Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A Successful Maiden Voyage

This maiden trip voyage both successful and prompt - no icebergs got in the way, whatsoever.  Well, I guess it would be more accurate to say that no careless mail carriers, bad addresses, poor sorting or anything of that ilk got in the way.  See, I wasn't captaining the Titanic across the Atlantic Ocean (although, in both of these cases, New York was the destination), I was attempting my very first TTM autograph request.

Now, I know a lot of you bloggers probably find this concept funny - that I've been collecting cards for most of my life and not once attempted this task.  See, I'm a terrible introvert who has problems asking people for anything, lest I feel like I'm a bother or an inconvenience.  I have issues.

Anyway, I finally got up the courage to make a request, mostly out of necessity:

You see, Mr. Balsamo here was a "one year wonder" in Major League Baseball, making 18 relief appearances in 1962.  Times being as they were, Tony was never honored by Topps with a baseball card of his own, thus making his name a seemingly permanent resident on the want list for my Cubs All-Time Roster binder.

That is, until I finally decided to get over myself and try out a TTM.  I found this card-like image while mindlessly Googling obscure Cubs'names and have been hanging onto it ever since.  See, while it may not be an "authentic card," I feel like an autograph makes it the real deal.  After all, an autograph will always have some collectible value to it, right?

After a few more minutes of Googling, I was also able to lock down his address.  So, I fired up my printer, committed it to glossy paper and sliced away with the ol' paper cutter to get what you see above, sans signature of course.

 Tools of the trade

From here, I took out a pen and paper to write a letter to Mr. Balsamo, explaining my aim and assuring him that I wasn't aiming to profit off of his signature.  I know I'd be skeptical and that I always appreciate a hand-written letter too.

Last Monday afternoon, I dropped my envelope (with SASE) into the mailbox and crossed my fingers.  After all, a lot can go wrong with TTM request and, to be honest, I wasn't even totally sure that I had located the correct Tony Balsamo.  Wouldn't that be weird, on the other end?

Then, yesterday I took my lunch break at home, having forgotten to bring my meal to the school.  Out of habit, I checked the mail upon crossing through the threshold and, behold, what a pleasant sight:

I must admit, it was really quite the thrill to see this show back up in my mailbox, and in just a week's time, at that!

Thank you, Mr. Balsamo for your generosity - it's greatly appreciated.  I can cross a name off of my list that I didn't think I'd ever get the chance to obtain.  Now, I feel inspired to try a few more TTM autograph requests and see how long I can keep this 1.000 batting average going.

Next time, I think I'll opt for a couple of my own custom cards for the added satisfaction of seeing my own work graced with signatures.  At this point, I even have a couple of targets already in mind:

Just like with Tony Balsamo, to my knowledge, neither one of these men had a baseball card produced with their likeness on it.  However, if I'm wrong, please feel free to correct me!

Anyway, it feels like this initial success is going to finally give me the confidence to attempt at least a few more TTM requests.  Again, my thanks go out to Mr. Balsamo for honoring my humble little request.

For those of you who have been at the TTM game, I'm curious - what was your first experience with the process like?  Was it successful?  Who was the target?  Was it marred with bizarre issues?  Let me know in the comment section!


  1. Congrats!

    I used to do a lot of TTM 10-12 years ago. There's a pretty good website where collectors post attempts and successes, share addresses and stories. There are also a bunch of in-person autograph hounds that I utilize quite often for my ATCRCS set. I haven't done a TTM in a couple of years but I still renew every year because the community is pretty good. Saves a lot of stamps when you know who will more or less reply. Of course, a pair of stamps on a longshot won't hurt.

    For the fee you get access to about 15 years worth of comprehensive data. Addresses, thousands of other collectors successes/failures. You can even sort and see just the Cubs.

    According to that site, Zick is a pretty quick turnaround. Let me know if you want the address. No reported successes for Tyrone.

  2. Be careful! This is an activity that can be very addicting. If you haven't already found the site, you can have access to all the addresses on the for free without even joining. It's the site I have been using for the last six months or so.

  3. Oh you are done for! Congrats on the success. Very cool.

  4. Congrats! I only started TTMing a year ago. Got off to a nice 4-for-4 start to my career, but eventually had a few failures to knock me off my Hall of Fame trajectory. I think I'm currently 19-for-30. I try to stick to minor league fringe prospects, or retired guys who are known to be good signers.. though it's fun to risk a couple stamps on a shot in the dark from time to time. While intrigued, I haven't ponied up for and have instead stuck to the free stuff for now.

  5. Tony is my Uncle!!! There was one baseball card made, it was from Topps in 1962. I can send you the image of it. (It is the only known one i have seen, and it was at his house!)

    1. I would love to see it! I don't see his name on the checklist for '62 Topps, so I'm extremely curious.