Autograph collecting has been a staple of baseball games going back to the early 1900’s. Yes, baseball’s story begins in the mid-1800’s but autographs from pre-1900’s are a rare thing. For well over a century kids and adults alike have asked baseball players for their autograph. Players have signed nearly everything you can think of including other people’s body parts. Though some items are more common than others the clear majority of them are baseball cards, pictures, or baseball equipment.
There are many ways to obtain a player’s autograph including from auction sites like eBay, Golden Auctions, Heritage Auctions and many others. Baseball card companies even got in on it by including autographed cards in packs of their product. Recently baseball teams have gotten in the action too by offering autographed items through the likes of Royals Authentics. Even with all these different avenues of obtaining autographs there is nothing like the experience of getting that autograph in person. Be it the thrill of the hunt to get that one autograph on a special item, the momentary acknowledgement from the player, or the excitement of the player stopping and reaching out for your item and your pen. It brings joy and smiles to kids and adults alike. Unfortunately for most of us, we do not live anywhere near a Major or Minor League ballpark so we must rely on others to get that autograph for us and then shell out the money for it. For most of my life that has always been my situation.
As a kid, we moved around a few times and ended up in the middle of nowhere South Dakota for a few years. It was during that time when I found a new way to get autographs. A school project had us write letters to other states and ask for information about those states. We each picked three or four different states and then had to write a report about them. Keep in mind that this was the mid to late 1980’s and long before the internet was common place. I was an avid baseball card collector or at least as avid as a kid could be in the middle of nowhere South Dakota in the days before the internet. I had gotten the newest issue of Beckett Baseball Card Monthly which had the addresses of all the MLB teams in it.
I decided to extend my class project into the autograph collecting realm. I gathered up my cards of George Brett, Frank White, Bo Jackson, Danny Tartabull among others and sent them out to the Royals asking for an autograph from those players. I waited patiently for a couple weeks and was rewarded with a package addressed to me from the Royals. Sheer joy and excitement overwhelmed me as I ripped into that package. Soon I was overcome with confusion and sadness as I saw what was there. Not my cards that I had sent out but some black and white oversized cards of those players with a letter saying thanks for the interest and the support and letting me know that they were too busy to sign my cards. The Royals had also included a Royals bumper sticker and some promotional items. I made a couple other attempts and received the same response.
We moved again, I got older, the team changed, the internet was invented and life went on. I never lost the love of trying to get that autograph and found myself again trying to get autographs through the mail. The internet made things so much easier and web sites popped up that brought people together with the same goals of getting autographs through the mail or TTM. The excitement of getting an envelope in the mail is often no less than getting an autograph in person. Though it has been several years since I last actively sent out requests on a regular basis, I have been getting the bug to start doing it again. So, I wanted to share some of my tips and tricks that I learned through the years and may be employing again soon. Spring Training is a great time of year to do this because of the abundance of players in one location and they have just a little bit of extra time without the rigors of a regular season going on.
Never send anything that you don’t want to lose.
Although some players will sign and return your items some players simply will not sign through the mail and those requests can end up in the trash. Sometimes you will receive your request back unopened because it was refused. Sometimes you will receive your item back unsigned. If you look at the team websites they will generally include a statement like this:
Please be advised that items sent through the mail to be signed are done so at your own risk. Though reasonable precautions will be taken, the players, management and staff are not responsible if an item is not returned.
Or like this:
The front office staff is NOT responsible for anything sent directly to be signed by a player. The staff does NOT accept autograph requests on behalf of the players. The best option is to mail the request and the item to be autographed directly to the player at the stadium as well as a self-addressed/postage paid envelope. Once you have mailed your item, it is up to the player to sign anything and return it. The front office staff is not responsible for any items mailed to the stadium.
Limit the number of items.
Be courteous and don’t try to send a stack of cards for them to sign. You are asking the player to take time out of their schedule to answer your request. Not only that but if they sign any it will only be one or two.
Write a little note.
A paragraph or so is all you need. Ask them to please sign your cards and make sure to tell them thank you for their time.
Ask for what you want.
If you want the player to sign in a certain location on the picture or the card then let them know. If you would like the player to add an inscription then ask. The worst that will happen is that they will not add it. I have had lots of luck with asking Royals HOF members to add Royals HOF XXXX. XXXX is their year of induction into the Royals HOF.
Always include an SASE.
If you want to get your items back then you need to send an SASE. SASE = Self Addressed Stamped Envelope. I always put my name and address as the sender and receiver on the SASE. That way it comes to me no matter what. If you do not know what it will cost to have your SASE returned then stop by the post office. They will weigh it up and tell you exactly how much postage to put on it. Be sure to include everything that you expect to be mailed back.
Include a pen.
If you would like them to sign your item in a certain color pen, then send the pen you want them to use. I will sometimes send a Sharpie and in these cases, I use a bubble envelope to send my item with a standard SASE envelope for the return. I will also tell them to keep the pen.
Include an extra card for them.
Many collectors will include an extra card for the player. I have had them keep the card and I have had them sign it and return it.
No guarantees of authenticity.
Always be aware that there is no guarantee that the signed item you get back will have been signed by the player you sent it to. Some players have other people sign their mail for them while other players may use and autopen to sign everything with. This is a problem not only with through the mail autographs but also autographs that you can pull from packs of baseball cards. There have been many instances of forgeries even from the large national baseball card companies. Not that the companies forged the autographs but that the player may have had someone else sign them instead. Always be wary of autographs you see for sale on line as there are a great many of them that are fake. A recent Sports Illustrated story highlights just one scary case of a large forgery ring. ESPN also did a 30 for 30 Short on a 1990’s autograph forgery ring. As always, the only way to truly know that you have an authentic autograph is to get it in person.
Track your requests
I would also suggest a community like Sports Collectors which provide a place for you to track your requests. You are able to enter in the dates that you send the request and the date that you receive it back. This will also allow you to see what requests are still out there and how long they have been out. It will also help you to find address of players who will sign through the mail. My favorite feature is that other members share their successes which will help you identify who to send requests to. This will help you be more successful with your attempts and reduce the amount requests that go unanswered. You can use the free part of the site but they do charge a small fee for a yearly service but is worth it because it will save you money in the long run. One cool thing about this site is that some athletes use this service too. Pat Neshek of the Phillies has been a regular on the site and shares his stories too. Here he shares a little spat with Zack Greinke.
Here are some addresses to get you started. I have included the information from and links to the websites where I could. These are address I found on the internet and to my knowledge are good address though I have not tried some of them myself. Remember to address your request like this:
c/o Team Name
City, State Zip Code
Kansas City Royals:
Letters to all Royals players should be addressed to the individual player and mailed to: Kansas City Royals Baseball Club, Fan Mail, P.O. Box 419969, Kansas City, MO 64141-6969. If a response is desired, please enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope. We cannot guarantee the items will be answered or returned. Royals players and coaches do not have e-mail.
Mail your requests directly to:
c/o Kansas City Royals
P.O. Box 419969
Kansas City, MO 64141
Royals Spring Training
Kansas City Royals
15850 N. Bullard Ave
Surprise, AZ, 85374
Omaha Storm Chasers
Cards and letters to players and personnel can be sent to:
Omaha Storm Chasers
c/o Player or Coach’s Name
12356 Ballpark Way
Papillion, NE 68046
The front office staff is NOT responsible for anything sent directly to be signed by a player. The staff does NOT accept autograph requests on behalf of the players. The best option is to mail the request and the item to be autographed directly to the player at Werner Park as well as a self-addressed/postage paid envelope. Once you have mailed your item, it is up to the player to sign anything and return it. The front office staff is not responsible for any items mailed to the stadium.
Northwest Arkansas Naturals
Cards and letters to players and personnel can be sent to:
Northwest Arkansas Naturals
C/O Player’s Name
P.O. Box 6817
Springdale, AR 72766
Please be advised that items sent through the mail to be signed are done so at your own risk. Though reasonable precautions will be taken, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals players, management and staff are not responsible if an item is not returned.
Wilmington Blue Rocks
801 Shipyard Dr.
Wilmington, DE 19801
207 Legends La.
Lexington, KY 40505
Idaho Falls Chukars
PO Box 2183
Idaho Falls, ID 83402
PO Box 1143
Burlington, NC 27216
Additional team sites