Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Curious Case of Al Kaline

Al Kaline, Hall of Famer, and notoriously unpredictable signer.

The first time I learned about Mr. Kaline, it was while reading about him in Cooperstown Confidential. The scene painted around Kaline by the book was of a signer sitting at a corner in Cooperstown during Induction Weekend who was interested in the fee and not the line of fans or their anecdotes. Further research into Kaline revealed stories of him being very unpredictable in person. Finding him at a ball game in Detroit meant he could be personable and willing to sign, occasionally doing multiples for some. Or sitting in the stands he could be grumpy and unwilling to even give a signature to a kid at other times. Appearances at a Detroit car dealership were typically more positive with Kaline getting more favorable and personable reviews.

Through the mail to Mr. Kaline is an adventure in it's own. It seems the fee he charges can be on a sliding scale at times with fans mailing him $5 and getting a card signed, but at times the $5 is returned with a request for $10 even though the request is for a card. Some mail has been returned to fans with the card unsigned and money in the envelope along with it. One especially odd horror story was the $5 returned but it had been cut into pieces. It wasn't clear if Kaline himself did it or the Post Office had a mishap. Regardless, this Hall of Famer is clearly not the same as the rest of his Cooperstown peers who normally have a foundation or handler make the transaction quick, businesslike, and not all that interesting.

The standard return rate of successes and failures alike has seemed to be 2 weeks. Why is this important? Because 2 weeks ago I had a bit of a random occurrence happen. I was browsing through my cards and spotted one of Kaline, it was cool but I wasn't sold on if I should make an attempt with him or not. While browsing my local card shop later that day I spotted another Kaline card and decided to buy it just to add it to my collection. The next day I was pleasantly surprised to find $20 in a jacket I hadn't worn for a few months. Seeing as it was free money and I had just acquired a nice Kaline I decided to leap down the rabbit hole. That's right, I didn't test the $5 or $10 fee for a card. I wrote my letter, labeled my envelopes, and slid the $20 right behind the card.

I'm not really sure what I'll get back, but something should be coming through the mail this week. Be it my card with the fee, a cut up twenty, or maybe just maybe I'll be lucky enough to get the card back signed with the magical letters "HOF" to put in my collection. Either way, Mr. Tiger has made this TTM  safari an adventure.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting stuff. I just posted about the first Kaline auto, which I got off eBay and is certified. But I'm really curious how TTM with Kaline will work out. Can't wait to see your mail in two weeks.