The Collector's Corner: TTM Autographs

After a large void since the previous (and only) Collector’s Corner, I’m back. I’ll try to do this monthly from here on out.

Today I’m going to go over the basics of getting autographs through the mail (or TTM).

The easiest was to obtain autographs from sports stars is mailing cards to the players. While not all players sign, a good percentage do. The easiest thing to send is cards, but players will also sign bigger items like baseballs or 8x10s. Also, some sports are better known for signing: baseball is probably the easiest to get TTM while basketball is the hardest.

What you should do…
Always, always send a self addressed stamped envelope (SASE). Player will not send stuff back with out it. According to Pat Neshek of the Twins “When I do my letters if there is no SASE there will be no response. I’ve collected tons of baseballs, hats, shirts, cards and other things over the past couple years because there was no SASE.” I have stocked up on the Forever Stamps to make sure changes in postage do not affect the SASE. For cards, 1 stamp is enough. For bigger items, you may want to check with the post office.

Put a short note in with the SASE and cards. Most players don’t actually read them, but some of the players do appreciate the support and a few even send a note or something back. One player who responds is Cooper Brannan, a minor leaguer in the Padres system and former Marine. He sent my card back signed and a little note thanking me and telling me Bowman spelled his name wrong on the card.

Place an index card or 2 in the envelope if you are worried about the cards getting damaged. It will provide a little protection; unfortunately the players don’t usually send them back. Every once in a while the player will sign those as well (at least retired players; current players are taught not to since identity theft is so common now).

What you shouldn’t do…
Don’t request a player to get you an autograph from a teammate. Nothing will get your letter thrown away faster than asking a player for a teammate’s autograph. Just ask Neshek – he keeps some of the letters and post them on his website

Don’t send a player a ton of cards. Most of the time, I’ll send up to 4 cards; sometimes I send more and offer them to the player. A lot of players have limits of what they sign; Joba Chamberlain of the Yankees will only sign one, while Neshek will sign anything.

Don’t send cards in top loaders (the plastic protective cases). Sure they keep the card(s) protected, but I’ve seen more instances where the player signs the top loader instead of the card. Then you have a ruined protective case and an unsigned card.

Addressing…
When addressing the player you are sending to, use the following method:
Player Name
C/O Team
Stadium/Ballpark/Arena
Address

This way, it gets to the right location and can be forwarded to the player. It’s better to have too much information here than not enough. You can find any team address on their web page.

I’d advise not to send to a current player’s house. Their time at home is used with their family, not to sign autographs. Send it to their team.

Retired players normally sign at home; a few will have schools, training facilities, or foundations that they will sign courtesy of. Some will also require a donation.

The best thing to do before sending to anyone is a little research. There are plenty of websites and forums dedicated to TTM Autographs. Most of the time you can find out if a specific player will sign, how many, where to send, and if a donation is required. I usually use Sportsgraphing.com, Sports Collectors, or the Bench Trading. Sportsgraphing.com has a yearly $5 fee; Sports Collectors has some stuff for free, but most of their information comes with a $15 yearly fee; the Bench is completely free and has a nice TTM Database.

The Players…
Here are some players that sign pretty well during the season:
Pat Neshek, David Eckstein, Tony LaRussa, Greg Maddux, Cooper Brannan, Brandon Morrow, Chris Young (San Diego), Jon Garland, Brad Ausmus.

Here are some players that sign pretty well during spring training:
Anyone mentioned above, Curtis Granderson, J.R. Towels, Troy Cate, Garret Anderson, Rich Hill, Cliff Lee, J.J. Putz, Chad Cordero, Khalil Greene, Milton Bradley.

Here are some retired players who sign pretty well:
Bobby Thompson, Ron Cey, Lonnie Smith, Andre Dawson, Sparky Anderson, Whitey Herzog,.

Here are some guys from other sports that sign pretty well:
Isaac Bruce, Brett Hull, Al McInnis, Jeremy Roenick, Greg Norman, Jason Kidd, Dirk Nowitzki.

Like I said, do some research on a player. Also, most of the big name players (Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, etc) will not sign TTM. It’s best to try for minor leaguers before they make it big.

Next time I’ll look at getting autographs at the ball park.

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