Steve Sax Is Too Busy Coaching First Base?

See? Short to write.
What’s the problem?

Steve Sax remains a mystery to me.

He wasn’t happy signing TTM for free, getting a fan mail handler in 2011 who’d help him charge per signature.

This season, has he decided the cash isn’t enough? Here’s the statement from his autograph brokerage:

“Unfortunately Steve is not doing any mail items at this time. He is focusing on coaching with the Diamondbacks. Maybe after the season ends so please check then. Thanks!”

Fine. People who’ve written six months ago haven’t had their checks cashed. However, Sax has customers waiting. They are no longer admiring fans and collectors. They’re people purchasing a product (an autograph) from him.

Just because the fast-food chain doesn’t take our money, it’s still not cool to be kept in the drive-through line forever.

There’s still a large number of current coaches handling their own fan mail, signing for free. I can’t understand why Sax’s job or schedule is so different.

I’m mystified. Unless…

there’s going to be a new autograph fee menu issued after baseball season? The prices he agreed to weren’t enough to keep signing interesting, so he’s decided to use the D-backs as an excuse to back out of his deal?

I hope not. Please, Mr. All-Star, prove me wrong.

Beyond Steve Sax: Paying For Autographs



Chris Potter (left) and Steve Sax
(Photo courtesy of Chris Potter Sports)

 Thanks to Nick Diunte for sharing a recent fine feature on his “happening” blog, http://www.baseballhappenings.net/. Nick is an all-star journalist, someone with a deep appreciation of baseball and all things collectible. A kindred spirit!

Nick wrote about Chris Potter, the new intermediary handling fan mail for Steve Sax. Potter’s business has a website. Most encouraging is his motto: “The Collector’s Friend.”

In my original feature about Sax choosing to stop signing autographs by mail for free, I mentioned Potter’s role only in passing. Potter is seeing that unsigned cards get returned with a price list. When some ex-players stop signing, they may trash all their mail.

As Nick points out, Potter’s involvement can benefit needy retirees, such as 95-year-old Danny Litwhiler. This man, unlike Sax, never raked in millions during his career.

Last week, I mentioned that former Negro Leaguer Louis Clarizio Jr. would sign for pay. Using an autograph as a way to help someone in need can make sense, especially for someone with a one-year career who played mainly for the love of the game.

However, I can’t help missing the GIFT aspect of the autograph, the service of signing. Add money, and the personal interaction disappears. It’s like purchasing a loaf of bread at the supermarket. The humanity, the idea of one baker making a treat just for you, is replaced. The autograph is now an assembly-line product, something that anyone can own, not a reward for your captivating letter.

In fact, I can’t help but feel sad for the letter writers who try to send memories to a former player like Sax. These days, your cash matters more than your words to many retirees.

Coming Tuesday: Collecting Japanese baseball autographs

SportsCollectors.Net – The Perfect Hobby Gift

A hobby buddy. Yourself. Give someone the gift of a membership to http://www.sportscollectors.net/.

Aside from more postage stamps, it’s the best $14.95 purchase a collector can make.

I had a question from a blog reader. A good question.” Is it worth it?”

Absolutely!

Before I offer any other details, note that I am not an affiliate. I’m not getting a penny if you join. Doesn’t matter. This advice is my Christmas gift to you.

Let’s take Steve Sax. Please, someone should!

(Just kidding, Rookies of the Years.)

Well, anyone who belonged to SCN would have seen that Sax got “autograph happy” in early 2011. You’d see under “Latest Sigs By Mail” results posted by other members. Likewise, all past results are tabulated. Just search the site to see his signing history.

I’ve said many times how helpful Harvey Meiselman’s address list is, along with the quarterly updates he sends to customers.

However, three months may be too long to get word of some tough name who’s on a signing spree. The message board has many categories. If a collector spots an obituary of ANY retired player, word spreads.
The same instant updates happen for invalid or updated addresses. In fact, in many cases, collectors will share the exact address they used to gain a success.

The “about” page of the site details other helpful hobby data found within.

So many readers of this blog are fellow SCN members. SCN has 6,267 premium (dues-paying) members. I was moved by the a post for the holiday season. Members can post their trade and want lists. One member suggested filling want lists as GIFTS, not as parts of a transaction. Strangers giving autographs to each other!

There’s giving on the site each day. Collectors with decades of experience answer posted questions daily.

There’s so many great people in this hobby I’ve yet to encounter. SportsCollectors.Net has been a major resource for me in telling readers about this blog when it first launched. Tips from SCNers have helped me harvest the best baseball tales for you. I’ve saved time, money and frustration in knowing who’s answering fan mail, all through this great autograph resource.

I’ve belonged for years. I hope you’ll join the SCN team, too. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

Coming Friday: My best letter-writing advice of the year? My gift to you.

Goodbye, Steve Sax

Don’t like the facsimile?
The real one’ll cost you!

No, this isn’t an obituary.

However, hobbyists might be better off thinking that Steve Sax is dead and gone.

As search engines post their “most searched topics of 2011,” the popular http://www.sportscollectors.net/ has been buzzing over “No More Free Steve Sax Autographs.” This news post on the website message board brought 136 posts and nearly 3,900 views.

The “successes” section of the site noted that Sax had signed 123 of 264 recorded requests, a 46 percent success rate.

That number is bound to plummet. Sax has entered into a deal with a fan mail handler. It costs $20 for one signed card now.

Angry responses flew on the hobby website. Just one collector pointed out that, in the past year, Sax was sending solicitations with autographs, noting that he could help collectors with an investment opportunity to “expand your income base.”

The man who contracted to handle Sax autograph requests said that Sax made a deal with him. Sax, despite sending out notes for collectors who want to be investment customers to contact his secretary, claimed that he was unable to handle the number of letters? Ironically, in a web search, I found that Sax has a website touting his skills as a motivational speaker.

My advice? Let Steve Sax go. Ignore the hobby dealer who’s handling the mail. Spend the $20 on writing to 22 more retired players. More retirees will follow Sax’s path. Write now.

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