How to Prepare a Trading Card for In Person (IP) or Through the Mail (TTM) Autographs

My “boss” thought people would like to know about this, so at his request, I bring to the readers a post about how to prep cards to be signed for in-person (IP) and/or through-the-mail (TTM) autographs.

The first thing is what type of cards to use to be autographed. I personally will stick with base, and low-end inserts/parallel cards. Some people prefer to get numbered cards autographed and I’ve even seen some get jersey cards or 1/1 press plates signed. Really, it’s what the specific collector wants signed, but if you were to ask me, I’d stick with lower-end cards.

The next question you may ask is, “is there anything I need to do to prepare the cards to be signed”? The answer to that question would be yes, depending on the card being used. If the card has a non-glossy surface (think of cards like Heritage, Allen & Ginter, etc), then you don’t need to do anything to prepare the cards, however if you use a card that is glossy, it does need to be prepared.

baby powder 2

There are two ways you can prepare a card to be signed. The first option is you can baby powder to take off the gloss. Just sprinkle a little bit of baby powder on the card, spread it around so it covers the entire card. After you’ve done that, use either a paper towel, or Kleenex to remove the baby powder. This method can be more time consuming and messy, but it also does a really good job removing the gloss on a card.


The second way that you can prepare a glossy card is to use a white eraser. This is the method that I use now as it’s a quicker, and more efficient way for me to prepare my cards to be signed. I just erase the entire card and it takes the gloss right off. Depending on the card you use and the type of eraser, it may streak the card, but this is rare for the most part.

So there you have it. Hopefully if getting autographs signed TTM or IP was of interest to you, this information has helped!

Here are some examples of how well it works when completed:


Guest Blog Post: Women In Collecting

by Ashley Reyes

I am counting down the days until the NSCC. But, as a woman, I also dread certain aspects of it. Such as, will I hear comments that I don’t belong? Will I be assumed to be there just for the purpose of pushing my husband’s wheelchair. I take the high road and don’t tell them they’re wrong, but it bothers me that my gender still means so much to some. They say we are taking over “their sports,” by having professional levels of basketball, soccer, and limited forays into softball and football, but the truth is that they aren’t watched in the numbers that their male counterparts are. They say we are taking over “their hobby” by being involved. I know men who quilt, crochet and knit, and I couldn’t be prouder. But in a hobby that some say is dying, does it really matter? If people are buying cards and paying attention, I’m personally thrilled no matter what gender, color, or orientation a person is. No one should ever feel embarrassed by their choice of hobby. Personally, I play video games, collect cards, and yes; sew, knit, quilt and crochet. In a time where 85% of all purchases are decided by women, does it really make sense to see anything as male only anymore?

On the website listed below, they have some pretty interesting statistics as to viewership of sports and even merchandise purchasing. With women accounting for:

  • 47.2 % of major league soccer fans
  • 46.5% of MLB fans
  • 43.2% of NFL fans
  • 40.8% of fans at NHL games
  • 37% of NBA fans
  • Women purchase 46% of official NFL merchandise
  • Women spent 80% of all sport apparel dollars and controlled 60% of all money spent on men’s clothing
  • Women comprise about one-third (34%) of the adult audience for ESPN sport event programs

Why would collecting be any different? We make buying decisions, we care about the teams and players, and we like collecting too. My husband may laugh at some of the reasons I give for my decisions on whether or not to buy a product, but they have a purpose – if it’s not outstanding, I don’t want it. I don’t care for sets that look like they took last year’s failed idea and threw into production because they had nothing better; I want clean, crisp and thoughtfully designed cards.  I want something that looks like they cared enough to really think about how it would look, feel, and yes, smell; because nobody wants to get high off the boxes. What I look for most in a product is a common theme – that the insert set flows with the rest of the set. As much as I love butterflies, I don’t care  for them as inserts in my baseball card set. Yes, they look awesome, but I buy cards for autographs and patches. With swatches and patches, I want to see color, to know where in the jersey it came from.  I like acetate and acrylic as they give the clean and uncluttered appearance, but I’m not a big fan of metallics.  Any set with too many metallics, or too many refractors, and they no longer become special or unique.

So, yes, I’m a woman who collects cards. I’m also a woman who knows what I want and what to look for, and most importantly, I buy what I love.  I’m not asking for the cards to be designed differently, or even marketed differently, just for those in the industry to take us seriously and realize we watch, we buy, and yes – we collect. So the next time you are at your local card shop, or a show, don’t dismiss that woman or girl you see; see her as part of the next generation.

(Data from:

SCB Note: Ashley Reyes is a regular reader of the blog and wanted to contribute on her thoughts and experiences as a woman involved in card collecting. You can follow her on Twitter @cardgirlashley. I invite other women to share their thoughts on gender and collecting in the comments below.



Are Ballparks the New Market Inefficiency?

This is a guest blog post by Andy Swingle about a different look on baseball sabermetrics.

Most baseball fans know the story of the 2002 Oakland Athletics. They were subject of the New York Times bestselling book entitled Moneyball. Author Michael Lewis paints a picture of the A’s as a team with no resources competing against the financially abundant (New York Yankees). Lewis, through the muse of Athletics general manager Billy Beane paints a picture of a team that must think in an unconventional way, in a way that goes against what has been considered the norm. With the help of assistant general manager Paul DePodesta (or Peter Brand, if you decided to wait for the movie), this led to the beginning of the sabermetrics revolution.

Having been around for years thanks to pioneers like Bill James, Voros McCracken and others, statistical analysis ushered in a new way to evaluate individual performances. Runs Batted In (RBI) were considered pointless in an individual context due to the reliance on other players to be on base before the batter driving in the runs even came up to bat. Pitcher wins were deemed almost obsolete in the fact that a 15-13 ball game can still give a pitcher a win, even though they may have been responsible for all thirteen runs scored. The cornerstone of DePodesta’s research suggested that the best way to determine the ability of a hitter is not by RBI or batting average, but by how often hitters get on-base (OBP) or avoid getting out. With the A’s success, many other teams began looking to statistical analysis to adjust their team philosophy. The problem for Oakland was that their secret was out. They found a market inefficiency and exploited it for as long as they could until almost every other team stole their ideology and used it to their advantage, most with the resources that the Athletics organization did not have.

With this sort of baseball statistical enlightenment that is occurring, their come a paradox. If most of the businesses in the same industry see data the same way, and are coming up with the same conclusions and reactions from the data, then how does an organization go against the prevailing thought? What must a company do to remain innovative in a marketplace that is so very much a copy-cat industry? The answer is in the structure, or should I say the structure of the building they work at.

During this sabermetrics renaissance, one aspect that people began looking at was how many runs a team scores at home as well as how many runs the opponent scored at the home team’s stadium. Doing the math is actually pretty easy.

  • PF: ((homeRS + homeRA)/(homeG)) / ((roadRS + roadRA)/(roadG))
  • homeRS: Runs scored at home
  • homeRA: Runs allowed at home
  • homeG: Home games
  • roadRS: Runs scored on the road
  • roadRA: Runs allowed on the road
  • roadG: Road games

A ballpark with a total of 1.00 or more signifies that the park favors the hitters, while a score of below 1.00 means the advantage goes to the pitchers.

In 2011, the most hitter-friendly ballpark was Rangers Ballpark in Arlington with a score of 1.409, second place was Coors Field in Denver, home of the Colorado Rockies at 1.347. The intriguing part of this study comes in the teams that are the pitcher-friendly ballparks. The top five pitcher-friendly ballparks in order of friendliest to not quite as friendly are: AT&T Park (San Francisco Giants) 0.737, Tropicana Field (Tampa Bay Rays) 0.817, Petco Park (San Diego Padres) 0.819, Angels Stadium of Anaheim (LA Angels) 0.836, and Safeco Field (Seattle Mariners) 0.855. At first glance one would say, of course these stadiums are the worst for a hitter because they are so big. Granted, they are large parks and it does take a little more effort to get the ball out of the park in San Diego than it does Texas or Colorado, however, these stadiums can create an opportunity for these five teams.

Jason Vargas was the Webster’s defintion of a AAAA pitcher. A fastball in the mid-to-high 80′s with serviceable off-speed stuff.  He came to Seattle after brief stints with the Marlins and Mets, both of which did not bring close to the results he was looking for. Now he is going to be the number two starter for the Mariners behind King Felix. His WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of 2.4 in 2011 was the same as NL All-Star Ryan Vogelsong, and more than Jeremy Guthrie (2.1), Wandy Rodriguez (1.5), and A.J. Burnett (1.5). Just a side note, A.J. Burnett makes $16.5 million dollars, Rodriguez makes $10 million dollars in 2012, and Jason Vargas will make $4.85 million dollars in the 2012 season.

This brings me to my point. Tim Lincecum had a 2011 WAR of 4.4, Brandon McCarthy of the Oakland Athletics had a WAR of 4.7, while making thirteen times as much money as McCarthy ($13 million to $1.00 million in 2011). Wouldn’t the money that the San Francisco Giants pay Tim Lincecum be better spent on solving their anemic offense, instead of overpaying for a pitcher that is according to WAR, the third most valuable pitcher in their rotation? It is with this logic that I encourage the San Diego and Seattle to continue what they have done in their prospective trades this winter, trading young pitchers with lots of hype and getting the hitters that they need to help them win, knowing they can rely on their ballpark to mask the inferior pitching talent they bring to the mound. This will be the new inefficiency of the 2010′s, the next evolution of Moneyball.

Andy Swingle is a personal friend of mine who has just started putting his thoughts online. Check out his new blog about sports and life with his pregnant wife.

Donruss Elite Extra Edition Autos and Prospect Rankings

Courtesy of Top Prospect Alert, we have prospect rankings and information on 4 of the 6 autographs we pulled in our review of 2011 Donruss Elite Extra Edition baseball.

Let’s take a look at the autographs and a little blurb about each prospect.

Danny Hultzen – Seattle Mariners – Pitcher – 1st Round

Hultzen is projected as a future starter for the Seattle Mariners perhaps as soon as this year. He is the #1 prospect in the organization on our Seattle Mariners Top 15 rankings. He posted a 1.40ERA with 18K’s in 19.1 innings in the Arizona Fall League.

Keenyn Walker – Chicago White Sox – Outfield – 1st Round

Walker is a toolsy outfield prospect who ranks as the #1 prospect in the very weak Chicago White Sox organization in our Chicago White Sox Top 15 rankings. He will look to improve upon his .257 batting average from the 2011 season.

James Baldwin – Los Angeles Dodgers – Outfield – 4th Round

Baldwin is a speedy outfielder who also has some pop. He blasted 10 Home Runs and stole 22 bases in his debut season after being taken in the fourth round of the 2011 draft. He comes in at #13 on our Los Angeles Dodgers Top 15 rankings.

Bobby Crocker – Oakland Athletics – Outfield – 4th Round

Crocker made a nice impression after being drafted in the fourth round of the 2011 draft. After starting in rookie ball, he advanced to Short-A where he batted .322 in 32 games. Overall he hit a combined .296 and showed some ability to hit for extra bases. He comes in at #14 on our Oakland Athletics Top 15 rankings.

Make sure you visit Top Prospect Alert for all your information on current minor league baseball prospects.


Guest Blog Post: The National Sports Card Convention Experience

I had mentioned recently that I found a great resource on the ground at the 2011 National Sports Collectors Convention to describe the event and the experience. RJ Reyes was kind enough to write this guest post about his experiences at the 2011 National Sports Collectors Convention. Enjoy.

I overhear my friends telling me that this is simply a larger version of the local card shows that happen at the shopping mall once a month. It’s funny to hear people think that it’s a  giant flea market. It may look like it, but the “flea market” part is indeed just a small part of the whole experience.

It starts Wednesday, “Sneak Peak”, early in the afternoon for the VIP and Super VIP ticket holders to pick up their various items. The buzz is electric and as the day goes on, more and more people crowd the waiting area. Here one can hear all types of sports news, controversy, and various opinions of who will win this year. Usually, the prominent colors seen are of the local favorites. (Cubs, Blackhawks, White Sox, and Bulls) If one looks hard enough, all teams from all leagues will have their backers clad in retro or modern jerseys.

As the convention continues and opens, people of all types, ages, shapes, and creeds pour into the convention hall,  which looks like an endless array of sporting history. In the first few aisles, one might see vintage base collectors rummaging through vendor’s wares hoping to find that one card that would finish up that old 1960 set. Watching them, is a sport itself; their fingers quickly looking through 1000 card boxes. When finding that one card, their eyes light up, like a young child finding their favorite toy.

Another common sight is that of a young collector, staring at the cards they might have only heard about. Many times, I would hear, “Daddy look Mickey Mantle!” Just the sight of the card was exciting to them. That excitement to me, defines what collecting is about. Wide eyes, a huge smile, and a respect for the sport that is unrivaled.

Autographs and meeting the athletes is certainly one of the most awesome aspects of the convention. Superstars of yesteryear and rookies of today are all here. Meeting a hero, shaking their hand, or getting a picture with them puts a smile on people’s faces regardless of cost.

The auction sites are some of the most interesting parts. How often do you see a jersey of Lou Gehrig’s Japan Tour on display? Old gloves, pictures, balls, and anything are here. One may not be able to afford them, but to enjoy the history the article represents is amazing.

Experiences of the collectors, young and old, are swapped, and you can hear the older fans talk with just as much excitement as the seven year old about their first baseball game. Just walking around and absorbing the wealth of information is definitely awesome.

I have refrained from talking about the redemptions and the pack breaks, because more importantly than those activities, is the chance to talk to the company representatives and make your opinion known. All companies have a booth or a table or something. Most companies will take the time to answer questions about their product or products. For example, Tracy Hacklet from Panini spent the better part of an hour talking to me about the products, and what we thought were good and bad about them. Whether or not they take any of my suggestions, remains to be seen, but it was nice to think that my thoughts matter. (Thank you to Tracy!)

All in all, there is so much to do and see at the National. So much to absorb, so many different people, experiences, cards, memorabilia and so much love for everything sport, that one can’t help not being a small part of sports history just attending the convention. It is an event that any sports historian or sports fan should definitely attend.

You can find RJ Reyes on Twitter @thecardcouplene. He is a big fan of all Philadelphia sports teams and loves collecting hockey cards so make sure you check him out.