Baseball’s Best Broadcasters: Collecting Ford Frick Winner Autographs

Brian Flam ( brings new hope to the TTM hobby. He pointed out one attractive subset of baseball history that many autograph buffs have overlooked: the Ford Frick winners, as honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Although many early pioneers have died, Brian noted that he’s had good success through the years writing to broadcasters in care of their teams.

I agree. I treasure the bonus photo I received years ago from Jack Buck. He added “HOF 1987” and “Go Crazy Folks.”

Who’ll be the next names on the list? Get them early.

1978 Allen, MelMel Allen New York Yankees
1978 Barber, RedRed Barber Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Yankees
1979 Elson, BobBob Elson Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Mutual
1980 Hodges, RussRuss Hodges New York/San Francisco Giants
1981 Harwell, ErnieErnie Harwell Detroit Tigers
1982 Scully, VinVin Scully Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, NBC
1983 Brickhouse, JackJack Brickhouse Chicago Cubs
1984 Gowdy, CurtCurt Gowdy Boston Red Sox, NBC
1985 Canel, BuckBuck Canel New York Yankees, New York Mets
1986 Prince, BobBob Prince Pittsburgh Pirates
1987 Buck, JackJack Buck St. Louis Cardinals, CBS
1988 Nelson, LindseyLindsey Nelson New York Mets
1989 Caray, HarryHarry Caray St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs
1990 Saam, ByBy Saam Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia Athletics
1991 Garagiola, JoeJoe Garagiola NBC
1992 Hamilton, MiloMilo Hamilton Houston Astros
1993 Thompson, ChuckChuck Thompson Baltimore Orioles
1994 Murphy, BobBob Murphy New York Mets
1995 Wolff, BobBob Wolff Washington Senators, NBC
1996 Carneal, HerbHerb Carneal Minnesota Twins
1997 Dudley, JimmyJimmy Dudley Cleveland Indians
1998 Jarrín, JaimeJaime Jarrín Los Angeles Dodgers
1999 McDonald, ArchArch McDonald Washington Senators
2000 Brennaman, MartyMarty Brennaman Cincinnati Reds
2001 Ramírez, FeloFelo Ramírez Florida Marlins
2002 Kalas, HarryHarry Kalas Philadelphia Phillies
2003 Uecker, BobBob Uecker Milwaukee Brewers
2004 Simmons, LonLon Simmons San Francisco Giants, Oakland Athletics
2005 Coleman, JerryJerry Coleman San Diego Padres
2006 Elston, GeneGene Elston Houston Astros, CBS Radio
2007 Matthews, DennyDenny Matthews Kansas City Royals
2008 Niehaus, DaveDave Niehaus Seattle Mariners
2009 Kubek, TonyTony Kubek NBC, Toronto Blue Jays
2010 Miller, JonJon Miller Baltimore Orioles, San Francisco Giants, ESPN
2011 Van Horne, DaveDave Van Horne Montreal Expos, Florida Marlins
2012 McCarver, TimTim McCarver New York Mets, ABC, CBS, Fox

“The Autograph Card” Guys Provide Arizona Fall League ‘Graphing Update


It comes with a good letter. For in-person autographing, fast and hectic becomes the norm. Good luck hearing anything more than a “here” or “thanks” from the signer.

I love how “The Autograph Card” products allow us to collect anyone’s autograph. That opens doors to conversations. Here’s an attractive, affordable item that anyone would love to sign.

The pair behind the idea do more than sell. They collect. They use it all the time. Here’s proof:

Thanks to Brian Flam for these 2013 AFL insights.

“When Graphing the AFL my #1 tip is also my top advice for all minor league graphing: Keep your eyes open! Some of my best Graphs over the last 10+ years graphing the AFL have come in the stands. The fact that many former players still work in the game in some for (Coaches, Scouts, Agents) along with the amount of former players who live in the area mean you never know who will be in the stands out in Arizona! This year we were fortunate enough to ink Rickey Henderson while he was watching the A’s prospects. We had seen him several times over the last few years, and we finally hit a day where he decided to pick up a pen.
But Rickey is an extreme case, there are many lesser known players (both Major and Minor League) in the stands at all AFL games. Especially if a player is related to a major leaguer keep an eye out for there relative, as we’ve seen many Fathers watching there children over the years. Some notable Fathers have been to watch games in recent years (Roger Clemens, Carney Lansford, Kevin Romine) some ‘big names, and some ‘not so big’.

Tom Lasorda, Dave Stewart, Eric Davis, and even Jenny Finch (Watching her husband pitch) have been spotted at AFL games.

Along with never knowing who you’ll see at a game, I can work in a plug: I always carry blank signature cards! This year my two favorite signature cards I had signed were: Richie Shaffer, Tampa Bay Rays #1 draft pick this past June. He didn’t have many ‘mainstream’ cards out (his lone card is a 2008 Team USA U-16 card shared with two other players). He was not only nice enough to sign for all that asked, he took the time to talk to each person, and came off as very genuine. Another of my favorites was Roland Hemond, he was the first recipient of the ‘Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement’ Award given by the Baseball Hall of Fame.”
It might be too late for Santa, so do it yourself. Refill your stockings with some gems from The Autograph Card.
Coming Friday: Collecting Ford Frick winners.

The Autograph Card In Action!

Frank Viola!
One of the superb examples pictured
on The Autograph Card Facebook site.

You’ve gotta love an answer like that.

I checked in with some of my favorite guys in the hobby at The Autograph Card.

Co-creator Brian Flam, fresh off an appearance at the National Sports Collectors Convention (offering a show-only card set!) said he was busy when I checked in for an update on some of the great hobby products he’s offering. Check back in October.

Too busy counting his huge profits?

Nope. He’s using what he makes.

Brian was getting ready for a trip to ‘graph the Arizona Fall League. Smart move, getting tomorrow’s stars today. You know what he’ll be getting autographed when he’s there.

Brian and partner Russell Miles believe in what they make. They’re still collectors.

Check out their Facebook page or website. There’s no reason to struggle with blank index cards when you have artful alternatives like The Autograph Card.

Ask The Expert: Sharpie Or Staedtler?


Hard to find, hard to spell,
but an autograph asset!

Tastes great! Less filling!

Oops. Wrong debate.

When I wrote about “The Autograph Card,” I was delighted to find that I was conversing with other collectors. Not just slick marketers who knew a few autograph buzzwords, but REAL collectors!

I wrote Brian Flam, asking him if he could share tips with collectors. I’m grateful to share his detailed findings, tested in years of his own collecting. Here’s Brian:

“Tom… Great question, as you could fill several blog entries on the debate of Sharpie vs Staedtler. Let me start by saying I have used BOTH pens for ages (25+ years of Sharpies, and 15+ for Staedtlers).  

Much like the ‘Corn vs Flour Tortilla’ debate, there is no clear winner. Both Pens have their places in the hobby (and in every ‘graphers pocket). Our website sells Staedtlers as a service to our customers, as they are not a high profit item, but so many people have told us they had trouble finding them, that we order them direct from Staedtler. Staedtler Lumocolor (F- Fine Point Blue) is our recommended pen, and we feel with a signer that takes his time (see pros/cons below) it looks Awesome! 

Our cards were designed to look good, no matter what kind of pen you use, perfect for those random TTM guys who like to use ‘whatever pen is closest’. Below, I will try and point out the pros/con of the two, and why I always carry both with me. 


Dry super fast. Perfect to prevent smudging when you hand a player a ‘stack’ of cards.

Staedtler’s ink tends to ‘take’ better to glossy cards (IE: Bowman Chrome) without ‘bubbling’ Back in the late 90’s/early 2000’s the ink tended to ‘sit on top’ of the gloss and would tend to ‘chip off’ the card. But in recent years,  something changed with Bowman Chrome (The ‘gloss’/coating changed) and I have not had this problem in years.

They are more expensive, and harder to find. Staedtler (a German Compnay) shut down their only U.S. office about 2 years ago, forcing anyone in the U.S. to purchase from a Staedtler office overseas, thus adding to the cost. There are ‘rumors’ of knock-off pens coming out of Asia that are cheaper (both in cost and assumed quality). We only purchase direct from Staedtler.

One negative is the ‘vibe’ of some players when they see ‘the fancy German pens’ and can be snippy (like when they see a binder with a page of 9 of the same card on it).

If the player is ‘taking his time’ to sign, and/or has a good writing surface (table, binder, roof of dugout, etc) I will use a Staedtler.


Old faithful. Perfect when you have a ‘scribbler’. Example: Manny Machado (Orioles prospect) sometimes signs just “M3” on items. So if all they are gonna write is a quick scribble, I prefer it to be BOLDER, and the sharpie looks better.

I also prefer a Sharpie if the player is ‘rushed’. When a player is signing while walking/running to the bus, etc I use Sharpie. I also keep a sharpie on me so when a kid next to me asks to borrow my pen to have a player sign his (insert pen-killing item here: Hat, T-Shirt, Mini-Bat, etc) I can lend him the Sharpie and not have the player kill a $3 Staedtler on some kids T-shirt. We have all had the experience of graphing on ‘bat day’ (or similar give-away day) and that’s why I always carry a pocket full of pens with me.

Sharpies do tend to ‘bubble’ on some high gloss cards (2010 Topps, etc). The blue ink can be ‘inconsistent’ in boldness based on the age of the sharpie (not as dark over time, if the pen has aged). 

And don’t start me on the ‘Blue versus Black’ debate (Let it be said that I am strongly on the BLUE side though!)”

Thanks again, Brian. Love those cards!

Coming Tuesday: Saying goodbye to a former pitcher after just 47 years.

‘The Autograph Card’ Guys Understand

I spotted this gem at
Sportswriters aren’t regulars on baseball cards.
This is one classy alternative for any collection!

“Never miss an autograph opportunity” tugs at a hobbyist’s heart.

Who hasn’t been there? A guy who MIGHT be somebody might sign.

If only I had a collectible. No, not a hot dog wrapper! He’s gone. Too late!

The slogan is the battle cry of “The Autograph Card,” one of the greatest hobby products I’ve ever seen.

Company partners Brian Flam and Russell Miles speak the language. They are collectors, too.

“Some autographs are not ball worthy,” Brian explained, noting the cost of league baseballs.
“Besides, my wife would kill me…all those baseballs!”

Brian hoped to get something besides the blank index card for signatures, wishing for something less expensive than Rawlings baseballs, something that wouldn’t fill up a house. He talked about adding the red lines of baseball stitching to simulate a ball’s sweet spot on an index card. Graphic designer Miles listened, telling (or needling?) his buddy: “I could design something that looks good!”

Some eight seasons ago, the pair were ‘graphing the Arizona Fall League. (Brian’s passion is minor league signatures, by the way…) They had created a small amount of “signature cards” for themselves.

When other collectors spotted what Brian was using, they wanted some, too.

“I don’t have extras,” Brian told them. “I need them for myself.”

People begged to buy his extras. Others got angry that Brian wouldn’t sell any.

“Those strong reactions convinced us we had to make more,” Brian said. “People wanted to buy what we made.”

Brian and Russell have branched off. They’ve printed custom cards for Bronson Arroyo, Mike Leake and the late Hall of Famer Gary Carter.

Brian’s still using what they make. Last week, he got two Signature Cards back by mail from Bobby Shantz. Brian fills out the reverse of each card, which has lines for the signer’s name and date. When Brian sent two to the former pitcher, he included the notation “AL MVP” and “8 Time Gold Glove Winner.” Sure enough, Shantz added the same words below his autograph on the front.

Check out The Autograph Card website. Along with the 3-by-5 baseball image, their other creations (including a bat barrel) are all on 16-point matte cover stock. The other designs are baseball CARD sized, 2-1/2 by 3-1/2 inches. They’re perfect for instant signing. No deglossing with baby powder or erasers needed.
Is that a new first-round draft pick at the ballpark, someone with a card? No idea who that scout or roving instructor might be? Brian and Russell have our backs!

Visit their Facebook page, too. They plan on running Facebook specials in the future.

Write the guys. They’ll listen if you have ideas for other products — things you’d like to have autographed in your collection. Most of all, cheer them on. This is affordable quality, something all collectors need. When it’s time for a hobby hall of fame, I’ve got two nominations.