Friday, November 28, 2014

How Jon Favreau's 'Chef' will help your autograph collecting

The day after the holiday, I'm still thankful.

Are you? 

I'm a fan of the movie Chef

No, it's not about baseball. It's about passion.

Check out the scene in which Jon Favreau tells his son why he does what he does.

Be that guy. For your kids. Your spouse. Anyone who'll listen. It's not enough to tell someone you like sending letters to current and former players.

Be grateful. Then, add the WHY. Those people support your hobby in so many ways. 

Keep them on your team.


Monday, November 24, 2014

The Autograph Lesson of Ex-Red Tracy Jones

I wrote about Tracy Jones and his autograph signing attitudes back in 2012.

Since then, I've reconsidered what a "working" address. Not just a workplace address, but a contact that works. Period.

Players-turned-announcers might feel more motivated to sign in care of their station or network. They may not feel the need for you to pay, since their media employer is. Signing might help listener/viewer ratings.

High profile players may not like volumes of mail at home. Or, their spouse may object. Al Kaline told me at a 1990s card show about keeping fan mail sent to his home in bushel baskets. Then, he sighed and recited a tale of getting his property tax statement mixed up with all the autograph request letters. I translated that, from his tone of voice and scowl, as wanting to say, "I get fan mail and important mail."

Don't assume the home address will get you a faster response or more attentive signers. Of course, these jock journalists may not be near their media address for months during the off-season. I haven't seen lots of evidence of employers forwarding fan mail to homes. Timing is crucial.

Comparing notes on sites like www.sportscollectors.net is vital for hobbyists. Additionally, people change. What works in 2014 might not next season.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Can Hermey, Santa and Bumble Help Your Autograph Collection?

Guess what TV show turns 50 years old this year?
Through the New Year, I'll be using these on my baseball letters.
If the stamp makes someone feel younger and more
generous, go for it!

First of all, do NOT get on Santa's "naughty" list.

I'm not advocating that you fib. No telling huge lies about how your last wish is to get a reply from Joe Ballplayer.

I am saying to make merry when you write. Acknowledge the holidays.

Use the holiday stamps. The USPS has a variety of 2014 designs. 

Seek out some Christmas stickers. If you can get some greeting card-sized envelopes, go for it. Colored, even red or green, might get you to the top of a fan mail pile.

Surprises happen every Christmas season. Tony Oliva turned down money in the past to send holiday greetings with an autograph.

Save your generic postage stamps for January. Now is not the time to be dignified. Be joyous. In turn, the current or former player may be looking at your envelope as a potential Christmas present they can give you via a reply.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Tips For Getting AAGPBL Girls Leaguers To Sign By Mail

What if?

It's the best way to take your hobby up a level.

I've been astounded at the willingness of the AAGPBL players to keep signing by mail, even in their 80s (and beyond).

Of course, all collectors want perfect records. How could I do better?

I asked the question of Carol Sheldon, an accomplished collector and learned fan of the girls league. I'd call her scholarly. Through the years, she's become close friends with many former players. In fact, she serves on the board of the alumni association.

These players never got any pension. Some played only one season (or less). Being retirees, would they appreciate any money with a letter?

I'm grateful for Carol's reply:

"The ladies would probably send the $5 back with the autograph! I always sent an SASE before and after I got to know them. Sometimes they would send that back too ! The only thing most won't sign is a 3x5 index card."

I think here's one better tip than adding a tip ...

Write a thoughtful letter. Sure, politeness pays. However, prove that you know something about the league. All of the retirees have Wikipedia bios. Or, go to the official www.aagpbl.org site. Note the team they played for or something specific about the years they played.

Many of these women are former teachers. They'll appreciate a personal, creative effort. In turn, I'm betting you'll get some of the best responses ever.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Baseball Managers of the Year: Matt Williams, Buck Showalter and Justin Evans?

Justin Evans is a hobby hero. 

While Matt Williams and Buck Showalter were zoned on post-season berths, Justin was building a team of his own.

His Facebook site "Baseball Autographs" proves that collecting is still fun.

The site is a FREE place for autograph fans to gather and share pictures of one signature or a whole collection. Members are sharing opinions on autograph authenticity and other topics.

Justin enforces just two rules:

1. No buying/selling/trading.

2. No profanity. He knows that some members are kids. Discussion of signers and non-signers remains G-rated.

This is the hobby I remember. Only an occasional "what is it worth?" pops up, only to be dealt with by the membership. And the answer remains (from me), "As much or as little as you value the autograph."

Justin amazes me for another reason. He's posted the questionnaires he's received from some of baseball's oldest names. He's gotten great insights from long-retired alums who've shared tales of their service in the military and on the diamond. A kindred spirit of "Baseball By The Letters."

Check out one of the brightest spots in the Facebook universe. Whether you choose to join or not, let Justin know that you appreciate his efforts to share all the things good still remaining in the world of baseball autographs. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Chicago Cub Kris Bryant Amazes

Anyone who followed the 2013 Iowa Cubs could see
how Bryant "gets" being a fan-friendly public figure.
The Des Moines Register loved Bryant as much for his
attitude as his home runs!
No one's deserved a headline this year more than Kris Bryant.

Please, check out this feel-good feature about Bryant befriending a collector via Twitter once more. Read between the lines.

They know we're out there!

My first thought was scary: greedy grabbers bombard the future Cub star with a "give me something, too!" requests.

However, bigger possibilities prevailed. 

I think pointing out to a star that you've seen how much his autograph goes for at private signings. Ask if you could have just one, or what charity you could donate to.

The message would be clear: I don't want a dealer involved. I'm making a sincere, personal connection. 

Hey, it melted Kris Bryant's heart. It's a game plan that could work.




Thursday, November 6, 2014

Forget The Movie: Girls Leaguers Knew The REAL Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx

A League Of Their Own was a movie. JUST a movie.

The 1992 movie introduced unknowing baseball fans to the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. 

But a fact-based retelling? Magazines were quick to look for real-life equivalents for all characters.

The Tom Hanks character? A down-and-out former player who hit more than 500 home runs, but drank too much, only to get one last chance as a manager?

Well, Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx managed the Fort Wayne Daisies in 1952. He hit 534 homers. Maybe...?

Try asking a real AAGPBL player about the real-life skipper. 

While working on the revised edition of Belles of the Ballpark, I received a kind letter from Dolly Ozburn, a young pitcher for the '52 Daisies. She wrote:

"Jimmie was a very nice and caring person. He was okay as a manager, but since I was only 15, I had few managers to which I could compare him. I learned the most about baseball from his successor, Bill Allington."

In other words, there's history and Hollywood. Seldom, the two will meet.

Dolly was elected to the Milwaukee Brewers Hall of Fame in 2005. She's been a star in keeping AAGPBL history alive. A tip of the cap to her!