By Mike Greene aka indyreds

For those wondering, TTM stands for Through The Mail. It is a term used for autographs collected by sending items through the mail to an athlete or celebrity in the hope that they will sign the item and return it through the mail to you. The envelope to be sent to the star you are requesting an autograph from should contain a few different items. The first item is a very nice letter explaining why you would care for the autograph and asking for it. The item that you would like to be signed should be included as well. The next part may be the most important item. Include a SASE! A SASE is a Self Addressed Stamped Envelope.

Which items do you need to get these free TTM autographs? You will have to get postage to cover both the cost to mail to and from the celebrity you are writing to. A request letter, one to three sports cards and a return envelope can be sent with one forever stamp on each envelope. This means it only costs you two stamps per request when mailing something this small. I would always suggest using a forever stamp, as you never know how long it will take for a return to come back to you. Envelopes to mail the items are the next needed tools. I use two different sizes of pull and seal envelopes. The inside SASE envelope is a 3 5/8 envelope and the outer envelope addressed to the celebrity is a 4 1/8 by 9 ½ envelope. You need the tools for writing or printing your letter of request and finally you need to decide what card or item you want to send in the hope of getting your TTM autograph.

Ok, I have envelopes, I have stamps and I have tons of sports cards that I would like to get signed! Now what do I do? Try to decide whom you want to write to. I personally like to see who has signed for others in the past, as they will be more likely to sign for me than someone who has not been a good TTM signer. Check the recent successes or the player list pages on Sportscardforum TTM Database or a similar site to see how the player signs and what address to send to your request to. Sportscardforum’s new database is showing member success percentages by address used and it’s a wonderful tool.

Finally I have my player selected, I have a card selected that I want signed, I have his best address and I have all the items to send the package away, but how do I write the letter? This is actually much easier than many make it out to be! Most people will tell you to handwrite your letters, but I usually type and print them, as they are easier on the eyes than my handwriting is. The letter consists of two paragraphs; the first paragraph is telling the celebrity why I am a fan of theirs. I will talk about a specific game, an award they won or a team they played for in this section. The second paragraph is asking for the autograph and thanking them for it and their time. It is important to actually ask for the autograph and not to just assume the player knows why you sent your items to them. Saying thanks and not assuming that you will get an autograph without using your manners is just as important.

The last part is real simple. Place your card, your SASE and your request letter in the large envelope to mail it off. It would be nice to take the time to enter your pending request into the SCF TTM database at this point. Hopefully you will be enjoying the new addition to your collection soon. When your SASE returns to you, go back to the SCF TTM database and log your return. This will allow others to use the information that you provided to help decide if they want to mail to this person as well. You will be able to see how long you waited for your return and how many items you received back compared to how many that you had sent. Using this type of database will also let you know what sort of returned autographs you received successfully compare to the number of requests you sent out as well.

I would not feel right ending this article without giving a warning to you. TTM autograph collecting is addicting! It is awesome to open your mailbox and while you are sorting through all the letters, bills and junk mail you find a returned SASE! I will have to admit that the suspense of who sent back to me usually makes me open these before any other mail. It is thrilling to know that one of your sports heroes took the time to sign an item just for you! Give it a shot yourself, but remember I did warn you! You may find yourself adding postage to your weekly collection budget. I wish you the best of luck with your collection and finding enjoyment in your mailbox!