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Spring Training Means One Thing to Collectors: Chasing Autographs

by Rob Bertrand (02/11/13).

It’s that time of year again, when pitchers and catchers report to their Major League Baseball Spring Training camps. It’s also the time baseball fans begin their In-Person and Through-the-Mail autograph collecting.

Autograph collecting is a tradition whose history has been well documented years before the concept of an organized baseball pre-season training regime took hold at the professional level. However, for both baseball fans and collectors, the phrase “pitchers and catchers report” signifies the start of a baseball season that—from beginning to end—encompasses nearly nine-months. Spring Training’s annual tradition also designates the start of another annual season for collectors, referred to as TTM: Through-the-Mail autograph collecting.

The long periods of down time, curfews and restricted geographical access provides the players ample time to respond to fan mail. That doesn’t mean that they all will, but now is the time to try because the closer the start of the regular season gets, the less likely your chances will be for autograph success.

Before we take a look at some best practices to increase your odds of getting your autograph request returned, here are some key dates to remember.

The 2013 MLB Spring Training logo.

Feb. 11-14:
Voluntary spring training report date for pitchers, catchers and injured players.

Feb. 15-18:
Full squad report dates. (Specific to team)

Feb. 15:
Voluntary date on which all non-World Baseball Classic position players may be invited to spring training.

Feb. 20:
Mandatory date by which all non-WBC players must report.

When sending autograph requests TTM, there are several things you can do to increase your chances of success. By following these simple guidelines, you should have a mailbox full of autographs by Opening Day.

1. Use a legible hand written note;
2. Address the player by Mr. ____________ ;
3. Make mention of a memorable moment in their previous season or career;
4. ASK with a “please” and “thank you” for their autograph;
5. Wish them luck this season;
6. Include what you want autographed (baseball cards are the easiest and least expensive item to mail);
7. Include a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope).

While you are obviously free to send balls or photographs, be sure your return package has the required postage according to the new rates. It’s also generally a good rule of thumb to not send items that you would be upset if they aren’t returned.

The relaxed access and reduced media scrutiny provides the players the opportunity to interact and engage with fans more easily than at their home ballparks. These are also the situations where you’ll fare better in having items signed that you wouldn’t send through the mail, such as jerseys or bats.

In addition to TTM autographs, Spring Training provides the ideal environment and access for IP, or In-Person, autograph collecting. If you have the means to vacation in either Florida or Arizona, the numerous centrally located ballparks provide numerous opportunities to connect with the players at the training facility. The relaxed access and reduced media scrutiny provides the players the opportunity to interact and engage with fans more easily than at their home ballparks. These are also the situations where you’ll fare better in having items signed that you wouldn’t send through the mail, such as jerseys or bats.

Whatever method you choose to pursue, remember to be respectful. Players don’t owe it to us as fans to sign autographs, but it is quite the thrill when they do.

Below is a listing of Spring Training address for each team:

GRAPEFRUIT LEAGUE CACTUS LEAGUE
Atlanta Braves
Champion Stadium
ESPN Wide World of Sports
Complex
700 South Victory Way
Kissimmee, FL, 34747-4100

Baltimore Orioles
Ed Smith Stadium
2700 12th Street
Sarasota, FL 34237-3000

Boston Red Sox
Jet Blue Park
11581 Daniels Parkway
Fort Myers, FL 33913-7872

Detroit Tigers
Mailing Address:
Detroit Tigers
2125 N. Lake Ave.
Lakeland, FL 33805-5012

Miami Marlins
Roger Dean Stadium
4751 Main Street
Jupiter, FL, 33458-5203

Houston Astros
Stadium address is:
Osceola County Stadium
631 Heritage Park Way
Kissimmee, FL, 34744-6110

Minnesota Twins
Hammond Stadium
14100 Six Mile Cypress Parkway       .
Fort Myers, FL, 33912-4314

New York Mets
Digital Domain Park
525 NW Peacock Blvd
Port St. Lucie, FL, 34986-2210

New York Yankees
George M. Steinbrenner Field
1 Steinbrenner Drive
Tampa, FL, 33614-7064

Philadelphia Phillies
Bright House Field
601 Old Coachman Road,
Clearwater, FL, 33765-2321

Pittsburgh Pirates
McKechnie Field
1611 Ninth Street West
Bradenton, FL, 34205-7223

St. Louis Cardinals
Stadium Address:
Roger Dean Stadium
4751 Main Street
Jupiter, FL 33458-5203

Tampa Bay Rays
Charlotte Sports Park
2300 El Jobean Road
Port Charlotte, FL, 33948-1120

Toronto Blue Jays
Florida Auto Exchange Stadium
373 Douglas Avenue
Dunedin, FL, 34698-7913

Washington Nationals
Space Coast Stadium
5800 Stadium Parkway, Ste 101
Viera, FL, 32940-8013

Arizona Diamondbacks
Salt River Fields at Talking Stick
7555 N. Pima Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85258-4013

Chicago Cubs
HoHoKam Park
1235 N. Center Street, Ste B
Mesa, AZ 85201-2639

Chicago White Sox
Camelback Ranch
10710 West Camelback Road,
Phoenix, AZ 85037-5072

Cincinnati Reds
Mailing address is:
Cincinnati Reds Player Development Complex
3125 S. Wood Blvd
Goodyear, AZ 85338-6917

Stadium address:
Goodyear Ballpark
1933 S. Ballpark Way
Goodyear, AZ 85338

Cleveland Indians
Cleveland Indians Player Development
2601 South Wood Blvd
Goodyear, AZ 85338-6914

Stadium address:
Goodyear Ballpark
1933 S. Ballpark Way
Goodyear, AZ 85338

Colorado Rockies
Salt River Fields at Talking Stick
7555 N. Pima Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85258

Kansas City Royals
Surprise Stadium
15946 N. Bullard Ave
Surprise, AZ, 85374-8844

Los Angeles Angels
Temple Diablo Stadium
2200 West Alameda Drive
Tempe, AZ, 85282-3197

Los Angeles Dodgers
Camelback Ranch
10712 W. Camelback Road
Phoenix, AZ 85037-5072

Milwaukee Brewers
Maryvale Baseball Park
3600 N. 51st Avenue
Phoenix, AZ, 85031-3005

Oakland Athletics
Phoenix Municipal Stadium
5999 East Van Buren
Phoenix, AZ, 85008-3410

San Diego Padres
Peoria Sports Complex
16101 N. 83rd Ave
Peoria, AZ 85382-5811

San Francisco Giants
Scottsdale Stadium
7408 East Osborn Road
Scottsdale, AZ, 85251-6424

Seattle Mariners
Peoria Sports Complex
15707 North 83rd Ave
Peoria, AZ, 85382-3827

Texas Rangers
Surprise Stadium
15960 North Bullard Ave
Surprise, AZ, 85374-8844

Rob Bertrand has been an active collector of sports cards and memorabilia for more than 20 years. His involvement in the hobby community is well documented, having been the content manager for the Card Corner Club website before the company’s merger with CardboardConnection in 2011, where he is now a staff writer and multimedia content producer. Rob is also the co-host of the sports collectibles hobby’s only live and nationally broadcast radio show, Cardboard Connection Radio. He is the author of the highly respected and trafficked blog, Voice of the Collector and you can follow him on Twitter @VOTC. A dealer himself, Rob runs an online business through eBay, and is frequently asked to consign collections.

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