Your letter in the Baseball Hall of Fame? It’s possible!

Don Sutton has another unique tie to the Hall of Fame, this one being hand-written! (Photo credit: Adam Fagen/Wikimedia Commons)
Don Sutton has another unique tie to the Hall of Fame, this one being hand-written! (Photo credit: Adam Fagen/Wikimedia Commons)

A collector, part of Cooperstown? 

That’s one fascinating possibility lurking within the correspondence collection kept by the National Baseball Hall of Fame research library. The 25-page list produces many surprises, none of which may be on public display.

Everyone knows that Hall of Famer Don Sutton has been a reluctant by-mail signer for years. Well, the HOF owns a hand-written letter from the pitcher, offering advice to a young player in 1966. An article from the period documents the exchange.

Players like Jackie Robinson saved letters of support from fans. Browsing the list, I found one fan wrote Robinson six times from 1952-55.

Sure, the archive includes lots of business letters: owners, commissioners, journalists. 

However, none of those official missives would match a single hand-written bit of correspondence between players and fans.

That’s the joy of Baseball By The Letters.

 

http://s3.amazonaws.com/finding-aids/BA+MSS+44+Correspondence+Collection.pdf

When Baseball Hall of Fame losers made winners of collectors

An autographed, personalized copy!
Superb storytelling. A great gift
from a great friend. Thanks, Judy!

The Baseball Hall of Fame results brought me more questions than answers.

I received amazing notes in past years from old-timers like Enos Slaughter or Doug Harvey, men touched that their Hall of Fame potential meant something to a fan.
Years ago, it was easy to look at the near-miss names on the ballot. If you wrote them soon after their election letdown, the chances of a response soared.
Newer inductees or “maybe next year” names like Mike Piazza? Good luck.

Baseball Hall of Fame Plaque Postcards Still A Bargain

Spotted this on eBay.
Collectors can buy
direct from the
Hall of Fame
gift shop.

I just checked in with the Baseball Hall of Fame.

I published a blog post back in 2010 about the famous postcards showing member plaques.Who doesn’t own at least one autographed?
 Each year, eBay dealers and other schemers try to sell the unsigned postcards at huge profits. 
Collectors see the minimum postage and handling costs in the Hall of Fame catalog or online, worrying that only a few cards would be costly.
Postcards are different. Buy direct!
I was told by the HOF that the same 2010 prices apply today. Just 50 cents per postcard, and $2 shipping and handling for up to 20 postcards.
Check out the prior post for more details, including the Hall of Fame gift shop phone number. You can place credit card orders or FAX in bigger requests.

Future Hall of Famer Marvin Miller’s Death: Lessons For Collectors

The Hall of Fame has another mess to clean up.

Ron Santo was just one example. Marvin Miller led the Major League Baseball Players Association. For better or for worse, he helped pioneer free agency. Another worthy, overlooked part of baseball history.

From eBay: small sigs
were vintage Miller!

Inducting someone after their death has happened before.

Miller may have peeved as many collectors as owners in his lifetime. His final stats on www.sportscollectors.net say that he responded 126 times to 174 recorded TTM attempts.

I found the non-player in just two card sets: a 1994 Upper Deck issue and the 2005 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites set.

Miller’s eyesight may have been failing for years, judging by his microscopic signatures.

In his defense, neither card offered a great space for an autograph.

I think he became irritated with the cumbersome nature of signing his book and baseballs. I believe that the final collectors who succeeded with Miller were ones who proved they were sincere, educated fans.

Another eBay example:
face-signed cards?

Look hard for other baseball pioneers. Find them before Cooperstown, or the Grim Reaper, calls.

Team owners
umpires
general managers
scouts

Readers: are other non-players Hall of Fame material, ready for autograph collections?

Coming Wednesday: Arizona Fall League insights from The Autograph Card

Finding Hall of Fame Postcards Cheap

Autograph collectors have loved them for decades. The postcards depicting Hall of Fame plaques have been a mainstay in many collections.

Once, when most HOFers signed for free, a bonus postcard would be included with a reply. Bob Feller told me years ago that the Hall gave him bundles free for his own use.
Us old-time hobbyists wince at the climbing prices of the postcards, now 50 cents each.

Even worse? Look on the HOF website and see that postage and handling begins at $7.99.
Or maybe not.
For a collector who needs only an annual update of that year’s inductees, the $7.99 seems like a punishment for someone wanting just two postcards.

Here’s an alternative:

Call the Hall of Fame switchboard (607-547-0397). Ask to be connected to the gift shop. Have a credit card handy. Ask if you can place a small order by phone.

Shrewd collectors have found that the shipping charges have been as low as $2 for a few cards.
HOF workers will ask collectors to send in a FAX for a large order.

Worst of all, don’t get soaked by dealers who are re-selling new cards for a few bucks each. Order straight from the source for the best deal.
Coming Friday: A review of the fun new book Baseball Fantography.

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