Wrigley Field frowns on autograph collectors

The new sign should read: "Don't Go Where Cubs Fans Have Gone Before." Michael Barera [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0), CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
The new sign should read: “Don’t Go Where Cubs Fans Have Gone Before.” Michael Barera [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0), CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Everything is connected.

Wrigley Field’s remodel includes an anti-autograph shield keeping players segregated from signature-seeking fans outside the ballpark.

Re-read the Ron Santo biography A Perfect 10. His sons discussed how he’d sign everywhere, stopping the car along the route home.

The Atlanta Braves spring training address confounds collectors. Mail gets rejected, RTS, without rhyme nor reason.

Teams are redefining us. Not in a good way. Speak up for yourself, and your hobby, every chance you get. 



Future Hall of Famer Marvin Miller’s Death: Lessons For Collectors

The Hall of Fame has another mess to clean up.

Ron Santo was just one example. Marvin Miller led the Major League Baseball Players Association. For better or for worse, he helped pioneer free agency. Another worthy, overlooked part of baseball history.

From eBay: small sigs
were vintage Miller!

Inducting someone after their death has happened before.

Miller may have peeved as many collectors as owners in his lifetime. His final stats on www.sportscollectors.net say that he responded 126 times to 174 recorded TTM attempts.

I found the non-player in just two card sets: a 1994 Upper Deck issue and the 2005 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites set.

Miller’s eyesight may have been failing for years, judging by his microscopic signatures.

In his defense, neither card offered a great space for an autograph.

I think he became irritated with the cumbersome nature of signing his book and baseballs. I believe that the final collectors who succeeded with Miller were ones who proved they were sincere, educated fans.

Another eBay example:
face-signed cards?

Look hard for other baseball pioneers. Find them before Cooperstown, or the Grim Reaper, calls.

Team owners
general managers

Readers: are other non-players Hall of Fame material, ready for autograph collections?

Coming Wednesday: Arizona Fall League insights from The Autograph Card

Finding Hall of Fame Postcards Cheap

Autograph collectors have loved them for decades. The postcards depicting Hall of Fame plaques have been a mainstay in many collections.

Once, when most HOFers signed for free, a bonus postcard would be included with a reply. Bob Feller told me years ago that the Hall gave him bundles free for his own use.
Us old-time hobbyists wince at the climbing prices of the postcards, now 50 cents each.

Even worse? Look on the HOF website and see that postage and handling begins at $7.99.
Or maybe not.
For a collector who needs only an annual update of that year’s inductees, the $7.99 seems like a punishment for someone wanting just two postcards.

Here’s an alternative:

Call the Hall of Fame switchboard (607-547-0397). Ask to be connected to the gift shop. Have a credit card handy. Ask if you can place a small order by phone.

Shrewd collectors have found that the shipping charges have been as low as $2 for a few cards.
HOF workers will ask collectors to send in a FAX for a large order.

Worst of all, don’t get soaked by dealers who are re-selling new cards for a few bucks each. Order straight from the source for the best deal.
Coming Friday: A review of the fun new book Baseball Fantography.

Chicago Cubs Voice Judd Sirott Talks Autographs, Fan Mail & Ron Santo

Know that voice?
Here’s the face!

I confess. I listen to Chicago Cubs radio broadcasts!

Praising a first-place team would seem easy. Finding words for a struggling ballclub? Good luck, Pat and Keith…

One of the guys I feel most for is Judd Sirott. He does only the 5th inning of games. A starter gets several at-bats to shine. Judd is like a pinch-hitter. One chance. How could he not feel cursed to get two “three up, three down” frames when it’s his turn?
He made the most of his chance to contribute some great memories to the book Ron Santo, A Perfect 10.

I reached Judd to ask one pressing question:
What’s fan mail like for the Cubs team? How do they cope?
He replied:

“I haven’t really talked to guys in the past about how they handle fan mail. Ronny would sit in the booth, reading and signing before games.”

Thanks to www.bobblebums.com for
the scoop on this Judd gem, from a
minor league HOCKEY giveaway!

As Judd’s Cub gig could be the springboard to a higher-profile baseball job, I asked him if he’s been depicted on any regional sets. I couldn’t imagine him on an ordinary index card.

“I’m not on any card sets that I’m aware of.”

Looking on the Internet, the same studio mugshot seems to be the main view we get of Judd.

I know some collectors use team logo stickers to dress up index cards. His autograph in a sea of whiteness? Nah…

I wanted to see if his face existed somewhere.
Ideas? Suggestions?

Coming Friday: A pinstriped bonus, Yankees fans! Hart Seely provides some color commentary for the making of Juju Rules!

New Ron Santo Cubs Book Rates A ’10’

(With 24 Pages of
Great Photos!)

I just received my copy of Ron Santo: A Perfect 10, by Pat Hughes and Rich Wolfe (Lone Wolfe Press, $24.95). Wow! I read it all in one sitting. If you ever cheered for the inspiring third baseman or joined in the groans and gasps of his agony-to-ecstasy Cubs broadcasts, you’ll devour this title, too.

I don’t even believe the book has typical chapters from friends, family and co-workers. Instead, I think each chapter is more like an insightful letter — a personal correspondence with readers and one last love letter to Ron.

Most surprisingly, I found lots of autograph-related content in this pages, such as…

“After those games, on the ride home, fans would be everywhere,“ wrote son Ron Santo Jr. “Dad would sign autographs at every stop sign on our route through those Chicago neighborhood streets, all the way to the Kennedy.”

Broadcaster and co-author Pat Hughes wrote, “People would write us letters, not just about baseball, they’d write Ronnie letters telling him that their own child was suffering. Ron would read these stacks of fan mail and he’d take them on the road with us.” Sure enough, the eternal Cub would CALL the challenged families, offering a specific heart-to-heart talk with each diabetic child.

Son Jeff wrote of his dad’s pride and ego. “He would get fan mail and if any came in addressed to ‘Santos’ he would throw it in the garbage. ‘They don’t know who I am.’”

I was moved by the chapter by Adielene Santo, Ron’s older sister. She told of preparing to attend the wake after her brother’s funeral. She chose to greet and thank the fans standing behind barricades. “He loved you, and I know he’d want me out here.” Shockingly, some of the fans asked for her autograph, which she declined politely.

While Ron’s sister seemed forgiving of overzealous collectors, she witnessed the best in the days after her return home. “I got fan mail,” she said. “The letters I got were beautiful.”

When can an autograph be life-changing? I think Ron knew the answer. In the chapter by Suellen Johnson, who helped organize the first Ron Santo Walkathon for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund (JDRF), she writes:

“One of my daughter’s prized possessions from 1979 is her baseball glove that reads, ‘Congratulations on doing your own shot. Your friend, Ron Santo.’”

A portion of the proceeds from book sales will be donated to JDRF. I can still hear Ronnie shouting, “This must be the year!” If I might borrow his microphone, let me add: “This must be the book!”

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