After another successful year of collecting TTM I thought I would take a look back at the final metrics from the year. Truthfully I’m just getting back into it. It hasn’t a full year as I don’t think I started sending out seriously until the end of May. So, what did I get done in around 8 months? A whole lot I think.
I love metrics and statistics. I also REALLY love a spreadsheet (no matter what it’s for). So when I picked up TTMing again I decided to see what types of things I could track to make it a little more interesting. I’ll look at all the normal stuff like how much came back and all that, but I’m going to try to find something interesting in the numbers too.
The Final Tally
My overall return rate historically hovers somewhere around 50% with maybe 10% or so being failed returns (either something coming back unsigned or the USPS sending it back to me). It was in that neighborhood again this year. Those numbers really depend on a lot of things though. Sometimes you send to people just to try them out and other times you send because you’ve done the research and you know you could get something back. I look more specifically about what came back to me.
- Successful Returns: 171
- Total Cards Returned: 461
My best month for returns and cards coming back was October, by a lot. I got 37 return envelopes in that month with 119 cards in those packages. Other successful months were December (34) and November (25). But even in those month the highest number of cards I got back was 72, so the 119 in October was amazing. On top of that, I had a 16 card trade that month.
When you think about it, the higher numbers should be at the end of the year though. The more cards you have out, the more cards that have a chance to come back to you later. I’ve got a lot of chances out there.
With all those TTMs out there, sent to all kinds of places like homes (52%), teams (32%), PO Boxes, schools and businesses – how long do they really take to get back? Well, of course I look at that like any good TTMer. First, the short side of things:
- 5 Days: Ed Glynn
- 6 Days: Tom Brunansky, Ron Hodges, Gino Marchetti, Joe Morgan (the manager), and Keith Willis
Six days happens frequently enough. Five days seems amazing. Either Ed really signs them as he gets them or it just happened to get to him on the perfect day. For me though, the more interesting part (especially with one particular one this year) are the TTMs out there the longest:
Carlos’s cards were sent so many years ago that I lived in a different house. The forwarding is definitely done as I left that house five years ago, so this was an amazing job by my postal carrier to get it to me. My guess is that this was actually sent years ago and that it was something that just got lost for a bit. The envelope was a little beat up to say the least but the cards were still in pretty good shape aside from a bend and a little crease.
The Cards That Came Back
Fair warning, and if you usually follow me you’ll know, but there’s definitely a late 80’s early 90’s bent to my card collection. What you’ll see most are things coming back from those days. I’m also mostly a baseball collector and hadn’t sent out a football card for TTM ever. I finally correct that and got a bunch of football out towards the end of the year.
1988-1992 are clearly where I get the most returns. I only send out doubles and it would make sense that junk wax era cards are the cards that I have the most doubles of to send out. I’m trying to relax on that a bit. I have a lot of onesie-twosie cards for the late 90’s and early 00’s and I’m trying to let go of my hoarding mentality a bit on those and send a few. They are clearly not sets I am close to collecting or even trying to collect. Some of them would look great with a signature too.
As far as the brands that I got back the most, if you guessed Topps would be the… ahem… top, well, of course it would. They’ve always dominated the market so they have and always will be the easiest thing to find.
But if we combine all that, 1989 Topps and 1990 Fleer are the sets I got back the most. When I send out cards for the first time to someone, a lot of times I send cards I am not as concerned about. That would mean I have more than doubles of that card, or the card doesn’t look great or is even my favorite. 1990 Topps and 1990 Fleer often fit into that category for me. I think for 1989 Topps I just have a lot of cards. I even traded a load of those that I already had this year too.
A few other things I look at specific to the actual signature are what color and type of pen are used and if it’s personalized, inscribed or the player puts their number on the card.
For the type of pen the metrics are not interesting as a good ol’ Sharpie rules all. I only received a few that were ball points and then those that are gold or silver are paint pens.
As far as what they put on the card, I was actually surprised I didn’t get more personalization. I consider anything with a message (i.e., “Best Wishes”, “God Bless”, etc.) to be personalization (20). There are some that sign that without your name on it. As far as inscriptions (22) go, I consider that any message specific to them. I could be wrong on that, but that’s the way I judge it. So for me that means bible verses, nicknames, and accomplishments. The last thing I look at is if they put their number (46) on the card. Sometimes that can be a little tough to determine. But then there are combinations of all of those as well.
Something else I took a look at were what cities and teams made up most of my returns. While I’m a Mets fan, I don’t go after Mets by any means. I love it when I get them, but I’ll go after just about anything (which is a problem, but that’s another post). As for teams, it’s dominated by baseball because that was my main focus and the majority of my collection. Surprisingly the Brewers, Phillies, and Twins sit atop my list. When you look at the cities, certain of areas won’t surprise you because there are multiple teams (Like LA and NY). But Minnesota and Atlanta cracked the top 10.
I am lumping a few teams together for certain cities. I think the way I did that makes sense, but if you have any thoughts on why something you see shouldn’t be together or should be combined with something else let me know. And I know that the Raiders are not in LA for instance. They aren’t now, but the Raiders cards I got back were from the Los Angeles years.
But What Did They Do?
Yeah, yeah, yeah… All this is nice, but what did all these people do? What’s so special about them?
I try to track all of the awards and accomplishments of the people I get signatures for. That can be difficult to keep up with for the current players, but I do the best I can. Within the winners for championships I do count managers/head coaches people on a staff of a championship winner. Here’s what it looks like by sport:
- Golden Spikes Winner: 1
- All Stars: 38 All-Stars who appeared in 90 All-Star Games
- Gold Gloves: 8 Gold Glove winners who won 21 total Gold Gloves awards
- Silver Sluggers: 9 Silver Slugger winners who won 15 total Silver Sluggers awards
- Rookie of the Year: 1
- Manager of the Year: 6 Manager of the Year winners who won 10 total Manager of the Year awards
- Pennant Winners: 51 Pennant winners who won 88 Pennants
- World Series Champs: 34 World Series champs who won 52 World Series
- World Series MVPs: 1
- Hall of Famers: 1
- College National Champions: 2
- College Football Hall of Famers: 5
- Pro Bowlers: 19 Pro Bowlers with 77 total Pro Bowl selections
- All-Pros: 10 All-Pros with 27 total All-Pro selections
- Super Bowl Champs: 17 Super Bowl Champions with a total of 30 Super Bowl Championships
- Super Bowl MVPs: 1
- Hall of Famers: 4
- Wooden Awards: 2 Wooden Award winners who won 4 total Wooden Awards
- NCAA Champs: 5 NCAA Champions with 12 total NCAA Championships
- Final Fours: 5 Final Four participants who were in 25 total Final Fours
- Final Four MOPs: 2 Final Four Most Outstanding Players with 5 total MOP awards
- NCAA Coach of the Year: 3 Coach of the Year winners with 8 total awards
- NBA/WNBA All-Stars: 2 NBA All-Stars total All-Star Game appearances
- All-NBA: 1 First Team All-NBA player
- NBA MVP: 1 winner with 2 total MVP awards
- NBA Champs: 1 Champion with 2 total Championships
- WNBA Rookie of the Year: 1
- Hall of Famers: 2
- Other Accolades/Sports:
- Olympic Medalists: 4 Medalists with 8 total Medals (7 Gold, 1 Bronze)
- World Champs: 3 World Champions at their sports/disciplines with 14 World Championships
- Golf Championships: 1 Major winner with 3 total Majors and 1 PGA Champion
Not a Bad Year
After all that’s said, I think it was a pretty good year. At least most of a good year. I can’t wait to see what I get in the mailbox this year!