Player’s Wife Imposes Autograph Fee?

I tip my cap to Jack Billingham. It’s not the typical “now I charge for autographs” form letter.

After the traditional claim of finding his autographs being sold on eBay and elsewhere, the tone changes.
“I am all in favor of free enterprise and, in fact, encourage it. With this in mind, I hope you’ll understand when I tell you my wife thinks this old ballplayer should get a little cut of the action.”
Then, the former pitcher goes on to request $5 for signing your card, or $10 for an autographed photo or baseball. He thanks the senders (who gets back their unsigned cards) for their interest in baseball history.
Well, if the Billinghams are marketing autographs, I’d challenge them to give a free sample. At least, autograph the “send again, and include money” request. After all, my grocery store gives me a cheese cube on a toothpick before asking me to buy a pound of cheddar. 
Meanwhile, expect the “my mom threw out my baseball cards” jingle to be overshadowed by the “my wife’s the one making me charge for autographs” refrain.

MLB Player Poll: What’s The Strangest Thing You’ve Ever Been Asked to Sign?

One of the most meaningful moments of the baseball season came when I viewed a segment of the MLB Player Poll.

I’ve always dismissed the show as a “Baseball TMZ” or “Diamond Talking Heads.”

However, the answers pointed out a problem real collectors are facing.

Once, I thought the guy who wanted a used hot dog wrapper autographed made us look bad.

Now, we’re the ones who get the stink-eye.

Autographing a body part or someone’s baby is easy. “I don’t think you could sell your own kid on eBay, just to get rich off my autograph,” thinks the current player.

However, if you take the time to present a meaningful artifact, then the paranoia ensues. “That’s so nice, I’m sure you’ll sell and make a profit off me! I’d rather sign bits of garbage, knowing that you’ll throw the autographs away.”

Whether in person or by mail, be ready to tell about your collection to a potential signer. In the hobby’s “new normal,” we need to redefine what autographs mean to us.

What Are My Baseball Autographs Worth?

Do I feel more like a doctor coming to share a diagnosis with a sick patient? Or am I Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, yelling about not being able to handle the truth?
 
Either way, this isn’t an easy post to write. This is for all the strangers out there who’ve never read my blog, those surfing the Internet, hoping for a fast, free appraisal. Any blog connected to the words “baseball autographs” gets contacted in their blanket, impersonal mass mailing.
 
The latest example:
 
Hi,
I came across your email on a website while I was researching the worth of my dozen 1972 chicago cubs autographs and wanted to ask if you know anything about them or what they might be worth?
They are just on small pieces of paper but are in good shape and very readable. Tape marks are on the edges but I was hoping they would still be worth something. I have written to a couple of companies but am not getting any response.
Would appreciate any help.
Thanks,
 
If you know someone like this, and they assume you are a pricing expert, tell them for me:
 
1. Know the names of each autograph.
2. Know how the autographs were obtained. By mail? In person? In what year?
3. Describe the look and condition. (Ink? Sharpie permanent marker? Pencil? On index cards?) If it’s a flat item, try to scan the images. Or, get a photo.
 
Then, find your favorite search engine for the autographs. Who has died? Who is in the Hall of Fame? Who excelled that year? Did the autograph signer set records or win awards that year?
 
Dealers will offer anywhere from 10 to 50 percent of retail value for an autograph. As if there’s such a thing as absolute value. The best guess I would find might be for “completed items” or “prices realized” on eBay.
 
Even eBay evidence is iffy. Just because two buyers went wild fighting over an autograph once doesn’t mean the deal could be repeated. The fact is, autograph sales are emotional impulse buys. Each signature (if it’s authentic) is worth just as much or little as the buyer and seller FEELS.
 
Want to talk baseball memories? If so, I’m your guy!
 
 
 
 
 

Is Your Glass Half Full? A Question For All Baseball TTM Autograph Collectors

What’s right about baseball autograph collecting right now?

I ask myself this every day. Not just about the hobby, but about all walks of life. We know the problems. How can we celebrate what’s good in the interim?

I began my survey with Rich Hanson, one of the most ambitious autograph collectors I’ve ever known.

He said:

 About the only thing good about baseball card autograph collecting is the accessability of the players at the minor league level. In-person autographing is still fun. By mail is getting tougher, and the EBayers who sell signatures have lent a foul stench to the hobby. But I’m sure you’ve heard my complaints on that score already.

Readers, how would you answer?

Bill White Slams Autographs

Say it ain’t so, Bill.

I searched his memoir Uppity for insights about why he stopped accepting fan mail, choosing the “Return to Sender” route. Was he becoming baseball’s Greta Garbo? Had Dr. Mike Marshall influenced him with talk of autographs and real heroes?

Instead, he clings to the old, simplistic notion of everyone being a greedy dealer. He writes:

“When I was a player we never thought twice about giving some kid an autograph, or handing out signed baseballs…These days, of course, a lot of the big-name players have six-figure contracts with agents to market their autographs, and professional dealers have squeezed out the kids. If you give somebody an autographed baseball these days, you can probably expect to see it on eBay a week later.”

White endured years of racism and prejudice. He writes with restrained clarity, offering compassionate reviews of loudmouths like Cincinnati owner Marge Schott. Books that I’ve read by Frank Robinson and Bob Gibson boil over with an anger tsunami at bigotry. White is detailed but measured in his criticisms.

How I would have loved even one extra page detailing his views on fan mail.

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