Saturday, December 25, 2010

Pat Gillick



In addition to Jim Rice, yesterday's mail brought me another autograph return from future Hall of Famer, Pat Gillick.  It was just a few weeks ago that I mentioned that Mr. Gillick had been elected.  While he hasn't actually had his induction ceremony - that will take place in the spring of 2011 - I'm going to count this one as a success!

Gillick signed in pen - seems fitting for a General Manager - and signed his induction year of 2011 as well.  A nice touch.  Gillick becomes the first signature I've received from a member of the Toronto Blue Jays (my favorite team) who has been inducted in the Hall.  Gillick was instrumental in constructing the back-to-back World Series Champion Blue Jays teams of the early 90s.


Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Jim Rice



It's a Christmas miracle!!!


I got TWO autographs in the mail today - that hasn't happened since...  well, since this whole project began and I got three in one day from Snider, Ryan, and Doerr.  This is also the first through-the-mail success since September!!

I'll post about the second autograph tomorrow, but for now, I'm excited that Mr. Jim Rice has been added to the collection!  Rice was inducted just last year in 2009, so he is relatively new to the Hall of Fame.  He was inducted in his 15th and final year of eligibility, which is something pretty special.  Rice played his entire career with one team - the Boston Red Sox - which certainly doesn't happen often today.

Mr. Rice becomes the first Hall of Famer who signed (in black sharpie) on the lined side of the 3x5 card I sent him.  I've heard this lowers the value of an autograph, but since this collection isn't really for any financial gain, it doesn't really matter to me.  Rice returned my short note request too - which is good, because it would have taken me some time to decipher who it was who had returned the envelope.

This response took 92 days to get back to me - the longest wait for a success thus far - and gives me a bit of hope that I may get a few more from some of the players who have had months to get back to me.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Rest in Peace, Bob Feller

As I mentioned only a little over one month ago when Sparky Anderson passed away, I didn't expect Hall of Famers to die quite so quickly in my quest. 

While we were away on vacation, the baseball community was saddened to hear about the death of Bob Feller.  Mr. Feller was the first Hall of Famer autograph I ever received, and he was my grandpa's favorite player, so it was with much sadness that I learned the news of his passing.

My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and those who knew him well.  The baseball world has lost another an icon.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Failure #16: Robin Yount



Robin Yount was an All-Star caliber player for twenty years - all with the same team, the Milwaukee Brewers.  Earlier this week I recieved a letter return from Mr. Yount which included a beautiful Hall of Fame postcard with a reproduction of his signature, and an apology note saying he is too busy to sign personally through the mail.  While both were certainly mass-produced items, they are a nice gesture.

I must admit - in spite of the fact that this is not a real autograph, it is one of the best failures I've received thus far.  I appreciate that this player cares enough to send back something that shows his signature, and gives fans something for their trouble.  I also appreciate that Mr. Yount does not send a price list encouraging his fans to hand over their hard earned cash for a simple signature.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Baseball Exec. Pat Gillick Elected to Hall of Fame

From the Hall of Fame press release...

Gillick becomes the 32nd executive to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame and just the fourth individual elected whose career has been defined nearly exclusively as a team architect, joining Ed Barrow, Branch Rickey and George Weiss in Cooperstown. Gillick will be joined by any electees who emerge from the Baseball Writers' Association of America voting, which will be announced on January 5, 2011.

This is somewhat monumental for me - and for any other Blue Jays fan - as it means that there will be another Toronto connection in the Hall of Fame.  Gillick was the GM and mastermind behind assembling Toronto's only World Series wins - back to back in 1992-93.

Add another name to the list!

Monday, November 29, 2010

2011 BBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot

The Baseball Writers Association of America has just released the Hall of Fame ballot for next year's induction class.  There are 19 new candidates, as well as 14 hold overs who remain on the ballot because they recieved at least 5% of last year's vote.

You can read the entire press release at the BBWAA's website, right here.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Failure #15: Phil Niekro



The rejection letters just keep rolling in!

I was happy to hear back from Phil Niekro.  Mr. Niekro is one of four players in the Hall of Fame who have played for the Toronto Blue Jays.  Although this was a failed attempt, he was nice enough to include a price list instead of just returning an empty envelope as one of his peers recently did - ahem, ahem...

Mr. Niekro was known for his brilliant use of the knuckle ball, earning him the nickname "Knucksie" because of his ability to get people out with that confusing pitch.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Christmas Wish List

As my list of failed requests continues to grow, a fascinating thing to look at is the various monetary requests given by some of the players.  I've received autographs from seven former players through the mail for free, but some are not quite so generous.

Here is the list as it stands so far...

Rollie Fingers, $10
Brooks Robinson, $37.99 and up (at his website)
Goose Gossage, $20
Whitey Ford, $20
Phil Niekro, $10 and up

Pretty modest requests (and they would certainly be much higher at a sports collectible store), but at this point I just can't justify spending that much on a signature.  Maybe that will change some day.  If anyone would like to donate to help my cause, I'd certainly be grateful!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Failure #14: Ralph Kiner


Ralph Kiner is the 6th oldest living Hall of Famer out there.  He has a storied career and has even spent time in the broadcast booth as an announcer for the New York Mets.

Today i got a somewhat curious envelope return.  You see, I had originally addressed this envelope to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.  They received it and then covered up the address with a personal address for Mr. Kiner.  It then arrived in Florida and was marked "Return" in bright blue ink, and proceeded to be sent back to Pasadena to my mailbox.

Wow.

My first thought was that Kiner had pulled the same move as his fellow Hall of Famer, Red Schoendienst (remember the detective work I did?), but a Google search seemed to reveal that this envelope was most likely not written on by Mr. Kiner.

Anyway, this is my 14th failure to only 12 successes.  I'm craving something good to show up in the mail soon.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hall of Famer Periodic Table

Here is an interesting idea -

Someone in internet-land has decided to fill their time by creating a periodic table of elements - only they have substituted Baseball Hall of Fame inductees for the elements.

It is worth checking out - maybe more so if you are a science kind of person. 

You can find it right here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Failure #13: Whitey Ford


Former Yankee pitcher Whitey Ford had one heck of a career.  His accolades are seemingly endless - just take a look at his Wikipedia page.  He is a great ballplayer and someone who would have been a great addition to my collection.

Unfortunately, Mr. Ford is on the same response program as Frank Robinson.  When I opened my stamped and used return envelope, I saw my original letter and also the blank 3x5 card with no autograph.  Sad. 

Mr. Ford did do one thing differently.  He took the time to scrawl "Send $20.00!" on my letter.  Very official looking!  This one is a bit different than the formal request from players like Gossage and Fingers, nor was it an outright denial like Ripken.  Rather it seems like he took the time to personally (I'm guessing on that - maybe he has an assistant do this?) scrawl this message on my letter.


Very interesting. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Non-HoF Autographs: Erik Kratz


I totally forgot about this one.

Erik Kratz is a ballplayer who has spent the majority of his career in the minor leagues, but this past year he got his first chance to play at the major league level when his number was finally called by the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The story may have been one of the most heartwarming of the entire baseball season.

But as you can tell from the above photo, this item is not a Pirates cap - in fact, it isn't even from a Pirates minor league team.  The above photo is of a signed New Hampshire Fisher Cats cap.  The Fischer Cats are a AA Minor League affiliate for the Toronto Blue Jays.  Erik was drafted by the Jays, and played for several seasons in their system.

That still doesn't explain the hat.  Well, I graduated from Eastern Mennonite University, which is the same school that Erik graduated from.  We even had a few classes together.  A fellow EMU employee who was good friends with Erik and who worked there gave me this game worn cap because he knew I was a fan of the Blue Jays.  A few years later I was at an event on campus that Erik was speaking at, and I got him to autograph the cap for me (which is a little hard to make out in the picture).

A side note - at this very same event, Charlie Manuel, manager of the Phillies, was there as the main speaker for the evening.  I got his autograph on the program for the night, but unfortunately that memento got misplaced in our move from Virginia to California.


Side Note:  I just learned that Erik has been signed by the team he grew up cheering for - the Philadelphia Phillies.  Very cool!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Toronto Blue Jays in the Hall of Fame

I grew up near Toronto, Ontario, and at the age of 9, the Blue Jays won back to back World World Championships.  It was in that moment that my passion for baseball, and for the Toronto Blue Jays, was really born.

Currently the Blue Jays have zero Hall of Fame inductees who entered the Hall affiliated with the Blue Jays.  Hopefully Roberto Alomar will change that when the Baseball Writers Association smartens up and elects him in his second year of eligibility.

There are four players in the Hall of Fame who played for the Toronto Blue Jays but were inducted under other Major League teams -

Rickey Henderson
Dave Winfield
Paul Molitor
Phil Niekro

Three of them were crucial in the Blue Jay's championship seasons.  Unfortunately, I do not currently have an autograph from ANY of these players.  The closest I came was at last summer's All Star Fan Festival.  Henderson was signing there (amidst angry complaints from those in line when he refused to sign baseballs or memorabilia AND stayed on his cell phone the ENTIRE time he was signing), but the line was far too long by the time we figured out where he was signing.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Failure #12: Carlton Fisk

Well, that didn't take long!  Just one day after sending out an initial wave of e-mails to the representation of several Hall of Famers, I received my first response back regarding Mr. Carlton "Pudge" Fisk - a Hall of Fame catcher.

Here is the e-mail I recieved this morning from his representatives...



Dear Ben,

Thank you for your interest in Mr. Fisk.  Unfortunately, due to a contractual obligation Mr. Fisk is unable to honor your request.  We wish you the best of luck.

Sincerely,

bs logo for sig
Kim Zayotti
Founder, CEO
265 Franklin Street, Boston, MA 02110
617.951.3799 x210 phone
617.951.1354 fax
kzayotti@blueskyse.com

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

An Idea...

I'm throwing around the idea of e-mailing Hall of Famers who have not responded to my letter request.  At this point I'm not sure how many have e-mail accounts that are accessible to the public, but I'm sure that many have business associates who would answer my e-mail.

I'm thinking it would be interesting to talk about this project in the e-mail and point them to the website so that they can see it unfold.  It may also give me something to publish - hopefully one or two people will respond electronically, and I can share those messages here.

Thoughts?  Does that sound like it might be interesting?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Failure #11: Ozzie Smith


Yesterday I was super excited to see that two of my envelopes had returned, and saddened to find that both were failuresOzzie Smith - all star shortstop, Hall of Famer, and acrobatic player - "DOES NOT ACCEPT FORWARDING" (see the two stamps on the envelope?).

I had heard a rumor that this was true from another website, so this was far from unexpected, but it is still disappointing to see another failure in my quest to get an autograph from every living Hall of Famer.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Failure #10: Frank Robinson



And here's to you, Mr. Robinson.  I finally got some mail today!  But alas...

Frank Robinson - former player and manager - opened up my letter, took out the self addressed stamped envelope, placed my letter and blank 3x5 card in, and sent it back.

No autograph.  No explanation.

Not cool.

On the other hand, Mr. Robinson was a part of that illusive group of four without an address, so I guess I should be happy that it found its way to someone who opened it and sent it back.  Now if only I knew what it would take to get him to sign.  Maybe money?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Rest in Peace, Sparky Anderson

I knew that the quest for an autograph from every living Hall of Famer would be a never ending quest, but I figured that new members would be elected before someone passed away.

Today, the baseball community was saddened to hear about the death of Sparky Anderson.  Just three short months ago I found Mr. Anderson's signature waiting for me in my mailbox.  It was the tenth Hall of Famer autograph in my collection, and now it has a much deeper and more bittersweet nature.

My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and those who knew him well.  The baseball world has lost an icon.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bob Feller signing at Spring Training


I thought it might be interesting to give you some background on one of my Hall of Fame autographs in the current dry spell of collecting.

The very first success post on this blog is for the first Hall of Fame autograph I obtained - that of Mr. Bob Feller.  I got his signature well before I had even the slightest inkling of starting this crazy project.  My aunt (a die-hard Cleveland Indians fan) and I went to spring training a few years ago and caught several Indians games in Arizona. 

Mr. Feller has been a mainstay at those games.  He sets up a folding table down the third base line and signs pre-selected photos during the game for $15, or something like that.  You can't bring your own item - such as a baseball, book, or customized photo - only the ones he has on the table. 

He was my grandfather's favorite player, and a Hall of Famer, so I decided to stand in line and get his autograph on this classy old photo of him throwing in the 1948 World Series (sadly, this was the last time Cleveland won a World Series).

Oh, and he has a funny look on his face in the above photo, because he was eating a hot dog while signing for me.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Update

Sigh...

This blog has become pretty boring.  Nothing happening in the mail, and little to report.  I hope baseball fans are enjoying this year's World Series - although it has been somewhat lopsided so far, it has been a pretty fun stretch of baseball.

All for now.  I'll report back when I've got something to share.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Update

Here's the new plan.  A few weeks ago during my rundown of where the collection stands, I mentioned that there are four players with no known address.  Usually when that happens I send requests to the Hall of Fame and they get forwarded on.  However I have read for those four players, the letters usually get returned to sender and never make it to the player.  Sometimes you even get a letter from the Hall of Fame explaining that the letter cannot be forwared.

I figured it would be interesting to see what happens.  Today I am sending out autograph requests to the four players - Ozzie Smith, Willie McCovey, Frank Robinson, and Ralph Kiner - all care of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  I will be sure to post if I get anything back related to these four players.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Update

Ugh.

The mailbox has been far too empty lately - at least when it comes to Hall of Fame autograph responses.  It begs the question - what do I do now?  Should I send a second request to players?  Start paying those who want money for an autograph?  Wait until next year's All Star Fan Fest for a shot at some HOFers?

I'm not sure what I'll do, but for now, my blog is pretty slow and boring.  Sorry faithful readers!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Update

It has been a slow stretch.  No mail related to my autograph collection - neither good, nor bad - for over a week.  That means it must be time to give you an update of where things stand...


67 living Hall of Famers

13 autographs from living Hall of Famers

9 unsuccessful returns (including 3 "return to sender") (note: this includes a copied Hank Aaron)

28 requests still waiting for a return

12 not mailed because they are known to charge for an autograph

4 players with no known address (Kiner, McCovey, F. Robinson, O. Smith)

1 player who is known to not sign through the mail (Yastrzemski) (you may remember that in my last update I listed Ripken and Brett here.  I sent them both a letter, receiving a negative response from Ripken, and nothing yet from Brett).

0 players to whom I have not yet sent a request (16 if you count those without an address, and who charge to sign through the mail)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Failure #9: Cal Ripken Jr.



Cal Ripken Jr.

The Iron Man.

Cal was inducted during the year that I made my first and only visit to the sacred grounds of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.  He was a great player and is enormously popular even still today.  He occasionally appears on XM Radio with his brother Billy, and runs a wide variety of baseball programming through his family foundation.

All of this to say, it wasn't unexpected when I rejection letter from one of Mr. Ripken's associates (just a few weeks ago I had listed Ripken as one player who is too busy to sign, but I sent him a request anyway) explaining that they receive thousands of autograph requests and he is not able to accommodate all of them.

So I guess that means he does sign some of them?

Have any collectors out there had success with Cal Ripken Jr.?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Reflecting on Doug Harvey


I got a message this week from a reader named Joe who wondered if I could pass on Doug Harvey's home address from the envelope he sent me a few weeks ago.  I was happy to oblige.

Joe is an umpire himself, so getting an autograph from the only living Hall of Fame umpire was a pretty cool thing.  He was kind enough to share a photo of his prized possession with me - made out personally to him.  Joe wanted Mr. Harvey's address so that he could write a thank you note - a very noble idea if you ask me.

I love the idea of getting photos signed.  I've often wondered if my goal of having people sign through the mail is restricted because of what I send to have signed (a simple 3x5 note card).  Some Hall of Famers may be hesitant to sign a blank card, not knowing what you intend to do with their signature.

Thanks for getting in touch, Joe!  Very cool stuff.

If you have a Hall of Famer autograph that you think other readers would like to see, please get in touch!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Failure #8: Jim Bunning


I didn't know what to expect from Senator Bunning.  Yes, you read that right.  Hall of Fame pitcher, Jim Bunning is a US Senator from the state of Kentucky.  I figured he might at the very least send a political photo with a stamped signature on it. 

But alas, like many former baseball players, Jim Bunning is too busy.  He might be the one guy who actually has a clear reason for why he is too busy - or at least a good excuse.

Quite fascinating to note is the postmark on this return envelope (see photo on right).  Do you see what I'm seeing?  Cincinnati, Ohio.  Bunning is a politician in Kentucky.  Yes, I know Cincinnati is right across the river, but why would the mail be stamped and processed there, unless he (or whoever sorts his mail) sent it from Ohio?  Very strange indeed.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Update

I go back and forth about whether to count Hank Aaron as a "successful" autograph.  I think I've decided to take his name off my list of completed autographs, dropping the number to 13.  I've updated the last update to reflect the new numbers.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Update

I thought it might be time to update the status of my quest to obtain an autograph from all sixty-seven living Hall of Famers.  Here is how the collection currently stands...


13 autographs from living Hall of Famers

7 unsuccessful returns (including 3 "return to sender") (note: this includes a copied Hank Aaron)

24 requests still waiting for a return (including an e-mail to a politician's website)

12 not mailed because they are known to charge for an autograph

3 players with no known address (Kiner, McCovey, F. Robinson)

3 players who are known to not sign through the mail (Yastrzemski, Brett, Ripken)

5 players to whom I have not yet sent a request

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Doug Harvey


I was extremely happy to see a letter in my mailbox today from Doug Harvey.  Mr. Harvey is a former MLB umpire as well as a member of the most recent induction class as you can see from his signature.  He signed the 3x5 cardstock I sent him in standard blue pen.  He was nice enough to include his induction year as well.

Harvey apparently earned the nickname of "God" for his authoritative command of the baseball rulebook.  Not a bad moniker for an umpire!

Harvey is the first MLB umpire in my collection and is in fact the ONLY living Hall of Fame umpire.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Non-HoF Autographs: Jim Bouton


Today i attended a celebration of forty years since the release of Jim Bouton's controversial book, "Ball Four.  Mr. Bouton is far from a Hall of Famer, but he has been inducted in to the Baseball Reliquary's Shrine of the Eternals (an incredible organization).  His contribution to the sport is in publishing "Ball Four", a book which rocked the sporting world upon its release.

I have a copy of "Ball Four", but it is in storage somewhere on the east coast, so I quickly ordered a used copy of the follow up book, "I'm Glad You Didn't Take It Personally", and took it along today to get signed.

You can see a more thorough review of the day's events at my other blog.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Potential Hall of Famers

In my recent post regarding Vladimir Guerrero, I mentioned that I have started to try collecting autographs from players who I expect to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.  Here is the list I have compiled.

Am I missing anyone?

Should anyone be removed from this list?


Almost a lock Hall of Famers (* current player):

Albert Pujols*
Bert Blyleven
Bobby Cox*
Craig Biggio
Curt Schilling
Derek Jeter*
Frank Thomas
Greg Maddux
Ichiro Suzuki*
Jeff Kent
Jim Thome*
Joe Torre*
John Smoltz
Ken Griffey Jr
Mariano Rivera*
Mike Piazza
Omar Vizquel*
Pedro Martinez
Pudge Rodriguez*
Randy Johnson
Roberto Alomar
Roy Halladay*
Trevor Hoffman*
Tom Glavine
Tony LaRussa
Vladimir Guerrero*


Steroid/Gambling Question Marks:

Alex Rodriguez*
Andy Pettitte*
Barry Bonds
Manny Ramirez*
Mark McGwire
Pete Rose
Rafael Palmeiro
Roger Clemens
Sammy Sosa

Update in 2016, six years later - Blyleven, Cox, Biggio, Thomas, Maddux, Torre, Smoltz, Griffey, Piazza, Johnson, Alomar, Glavine, and LaRussa have all been elected. Not surprisingly, none of the question mark players I listed have been enshrined. Perhaps next year that will change?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Non-HoF Autographs: Rafael Perez


A random middle reliever for the Cleveland Indians, Perez was once labeled by some as their closer of the future, but has struggled to gain command of the late inning role.  I got this autograph at Angel Stadium when I went down to watch CC Sabathia pitch for the Indians a few years ago. 

You might remember that I guessed Perez was a name on this ticket stub I had signed during spring training, but comparing the two autographs do not lead me to believe that I am correct on that guess.

Detective Work

A thought crossed my mind today about my recent Return to Sender envelope from Red Schoendienst.  Both Return to Sender, and Red Schoendienst have capital letters "R" and "S" and share five small letters - e, d, o, n, t.  I wondered if my envelope had been written on by Mr. S himself.

So I did a bit of sleuthing...


This is the writing on the envelope I received.  Notice the way the "R" is drawn with a looping pen-stroke, and the "S" is written in classic cursive.


Here is Red's signature on a baseball card that I found with a quick Google search for images of his autograph.  Both the "R" and "S" are pretty close matches.  I also noticed that the small "e", "n", and "t" are very similar between the two.  The most different letter is the "d" in his last name, but the "d" in his first name matches pretty well!

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that my envelope was written on by none other than the living Hall of Famer himself.  If this is the case, it makes me wonder why he feels that he has time to sign "Return to Sender" (14 letters), but not "Red Schoendienst" (only 15 letters!).

It is quite possible that this baseball great is tired of people profiting off of his autograph.  I'm sure these players are constantly harassed by people hoping to make a quick buck or two on ebay, or in collector shops.  Sad, but I guess I see the frustration there.

Mr. Schoendienst, if you are reading this, can you deny or confirm?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Non-HoF Autographs: Jeff Kent, Joe Saunders, Justin Speier

This particular baseball was signed by potential Hall of Famer, and former LA Dodger (among other teams), Jeff Kent (photo on the left).

Kent had a history of altercations with teammates and the media, but he remained one of the best hitting second basemen of his era.  I'm almost sure he will be inducted eventually.  I got his signature at a Dodger game during batting practice on the day of Kent's last game of his career.

The ball is also signed by pitchers Joe Saunders and Justin Speier (photo on the right).  Faithful readers will note this was the second time I got his signature.  I received these signatures while attending an Angels game (during a time when both players were members of that team).  While both have had meaningful big league careers, I'm almost certain that neither will come close to entering baseball's sacred class of Hall of Famers.

While typing this entry, I realized the odd note that three random players on this ball all have names that start with the letter J.  Interesting.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Non-HoF Autographs: Vladimir Guerrero (sort of)

In an effort to work toward my goal of getting an autograph from every living Hall of Famer, I've begun a bit of a pre-emptive strike - that is, I'm collecting autographs from players who are almost sure to be Hall of Fame inductees.

I've already listed a few who I have collected over the years, but "Vladdy" (as he is affectionately known) was the first current player to return my through the mail request.  Vladdy will certainly be heralded as one of the greatest hitters of his era, as a player who hit for both power and average and has a cannon for an arm.

Unfortunately what I received was a small autograph card with a printed signature.  I guess he doesn't have time to sign his actual autograph.  I guess it was nice to get something back, rather than returned mail.

Interestingly enough, whoever sent back my envelope also included the blank 3x5 card in the return.  Thanks (I guess?), now I can send it to another player.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Joe Morgan


Joe Morgan is a Hall of Fame baseball player, but he has also gained a reputation (some might say a poor one) as a broadcaster and commentator for ESPN's national baseball coverage.  So it was pretty exciting to discover that after several weeks of waiting, I had finally received a successful (and real, unlike the last) autograph return through the mail.  Lucky number thirteen, I guess.

Mr. Morgan made it interesting for me.  He signed in fairly standard black pen and did not include his Hall of Fame induction year.  He did not include a return address, and the postmark was pretty smudged.  As you all know, I have spent the past few months sending out multiple autograph requests.  Thus, when I opened the envelope it took me a little while to figure out whose signature I was looking at.  Was that first letter a J?  Could I see an M in the last name?  A quick google search confirmed exactly who it was.

Unfortunately, the glue on the envelop tore a small bit of paper off of the 3x5 card, but fortunately the autograph still looks great.  This autograph request took 58 days from the day I mailed it out until receiving it back!  That number gives me hope that some of my early requests are still potential returns despite the fact that it has been months since I sent them out.

Interesting fact: Joe Morgan and I apparently share a birthday! (at least according to Wikipedia)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Failure #7: Red Schoendienst


As previously mentioned, we were away on vacation for a week.  We returned home to a big pile of mail - including three envelopes from players who I have recently tried to obtain autographs from.  I'll share the other two over the next few days.

I wasn't expecting much when I sent out the letter request to Mr. Schoendienst - apparently his health is in decline, and many autograph seekers had shared that he was no longer signing through the mail.  I tried anyway, hoping for the best, but after waiting for a few weeks, I got back this "Refused, Return to Sender" letter.

Sad, but I guess it is what I had expected.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Update

I'm heading out of town for a few days - time to head north to my home and native land.  This means the post office will be holding our mail, and I'm not going to be able to report back with any new Hall of Famer signatures if any arrive while I'm gone.

Thanks for reading about my Baseball Hall of Fame Autograph quest!  See you all soon.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Non-Hof Autographs: random 2009 Indians part 2


Why can't baseball players write neater?

This ticket stub was from a game my aunt and I attended during the 2009 MLB Spring Training.  It was autographed by what appears to be four different players, but I'm only certain of one of them.  Jhonny Peralta is the only one I'm almost 100% certain of, and that is primarily because he wrote down his uniform number and I have a faint memory of him signing for me.

The others are difficult to make out.  I think one of them is from Rafael Perez, but I'm not certain.  Are there any Indians autograph hounds out there who can help me out?  I'm almost certain none of them were from the Padres side of the field.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Non-Hof Autographs: random 2009 Indians

During 2009 Spring Training, my aunt (who is a massive Cleveland Indians fan), asked if I'd like to join her in Phoenix for a few days of baseball and sunshine.  I had never been to spring training, so I quickly agreed.  We ended up going to several games - a few with the Indians, one with the Dodgers, and a game with the Rangers (which I've already mentioned).

Spring Training is an amazing time to get up close and personal to big league players.  During the time there, I ended up getting several signatures on a Cleveland Indians score book.  The cover was autographed by coach, Luis Rivera.  Other signatures found on the pages include manager Eric Wedge, and players Travis Hafner, David Delucci, Ryan Garko, Jamey Caroll, Trevor Crowe, and Shin-Soo Choo.

Of this group, Hafner has done the most in his career in the bigs.  Caroll has found a niche as a utility infielder, and Garko has displayed moments of powerful hitting at the corner positions.  However it might be Choo who has the best big league career by the time these players all retire.  If he does have a Hall of Fame worthy career, he would be the first Korean (and Asian) player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

As mentioned before, Spring Training is an amazing place to get signatures.  I also have a ticket stub that has several Indian players on it, but that will be for a future installment.  It is also where I met Bob Feller and obtained my first ever Hall of Famer signature.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Failure (sort of) #6: Hank Aaron


Hank Aaron will forever be remembered by baseball fans as the man who broke Babe Ruth's all time home run record.  He is a figure who has many fans, and many enemies (those angry with him for breaking Ruth's sacred record for instance).  Aaron's home run record was surpassed just a few years ago by Barry Bonds (although many still consider Aaron the rightful record holder because he was never linked to performance enhancing drugs the way Bonds has been).

Today I recieved the above photo - a quite striking black and white image of Aaron's historic home run.  It is signed - but sadly, this signature is just a printed autograph.  I did not receive my original 3x5 note card back, nor did I receive this item in my SASE.

I have mixed feelings about this one.  For starters, its been weeks since I received my last through the mail autograph, so it was quite a thrill to get some mail today.  I've also read plenty of web forums that indicate that Aaron does NOT sign through the mail and any signature you get back will no doubt be a fake.  This one is somewhere in between.  It appears to be his actual signature, but it is clearly a mass produced item that Hammerin' Hank certainly did not sign.

I've come to realize that I appreciate whenever I get at least something back in the mail.  Whether it is a price list showing what it costs for an autograph, or just a fan photo, I appreciate that something is sent to me.  Currently I've got 25 requests sent out that I do not know if I will ever see again.  That sense of unknowing is sort of scary in a collection like this.  Did my mail get lost?  Did the player simply throw away my request?  Is their stack of incoming mail so large that I may receive something a few years from now?

Sadly, I have no way of knowing.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Non-HoF Autographs: Roy Halladay


Roy Halladay was easily my favorite Blue Jay during his tenure with the team.  While I was broken-hearted to see him go to the Phillies (and then pitch a perfect game this year), I still admire his ability from a distance.

I was in attendance at his second career start when he came within one out of throwing a no-hitter, and I watched him pitch incredible games on several occasions.  Through many up-and-down seasons of Blue Jay baseball, he was a constant bright spot.

I obtained this autograph through the mail.  I sent it to him care of the Jays, and included a return envelope, not knowing if I'd ever see it again.  It arrived autographed in thin sharpie (making it somewhat hard to read) several months later - much to my delight.

I really hope he enters the Hall of Fame one day, and if he does, I hope his plaque shows him with a Blue Jay cap on his head.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Non-HoF Autographs: Random 2009-10 Blue Jays

Over the last few years I've dragged this ball (which I originally snagged during batting practice at a game in Oakland) with me whenever I attend a game involving the Blue Jays (ironically, never in Toronto), on the off chance that I get a signature or two.  It has paid off to the point that I now have eleven different signatures on this particular baseball.

They are a bit hard to make out, but if my memory serves me correctly, the following players are included - Brandon League, Scott Richmond (his autograph is enormous), Mike McCoy, Bill Murphy, Ricky Romero (you can read about getting his autograph right here), Scott Downs, Lyle Overbay, Jesse Litsch, Kevin Millar, Brett Cecil, and Brandon Morrow (who ironically was obtained by the Jays in a trade for the other Brandon on this ball, and came within one out of a no-hitter earlier this season).  

As far as potential Hall of Famers?  It is still far too early to tell in the careers of many of the pitchers - Romero or Morrow may have a shot - but most of these guys will probably never see the eternal shrine of Cooperstown.  But with this particular ball, the enjoyment has been about simply meeting these guys in person long enough to get them to sign their names.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Non-HoF Autographs: Jonathan Broxton


I'm a fan of any pitcher who throws really hard and can get a strike-out in a tight spot.  At times, Jonathan Broxton is just that pitcher.  He's a big guy, and he throws close to 100 mph on a consistant basis.  He is an All Star, and may prove to be worthy of the Hall of Fame when he arrives at the end of his career.

Unfortunately, at the time of this blog posting, he has not been doing quite so well.  He temporarily lost his closer role, and has been struggling to get hitters to swing and miss.

I blogged about getting this autograph over at my other blog.  I think it would be really cool to get Russell Martin to autograph the bottom of this image.  Oh, and I guess it would be fun to get the hitter, Albert Pujols (a player who is almost certainly going to be elected to the Hall of Fame) to sign as well, but chances are pretty slim for that to happen.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Non-HoF Autographs: Josh Hamilton


I snagged this autograph at a spring training game in 2009.  Josh Hamilton played the first few innings and then headed to the showers.  At this particular spring training park, the players had to exit the field by walking all the way down the first base line and out through a gate in the outfield wall.

Of course when the fans saw him sauntering down the long walk right in front of them, everyone clammored for an autograph (including me).  He was nice enough to sign for a long period of time - long enough for me to make it from the opposite side of the stadium to where he was standing.  Sadly he signed my ticket stub upside-down, but I guess that isn't that important.

Hamilton's career began as a super-prospect touted to become one of the greatest ever.  A huge signing bonus led to living life large, and ended up leading to substance abuse problems.  Many thought his career was finished, but he cleaned up, found religion, and has turned into the incredible major leaguer that everyone expected him to be.  One wonders if his years facing his demons will cost him a shot at the Hall of Fame.  I guess only time will tell.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Non-HoF Autographs: Various Players

This ball has a similar story to my Indians logo ball.  It was also from the summer of 1997 when my aunt took me to a variety of ballgames.  One somewhat unique aspect of this ball is that during that same summer the MLB All Star game was played in Cleveland.  My uncle had tickets for he and his son, but my aunt and I did not, so we watched from the parking structure which overlooked left field.

Half way through the game my aunt's cell phone rang.  It was my uncle, informing us that their seats were right beside All Star pitcher, "Mudcat" Grant (who happens to be one of thirteen black players to have won 20 games in a single season), and if I wanted to get something signed, I should meet him at the nearest gate.  My uncle took him my cheap plastic covered baseball and he signed right on the sweet spot.  Had I known how good of a player he had been, I probably would have retired this ball with just the one signature, but alas as a young boy I was just interested in getting more.  I think the rest were obtained at Indians games throughout that summer (with maybe one exception).

As you can see, other than that notable signature, the ball has a mixed bag of signatures - everything from journeyman players Trenidad Hubbard (obtained at All Star Fan Festival 1997!) and Charlie O'Brien (who if I'm not mistaken, I got his signature at a game at Toronto's SkyDome), to big league sluggers like Brian Giles and David Justice (although my pen ran out of ink while he was signing).

What may turn out to be the most important autograph on this ball is the one from Omar Vizquel.  Certainly Vizquel has never really been known for his hitting ability - although he was a good hitter in his prime - but he is one of the defensive wizards of this era.  It will be interesting to see if the voters for the Hall of Fame give him any consideration.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Non-HoF Autographs: Jason Jacome, Tony Fernandez, Casey Candaele, Jose Mesa

This ball contains four seemingly random signatures.  What they do share is that all four players were on the 1997 Cleveland Indians - a team that won their division and narrowly lost the World Series that year to the upstart Florida Marlins.

I'm almost certain that none of the players who ever signed this cheap souvenir Cleveland Indians baseball will ever be inducted into the Hall of Fame.  Jacome and Candaele had much longer careers than I ever imagined, but they were utility players at best, bouncing from organization to organization.

Mesa and Fernandez both had lengthy careers, and both made All Star teams when they were in their prime.  Mesa once led the league in saves, and Fernandez once led the league in triples.  I remember being very excited to get Fernandez to sign because he had been a Toronto Blue Jay on two separate occasions before playing with the Indians, and once after I got this signature.

My mom grew up in Northeastern Ohio, so many of my childhood vacations were spent driving down to Ohio to visit our relatives.  My aunt is an avid Indians fan, and she would take me and my young cousin to a handful of games each summer.  We would go early and stay late, always making sure to hang around the player parking lot which in those days had a wrought iron fence which kids and autograph hounds could shout at players to come over and sign their souvenirs. 

Good memories.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Non-HoF Autographs: Aaron Hill, Justin Speier, Reed Johnson


This particular baseball is pretty special to me.  I got it on my birthday while attending a Blue Jays/Orioles game at Camden Yards in Baltimore.  Tony Bautista hit a screaming liner right at me.  I put my hand up, and knocked down the ball (saving my friend Josh's life, as he tells it).  Another friend was kind enough to give the ball to me after he snagged it from the ground (it was my birthday after all).

It lived in my car for a little while, rolling around on the floor (so sad how I treated this treasured item!), so it has a few cuts and nicks.  I carried it with me to several games, hoping to get it signed by some Blue Jays.

The first was a youngster who has since made a big impact - Aaron Hill.  I got his autograph at a game against the Nationals at the old RFK Stadium.  He signed in black sharpie (something I've since learned isn't the best idea since the marker can bleed on a baseball).  The second, a middle reliever who was playing for the Blue Jays at the time named Justin Speier.  I don't remember when I got his signature.  The third and final signature on this ball was from Reed Johnson - a marginal player at best, but a great one to remember because I obtained it at one of the last games the Blue Jays ever played at Yankee Stadium.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Non-HoF Autographs: Andre Ethier


I decided to fill the down time between obtaining autographs of Hall of Famers by filling you all in on the autographs I've obtained of other current and former players.  The above autograph is from current LA Dodger, Andre Ethier.  You can read a full account of how that autograph was obtained at my other blog.

Andre's career is relatively young.  He is off to a great start, and may one day be inducted into the Hall.  But for now, he qualifies as a non-Hall of Famer autograph.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Proposal.

I've hit a dry spell with my Hall of Famer autograph requests.  I haven't received one in the mail since way back on July 30th.  Hopefully my recent wave of mailings will result in some success stories to share with my faithful readers (if there are any...).

However I've been considering sharing my autograph collection from players who have not yet been inducted into the Hall.  One way would be to show you the players who could potentially be inducted (I have only a few of those), or I could show you all of my baseball autographs - no matter how obscure.

Is there a general consensus?  Does anyone actually read this thing? 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Update

I sent out a big wave of autograph requests though the mail today.  A good portion were players who are currently playing, but who I suspect will be inducted into the Hall of Fame when their playing career is over. 

This raises a question in my mind - is it important to just simply have the player's autograph, or do I want to obtain it after they have been inducted?  The obvious benefit to post-induction is that the player will often include their induction year in their signature (as shown in a few examples I've posted on the site).  The downside is, as soon as a player is inducted, their popularity skyrockets and it can become almost impossible to obtain their signature (see Cal Ripkin Jr., a fantastic player who rarely signs, and never through the mail).

I also sent out some more requests to players who have already been inducted.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Update

I haven't had anything in the mailbox since Bruce Sutter's RTS on August 6th.  Currently I'm waiting on 19 HOFers, to whom I've mailed but have had no response.  A little disheartening, although I've heard that it can take months before you hear back from some.

Al Kaline appears to be one that returns items quite quickly - sometimes as soon as four or five days after sending it out.  I sent an envelope out to Mr. Kaline on July 13 - a full month ago.  I'm wondering if he doesn't sign blank 3x5 cards.  Hmmm...

At this point I'm not sure whether to send out another wave of autograph requests, or just hang tight and be patient.  Maybe something will come in soon.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Failure #5: Bruce Sutter


Ugh.  The string of failures continued today with the arrival of a Return To Sender from Bruce Sutter.  This was only the second time I've received one of these.  At least when a player sends back a request for money you know that it arrived at the right place.  This one however, leads me to believe that either the address I have is wrong, or Mr. Sutter just isn't accepting mail right now.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Failure #4: Rich "Goose" Gossage


The autograph attempts are sadly turning into a string of rejection letters.  This time one from Goose Gossage arrived with a small note card with a pre-typed apology note, as well as a photocopied signature (a nice touch that I wish more rejection letters would include).  The note points the autograph seeker to his website, which plays "Bad to the Bone" when you visit.  Wow.

Somewhat ironically, the note included a HAND WRITTEN request for $20.  I suspect he hires someone to do this - wouldn't it just be easier to stop paying them and sign whatever comes in instead of paying someone to do this?  Ah well, I'm just angry at another failure.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Failure #3 (sort of): Brooks Robinson


Could it be?  Two failures on one day?  Yep, on the same day that I received the return from Rollie Fingers, I also received this letter.

While this wasn't quite as frustrating as Mazeroski's return to sender, it was rejection never-the-less.  Brooks Robinson included a kind letter saying that because of technology, more people have his address than ever before.  He apologized and pointed me to his website if I would like to purchase an autograph.

It did soften the failure a little bit to receive a Brooks Robinson postcard, but alas, it was not signed - not even with a printed signature.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Failure #2: Rollie Fingers


I missed getting Rollie Fingers' autograph at the recent All Star Fan Festival because I was in line to get Gaylord Perry's autograph.  Not to worry I told myself - Perry is the older player (and thus, probably will stop signing before Fingers) and I figured I could get Fingers' autograph through the mail.

Sadly, I was mistaken on the latter.  I received this form letter on the same day that Lee MacPhail's autograph arrived.  The small card informed me that in order to obtain an autograph, I must include $10 with my request.

Maybe someday when we have a little extra income I'll try again.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Lee MacPhail (1917-2012)


On July 30th I received three return envelopes in the mail.  The first one I opened was the above package from Lee MacPhail.  Mr. MacPhail was a big league front office executive and is the oldest living inductee in the Hall of Fame

I was pleased to find that he had not only signed the card I sent, but also included a signed postcard showing his Hall of Fame plaque.  Both items were signed in blue sharpie, and his induction year was included on the card stock.

Update: Mr. MacPhail passed away on November 8, 2012.  

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sparky Anderson (1934-2010)


When I was young I remember owning this card and thinking - wow, that guy is really old to be wearing a baseball uniform.  Well, Sparky Anderson is now 76, and when I got his signature in the mail, I once again found myself thinking - wow, that guy is really old.  You can almost see his hands shaking as he signs his name (in black sharpie).  He did not include any additional personalization or inscription, just his written name.  I love the way the line goes up at the very end.

I am really glad "Sparky" was willing to sign for me.  I hope he enjoys signing his name for fans as much as we do getting those signatures from him.  I'm also really impressed with how fast he signs - granted, he only lives a few hours from Pasadena, but it only took 6 days from my mailbox to his, and back to my mailbox.

Update: Mr. Anderson passed away on November 4, 2010.  

Update 2: Here is a little twist on my Sparky Anderson autograph.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Failure #1: Bill Mazeroski


This was the first failed attempt at an autograph.  I received this letter in my mail box 13 days after it was originally sent.  Bill Mazeroski apparently does not accept fan mail at his address.  The envelope was unopened and marked RETURN TO SENDER.  I had heard that some people will return your SASE with a price list requesting that if you want an autograph, you need to pay.  Apparently "Maz" just isn't signing through the mail these days.