Pat Neshek Still Shines As Hobbyist

Give this collector an “A’s” for effort!

The New York Times offered an awesome tribute to hobby ambassador Pat Neshek last week.
Tyler Kepner is one of my favorite baseball journalists. However, he didn’t address two questions:

1. How many players would send a clubhouse attendant to ask for someone else’s autograph?

2. How many current players wouldn’t confess to collecting autographs?

I hope everyone reads the whole feature. In the final paragraph awaits a surprise.

One autograph reply could have changed Neshek’s career!

In college, he wrote Virgil Trucks. All Pat got in return was a FOUR-PAGE letter offering advice to a young pitcher. It seems that “Fire” was a double inspiration…on the mound, and as someone who demonstrated how to sign autographs with style and grace.

To Pat and Stephanee Neshek

Dear Pat and Stephanee:

This letter is not about the Oakland A’s, the post-season or autographs. This is about both of you and Gehrig John.

Fans and autograph collectors have loved you both for years. You’ve given so much of yourselves, putting others first. The loss of your baby saddens us all. We grieve with you.

We’re grateful for both of you. Your courage in these difficult times makes us proud. I’m sure it would make that little boy proud, too.

In Remembrance,
Tom Owens

A Meaningful NY Yankee Autograph Collection? ‘The Lost Collector’ Found a Way!

Check out this 2005 TTM success from Phil Rizzuto. Says A.J. — “I sent him a nice note and a few memories I had of him, including the way my Italian grandmother and I used to enjoy the way he talked about food on air. I also included a check for a few dollars in hopes that he would sign my card. Not only did he sign my card, but sent a small signed photo (It read: “Tell Nonna I sure would love to have some of those ravioli”) and sent my check back and wrote on it “No Charge, AJ. Scooter #10″. It just goes to show that a sincere letter can go a long way.”

Reader feedback is the best. I love writing about collectors, because it inspires more stories. We can learn so much from each other.

Take A.J., for example. A humble guy, he asked me to withhold his last name. All names aside, you should know him as “The Lost Collector.” This talented fellow blogger shared his personalized plan for collecting what he cares about — along with the tale of how he returned to the hobby after getting overwhelmed with card choices and other challenges. I’m grateful that he tells his story in the following e-interview.

Q: I love the Yankees project. What was the inspiration? You acquired all the signed cards yourself TTM? What was the time span?

A: I’ve been interested in signed Yankees cards via TTM for as long as I can remember. Back in high school (early 2000s), I had TTM success from Gil McDougald (on 1959 Topps) and Mel Stottlemyre (on a 1972 Topps).  I loved having vintage cards signed, and three years ago I had the idea to try and get a signed Topps card of a different Yankees player for as long as Topps has been in the business. I could never send out requests with any consistency, but having this project as my goal kept me interested in the hobby and sending out requests on a regular basis. I had to acquire the cards, research who to send to from which years, and then take the chance of sending. I did in fact acquire all of the cards myself via TTM requests (and many other cards too that didn’t make it into the project). I also managed to complete the project without sending to any players who require fees, which just goes to show how many generous signers there are still out there.

 Q: Steve Kraly is Mr. Binghamton. What kind of response did he supply?

A: I’m glad you asked. I did in fact mention to Mr. Kraly where I grew up, and he wrote me a very nice note back, about two pages in length. He told me a lot about his time playing in Binghamton, such as his stats before being called up. He shared other fond memories, including the fact that he met his wife there. He still lives there and stays involved in the game by being the official scorer of the Binghamton Mets (Double A). I sent him two 1955 Topps cards, asking him to keep one, but he signed both and returned them to me.

Q: THE LOST COLLECTOR is a great title. What’s been different — and better — in your second time around as a hobbyist?

A: The second time around, I feel like I’m a lot more mature and focused (despite my blog title). Back in my early days of collecting, I’d pull a card and immediately look at what it was “worth” in Beckett. That has changed now. I can’t tell you the last time I’ve looked in a price guide. It’s more fun now because the cards have a lot more personal worth to me. I still feel “lost” at times based on all the card issues I missed while I was out of collecting (the certified auto craze and game-used cards really happened while I was gone), but it gives me something to look forward to in trades – knowing that there are so many Yankees cards out there I haven’t seen and don’t own.

Q: I love how you quiz minor leaguers about a future goal. Who’ve been some of the best answers?

I often ask a player who they admired growing up, and what pitcher/batter they most look forward to facing. I get a lot of the usual suspects – Jeter, Pujols, Griffey.

 Q: What’s been the most fun, satisfying parts of having a blog?

A: Having a blog has kept me interested in collecting. Not only does it give me a place to trade and acquire new cards, but it’s a daily activity in the hobby that doesn’t have to revolve around buying new cards or visiting a shop. Every day, I scroll through my blogroll and check out what everyone is talking about. In this sense, it keeps me interested day in and day out.

Sometimes, your
all-time favorite
player still signs
TTM, A.J. found!

Q: Current autograph project/focus/goal?

A: My focus lately has been minor leaguers/prospects. I follow the Yankees minor league system closely, so when I am able to get a TTM success from guys I’m a fan of – whether or not they actually make it to the majors – is an awesome feeling. I would like to start a new project soon, but for now I’m enjoying sending to minor leaguers. I have a five-month-old son, and have gotten a few players to personalize cards to him (Pat Neshek and Virgil Trucks have done it), so perhaps I’ll shift the focus away from my collection and start getting cards signed for him. It could be cool for him to have when he’s older.

 Q: Advice for almost-lost autograph collectors, those who may be getting disillusioned with
lowTTM response rates, scribbly signatures, guys who charge, etc.? Do you see any silver
linings to the dark clouds in the autograph hobby?

A” It’s definitely getting tougher and tougher. I’d advise anyone struggling with the hobby to think of your own project – one that’s both attainable and challenging (i.e. trying to collect a signed team set of 1987 Topps). I’ve never been so inspired to send out requests than I was when I only need a few more cards to complete my own project. It kept me interested and focused, and I’m not sure I’d be TTMing today if it wasn’t for my project’s completion driving me. Lastly, don’t send anything you can’t afford to lose. There’s always the risk, no matter who you send to.

Coming Monday: Remembering Twins pitcher Dave Boswell

D-backs Pitcher Brad Ziegler Reveals A Shocking Stat For TTM Autograph Collectors

If you get Brad by mail, be assured that a
Bible verse will be attached!

There may have been a few groans when Pat Neshek shared May advice for autograph collectors. Don’t forget the SASE? Some veteran hobbyists snorted. Who wouldn’t enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope? Where was the advanced, top-secret formula for guaranteed autographs?

I decided to cross-check Pat’s concern. Could it be? I sought out Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Brad Ziegler. How many fan letter autograph requests does he get NOT including a SASE? I told him that veteran collectors hope to get the word spread, to reduce the number to ZERO.

He replied:

Thank you 🙂 5%. Most have SASE.
 The ones that don’t, I keep the cards.

Five percent is five percent too many.

I’m grateful to Stephanee (Mrs. Pat) Neshek, who asked the same question to her talented husband. She wrote:

Pat loves the hobby himself so he tries to be as accessible as he can be. He said about 1 out of every 10 requests don’t have a SASE.

Come to think of it…one out of 10 is one too many.

Why? That one could push a current or former player into finding the needed scapegoat. Imagine. “I hate it when they do this. I’m not going to do fan mail any more!”

I salute everyone who’s learned the rules of TTM collecting. To everyone who shares those rules, I offer an extra cheer.

Coming Wednesday: Youtube, the next stop for autograph enlightenment!

Pitcher Pat Neshek Talks Autographs

Collector Neshek likes
this hard-to-get card best!

I awoke to find that the Baltimore Orioles had the best record in the American League this morning.

Is that good news for pitcher Pat Neshek? The hurler awaits at AAA Norfolk. No O’s fan wants to mess with success. However, I know is that Neshek’s stellar spring training stats prove he deserves to be back in the bigs…somewhere.

No matter where he’s at, Neshek remains the hobby’s best friend in baseball. He’s more than a signing machine. He takes pride in being a collector, too. He answered some questions when I wrote him c/o the Tide.

Q: Besides the SASE, what tips do you have for collectors by mail?

A: Keep it short and simple. Include a SASE and research which players sign TTM.

Q: Your website rocks. I’ve enjoyed your great card set reviews. What’s been your favorite Pat Neshek cards so far — and why?

A: 2007 Topps Heritage. It’s a tough SP to find.

Q: Bless you for your penmanship. What’s kept you from a “P— N—,” the standard abbreviated scribble so many players succumb to?

A: I enjoy signing and like a nice signature people can read.

Coming Thursday: A review of ‘The Baseball Hall of Shame: The Best of Blooperstown.’

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