TTM = Through the Mail
I’ve always found hobby projects to be most enjoyable when they have a specific theme and force me to learn something new while adding items to my collection. Of all the different manners in which I have collected, I’ve found that a good through-the-mail (TTM) autograph project can really lend itself to this style of collecting for a number of reasons including:
- You have the opportunity to tailor your collection to whatever theme you wish – Super Bowl MVPs, NBA stars playing in the Olympics, 1977 New York Yankees, etc.;
- To increase your odds of success at TTM collecting, you must write personalized letters. Learning interesting tidbits about a player’s career and including them in your request helps to illustrate that the subject is actually of some importance to you; and
- Players will sometimes answer questions included in the requests, which helps to make the response more personal and meaningful.
With the 2019 World Series right around the corner, I got to thinking about interesting TTM projects that relate to the Fall Classic. The possibilities are limitless, but there is one that struck me as really interesting, incredibly inexpensive, and truly historic.
On October 17, 1989, Game 3 of the World Series between the Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants was postponed by a magnitude 6.9 earthquake that rocked the Bay Area, destroying bridges and highways, killing 67 people and delaying the series for 10 days. It was a tragic event that had a long-lasting effect on the area and the lives of millions.
The following year, Score produced a card in its annual baseball set that commemorated the day. Card #701, Lights Out Candlestick, features a solemn black-and-white photo of Candlestick Park (the site of Game 3) on the front and text describing the event on the back. The card is not rare, nor expensive. In fact, there are currently more than 200 of them listed on sportlots.com and they range from $0.18 – $0.25 each.
Possible TTM Project Emerges
I believe this card could be the source of a fantastic TTM project. Imagine picking up 100 of these cards for less than $20, and sending them out in the mail to anyone who was at the ballpark that day. Along with a request to sign the cards, I would include a nice note with two or three questions designed to invoke a meaningful response. Where were you and what were you doing when you first felt the stadium shaking? What did you do once the shaking stopped and what was your process for leaving the stadium? Describe what your life was like in the days immediately following the earthquake? What effect, if any, has that day had on your life since then? The possibilities are endless.
I would write to players, of course, but also to coaches, media members, team owners and even the grounds crew. I’m not sure how you could track them down, but if someone was able to get these cards in the hands of stadium ushers who were in attendance that day, and perhaps law enforcement personnel as well, I would bet that they would have thought-provoking responses. It is unlikely that everyone will answer the questions, but I would imagine that a great percentage would put some thought and effort into their answers. In the end, you would have a specific, historic and unique collection pertaining to one of the most memorable moments in World Series history. I think it would be a fascinating collection and at the cost of $20 in cards, some stamps and your time spent writing letters, the price is nothing when compared to the potential return. If you are wondering how to get player addresses, a $14.99 annual subscription to sportscollectors.net will get you nearly everything you would need.
Upon completion, you would want your signed cards authenticated by PSA and then you could share them in a Showcase on the PSA Set Registry. Heck, I’d bet someone in the hobby media would even write an article on the project. I know that I would love to read about it!