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ONE ANSWER REVISED
MONDAY, MARCH 4th, 20
13

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions I get...

INDEX CARDS

  1. How do you make those index cards?
  2. Why don't you send blank index cards?
  3. Can you make some of those index cards for me?
  4. How do you store your index cards?
  5. Where do you get the player photos you use for your index cards?
  6. Where do you get the logos you use for your index cards?

HOW DO I WRITE THE LETTER?

  1. When I write to an athlete to request an autograph, what do I say?
  2. Can't I just request an autograph without writing all that stuff?
  3. Does it matter if I write the letters out by hand or type them up on my computer?

WHERE DO I SEND THE LETTER?

  1. Should I write to the athlete at their home or team address?
  2. Do you have any home addresses for current or retired players?
  3. How do I address the envelope?
  4. How come your team addresses are different from the ones found in the sports card magazines?

WHAT DO I SEND WITH THE LETTER?

  1. Should I include a Self Addressed Stamped Envelope (SASE) when I send them cards to sign?
  2. What are the current postal rates?
  3. What size envelopes should I use?
  4. How many items should I send the athlete to get signed?
  5. Should I send sports cards or index cards to get signed?
  6. I don't want my sports card to get bent, should I send it in a "top loader"?
  7. I want to write to more than one player on the same team.  Do I have to put my requests in separate envelopes, or can I put them all in one envelope to save postage?
  8. The player that I want to write to does not have a sports card yet.  What else can I send to get signed?

MISCELLANEOUS QUESTIONS

  1. When is the best time to write to the athletes, at training camp or during the season?
  2. When I write to an athlete, am I guaranteed a real autograph?
  3. How long does it usually take to get an autograph back from an athlete?
  4. I would like to know the value of my autographed item?
  5. How do I go about getting an autograph authenticated?
  6. I would like to get a mini helmet or a baseball signed, how do I go about doing that?
  7. What type of pen or marker should I use?
  8. What does it mean when an autograph is a "pre-print" or an "autopen", and how can you tell if you receive one?
  9. How much does it cost you to write to all those athletes?
  10. How many letters do you usually write in a week?
  11. What do I do if the player I want to write to plays on a Canadian team?
  12. I live outside the United States, how can I get American stamps?
  13. Are any of your autographs for sale or trade?
  14. How do you request an autograph via an e-mail address?

INDEX CARDS

Q: How do you make those index cards?

A: I have been getting a lot of compliments about the index cards that I make. I used to use Microsoft Publisher, but now I use the free program Page Plus SE 1.0, and have set it up to print 3x5 cards. I am sure that this can be set up with some other programs, like PAINT. It just takes a little bit of trial and error to get it printing the way you want. I have to tape them to a piece of paper in order for my printer to print them, but it does turn out quite well. I used to send out sports cards, but when the athletes signed them, the signature would always get smeared. Not only that, but sometimes an athlete would not sign a certain companies card (i.e. TOPPS) or they won't sign if the card is from when they played for a previous team. For example, Phil Housley would not sign Buffalo Sabres cards after he was traded to the Winnipeg Jets. So, by using index cards, I can make sure the card is current by placing them on whatever team they are playing for this week. Unfortunately, some athletes won't sign index cards, such as Ron Francis, Tom Barrasso, and Guy Hebert! I have no idea why, but they don't. Oh well.

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Q: Why don't you send blank index cards?

A: The reason why I put the players picture, name, and team on the cards is that when they return, I will always know who they are from. My friend sends out blank index cards to get signed, but he doesn't always know who's signature he gets back (as some signatures are very hard to read). If you are planning on sending out blank index cards to get signed, you might want to lightly print their name (or initials) on the back in pencil, so you will know who's signature it is when you get it back.

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Q: Can you make some of those index cards for me?

A: I get so many people asking me to make index cards for them, that I would never have any time to make some for myself. I hope that you understand, as it takes a very long time to make each one.

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Q: How do you store your index cards?

A: To be honest, I don't really store the index cards in anything. Either I still have them in the envelopes or I have filed them away in an index card box. As of yet, I have not found anything suitable to display them in, although I have a friend who says they make top loaders for index cards. With the amount of index cards I have, that probably would be too costly. So basically, the people who have the best view of my collection are my web site visitors!

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Q: Where do you get the player photos you use for your index cards?

A: You can find the player photos I use on the ESPN web site, but you can also find them at the various team and league web sites.

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Q: Where do you get the logos you use for your index cards?

A: The best place that I found for team logos is Chris Creamer's Sports Logos Page at: http://www.chriscreamer.com/.  He has a huge collection of recent and past logos from all sports and all leagues.  I also use the football helmets from The Helmet Project at: http://www.nationalchamps.net/Helmet_Project/

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HOW DO I WRITE THE LETTER?

Q: When I write to an athlete to request an autograph, what do I say?

A: It's always hard to find something to say when you write a letter. I usually start off by telling them that I am a big fan and think they are a great player. Then I write about some of the things that made me want to send the letter, such as to congratulate them on a great season/winning a championship or tournament, or to send get well wishes if they were recently injured. Then I politely ask if they wouldn't mind taking the time to sign the cards that I sent them (and with golfers and race car drivers, I request an autographed photo as well). Then I wish them well and thank them for their time. Don't forget to include a self-addressed stamped envelope with your letter.

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Q: Can't I just request an autograph without writing all that stuff?

A: What you write in your letter sometimes does make the difference whether or not you get an autograph. Some athletes are very good at signing for everyone, no matter what is written, but others are a bit more picky. Sometimes if you write a good and sincere letter, your chances of getting an autograph are better than if you wrote a generic one. Usually if you mention something about the players' career, or something you fondly remember about them, you will have a better chance of getting a response. But each player is different, and it also depends on what type of mood they are in. Also, some players will only sign in certain times of the year, such as training camp.   Basically, it's all just luck.

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Q: Does it matter if I write the letters out by hand or type them up on my computer?

A: From talking with other collectors, I have found that it doesn't really matter if you hand write the letter or type it out. Personally, I feel that hand written letters are more personal, as it shows that you took the time to "write" them, not like a typed one which might look like a "form letter".  As I said, the decision is up to you.

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WHERE DO I SEND THE LETTER?

Q: Should I write to the athlete at their home or team address?

A: Under advice from other autograph collectors, I would recommend that you write to the athletes at their team's address. Most athletes will sign, so it is no sense bothering them at home, and maybe turning them off from signing at all. I had listed some athletes' home addresses earlier, but they have since been removed.

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Q: Do you have any home addresses for current or retired players?

A: I am sorry to say that I do not have any home addresses for current or retired players.  Almost all of my requests have been sent to the players at their team or tour address, so I would highly recommend sending your letters there.  If you are still wish to send your requests to the player's home, you can find them at http://www.sportscollectors.net/

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Q: How do I address the envelope?

A: This is the format that I use:

                    Player Name
                    c/o Team Name
                    Team Address

                    Player Name
                    c/o College or University
                    Attn: Athletics Department - Men's or Women's Sport
                    College or University Address

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Q: How come your team addresses are different from the ones found in the sports card magazines?

A: Many of my sports addresses listed are not the same as the ones found in sports card magazines, as I have used the ones listed on the "official" web sites of the teams and/or leagues.

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WHAT DO I SEND WITH THE LETTER?

Q: Should I include a Self Addressed Stamped Envelope (SASE) when I send them cards to sign?

A: Despite the fact that some athletes make lots of money, I would always include an SASE with the cards. This way, all they have to do is sign them, put them in the envelope, and drop them off in the nearest mailbox. You would be surprised at how many athletes take them along on their road trips! Sometimes, the athlete will give them to the team to send back, and the team will add some "goodies" and put them in their own envelope, saving your SASE for another athlete!

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Q: What are the current postal rates?

A: As of Monday, March 4th, 2013, the rates for letter mail are as follows:

POSTAL RATES FROM U.S.A. FROM CANADA
TO U.S.A. $0.46 U.S. Funds $1.10 CDN Funds
TO CANADA $1.10 U.S. Funds $0.63 CDN Funds
TO MEXICO $1.10 U.S. Funds $1.85 CDN Funds
TO OTHER $1.10 U.S. Funds $1.85 CDN Funds

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Q: What size envelopes should I use?

A: It would depend on what you would like to get signed. If you are just getting sports cards signed, I usually send a small security envelope for them to return my cards in.  They are 3 5/8 x 6 1/2 inch size and can be picked up at any department or stationary store. If you are requesting an autographed photo, you will have send a 9 x 12 large envelope, folded in three. Don't forget to put postage on the return envelope. After I write the letter to the athlete, I stick the letter, the cards I want to get signed, and the appropriate return envelope, in a #10 size (4 1/8 x 9 1/2 inch) envelope. I have had lots of success using those types of envelopes, and would recommend it.

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Q: How many items should I send the athlete to get signed?

A: When people write to request an autograph, most would agree that two items to get signed is best. Some players will only sign one item, but the majority will sign both. I have heard of people sending six and even ten items to get signed, and I think that is a bit too much, and ruins it for the rest of us. Sometimes the players will even send some of their own cards back, in addition to the items I sent, which is a bonus!

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Q: Should I send sports cards or index cards to get signed?

A: Most people send sports cards to get signed, and I would highly recommend it. As stated previously, some players will not sign index cards, so you may miss out on getting some of your favorite players if you send them. I like sending out my index cards because it's pretty neat to have my favorite players sign something that I made.

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Q: I don't want my sports card to get bent, should I send it in a "top loader"?

A: There have been many debates about that. While your card should get to the player unbent, the player may sign the top loader instead of the card, which has happened to several people I have talked with. If you absolutely do not want the card to be bent, stick a stiff piece of cardboard in the envelope. I send out thin index cards to get signed and only a handful ever get bent, so I don't think I would worry too much about it. Sure, you will have some cards bent, but it is quite rare, the post office is actually very careful with the mail, if you can believe that!

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Q: I want to write to more than one player on the same team.  Do I have to put my requests in separate envelopes, or can I put them all in one envelope to save postage?

A: Unfortunately, when you request autographs through the mail, you will have to write to each player separately and put each request in their own envelope that is addressed to that player.

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Q: The player that I want to write to does not have a sports card yet.  What else can I send to get signed?

A: You can send all sorts of things to get signed, like a team pennant, a baseball/puck/mini-helmet, a pocket schedule, a magazine, or even a piece of paper with the team logo on it.  Just remember to include the appropriate postage for the return envelope.

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MISCELLANEOUS QUESTIONS

Q: When is the best time to write to the athletes, at training camp or during the season?

A: I have sent all of my hockey requests to the team during the regular season, and all of my football requests to their training camps, so I can't really compare the two. However, for baseball, I sent to their team addresses my first year and their spring training addresses the following years, and actually found no difference in success rates. But I think that sending to training camps is better because if the players do not sign at training camps, they will take their mail with them and sign through the regular season...if they sign at all.

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Q: When I write to an athlete, am I guaranteed a real autograph?

A: If you write to any sports athlete, you are never guaranteed to get a real autograph.  While my success rate has been very good, if not excellent, I have had, on occasion, received "pre-prints" and "autopens" from some of them. The best thing to do is write to them and hope for the best.  If you're only writing one or two letters to request autographs, one or two dollars in stamps is a small price to pay.

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Q: How long does it usually take to get an autograph back from an athlete?

A: The length of time it takes to get a response differs from person to person. Some athletes will get back to you within two weeks, while some of the big stars will take up to three years! And then, you may not even hear from them at all, that's the chance you have to take.

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Q: I would like to know the value of my autographed item?

A: Unfortunately, I am not an expert when it comes to the value of autographs, I am sorry. The price of any autographed item is based on supply and demand. If there is someone who really wants it, the value will increase. If it is not of any interest, the value will be lower. If you know that the item and the signatures are authentic, you might want to contact one of the members of the Universal Autograph Collectors Club at: http://www.uacc.org/ They might be able to help you. You may also go down to your local book store and take a look at one of the many autograph price guides that are available in the hobby section. That should give you an idea of what the value of your item is.

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Q: How do I go about getting an autograph authenticated?

A: I am not an expert on this subject, but your best best would be to go to a reputable dealer to get your autograph authenticated. You might want to try contacting Richard Simon of New York, he's pretty helpful when it comes to authenticating autographs. You can find his information at: http://richardsimonsports.com/authentication.htm  You can also contact the Professional Autograph Dealers Association at: http://www.padaweb.org/ They should be able to get you in touch with someone who can authenticate your autograph.  Getting items authenticated can cost quite a bit of money, so make sure that you ask their price before having it done.

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Q: I would like to get a mini helmet or a baseball signed, how do I go about doing that?

A: Getting items signed through the mail is always tricky. You are never guaranteed a success, nor are you guaranteed a real signature, it's all luck. Even if you sent your items to get signed, you are not guaranteed that they will sign it for real, or even guaranteed that they will return the items at all. If you are comfortable in the fact that you may never see your items again, then here is what I would recommend doing. First, write the person a letter asking them if you could send them the item to get signed. Send a self addressed stamped envelope along with your letter so they can send you a response. If they send back your SASE saying it's okay, then you can package up your item, along with the marker you want them to use, return postage, and a letter politely explaining where you would like the item signed and how you would like it signed (ex: To Mac, etc.). Even after doing all that, the item may not get returned. As I said, it is a risk, and if you are willing to lose the items for a chance at their autographs, then go ahead.

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Q: What type of pen or marker should I use?

A: That depends on the item in question.  On photos and sports cards, nothing beats an original sharpie!  When it comes to mini helmets, baseballs, and pucks, there are different thoughts about that.  Since I am not the best person to ask, I would suggest reading an excellent article on the subject, written by Chris Olds of The Tuscaloosa News called It helps to have the write stuff when seeking autographs.  It should explain everything for you.

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Q: What does it mean when an autograph is a "pre-print" or an "autopen", and how can you tell if you receive one?

A: A "pre-print" is any signature which is printed on the negative and then printed as part of the photo. An "autopen" is a mechanical device which prints a signature on an item, rather than an actual signer. A preprint is easy to spot, just look at the photo to see if the signature is actually part of the photo, you will be able to tell right away. As for an autopen, they are very difficult to detect.  I am not an expert, but some of the autographs are pretty obvious, especially when you have two items that are signed exactly the same way.  Unfortunately, when the athlete only sends one signed item, it makes it a bit harder to determine.  If you are suspicious of an autograph, the best thing you can do is to compare your autograph with ones on the various autograph web sites on the Internet, or by subscribing to the alt.collecting.autographs newsgroup. It has a wealth of information, including successes, failures, addresses, and more. And best of all, it has experts who know these things! So if you are ever suspect of an autograph, you can always post a note. I have done this, and have been helped quite a bit.

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Q: How much does it cost you to write to all those athletes?

A: I spend quite a bit of money sending autograph requests through the mail, but I don't know exactly how much. I would estimate that it would cost me around $1.50-$2.00 for each letter I send out, depending on what I am requesting. That would include the cost of stamps, envelopes, and materials (such as the index cards and printer ink cartridges).

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Q: How many letters do you usually write in a week?

A: It all depends on the mood I am in, and what time of season it is.  During the MLB's spring training and the NFL's training camp, I would probably write around 50 letters over a weekend and send them all at once. But for the other sports, I just write to them when I feel like it, maybe ten or twelve a week.

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Q: What do I do if the player I want to write to plays on a Canadian team?

A: When you mail to a player in Canada, you will need to put $1.10 in Canadian stamps on the return envelope if you live in the United States ($1.85 in Canadian Stamps if you live elsewhere). If you do not have any, you can purchase them through Canada Post's online store, or by phoning their toll-free number (1-800-565-4362) if you would like to get the stamps right away. If you are just interested in players from the Toronto Blue Jays and don't want to buy Canadian stamps, you can mail to them at their Spring Training next year, as their addresses are in the United States.

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Q: I live outside the United States, how can I get American stamps?

A: You can buy American stamps by phoning them at 1-816-545-1000 (this is not toll-free).

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Q: Are any of your autographs for sale or trade?

A: I am sorry to say that I do not sell or trade any of my autographs.  For me, autograph collecting is a great hobby and a lot of fun.  To sell or trade these autographs would not feel right.  I hope that you will understand.

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Q: How do you request an autograph via an e-mail address?

A: You would request an autograph via e-mail the same way as you would through the mail, except you would put your mailing address at the end of the letter instead of including a self addressed stamped envelope.

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