Minor Leagues? A Major Deal To Many Players

I spotted this classic ad at

When you write to a player, current or retired, consider the guy’s whole career.

Quite often, I get reader questions. “What do I ask someone in a letter?”
My traditional answers are:
1. Make it personal
2. Make it specific
Here’s a #3. Consider being unique.
Even if someone had his “cup of coffee” with a pennant winner, I’m sure other fans and collectors have noted the novelty of this.
Have you looked at this person’s minor league stats?
A so-so major leaguer could have been a AAA star. One of those AAAA players, better than any of the competition. 
It’s helped me to reference Iowa minor leaguers. I’ve seen my share of minor league games here. When the world was agog over Cubs rookie Mark Prior, I chose to write him about his two dazzling outings with the Iowa Cubs. I saw the latter, watching Chicago general manager Jim Hendry from his skybox. After each strikeout, the GM’s eyes grew bigger and his smile wider. I told him about seeing the visiting team lined up at the dugout railing, watching not as rivals, but as fans.
Yes, I got a great response in record time.
Sure, anyone would trade time in the majors for the minors. But knowing that one day in the bigs is only part of someone’s story. That’s the kind of letter I’d like receiving.

Cub Mark Prior Showed Good Letters Count

Why would you have an autographed newspaper clipping?

Because a rookie sensation clipped it out for me.

In 2002, I had attended the Iowa Cubs AAA games that launched pitcher Mark Prior to Stephen Strasburg-like potential. I watched visiting players on their dugout steps, staring and gasping like fanboys. I picked out Chicago general manager Jim Hendry in a Des Moines skybox nodding again and again for each strike, grinning like he just hit the lottery.

I wrote all this to Prior the week Chicago promoted him. I told him how meaningful it was to be part of his ascent to the majors. Plus, I mentioned that I thought I’d never afford the autographs offered in the team gift shop. However, I was enclosing a 9-by-12 SASE. Please, would he have a couple of photos to send to me and my brother?

Enclosed were two carefully-clipped color photos, one from the Tribune, one from the Sun-Times. Both showed that famous pinched Prior signature.

The moral? Forget the form letter. Lose the canned paragraphs. Dream big. Be personal every time. There’s no better way to beat those major league odds.

%d bloggers like this: