Here’s great TTM autograph advice from an all-star collector

This autograph hobby needs more Rich Hansons.

I included Rich in Baseball By the Letters for the first time in 2010. In the years since, I’ve sought his impressions of the hobby. He’s like the canary in the coal mine. When Rich is pleased with his hobby successes, we can all benefit from his experiences.

I asked him if COVID fears may be limiting his successes TTM autograph signers. Rich replied:

“I’ve been doing very well on autograph responses, but that’s because I have more time to do my homework to determine who is and is not signing. “TTM Autographs Galore” is a good resource site as is “Baseball autographs through the Mail. ” Current players, we’re pretty much out of luck with.  I’m hearing that most of the teams are just throwing away requests, using COVID as an excuse to jettison something they don’t want to be bothered with anyway.”

Again, I’m thankful for Rich’s comments. His answers should prompt two questions in everyone:

  1. When collecting TTM autographs, what am I doing well on? (Such as response rate, special requests, getting inscriptions, etc.)
  2. In what area could I improve? (Invalid addresses, getting non-responses, etc.)
Andy Messersmith autograph
www.baseballalmanac has an incredible variety of authentic autographs as illustrations.  Messersmith stopped signing in retirement, making his autograph a major rarity.

By non-responses, I mean the “I don’t sign autographs any more,” handwritten turndown from Andy Messersmith, or an unopened envelope that reads ‘Now with PastPros.’

Rich knows that TIME is the secret sauce collectors need. Check a site like www.sportscollectors.net to see if a retiree has been an invisible non-signer, or signing for free, of late. If Mister X hasn’t responded to a request in the last five years, don’t assume he’ll never sign again. Just know that your odds of a reply could be shrinking.

Join a Facebook group for collectors, just like Rich did. Keep track of your hits and misses, so you can give another collector a specific answer to “what kind of a response did you get from this guy?”

A journalism professor told me once, “If your mama says she loves you, check it out.” Or, in other words, trust but verify. Some of the victims of hobby burnout, those who’ve given up on TTM, may have survived by fine-tuning their methods. 

Save yourself. Save your collection.

 

 

Return envelopes? Hurler Mike Caldwell pitches possible SASE solution

“I like to taste food, not glue.”

— Pitcher Mike Caldwell

Caldwell’s Facebook memo to collectors has appeared on www.sportscollectors.net and throughout hobby forums. He brought up great suggestions. Caldwell has reasonable rules for TTM autographs. 

Besides, anyone who’ll keep signing for free, stating out loud that collectors don’t need to enclose money, should be given extra attention.

One request that caught my eye first was Caldwell’s wish that collectors stop using envelopes you have to lick. 

Don’t forget that www.baseball-almanac has a huge collection of autographs. Each signature is displayed on each player’s personal page.

My first concern was the empty envelope. Anyone who’s gotten an empty SASE knows that special disappointment. What might have been inside? 

Did someone not get the memo on how a self-sealing envelope works?

Sure, the self-seal SASE will be more expensive. But, once it is sealed, it stays sealed.

If you want to try self-seal envelopes, consider adding a sentence at the end of a letter. Something like: “I’m grateful and eager to have your autograph. In fact, I’ve enclosed a special envelope for your reply. Just remove the paper strip, and your signature will be safely on its way!”

Readers, please let me know what type of envelope you prefer using. Have you had problems with the other kind of envelope?

 

 

Sportscollectors.net remains a hobby all-star

After a summer away, I’m eager to make my comeback.

My first move to get back in the game was reconnecting with my favorite website.

I signed up with www.Sportscollectors.net back in 2012. I’ve never left.

Their hobby forum keeps me up to date if someone’s address changes. Post a question, and you’ll get results fast. Has a former player just started charging for autographs? The forum will have answers.

Collectors log their TTM attempts and results, including how long the response took. 

Save time. Save postage. Make new hobby friends. For just $14.99 a year, you can’t go wrong.

 

Pitcher Bob Allen rewriting baseball autograph hobby history?

Do you think the stone-faced 1960s hurler would crack a smile at the thought of someone paying his new signing fee?

Time for an update…

Pitcher Bob Allen, back in 2013, was shocking through-the-mail collectors by demanding $100 per autograph.

What about today?

One hobbyist on the always-cool www.sportscollectors.net reported that Allen wants $500 per autograph.

If anyone gets a response from Allen that includes WHY anyone should pay $500 for his autograph, I’d love to know. 

 

Dave ‘Boo’ Ferriss left on Thanksgiving

If there was an autograph Hall of Fame, Dave “Boo” Ferriss would be enshrined.

When he died on Thanksgiving at age 94, collectors lost a friend. The former Red Sox pitcher signed 227 out of 228 recorded requests, says www.sportscollectors.net. I’m astounded at how many hobbyists received notes, photos or other bonuses with their requests.

“Boo” shared this with me in 2010. Enjoy!

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