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

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.

How Jon Favreau’s ‘Chef’ will help your autograph collecting

The day after the holiday, I’m still thankful.

Are you? 
I’m a fan of the movie Chef
No, it’s not about baseball. It’s about passion.
Check out the scene in which Jon Favreau tells his son why he does what he does.
Be that guy. For your kids. Your spouse. Anyone who’ll listen. It’s not enough to tell someone you like sending letters to current and former players.
Be grateful. Then, add the WHY. Those people support your hobby in so many ways. 
Keep them on your team.

The Autograph Lesson of Ex-Red Tracy Jones

I wrote about Tracy Jones and his autograph signing attitudes back in 2012.

Since then, I’ve reconsidered what a “working” address. Not just a workplace address, but a contact that works. Period.
Players-turned-announcers might feel more motivated to sign in care of their station or network. They may not feel the need for you to pay, since their media employer is. Signing might help listener/viewer ratings.
High profile players may not like volumes of mail at home. Or, their spouse may object. Al Kaline told me at a 1990s card show about keeping fan mail sent to his home in bushel baskets. Then, he sighed and recited a tale of getting his property tax statement mixed up with all the autograph request letters. I translated that, from his tone of voice and scowl, as wanting to say, “I get fan mail and important mail.”
Don’t assume the home address will get you a faster response or more attentive signers. Of course, these jock journalists may not be near their media address for months during the off-season. I haven’t seen lots of evidence of employers forwarding fan mail to homes. Timing is crucial.
Comparing notes on sites like www.sportscollectors.net is vital for hobbyists. Additionally, people change. What works in 2014 might not next season.

Can Hermey, Santa and Bumble Help Your Autograph Collection?

Guess what TV show turns 50 years old this year?
Through the New Year, I’ll be using these on my baseball letters.
If the stamp makes someone feel younger and more
generous, go for it!

First of all, do NOT get on Santa’s “naughty” list.

I’m not advocating that you fib. No telling huge lies about how your last wish is to get a reply from Joe Ballplayer.
I am saying to make merry when you write. Acknowledge the holidays.
Use the holiday stamps. The USPS has a variety of 2014 designs. 
Seek out some Christmas stickers. If you can get some greeting card-sized envelopes, go for it. Colored, even red or green, might get you to the top of a fan mail pile.
Surprises happen every Christmas season. Tony Oliva turned down money in the past to send holiday greetings with an autograph.
Save your generic postage stamps for January. Now is not the time to be dignified. Be joyous. In turn, the current or former player may be looking at your envelope as a potential Christmas present they can give you via a reply.

Tips For Getting AAGPBL Girls Leaguers To Sign By Mail

What if?

It’s the best way to take your hobby up a level.

I’ve been astounded at the willingness of the AAGPBL players to keep signing by mail, even in their 80s (and beyond).

Of course, all collectors want perfect records. How could I do better?

I asked the question of Carol Sheldon, an accomplished collector and learned fan of the girls league. I’d call her scholarly. Through the years, she’s become close friends with many former players. In fact, she serves on the board of the alumni association.

These players never got any pension. Some played only one season (or less). Being retirees, would they appreciate any money with a letter?

I’m grateful for Carol’s reply:

“The ladies would probably send the $5 back with the autograph! I always sent an SASE before and after I got to know them. Sometimes they would send that back too ! The only thing most won’t sign is a 3×5 index card.”


I think here’s one better tip than adding a tip …

Write a thoughtful letter. Sure, politeness pays. However, prove that you know something about the league. All of the retirees have Wikipedia bios. Or, go to the official www.aagpbl.org site. Note the team they played for or something specific about the years they played.

Many of these women are former teachers. They’ll appreciate a personal, creative effort. In turn, I’m betting you’ll get some of the best responses ever.
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