Training. Braves too. I would get countless signatures with all my friends. We would then trade. So I’d use a clipboard, put 3 cards across the clip, get them signed. My two other best friends did the same. We’d then trade! What I didn’t know was what a great idea that was decades later. Anyway, Bob had retired for a while. I didn’t have any cards for him, but there was a card shop there and we picked up a couple cards for him.

Crazy fee, $100! Wow! Maybe it’s a typo?”

That is no typo, baseball fans. The figure is confirmed
I asked Harvey for his take on lavish Bob Allen. He responded:

Tom – regarding Bob Allen, basically what he’s saying by charging a $100 signing fee is “Leave me alone. I don’t want to sign autographs.”
No secret with verifying the signing fees every year. I send out an autograph request to each player I have in my database as charging a fee and then confirm or update the signing fee information he sends back. You’d be surprised at the small percentage of players who donate their money to charity. There probably is a lot of the players who don’t specify a charity that do donate to charity but I don’t think it’s a high percentage.
Lefty Bob has my sympathy. Being a 1960s Indian was far from glamorous. Also, he pitched in 204 more major league games than I ever did.
Nevertheless, there’s no reason to take your frustration out on collectors who’re trying to complete a signed Topps set. Former players who want to leave their baseball life behind should ask Harvey to be removed from his 2014 edition, instead of punishing well-meaning hobbyists.
Coming Monday: a P.S. on Pete Rose.

2013 Baseball Address List Shines

Harvey Meiselman remains a hobby all-star.

His stellar 2013 Baseball Address List weighs in at 213 spiral-bound pages.

I’m marveling anew at his “tough TTM” column. He tallies reported responses from online autograph sites, warning collectors about anyone with a 25 percent success rate or LOWER. This alone is a fascinating list. You’ll find many obscure names on it, not just superstars and Hall of Famers. Only the most optimistic gamblers may attempt some of these guys, knowing that anyone you send is at high risk.

Harvey includes a section for baseball personalities: owners, executives, broadcasters, reporters. Collectors of the Ford Frick and Spink Award winners from the Hall of Fame will love this assortment.

The fine lists of Negro Leaguers and AAGPBL (girls league) veterans is shrinking with time. Collectors who’ve never tried these history makers will miss out totally soon. The advancing ages from these two categories will slam shut this window of opportunity soon.

There’s a concluding rundown of all the fee signers out there. How much do they want for different items? Who should the check be made out to (or do they demand cash only)? Harvey’s details will make sure no one wastes time and postage not following the instructions of signer-sellers.

Realize that customers are buying a partnership with Harvey, not just a single directory. Make sure that he has your e-mail address, and he’ll keep your address list updated to the minute. On Monday, he sent updates on raised fees from Steve Yeager, Ron Reed and Tommy Davis. Just as important, he noted that collectors have reported that Tim Raines and Don Sutton haven’t been responding to paying collectors — those who are sending in the required fees with their autograph request.

Harvey’s list is a must-have for any serious autograph collector or student of baseball history. Reach him before the postal increase Jan. 27, and you’ll save two dollars. Tell him Baseball By The Letters sent you!

Coming Friday: My thoughts about the players who charge for autographs in 2013.

Pete Rose TV Reality Series???

I’ve kept it since 1973. It’s a government postcard rubber-stamped (or auto-penned?) reply from Pete Rose. The “Hi, Tom” is no match for the facsimile signature.

When I saw that Rose’s TLC reality series was using his AUTOGRAPH as a show title/logo, I remembered that he was one of the first stars ever to admit to employing a “secretary.”

I can’t find a picture of the book anywhere. But I know it existed. In a rip-off of Art Linkletter’s “Kids Say the Darnedest Things,” there was a book reprinting KID letters to Pete Rose. Teen me never wanted to see if my heart-felt request was included.

Will he talk about autographs on his new series? Sorry, I don’t have the stomach to stay tuned.

Coming Wednesday: Harvey’s here! My 2013 Baseball Address List arrives!!!

My 800th Post!

As I stare out the window at the melting snow, waiting to send letters to spring training, I noticed another milestone.

Fresh from a New Year, I want to celebrate every day. Reaching 800 posts sounds like a good excuse for another mug of dark-roast coffee.

This year, I promise to keep sharing my ideas and mistakes with all of you. We learn from each other. Together, this hobby will remain strong.

This blog would be nothing without you, the reader. I am grateful.

What Are My Baseball Autographs Worth?

Do I feel more like a doctor coming to share a diagnosis with a sick patient? Or am I Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, yelling about not being able to handle the truth?
Either way, this isn’t an easy post to write. This is for all the strangers out there who’ve never read my blog, those surfing the Internet, hoping for a fast, free appraisal. Any blog connected to the words “baseball autographs” gets contacted in their blanket, impersonal mass mailing.
The latest example:
I came across your email on a website while I was researching the worth of my dozen 1972 chicago cubs autographs and wanted to ask if you know anything about them or what they might be worth?
They are just on small pieces of paper but are in good shape and very readable. Tape marks are on the edges but I was hoping they would still be worth something. I have written to a couple of companies but am not getting any response.
Would appreciate any help.
If you know someone like this, and they assume you are a pricing expert, tell them for me:
1. Know the names of each autograph.
2. Know how the autographs were obtained. By mail? In person? In what year?
3. Describe the look and condition. (Ink? Sharpie permanent marker? Pencil? On index cards?) If it’s a flat item, try to scan the images. Or, get a photo.
Then, find your favorite search engine for the autographs. Who has died? Who is in the Hall of Fame? Who excelled that year? Did the autograph signer set records or win awards that year?
Dealers will offer anywhere from 10 to 50 percent of retail value for an autograph. As if there’s such a thing as absolute value. The best guess I would find might be for “completed items” or “prices realized” on eBay.
Even eBay evidence is iffy. Just because two buyers went wild fighting over an autograph once doesn’t mean the deal could be repeated. The fact is, autograph sales are emotional impulse buys. Each signature (if it’s authentic) is worth just as much or little as the buyer and seller FEELS.
Want to talk baseball memories? If so, I’m your guy!
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