Tuesday, February 19, 2013
TTMing: a short and one sided primer
So here we are with start of Spring Training and a great time to get that players autographs you wanted. Spring training is also a great time to get those prospects and rookies you're after. Players have more time during spring training and usually are a lot more amicable to signing, even bigger name players.
I'll admit, I'm a novice when it comes to TTM or Through the Mail autograph requesting. I only started a few years ago, but I've had a few people ask me over the course of me posting about my successes and even a few failures how to do it. I mean what's more appealing that getting an autograph from an athlete or celebrity you like for a few stamps? And to be honest it's pretty easy.
Let's first explain a few of the acronyms and terms you'll see when you get into this.
TTM - Through the Mail
LOR - Letter of Request
SASE - Self Addressed Stamped Envelope.
Pre-Print - A preprinted autograph usually on an 8x10 photos that stars use as a general send out.
Pre-Signed - An authentic auto usually on an 8x10 that a star signs a lot of and that someone else personalizes later.
Auto-pen - A machine produced facsimile autograph. Presidents use these!
When I started to send out TTM's I focused on celebrities. I actually took the time to make my own autograph cards and sent them out. And to my surprise I was incredibly successful. I had thought about doing the same when it came to sports stars, but to be honest sending them one of their own cards is way more convenient and you don't infringe upon their trademark. I'm going to focus on sports stars here, as that is what I really enjoy and do more than anything now.
There are lots of great websites out there to get addresses from and to see others successes and failures.
The one I use the most is the SportsCardForum's TTM manager. It's free, which is always a plus, and a great website to boot about all things sports card related. The other site I've used to get address from is FanMail.biz This one is oriented more for celebrities, but they have sports stars as well. The are are other sites as well free and pay to choose from just do a google search
So first you thing you have to do is decided who you'd like to send a request to. And then hopefully be able to find an address that's had some recent success to send the request to. Spring training is great for this because all you need is the team's stadium address easily found on the internet.
Next is picking out what to send. I'm working on a Brewers TTM project trying to get as many former, current, and future Brewers as I can for as many different years and brands as possible. So my over all focus is on them, but I do occasionally send to other players I enjoy. I have a large collection of extra Brewers cards I've been hording since I started collecting back in the mid-80's and that I've gotten putting team sets together. As a rule I never send more than 3 cards out to be autographed and with the more famous and popular players I usually will only send one or maybe two. You don't want to appear greedy or look like someone who just wants to turn around and sell their autos on ebay. I pick cards that I won't miss if they never make it back to me. That's always a risk in TTMing. You might not ever get a response. So pick cards you think would look nice autographed, Allen and Ginter look great and so do 1994 Upper Deck cards, but don't break the bank.
If you're looking for single cards to send out and you don't have a stack of extras laying around check out sites like Sportlots.com and Justcommons.com for cheap singles.
So now that you have the player you want to send to, the card(s) you want to try and get signed, and the address to send to here's what you need to do.
First you'll need two envelopes. I use a #10 envelope to send and include a #6 SASE for my return. I like using the smaller envelope because then you don't have to fold it to fit inside the sender. Tom Owens who writes the blog Baseball by the Letters and posts a lot about successful TTMing had a nice post about using old Valentines Day envelopes and other colored envelopes to stand out. Not a bad idea either.
Next you'll need a nice LOR, Letter of Request. I usually hand write all my LOR's. Some people opt for type written, which is fine too, but I always feel that the handwritten letter lends a little more sincerity to the request. I write things about myself and what I liked about the player and what they've done, that I'm glad they're with or were with my team and any other cool memories I have. I tend to keep is short. One page or less and I like to use wide ruled paper, but that's just me.
Stamps! I tend to buy a few booklets of forever stamps. Well because they last forever! But to be honest you'll start going through them like water once you get into TTMing.
Now all you have to do is put your letter, cards and SASE in the #10 envelope, seal it, send it off and wait. I've had returns as fast as 5 days and some as slow as 11 months and sometimes sadly they never come back at all.
I think you'll be pleasantly surprised how successful you are. And nothing beats seeing one of you return envelopes in the mailbox.