Dear 1986 Topps Guys in my pack…

1986ToppsPackBrad Balukjian may be baseball’s 2017 Rookie of the Year.

I don’t think you’ll see him in uniform. However, he’s doing something unique that will spark the imaginations of fans and collectors alike.

I found Brad on Twitter, @Waxpackbook. He’s taken a pack of 1986 Topps cards, vowing that he’ll track down everyone in his pack (all while writing about the adventure). Yes, face to face collecting!

Unlike other authors who essentially say, “Don’t bother me until the book is published,” Brad is sharing the ride. He’s in Houston, beginning his cross-country trek.

Before you snort NO WAY, let me pre-emptively say, “Yes, way.” Brad has caught the eye of the New York Times with his literary plan. 

Why does this matter to TTM collectors and those who hope to get a question answered or even a note from a past baseball favorite?

Brad has needed to stand out. According to the Times, one Hall of Famer represented in his pack was the only person to resist the pitch for his project. I’m betting that Brad had to make his case in writing to win over all the former MLBers. 

That’s right. Whether you want someone to co-star in your book, autograph your card or simply answer a question in your letter, you need to prove WHY. 

I’ll be following Brad. I hope you will, too. I think I’ll be able to clear off some space on the baseball bookshelf by 2017.


Placing a value on current baseball autographs

RichsRamblingsRich Klein knows.

Just like that E.F. Hutton commercial, I listened to him when he was part of the Beckett team. The same respect remains today.

Check out his clear insights on the costs of getting an autograph, be it by mail, in-person at a show or from a dealer. And, here’s someone who remembers how important it is for a show attendee to get a chance to meet the guest signer.

Ramblings? Rich is anything but. Check out his archives, too. Hobby shows won’t die, as long as we have old-school supporters like Rich.

SportsCollectors Daily, you have an all-star on your roster!

Catcher Jim Campanis shares the inside joke from one autographed card

Autographs can be fun, even for the signers!
Autographs can be fun, even for the signers! (Courtesy of Jim Campanis)

Just an autograph?

That’s why I started this blog. I love the stories beyond the signatures.

Here’s one from master baseball storyteller Jim Campanis, who writes:

“Another “J” on Ausmus’ neck!

In 1992, Brad and I already knew each other from playing in the Carolina League during the ’90 season.

When this card came out we started a little practical joke that we’re still doing to this day…when I get the card to sign first, I swoop my “J” across his photo to his neck.

When he gets it first…he ends a looooong “S” across my face!

Great catcher, manager and person!”

Thanks for sharing, Jim. And collectors: watch those necks!

The League of Outsider Baseball: Perfect for Father’s Day!

OutsiderBaseballBeing logical is overrated.

Everyone’s talking about the new book The League of Outsider Baseball: An Illustrated History of Baseball’s Forgotten Heroes by Gary Cieradkowski.

Immediately, I see a reader out there. The book jacket bio begins “…is an artist…” 

Important: Gary is all that. And more!

Yes, the art is beautiful. However, this man can write, too. He evokes the style and lingo for write-ups you’d find on old tobacco cards. 

Of course, he has a graphic art flair in creating his own take on tobacco cards. He finds baseball ties in the most unlikely places, even commemorating Frank Sinatra, football’s George “Papa Bear” Halas and author Jack Kerouac. 

Back to the book: 

Gary shared a love of baseball with his father. The two would swap obscure tales from baseball’s past, unearthing trivia exposing baseball names large and small. When dad died in 2009, Gary started a blog, Infinite Card Set, posting new art and new stories. Kindred spirits found Gary, and a new baseball history tradition took root.

Author-illustrator Gary Cieradkowski
Author-illustrator Gary Cieradkowski

The book will get the most devout fan through a long off-season. Stories are fast-paced, funny, sometimes poignant and always well-researched. Even after all 233 pages, a fan would get endless hours of joy studying Gary’s depiction of players, real and imagined. 

The back cover notes that Gary created graphics for Oriole Park at Camden Yards. After this book, expect teams and card companies to fight for the services of this insightful, creative artist-author. Thankfully, we all have the Infinite Card Set online, keeping us content until a sequel appears. 


Instead of sending money with your TTM request, try this:


I have saved hand-written return address “autographs” for years.

I was touched to think that a retiree is so concerned about my cards that he wants them back, in case my address on the SASE does not work. (Think Virgil Trucks!)

I note how faithful the oldest ex-players are. They sign their names, then add their full addresses.

Sure, five bucks is kind. However, someone age 80 may appreciate some adhesive labels.

Print out a sheet on your computer to include. Whether ordered or homemade, the labels don’t have to be baseball themed.

But it can’t hurt!

Or, if you know a collector needing a Father’s Day present (or the collector looking at you in the mirror), do the same. Show the world who you are.


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