Friday, May 28, 2010

My First Discovery of a Random Player Charging to Sign TTM

I am currently in the second stage of TTM autograph seeking in my life. The first go-round was around the time I was 10-12 years old. In those days, I would normally write to some big name stars or rookies that I liked and hoped for the best. I pretty much had an address list, some envelopes and a bunch of stamps. It was an activity that kept me out of trouble so my parents didn't mind throwing some stamps my way to keep me occupied. I had some successes with younger players and rookies, and most of the veteran, HOF-type guys would return a postcard that stated that they received too much fan mail to be able to respond to everyone. This was before I had research tools like SCN to tell me who signed, who didn't and who charged for autographs.

Once I restarted my TTM seeking in early 2009, I wasn't surprised to see that many HOFers and current stars charged for their autographs. I guess if people are willing to pay, it's a nice way to make some extra money on the side. As I was researching former Orioles whose autographs I needed to add to my collection, I kept running across some players who I had never heard of but nonetheless charged for their autograph. Clay Dalrymple was the first of those players who really jumped out at me.

While I understand to an extent that players who played in the '50s, '60s & '70s didn't make nearly what today's players do, it's still frustrating to me. Clay requests $5 per autograph, so it's not like he asks for a lot, but he was a career .233 hitter over 12 seasons. He was a catcher who was mainly know for his throwing arm and defense and was never an All-Star or received any major awards for his play. Here is the way that my mind sums this all up: This is an OK player who never did anything outstanding, yet he wants me to pay for his autograph. I was able to trade for the card above, so I never broke down and paid $5 for Clay's auto.

I understand that there are plenty of players who won't sign TTM or in-person at all, even when they are offered money. Some just hate to sign, while others feel as though their autograph is worth more than anyone in their right mind would be willing to pay. So at least Clay signs. I have to give him that. You wouldn't believe how many former Orioles who only played in a few games or for only a few seasons will not sign. I am forced to troll ebay or to attempt trading with (at times) unreasonable collectors to add them to my collection. Outside of a few guys who died in the 1950s or '60s, I have a feeling that my collection will always be held up by some guy who only played a few games but just refuses to sign. That's part of the pursuit, so I'm not complaining, just making a prediction.

Let me know your thoughts about this. Does it bother any of you when you discover that someone charges to sign, when you feel like it might be a bit of stretch to ask people to pay?


Anonymous said...

If an older player wants $5 to sign a card, that's fine. If it's really important to me for my collection, that's a small price to pay.

And if it's not that important to you, why waste the player's time just to add another card to a binder, box or trade list?

That said, I'm happy that a lot of the older players still sign for free -- I wouldn't be nearly so far along with my Mets collection if I had to spend $5 per autograph on top of the cost of postage and the cards.

zman40 said...

I'm not a big fan of paying for autographs. I spent $10 each to get Niekro and Dawson to sign an '81D for me, and I will probably spend $10 to get Rollie Fingers, but that's about it. I've also spent some money on Vern law's signature, but he only charges if you want more than one item signed.

Other than that, I'm not going to spend money to get a signature TTM on some guy I've never heard of.

Jim from Downingtown said...

Stinkin' Dalrymple should be glad that anyone still gives him a 2nd thought, and even WANTS his autograph!

It's ridiculous that he charges anything (and I'm a Phillies fan from the 1960s).

Collective Troll said...

30 cents a letter aint bad! I actually support players from his era charging. As a fan when I write to a player who charges a fee I know I will get the card back so I am more apt to send a favorite card. Plus those guys got the shaft seriously... I have mentioned many times before all the time I spent with Curt Blefary before his death. He was a great player, a Champion and a ROY. He signed for free, but preferred it when fans included a fiver and it REALLY helped him make it through the day. Being a 70 year old ex-catcher who is near crippled from playing a game we love to watch isn't all that glamorous when you see it up close. Just saying. I do feel your pain. When you are on a quest to get as many different players as you are the 5 bucks adds up quick, BUT it does make a difference to these guys. Everyone likes to be remembered and get fan mail, but sometimes it feels like give, give, give and gets frustrating. Some guys want to take every now and then... As always, GREAT post my friend!

Collective Troll said...

My word verification was britlicker...

PaulW said...

The only way I would pay $5 for a no name player like this would be if the money he earns goes to some charitable organization. I'd just be happy to know that someone knows who I am if I were him. Some current stars just like knowing that they have a fan.

Ryan aka Orioles Magic said...

Thanks for all of the opinions. I can really see both sides of this, but being on a card-collecting budget I always like when these guys sign for free. I don't re-sell their autographs so it's nice when I don't have to pay (beyond stamps at least) to obtain their autographs to add to my collection.
Everyone has some great points on this one.

An Autograph A Day said...


Another experience here too to add to the discussion, which trends toward the not paying point of view.

I'm in the process of getting golf gloves signed by every left-hander who has won on the PGA Tour.

Last week I located a gentleman named Sam Adams, whom most people would consider obscure. He's the first American Southpaw to win a Tour event and he signed for free. In addition he hand-wrote me back a nice letter on his personal notecard thanking me for remembering him.

I'm with you in that I don't sell any autographs I obtain either. Hopefully my children will enjoy them as much and not sell them when I'm gone! :)