TTM Signers Charging $100 Fees

Fee-charging autograph signers haven’t hijacked this hobby…yet.

I counted five pages of prices in Harvey Meiselman’s 2013 Baseball Address List.

Bargains remain. Sid Bream, Dana Kiecker and Reggie Cleveland ask just one dollar per card autograph.

The top fees are $100 per autograph from two Hall of Famers, Yogi Berra and Bob Allen.

Oops. Wait a second. Hmmm…

Bob Allen. I looked him up.

Debut 1961 Cleveland Indians. Reliever for five seasons. Career 7-12, 4.11 ERA.

Wait! The page has a Bob Allen autographed card. Was that a $100 acquisition, too?

I contacted Sean Holtz, the talented founder, researcher and webmaster for the site. He replied:

As for Allen his signature is about 25 years old. Can’t remember exactly the year. I live in Florida, have my whole life, even went to middle school right next door to where the Expos did their Spring Training. Braves too. I would get countless signatures with all my friends. We would then trade. So I’d use a clipboard, put 3 cards across the clip, get them signed. My two other best friends did the same. We’d then trade! What I didn’t know was what a great idea that was decades later. Anyway, Bob had retired for a while. I didn’t have any cards for him, but there was a card shop there and we picked up a couple cards for him.

Crazy fee, $100! Wow! Maybe it’s a typo?”

That is no typo, baseball fans. The figure is confirmed
I asked Harvey for his take on lavish Bob Allen. He responded:

Tom – regarding Bob Allen, basically what he’s saying by charging a $100 signing fee is “Leave me alone. I don’t want to sign autographs.”
No secret with verifying the signing fees every year. I send out an autograph request to each player I have in my database as charging a fee and then confirm or update the signing fee information he sends back. You’d be surprised at the small percentage of players who donate their money to charity. There probably is a lot of the players who don’t specify a charity that do donate to charity but I don’t think it’s a high percentage.
Lefty Bob has my sympathy. Being a 1960s Indian was far from glamorous. Also, he pitched in 204 more major league games than I ever did.
Nevertheless, there’s no reason to take your frustration out on collectors who’re trying to complete a signed Topps set. Former players who want to leave their baseball life behind should ask Harvey to be removed from his 2014 edition, instead of punishing well-meaning hobbyists.
Coming Monday: a P.S. on Pete Rose.

Kevin Elster, Reggie Cleveland, Larry Gura Remain Bargains For TTM Autographs

Appreciate the facsimile sig.
This cup-of-coffee pitcher
now demands more than
$2 per letter for his last name!

 When in doubt, ASK!

One of the great parts of this hobby is knowing that veteran collectors will share their experiences with you. I called upon hobby veteran Rich Hanson for his impressions of former players charging for their autographs. I’m grateful for his words of wisdom:

“What do I look for in deciding whether to pay for a signature?  How tough the signer is otherwise, and how reasonable the fee is.

 One can find some good bargains in Harvey Meiselman’s list of signers.  HOFer Don Sutton @$5 a card, Reggie Cleveland and Kevin Elster @ $1 a card, Larry Gura $2 per.
 I’ve never had a problem sending cash by mail, but I don’t send large amounts.  Anything bigger merits a money order or check if they’ll accept it.
 I weigh the price on the player and how bad I want him in my collection.  Quite a few years ago I paid $5 each for two Dom Zanni autographs.  Now he’s charging $30.  Now I’d pass. 
Even worse is Bob Giallombardo’s $25 (double his amount of major league games, and Bob Allen’s $100 fee to sign a card (postal money order only).  This is either a joke gone awry or an extremely unrealistic request. 
 I can buy three Nolan Ryan signatures for what he’s charging.”

Tomorrow: The amazing mission of pitcher Larry Gura!

Autograph Collectors: Asking is Free

I’m marveling over the newest edition of Harvey Meiselman’s comprehensive baseball address list. A whopping 246 pages, the list is a collector’s greatest ally in making the most of your efforts. Every collector should own one.

I have an interview with Harvey that I did eons ago. I’ll be sharing that on the blog in the future.

For now, I wanted to focus on the 4-1/2 pages of “Players Who Charge.”

The fees vary, some as low as $1 per signature for Kevin Elster or Reggie Cleveland. Some former players demand cash. Although this statement might sound like some autograph signers are hoping to dodge the IRS, I think some of the motivation is in avoiding hassles with the bank.

During a 1980s card show I covered for Sports Collectors Digest, I listened to Johnny Vander Meer grumble to Luke Appling that he was trying to solicit donations for the Baseball Assistance Team — only to have collectors bounce checks.

I think the list will keep growing. Everyone has the right not to respond, or to charge for their autograph.

I’ll remain grateful for what I receive. I’m not sending any items to be signed. Just 2-3 questions. Furthermore, I don’t second-guess someone who answers questions without signing his name. I read that one ex-player who responded (now in his 80s) has macular degeneration. His “reply” looked dictated. The ornate, loopy cursive appeared to be that of a teen female. No matter. Someone cared enough to give me the gift of his insight.

It is a gift. Every reply. A reply I send a thank-you note for.

An autograph for a fee is a product, with buyers and sellers.

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