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.

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.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

RBI (116) Vintage Prospecting...

One thing I definitely enjoy getting signed would be the prospect, rookie, or 1st cards of players. It's nice to note the beginning of a players career with their first card of note. This is especially fun for me to do for players whose cards are vintage at this point since it's more difficult to track them down than current rookies.

Jim Anderson was drafted by the California Angels in the 2nd round of the 1975 MLB Draft. He cruised through the minors to debut with the Angels in 1978. He was able to play almost every position which helped the .218 hitter play 419 MLB games from '79-81 and '83-'84. He would debut for the Angels as shortstop but appear at 3rd base, second base, catcher, and an outfielder by the end of his career.
Mr. Anderson was kind enough to sign his 1979 Topps prospect card for me as part of the Angels 50th Anniversary celebration. He had his family with him and mentioned to what I believe was his daughter that this is the card he had mentioned earlier. I'm assuming he was explaining to her which card was his rookie card. Dave Frost also appeared as part of the alumni appearances but since I didn't have any idea of how to get Bob Slater I opted to not have Frost sign the prospect card as it'd be a project I started that never finished.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Balk (15) - Rookie graphing...

For those of you interested in following a pretty hardcore grapher in the LA area I'd recommend the more recent blog MC's Autograph Signings run by a pretty talented young grapher Matt C. He covers baseball, basketball, hockey, and football so for those of you looking for more regular content than my worked induced semi-hiatus I recommend you take a glance over at his blog.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Balk (14) A work in progress

Well like I said earlier when defining my off season goals I decided that I'd use the off season to start assembling projects to work on getting signed during this coming season. I've been able to find an autograph project for the NBA (Matt Barnes' practice jersey) but it's taken some time to find something for baseball season.

Thankfully the holiday season took care of that for me. I was able to pickup a custom piece of wood from the Orange County based Trinity Bat Company on a pretty decent sale. The fine folks at Trinity have made custom bats used by Adrian Gonzalez, Tony Gwynn Jr., Hank Conger and Mark Trumbo. This is the model used by Gonzo, and I had my bat made to the specifications of a game used Trumbo bat I saw online to give it an authentic MLB feel.

It's engraved RBI Collecting and I'm sure the Trinity folks got a smile out of that thinking I was some Sunday league player being a little over anxious when naming my bat.

I'm looking forward to working on getting my first bat signed. I'm not sure what my requirements will be for to add a player on the bat, but I'll definitely collect multiple signatures on it. The chance to meet a Hall of Famer is too rare to make it a pure HOF bat, but I've seen a few out there and they're pretty impressive projects. Considering it's a legit custom bat I'm fairly certain they'd have to at the least have been named an All-Star. Anything beyond that I'll have to keep thinking about it.

Thoughts?