Think twice about the letter you’re sending to a current or former player.
Is it the same “form letter” you created long ago, one that used to get you a good response, only okay now?
Do you think it doesn’t matter what you write, or that no one ever reads the letters? The player will either sign, or not sign?
Please, reconsider. Each letter costs $1.10 in postage now. Plus paper and envelopes, not counting the card or photo you might enclose.
Tell those letter recipients WHY. Why do you want an answer?
The late Virgil Trucks once told me: “In the letters, they try to tell me all about my career. They tell me things they think I don’t know, but I do.” Translated, the wise Tiger hurler meant that he wasn’t impressed by letters filled with his stats.
Years ago at a hobby show, Al Kaline spoke with me a minute. He was impressed when I said I could note all the places where he received mail. I began: care of the Hall of Fame, c/o the Tigers, c/o the TV station where he broadcasts.
Kaline sighed and nodded. Then he raised his eyebrows.
“Don’t forget about my home address,” he groaned. “I get so many fan letters there that our property tax statement got lost. We keep the fan mail in bushel baskets, and the tax statement got lost in a pile of all the autograph requests.”
Players, current or retired, still have expectations about a letter. Why should you deserve a response?
Here’s some initial ideas:
- Tell the reason for writing. For instance, the autograph will help you complete a set. Even a team set. That neutralizes the fear of, “You want MY autograph to sell on eBay?” Players have set goals. They might relate to helping you meet a goal, too.
- Tell why this card is special. (No. Don’t list its book value.) Just tell how you got it, or how it made you feel. What do you like most about the card photo?
- Tell why this player matters. Did you see him play in person? Was he the first game you saw on your big-screen TV? Did your older brother or dad like that player, too? Do you remember him from the minors?
I think 2 to 3 extra sentences would make your case. Don’t fib. Do be yourself. The truth shall set you free, and get you more autographs (quite possibly).
Even mail-starved Charlie Brown may be skeptical about some of the standard “fill in the blank” letters that some collectors rehash. You want a personal gift from someone in baseball? Try being personal yourself.