Wednesday, September 7, 2016

How to send a TTM autograph request


I know that others have written about this exact topic, but figured I should have a post like this on my blog as well.

There seems to be more and more card bloggers getting into Though The Mail (TTM) autograph collecting. Being perhaps my favorite part of collecting, I love seeing this. As a result, it's also piquing the interest of other collectors who are less familiar with TTM autograph collecting.

This post will serve as a quick 'how to' in terms of sending an autograph request for a signed card. Other collectors often send photos, baseballs, jerseys, and other memorabilia, but I'll stick to what I know: baseball cards.

Before I get started, a few rules of thumb:
1. Don't send anything you can't afford to lose.
2. Try not to be too greedy. Sending a couple of cards is ok, but keep it within reason. If you do want to send a few, offer to let the player keep a couple for himself or to give to family and friends. Some will take you up on it, some will not.
3. You'll be surprised what you can find with a few minutes of Googling - player signing habits, forums to discuss successes, home addresses, etc.
4. Be realistic. For the most part, major stars will probably not sign due to volume of mail. That's not to say don't take a chance. You never know. I've just found that I am more successful with lesser known players, minor leaguers, and retired players.
5. Be patient! It's worth it.

Now that that is out of the way, here is a quick and easy way to send out a TTM request.

What you'll need:
- 2 envelopes (I prefer a #10 envelope and a #6 envelope)
- 2 Forever stamps
- paper
- pen
- baseball card

That's it! Pretty easy, eh?

Step 1 - The Letter
Write your letter of request (LOR). I prefer to hand-write mine, but I know plenty of people who type their letter. To me, hand-written feels more sincere. However, if you have poor penmanship, by all means type it so it's easier for the player.

Some players will read letters, some will not. I always try to include a personal anecdote or a question or two. Once in a while, a player will send a nice note back or answer you question(s). Minor leaguers are pretty good about answering questions.

Sample letter:
Dear Mr. Player,
My name is AJ and I am a big fan of yours. I was lucky enough to see you while you played in Double-A Trenton. It's fantastic to see you in the big leagues now, and I wish you continued success.

If you have time, can you please autograph my card? It would be an honor to add it to my collection. Thank you for your time, and best of luck this season.

Sincerely,
AJ

That is a general formula I used, but personalize to each player, of course. I try to keep it short knowing the player is busy.

Step 2 - The Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope (SASE)
This is crucial and a must. Do not skip this step. The player has better things to do than address an envelope back to you and find a stamp. Save him the hassle.

Don't forget the stamp!

Tip 1: I always include my address as both the "To" and "From" section of the SASE to ensure it gets back to me no matter what.
Tip 2: Use a peel and stick, self-adhering envelope. The player will appreciate not having to lick your envelope.

Step 3 - Package everything nicely
Don't just throw everything into the envelope. Put some care into it. This is how I package my card:
A. Fold the letter nicely
B. Tuck card(s) into the letter
C. Fold the SASE in half
D. Tuck letter with cards in folded envelope
Tip: I prefer to send my cards unprotected. I assume players don't want to fidget with a top loader. I also avoid penny sleeves. A long time ago, Ralph Houk signed my sleeve and not my card. I never made that mistake again. More often than not, the cards return in fine condition.

Step 4 - Address the envelope
If you are sending to a player in care of (c/o) his team, here is the proper way to address the request:

Mr. Babe Ruth
c/o New York Yankees
Yankee Stadium
E 161st St. and River Ave
Bronx, NY 10451

If you are sending to a player's home address, obviously skip the team name.

Step 5 - Seal and send
Tuck the neat package from Step 3 into the envelope, seal it up, send it off, and wait patiently.
I also recommend keeping a simple spreadsheet of who you send to, date sent, date received, success/failure, and any other info of note. You'll appreciate this more over time as you send out more and more requests. It'll help you see your success rate and how long you waited on a particular request to come back.

There you have it. It's easy, fun, and rewarding. Whether you are a seasoned veteran, or trying this out for the first time, I wish you the best of luck!

7 comments:

  1. Thanks for the tips! Might have to give this a try at some point.

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  2. Thanks for the tips. I did this back int early 90s with high success rate, but back then Tuff Stuff and Beckett listed some players every month that were signing through the mail. I still have all of those cards from back then and only threw the return envelopes away this year. I have no idea why I hung onto those. Thanks again.

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  3. Very nice post. Now I can delete the post I had brewing for a while now. I can't top this. LMK if you get a return from Ruth.

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  4. this is exactly how i do it (or used to do it) - right down to the spreadsheet (i have a return rate of about 71% - 882 returns and 1231 requests sent)! however, i do send the cards in a semi-rigid holder. a few times, the holder has not been returned, and only once was it signed - rachel robinson signed both the holder and the card.

    http://garveyceyrusselllopes.blogspot.com/2015/06/rachel-robinson-continues-to-tell.html

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    Replies
    1. Good stuff. I'm back and forth on it. Right after I preached about not sending the cards protected, I got a return yesterday that was absolutely mangled.

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  5. "Tip 2: Use a peel and stick, self-adhering envelope. The player will appreciate not having to lick your envelope."

    DAMN! I never thought about that.

    And I have a lot of those smaller semi rigid. Maybe I can use them on TTMs. Otherwise I will have to make a dress or something out of them.

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