Thursday, December 27, 2012

Autograph Collecting Essentials 2, Collecting TTM

Hi everyone, I've been getting a few questions regarding how to collect autographs Through The Mail (TTM). I thought I'd go ahead and share some of the things I've learned from my time as a TTM collector. I follow a pretty standard formula for my TTM stuff. Hopefully this will be an easy guide on how to start collecting autographs for beginners. So one more time, if you're wondering how to get autographs TTM. Here's how:

The address:

If I'm mailing a current or former player who works for the team at a stadium I address the envelope like:

Mr. Current Player
c/o the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 
2000 Gene Autry Way
Anaheim, CA
92806

If I'm mailing a retired player at their home address it's just a standard address label:

Mr. Awesome Retiree
1234 Not Real Drive
Fake City, CA
12345

The Cards:
I know plenty of people who send a stack of cards through the mail but I tend to keep the number at 1-2. Some people get lucky with their large number of cards while some get 1 and the rest of the cards returned. On occasion the extra cards are unreturned and the player has added to his own collection. I know many collectors don't mind or even encourage the player to add to their own collection but it really depends on if your collection size or budget can afford you sending your extras to the player.

I've run into plenty of players in person and read about their signing habits online where they enjoy adding to their own collection or will reward fans with cards they've received from other collectors. For instance I was at an in person autograph signing for a player who played in the MLB for several seasons for some popular clubs but he wasn't necessarily a superstar. He came to the signing prepared to sign anything for those who came but also had a stack of easily 150 of his cards from various teams and sets. I'm fairly certain the duplicates collectors sent him to sign he ended up signing and giving out to fans who came unprepared to meet him. Personally I have no issue with that and hope my extra Topps card can be a memory as the first piece of a collection for a kid who met his first big leaguer and walked out with not just a stadium giveaway hat signed but a nice clean autograph on a vintage Topps card.

Inside the envelope:

First a letter saying hello and explaining why I'd like the players autograph. Make it personal and prove why you're interested in that specific players autograph instead of just adding to your stack.

Second the card I'd like signed. I don't always send my best card of the player as I'd rather not lose a Bryce Harper Rookie Card to the US Postal system or water damage when I can hold it and hope to get the valuable rookie card signed in person. Once again depends on your own collection and preferences.

Third a index card next to the baseball card to help strengthen the letter to resist bends and creases. Especially useful if you're sending vintage cards or card stock products like Heritage and Gypsy Queen where the edges can bend easily.

Fourth a smaller envelope that fits inside a standard size envelope. Get the nonlick self seal ones that you only have to remove the sticker so it seals, I've learned players and especially the retirees appreciate it.

Be sure that all your envelopes sent have appropriate postage attached. I use forever stamps to ensure that the postage is always correct, especially considering how often postage has risen recently.

Some of my best TTM autographs are Whitey Ford, Craig Kimbrel and Billy Wagner.

And that's really ttm. If you have any more questions on how to collect some autographs feel free to let me know via email. If  you're interested in how to get an autograph yourself in person at a MLB stadium you can read my article with a few tips here.

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