Thursday, March 8, 2018

My Lonely Mailbox

Have you ever noticed that this hobby can snowball on you pretty easily?  Never all at once, but slowly, steadily.  I still remember the first time I decided to try my hand at TTM autographs.  It was right in the middle of Spring Training 2004.  I had been following a thread on the Beckett Message Board, and it blew my teenage mind that collectors were getting all these autographs from real, live baseball players for the cost of a stamp.  This was right in the prime of the game-used explosion, and most boxes now guaranteed at least one "hit."  But autographs were still tough to come by, and pulling even the most obscure of players was a huge deal.  I still remember jumping for joy at the sight of a Andy Morales auto from 2002 Topps Traded.  So getting autographs for the cost of two stamps? 

Pure heaven.

At the peak of my free time to things to do ratio, probably mid-high school, I think I sent something like 200 letters out.  Each hand written, each genuinely sharing why I enjoyed watching that player or following their career or learning about what they accomplished.  Each researched and thoughtfully composed in my terribly illegible chicken scratch.

Coming home each day was like opening a pack of high end product.  There was almost always one autograph waiting in the mailbox.  On a good day, maybe even two or three.  I remember once there were five envelopes waiting for me, and I nearly lost my mind.

At the time, quite a few Hall of Famers signed regularly and for free.  Times have changed, players have changed. 

I've continued my collecting habits, but the number of requests have trailed downward for years as the pesky realities of being an adult get in the way.  Fewer players sign, and many of the consistent signers I already sent to over the years.  And of course certified autos have trended down as well, and can now be had for a fraction of what they used to cost.

But as I've started finding my "new normal" in my return to the hobby, it's a part that I find myself missing the most.  My favorite parts of collecting are the simplest.  Evolving simple base cards into autographs.  I just recently reactivated my subscription to, and I'm excited to jump back into things.  There's nothing more exciting than having a reason to check the mailbox after work. 


  1. Replies
    1. There's something about the loopiness of his signature that I love. Same with Dave Parker.

  2. Whenever I read these kinds of stories, I'm always motivated to start writing letters and send them out. But then it slips my mind... and never gets done. I've only sent a few letters out and I'm pretty sure I've only received one back. It was a pretty cool experience though.

    P.S. That Al Oliver is sweet!

    1. When I first started, I sent to anyone and everyone I could think of and had a terrible success rate. I'd get stonewalled by no-name prospects in A ball, and then the next day get back Duke Snider. I use - it has addresses and shows the success rate of other collectors. For $15 a year, it's saved me twenty times that in not wasting stamps on non-signers.

      The autographs are great, but I've gotten some really wonderful handwritten letters back from some of the
      former Pirates I've written to. Those are some of my most treasured parts of my collection.