At some point in early May of last year, I pulled out some of the stack of cards I have set aside (okay, it’s honestly more than a full shoebox at this point) for TTM requests and decided to start writing some letters again. And while this mainly manifested in a few whirlwind flurries across the year, I saw several nice results from it. Some of that initial batch even made it back during the month of May!
Bubba Trammell: 3/3 [kinda], 954 days
The first return of 2020 was actually not sent out in 2020 – or 2019, or 2018. Yes, you read that right: 954 days. I sent these to Bubba Trammell in September 2017, or rather, I sent him one of these, that Just ’99 in the middle. He replaced two of my cards with different cards. That’s not such a big deal, but one was from a minor league AS set I picked up on a road trip as a kid, and I was hoping to get that signed. The Just is the winner here, though – I’ve got a couple dozen from those 1999 and 2000 sets signed, an amalgamation of ‘graphing as a kid and later TTM requests. Hm, maybe I should add another project page.
Bobby Shantz: 4/5, 8 days
Bobby, of course, is one of the best there is when it comes to TTM. I’ve written the 1952 AL MVP before, but I’d picked up a few strays at shows and the card shop and been stashing them aside for an eventual mailing. Shantz, by the by, also picked up a World Series title with the Yankees in and started the first game in Colt .45s history, going the distance and shutting out a Cubs lineup featuring Ernie Banks and Billy Williams. The ’56 here was a beater pickup at a show a while back, and I think the ’53 Bowman falls into the same category. What a card! And yes, I am a psycho and sent a tabbed Red Man, from when I picked up a slew of them at the card shop at some point in 2019. There was one more card that Bobby didn’t sign, but that might be because it featured the same photo as this:
It’s one of the 8x10s from “The Motherlode,” and as soon as I saw it in the pile I knew I was going to write Shantz again, I just didn’t know when. Well, I finally did it, and this beauty looks fan-damn-tastic.
Don Leppert: 3/3, 12 days
Next on the docket is Don Leppert, whose brief major league career belies a lifetime in baseball. The catcher’s pro career began in 1955 and ended in 1966, with 109 major league games for Pittsburgh (’61-’62) and Washington (’63-’64). He homered on the first big league pitch he saw, taking a Curt Simmons offering out to deep left field in a game the Pirates won over St. Louis 5-3 on June 18, 1961. Leppert made the All-Star team as a reserve in 1963 with Washington. In 1968 he began an 18-year major league coaching career, getting a ring with Pittsburgh in ’71 and spending time on the Astros staff from 1980-1985. In the late 80’s he became Minnesota’s field coordinator for their minor league system and spent some time managing in the minors. The ’62 was a nice choice for the Pirates portion of my binder, and the 64 was a spare I’ve had ever since I found a bunch of cards at a garage sale. The 1984 Mother’s Cookies coach card smudged a bit, I may try and find another to send and hope for a better outcome.
Jim “Mudcat” Grant: 2/2, 9 days with fee.
Sometime fairly early after my return to TTM autograph hunting in 2014 I saw a successful return from Mudcat Grant. I made a note, set aside a card, and thought to myself, “hm, let’s find another to send as well.” Shortly after that, it seemed Grant stopped signing. So, I set the cards aside, eventually picked up some more Grants, and sometime in May noticed another success. I wrote him immediately, including a fee, and was happy to get these back in short order – although getting the “Don Sutton treatment” with ink across the face is a tad disappointing. Still, these are both beauties and it was nice to add another Black Ace to the collection.
Jim Kaat: 2/2, 13 days with fee.
I heard recently that Kaat’s no longer signing, thanks to some of the bad apples in this portion of the hobby that do this just to turn around and sell the stuff on eBay, and that’s a shame. So it’ll be private signings and appearances from here on out for Kitty Kaat. I’m glad I got in on time, because he’d been sitting in my “to write” pile for ages. Of course I sent the ’81 Fleer, but I’ve had my eye on getting this 1973 Topps card inked ever since I saw Night Owl blog about it back in 2017.
Bill Madlock: 1/1, 7 days.
Gorman Thomas: 1/1, 13 days
These last two beautiful 1981 Fleer autographs were obtained via private signings. Well, sorta – Mad Dog posted about his on Twitter, and so I sent in fairly quickly with the fee and expected to wait a few weeks. To my surprise, it showed up a week or two prior to the “signing” date. Gorman Thomas was via a cheap signing listed at SCN, and I couldn’t pass it up. You can go see them with Jim Kaat and a bunch of their inked brethren at the 1981 Fleer gallery page I set up lat week. Trust me, it’s worth it.
Alright, that’ll do it for May. An MVP, a Black Ace, a few World Series champs, a new Astro-graph, and some project ink. Not bad! There’s a lot more to come from 2020’s TTM hunting, so I’ll be tackling more of the monthly roundups shortly.