We’re less than three weeks away from the start of spring training. We’ll soon be able to read stories about which players turned up at camp “in the best shape of their life” and see clips of players hitting and fielding along with the basketball and hockey highlights on the nightly sportscasts.
It also means that we’re close to the start of spring training autograph season. Maybe one year, I’ll actually get to go to Florida and experience spring training in person… honestly, short of a lucky lottery ticket on one of the rare occasions that I play, it’s probably not going to happen.
So I’ll be writing letters and waiting to see what shows up in my mailbox. I’ve updated my Guide to Collecting Autographs Through the Mail page for 2016 for those who are new to this method of collecting, but basically you just send a baseball card you want signed along with a letter politely asking the player for an autograph and a self-addressed, stamped envelope for him to return it in.
For a long time, conventional wisdom suggested that spring training was a better time to write to players for autographs because there was more “down time” in spring training than there is during the season. I don’t know if that’s still true (or if it ever was,) but I do know that it’s easier for me to find time to write letters during February than it is during the summer months when I could be going to baseball games (or at least watching them on tv) when I have recreation time.
Last year, I sent out 49 letters during spring training and got 27 successful responses. This year, I’m planning to cut that number down to around 20 letters.
My preliminary list includes
- three Mets coaches: Kevin Long, Pat Roessler and Dick Scott;
- six Mets players: Sean Gilmartin, Steven Matz, Addison Reed, Logan Verrett, Neil Walker and Yoenis Cespedes, who is my longshot of the spring;
- two former Mets (assuming they sign somewhere before spring training starts): Gonzalez Germen and Eric O’Flaherty
- nine MLB prospects: Andrew Benintendi (Boston), Jose Berrios (Minnesota), Lewis Brinson (Texas). Lucas Giolito (Washington), Ian Happ (Cubs), Austin Meadows (Pittsburgh), A.J. Reed (Houston), Brendan Rodgers (Colorado), and Dansby Swanson (Atlanta).
My list started off a little bit longer, but when I was looking for baseball cards for this project I found certified autographs of former Mets Dana Eveland, Kelly Johnson, and Tim Stauffer, current Met Erik Goeddel and Mets prospects Robert Gsellman and Matt Reynolds for less than $3 each, so I just bought those instead.
Has anyone else started thinking about which players and coaches they want to write to for autographs this spring?