2013 In Autographs: Collector Rich Hanson’s Review

This autograph is
on display at
www.Baseball-Almanac.com.
It’s a great site to find
tons of  choice signatures.
Happy spring training, everybody!
Before looking ahead to the 2014 season, I wanted one last look at 2013 through the eyes of a hobbyist.
One of the smartest, most talented autograph collectors I know is Rich Hanson. Here’s his take on the hobby year that was.
“Regarding baseball, my first love:  Autographing through the mail is getting tougher and tougher with more and more players charging fees for what used to be a fan-friendly courtesy.  TriStar was one of the early culprits, charging hefty fees for top prospects signatures, and now Chris Potter has lined up an impressive stable of retired players.  
Don’t get me wrong;.I’ve done business with Potter and find him professional and accommodating, and I’ve used him to fill in some of the fan unfriendly players who would never sign before and now only do so for a fee.  The trouble is, the formerly good signers see these guys getting paid and say “why shouldn’t I?”  Overall, it’s been bad for the ‘through the mail’ autograph hobby.
I’m having a great deal of fun writing to authors and poets, putting together double-sided 8x10s about them and their work.  I get a lot of real nice, personal responses.  The one that blew me away was a lady (whom I won’t mention to spare her mailings in hope of receiving the gift that I did) who was one of the finalists for the National Book Award in poetry.  Not only did she sign my sheet, but she sent me an inscribed hardcover copy of her newest book.
My favorite baseball response was Eddie Gamboa’s. I put together a double-sided 8×10 about him and his feat of hurling a no hitter.  Not only did he sign the sheet I sent him, but he sent me back the lineup card from the day of the no-hitter.
My favorite baseball autograph of the year.  The Christmas present of the paper signed by Gabby Hartnett and 5 other 1930 Cubs that Nancy got me for XMAS.”
Thanks, Rich! 
Rich didn’t mention the poetic irony of Hartnett’s 1930 signature. The next year, photographers caught Hartnett signing an autograph for Al Capone. The commissioner warned the catcher about having his picture taken with shady characters. Today’s players may have sworn off signing all autographs (at least freebies).
Speaking of spring training, now is the time to fine-tune your letters. While it’s unlikely you’ll get a bonus hardcover book of poetry from any players, your letters make a difference. First, they convince someone from baseball’s family that a response matters. Secondly, your quality letters keeps the readers reading. They’ll keep opening more envelopes, wanting to keep the good feelings flowing

Orioles Pitching Prospect Eddie Gamboa Wows Collector

Collector Rich Hanson may baffle some of you.

I spotted this gem at
The Great Orioles
Autograph Project blog.
Check out Ryan’s cool,
never-ending chase to
collect every O in history!

Some might think he gives more than he gets. He stays busy summers by photographing minor leaguers, then sending 2 prints, one for them with the request for the other one to be autographed and returned in the SASE. Yes, some keep both and never reply.

What about making a double-sided 8-by-10 laminated collage of someone’s highlights, saving clippings, box scores and other details? Such hustle can bring awesome results. Look at what the effort brought this enterprising hobbyist. Rich recapped:

“Eddie Gamboa signed the double-sided 8×10 that I put together about him and the no-hitter that he pitched.  Not only that, but he wrote a note on a large piece of white cardboard thanking me for writing to him and saying that now I have the card from the no-hitter.  Not certain what he meant, I opened up the cardboard that he had folded and wrote on the back of, and discovered that he had sent me his team’s line-up card from the day of the no-hitter that he had pitched.  Wow!  If I had done something like that(pithcing a no-hitter in AA ball), I’d hang on to that for the rest of my life.

“For him to send it to a fan as a “thank you” for writing to him, is really quite a gesture. I have written him a thank you note, offering it back to him if he reconsiders and wants to save it for his family, but the gesture was really something.  Very generous and totally unsought.  If he does not reconsider, it will certainly have a hallowed place in my collection.  Remember when you read about cheats like A-Rod and Ryan Braun, that there are guys like Eddie Gamboa out there too, guys who care about more than just themselves.”

Thank you for the sterling example, Mr. Hanson! Sure, you can count the misses. Except, when you connect like Rich does, who cares about the occasional out?

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