Charlie Hough: Free signer, no more!

Sorry, Charlie…

For more than 20 years, hitters couldn’t figure out Charlie Hough’s baffling knuckleball.

Now, Hough himself is the bafflement.

According to Harvey Meiselman, Hough, Mickey Hatcher, Tim Wallach and Rick Honeycutt have signed with the same fan mail handler. Each now cost $15 apiece per baseball card autograph.

I checked the stats on www.sportscollectors.net.

Hough has signed for 767 collectors, a staggering 95 percent of all requests logged at the website. More impressive was how Hough would decline any offer to keep extra cards. If someone sent him 12 cards, but asked him to keep half, he’d return every card autographed.

I understand the temptation faced by the others. Honeycutt had signed for 120, Wallace 76 and Hatcher 35. Successes with the trio ranged from 41 to 63 percent.

Hough was different. What caused him to abandon ship?

Goodbye, Jake Striker

If you didn’t have a card, Striker had a custom card for you!

We’ve lost an all-star autographer.

Jake Striker may have been a mere 1-0 in his brief career in the majors. Most importantly, hobbyists who wrote to him were undefeated. Striker always had something special to offer anyone wanting a signature.

Check out what Striker offered me in 2010.

The Jake Strikers of baseball history remind me why I do what I do!

Asking For Hobby Heroes

We can learn a lot from each other.

That’s why I’ve always sought the stories of other collectors.

It’s not always been easy!

Some hobbyists fear having the size of their collections revealed. Nope. I don’t want to play ANTIQUES ROADSHOW. Or “Price is Right.” I’d rather have an idea of the emotional value of your autographs — not your net worth.

Nor will I ask, “How much have you spent collecting?” It’s not my job to make your family faint.

I want to find collectors with unique specialties. I want to know how they set goals. Have they ever corresponded with retired players? What’s the best question they get answered by mail?

Nominate a hobby hero. I’ll seek them out and try to convince them to share their story.

Reach me at baseballbytheletters [at] gmail dot com. Thanks!

Handwritten Versus Typed Letters

I was ready to switch.

Wanting to break my TTM slump, I thought about going to ALL handwritten letters.

I haven’t yet.

Why? I think it depends on who’s getting your letter. Is it someone with bad eyesight who’ll wince at my penmanship? The late Bob Will, a Cub who became a bank executive, said that typed letters were easier to read.

However, reluctant signers might suspect that you know the magic powers of a computer. To them, the lack of handwriting signifies that you’re running a 24/7 operation, mass-producing autograph requests. In fact, whether it’s a current or former player, someone who’s never typed might think you’re being lazy and impersonal by bypassing handwritten correspondence.

The only fact I’m convinced of is this: write the envelope by hand. I seem to remember from years ago that Jack Smalling tried offering pre-addressed labels from his baseball address list for a fee. I liked the temptation of speed, but knew the impression wouldn’t be favorable.

A hand-addressed envelope is a good first impression. Once the envelope is opened, you’ve got a real chance, even if you used crayon.

Readers: do you use handwritten or typed? Why?

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