A number of collectors wrote to me in the aftermath of the Jeff Morey interview to tell me about their similar experiences. I have listed a few below.
A note of thanks for your welcome interview with Jeff Morey. He's an old friend and a collecting contemporary, even if he is a younger guy (65 to my 69).
We started collecting about the same time (1948 for me) and I bought tobacco and gum cards from guys like Wirt Gammon and Buck Barker, too, as a young teen-ager in Idaho, through the mail. For a nickel or a dime a throw. Wirt would send cards on "approval" and I'd keep what I wanted and just send the rest back, with payment. We never had a single problem over almost a 10-year period.
The Grandstand Manager, which was actually a New York Giants baseball team publication, got me started, too, and led me not only to Gammon and Barker but Leslie B. Stockton of Schenectady, N..Y., the "Autograph Man," who sold me (for a very nominal sum) player and celebrity addresses and soon became a hobby mentor.
Jeff is dead on regarding the way things were in the '50s. Widows of deceased players did send out full signed checks of their husbands. I got both Babe Ruth and Christy Mathewson that way, as well as "cuts" of John McGraw, Roger Bresnahan, Herb Pennock and Morgan G. Bulkeley. The return rate on my requests was very high, as it was for Jeff -- and I'm assuming the signatures were all or nearly all legitimate, too.
The one thing I didn't do (and now wish I had) was send T206 and other tobacco and caramel cards out for autographs. I just tried to complete the sets unsigned. For the autographs, I'd send an index card and a self-addressed, stamped return envelope, and ask the players to sign the card and send a picture of they had one. A surprising number did.
Anyway, your interview brought back many pleasant memories. Thanks again for doing it.
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What a terrific interview -- well done!
Just like Mr. Morey, I too got autographs at the Otesaga Hotel in Cooperstown on Hall of Fame day in the early 70s (back then the ceremonies and HOF Game were held on the same day).
Most years I would have players sign scorecards and balls in a group fashion, but one year I took several cards to get autographed. No T206s, but I got autographs on quite a few Goudeys, and had Rube Marquard and Harry Hooper sign their Cracker Jack cards. I put the cards (carefully with corner hinges) in a hard backed scrapbook so it would be easy for the players to sign them. The only problem was when I asked Marquard to sign his E94 (or E95 card, I forget which without looking) -- he started his signature on the card, but then continued it right off the ege of the card and onto the scrapbook -- I still have that card mounted on the page!
Some of my favorite childhood memories are those annual trips to Cooperstown with my dad.
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There's something about an autograph on a card that is transcendent, a bit of the spirit of the ballplayer is on that card. I wrote on a thread a few months ago: "Old Joe Wood held that card and wrote his plain signature with the same hand that threw smoke in 1912." Works for me.
I was a kid in New York City in the fifties. Used to go to alot of Yankees games, and after the game my brother and I would wait outside the players clubhouses on East 157th Street along the first base side of the ballpark. We'd swarm the players as they came out and get them to sign our scorecards. Ten or twelve signatures was a pretty good take. I had all the Yankees and probably half the American League. Guys like Crosetti, Dickey and Paul Richards, too. Even got Hank Greenberg to sign. He was long retired, just taking in a game. Never forget it. Funny it never occurred to us to have our Topps cards signed. Just scorecards. Wish I still had them but they've been landfill for a very long time.