Autographed player postcard photos for free? How?

Posted December 8th, 2014 by Tom Owens and filed in Doug McWilliams, J.D. McCarthy, Jack Smalling
Bay Area photographer McWilliams
found many clients on the Oakland roster.


Once, teams like the St. Louis Cardinals provided all their players with postcard-sized photos to send.

I learned from baseball address pioneer Jack Smalling that he figured one out of seven requests of “if you have a photo of yourself you’d be willing to include for my collection, I’d be grateful” paid off.

And asking is free.

However, players were once so eager to please the public that they’d order their own postcard photos, footing the bill on their own.

Some of the last great independent postcards came in the 1970s from Doug McWilliams. He’d get hired by individual players who wanted to have photos to share with fans and collectors.
Where were these sold? Nowhere!
You had one place to get the postcards. From the depicted guy. You had to be given one.

A generation later, many retirees exhausted their postcard supply. You’ll see some thrifty former players photocopying their remaining postcard to send.

The postcards are great stories in themselves. Find a checklist online for postcards like J.D. McCarthy or McWilliams. Ask in your letter about the postcard’s history. If you can print out a black and white scan of the card (some will appear on eBay), do it. Even if you don’t get the postcard, you could get a great story.

Speaking of stories, Mr. McWilliams has one. You’d be surprised to know how many Topps cards came from his lens. His photo archive has been donated to the Hall of Fame. And he even did postcards once for ballplayer-turned-Country Western star Charley Pride. 

Baseball Survivor: When writing to retirees, congratulate them on their longevity

Posted December 5th, 2014 by Tom Owens and filed in Baseball Autographs Facebook Group, Justin Evans
I got hungry and happy at This is the place
for tasty inspiration. So many
artistic bakers delighting their baseball
fans. But, who could bite the head
off Mr. Red?

“I never saw him play? What do I write to him about?”

Most hobbyists tell you to research. Prove that you know something about the ex-player.
I agree. Somewhat.
I wrote last week about Justin Evans and his amazing Baseball Autographs Facebook group. 
One nice thing Justin and members do is salute retirees having birthdays.
If you’re going to write to someone who has a birthday in the coming month, salute them.
No, not “I see you’ll be older than dirt next month.” Just a tip of your cap that says, “Congrats on being here to tell more baseball stories.”
Here’s a bonus:
The oldest baseball alums might be worn out answering, “Who was the toughest pitcher you faced? What was your biggest career thrill?”
Try this (for summer birthdays):
“During your career, what was your most successful birthday on the field?”
You remember the highlights of your birthdays? Imagine being a major leaguer, having thousands of people in the stands knowing it’s your day.

One important lesson from Seth Swirsky’s ‘Baseball Letters’

Posted December 1st, 2014 by Tom Owens and filed in Baseball Letters, Bob Will, Seth Swirsky, Summer Game Books

I adore these three books. The world will be a better place next year when the trilogy is back in print, courtesy of Summer Game Books.

Before Seth Swirsky, player wives were forgotten. 
In these books, you’ll see great memories from the women in the stands.
Sure, autograph collectors might say, “They’re not in price guides. They aren’t featured on cards.”
I’m talking stories, not signatures.
Cubs fans would faint at the baseball knowledge of the wife of the late outfielder Bob Will. 
These women kept scrapbooks on their husbands. They compared notes with other wives. They were there, before, during and after.
If you want a perspective the rest of the baseball world has overlooked, put a “Mrs.” in front of the name of that guy you’re writing to.