Every time I say the words (Through the Mail) they come out like Kanye’s “Through the Wire,” but maybe that’s just me.
Collecting autographs Through The Mail (TTM) is something I’ve gotten deeper and deeper into over the last few years. I used to do it when I was a kid but it was at a much different level. Those days I was requesting an autograph, but not sending anything out. I have a few actual autographs from those days but most are pre-printed postcards and things like that.
Nowadays I focus on mostly sending baseball cards and Sport Illustrated magazines. The magazines are just about any sport and even celebrities (Stephen Colbert signed one from when he posed in a speed skating uniform). When I get something back in the mail that looks like a success it brightens my day. And when you have a lot out there pending, you never know what’s going to be in your mailbox.
Research for TTM Success
The first thing I try to do before I send anything out is to do some research. I don’t do it all the time. Sometimes I take a flyer on a guy just to try it out. But doing a little research on the internet can yield you some good results. There are generally two parts to my research: addresses and successes. A quick Google search can get you an address for someone. That could be their home for a retired player or the ballpark for a current player. For baseball, a great time to send things out is Spring Training so remember that will be a different address than their normal ballpark.
The second part of my research is finding out whether or not someone signs. Like I said, I don’t do this all the time. There are plenty of places out there that you can check out to find out things like, what address is best, how many cards to send, if someone charges, etc.. I like to know if there’s a chance I get something back.
Once I know what’s possible, that’s when I hit my doubles boxes. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I keep all my doubles separate and only use these for sending out TTM. I’ll just dig through those boxes and then put together some potential cards for mailing.
Some places I used to check for addresses and successes:
Sports Card Forum – For both successes and addresses
The Bench Trading – For both successes and addresses
Major League Spring Training – For addresses of major league team addresses during spring training
Minor League Baseball – For finding coaches, rosters and minor league team addresses
Independent Baseball Leagues – For finding coaches, rosters and independent league team addresses
Writing TTM Request Letters
I don’t think I can say this enough – WRITE THE LETTER! Don’t type it. Go through some effort and write a letter. I’ve seen some people be pretty to the point. I’ve seen others ask questions (sometimes they get answers). There’s many different ways to do it, but here’s my general template:
“Dear Mr. <player’s last name>,
My name is Bill and I live in Virginia. I remember you… <add an anecdote or what you liked about how they played>. Thanks for the baseball memories
Would you please be kind enough to sign the cards I’ve enclosed with this letter? I know you are busy so I’ll understand if you can’t. Thanks for taking time out for a fan.
Now that all might be cheesy, but I suggest making an effort if you want them to make an effort for you. Don’t forget to be polite – just like Mom and Dad taught you (I hope).
The TTM Request Package
Once you have your letter written and you have your card(s) to include you’ll need to put together you package. Inside the main envelope you’ll have your letter, your cards (I find up to five can make the standard weight for a regular stamp), and an self-addressed stamped envelope or SASE.
The SASE is the key. That’s how you are going to get your goodies back. I try to include a smaller envelope and I always use “security” envelopes that you can’t see through. I always put my address in the return address part of the envelope and the main address part of the envelope. Then of course DON’T FORGET THE STAMP.
All that goes into the main envelope. Add the address for the player and your stamp and don’t forget your return address. If for some reason the address is wrong or they don’t accept the mail the postal service will send it back to you (Return to Sender, Unable to Forward, etc.).
Track Your TTM Success
You can take or leave this suggestion as you could get carried away with it as I have, but I track everything I send out. I have a spreadsheet to record where I send things, when I send them and get them back, what I send, any special results, etc.. It comes in handy if you send things out again. I find it interesting in how much time it takes (be that a short time or a long time – years in some cases).
Plus it helps you…
Share Your Autograph Collection Success Story
Share how you do! You got the info from someone, pay it forward. Tell others how you did.
If you’re reading this blog then you see how I share my success. Others post to messages boards and things like that. I figure if one of us can be successful we can help others be successful too. But almost even better at that is finding out who might not be worth sending to so you don’t waste your time.
Thanks for visiting BravestarrCards.com: Card Collecting and TTM Autographs.