Sunday, October 4, 2020

....And One Day They'll Stop Signing For Free Through Mail

Agent Mike Maguire posted a photo on Facebook few days ago. The photo was over four years of unopen fan mail and autograph requests from former MLB All-Star pitcher Dave Stieb who doing a private signing. Both went through the box and what they found was alarming.

Photo provided by Mike Maguire

About half of the mail contains 8 or more cards with some at 10-12 cards. In fact one request package contains 17 cards and 10 index cards wanting 2 or 3 inscriptions. The sender sent the request TWICE! About 15% wanted Stieb to chip for return postage. A dozen sent him same generic copied autograph request from the internet instead sending a handwritten note. Three letters contained player's name crossed out and replaced it with Dave Stieb. The amount that sent him a donation to sign? 1%. Dave Stieb said he stopped signing because he gets taken advantage. In his long out of print book he gave his stance on not signing when someone took out a loan under his name using index card he autographed. I don't blame him one bit. Sooner or later the player, whether current or former, will stop signing through mail for free altogether mainly at fault of the collectors. The collectors have gotten too greedy with their autograph requests bombarding with multiple cards and items to sign. The through mail autograph requests have became too much and taken up the player's time that some have gone to Past Pros or hire an agent to set up private signings to limit the amount of items to be signed. Or another case, the player chose the route of no longer signing at all. You know who stopped a signing not long ago after years of being "automatic" autograph return? Former Astros player Denny Walling. He was accommodating to fan's autograph request through mail. What made him stopped signing few months ago when someone sent him NINE cards to get signed. According to SCN he returned them unsigned and have stopped taking items. Way a go! Some collectors are ungrateful complaining about receiving only one back signed despite sending multiples to the player. I'll be glad to get at least one back signed. Some collectors are cheapskates complaining when a player put a price tag on signature per item even if its for donation or low as a $1. Collectors have set off a chain reaction thanks to sites like SCN. Users posting success rates of autographs through mail as well amount items sent and got back signed it. If they see collector got back over 4 or more items back signed other collectors will likely follow suit. Often the collector will re-pay the player's free generosity by putting the signed item on Ebay or being advertised to be sold on various Facebook autograph groups. I'll be not surprised if up to 70-80% of players, former or current, go through private signing route hooking themselves up with an agent instead giving away free autographs through mail in the future. At the end it will be greedy collectors fault on ruining autographs through the mail. It takes one autograph collector to ruin it for everyone.


  1. Wow. 17 cards? That sucks. When I taught elementary school, I'd have to sign 30 to 35 report cards and hated it. Can't imagine getting bombarded with all of those autograph requests. If I was an athlete, I wouldn't even bother with TTM's. I'd sign at shows and for kids at games and events. Huge props to people who are willing to sign TTM.

  2. Wow, thanks for sharing. I've used to be a pretty big TTMer but have really stopped over the past two years, outside of maybe a small handful of requests. Several things turned me off. 1. The greed, like you mentioned, of some people sending 9-12 cards. Most times I'd include extras with a note for them to keep. 2. There was some news about Max Munchy getting annoyed with mail coming to his house, and it made me realize it can be quite an invasion of privacy. 3. I totally topped sending during the pandemic, as it feels rude to me to send someone something unsolicited at this time.

  3. I totally feel your frustrations. Back when I did ttm autographs from 2004-2012, many guys signed, but I noticed a trend. I would look a guys stats up on SCN, and many times they would be good signers, but you would see a request of some guy wanting like 6 to 18 cards signed, and shortly after that, no requests were returned. All of these greedy and ignorant d-bags sending tons of stuff and ruining the hobby for the collectors. At least Neshek is still good.

  4. Thanks for the pointer Fuji it’s an interesting read. It’s easy to see why it’s not worth signing through the mail, the scam factor has just grown exponentially with the Internet and then social media.