TTM Tutorial, Tips, and Tricks!


If He Can Hold The World, He Can Hold This Moment
Staff member
5.00 star(s)
Hello friends,

First off, I am Kevin, your new TTM moderator, and so happy to be here!! I have been collecting through the mail for 30 years, since 1992 (hard to believe that was 30 years ago!!). My first TTM return was from the singer Dean Martin, and I was hooked! I started with celebrities, and that evolved into athletes, which then evolved into making custom cut autograph cards, which has now become more TTM items, which has all been a ton of fun!

So in this thread, I am going to post a basic tutorial, then update with additional thoughts of how to get the most out of your TTM experience!

** To start, you need a long letter size envelope, which you will put your return address on, and then address to the player or celebrity you are writing to. Typically a single stamp works just fine. I have always used forever stamps, since a few people have surprised me with returns after a very long period of time (Adam Vinatieri once returned a card signed to me after being gone almost 7 years!!).
TIP: Your return address ensures that if something goes wrong, your envelope gets returned to you. Some people put the celebrity's return address. That pretty much guarantees that if something gets returned to sender, it doesn't make it back to you!!

** You need a letter. Make it sincere, and keep it to one page. Note an accomplishment or special game or play. That makes the person you are writing to feel like you actually a. know who they are and b. care what they did during their career!
Another tip: ALWAYS HAND WRITE YOUR LETTER! I have done this, and have had a lot of success, since I feel like it is more personal. I have helped Tanner Houck (current pitcher for the Boston Red Sox) and his family handle his fanmail, as his mother is a friend and colleague of mine, and she knows I collect. Tanner gets MULTIPLE of the same letters from the same people, all typed and printed. That pretty much ensures that the items are for sale, and while he is happy to sign in good faith, it is rude to take advantage. So my best suggestion is to always handwrite your letter.

** You need items to get signed. You have a higher likelihood of getting a genuine signature if you send your own item. Sometimes you will get a preprint if you dont send your own item, and that is just a bummer.
TIP: Don't send a blank 3x5 card! I started out doing this since it was easy, and I was 11 when I started doing this! Now, a lot of people will not sign blank cards (in fact, the singer Kenny Rogers once wrote "Can't sign blank cards!" on the card I sent and sent me a preprint instead. BUMMER!)

** You need a SASE (Self Addressed Stamped Envelope). I use a smaller sized envelope that fits neatly in the main envelope. Your name and address go in the center, stamp in the upper right, and YOUR return address in the upper left.
TIP 1: Your return address gives you 2 chances of your items coming back!
TIP 2: Cut a piece of a manila folder to fit in your return envelope as protective cardboard, or use it to fold the cards to protect them. Since I started doing this, I have not had any problems with damage in the mail!

Main envelope:


Cardboard and customs!

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Thanks for that tutorial, Kevin. And really cool that you know Tanner Houck and his family. I'm a fan of him and think he will have a long career (all with the Red Sox hopefully). I have 2 autograph cards of his I am happy to have in my collection.
Thanks for that tutorial, Kevin. And really cool that you know Tanner Houck and his family. I'm a fan of him and think he will have a long career (all with the Red Sox hopefully). I have 2 autograph cards of his I am happy to have in my collection.
Larry, really appreciate your response! Tanner has had a heck of a career in a few short years, and it has been super cool to be able to advise his family about this stuff! He just got married before Thanksgiving in a really small ceremony, nice family!

God bless,

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Another tip I will share today, I have had a lot of success with people who tend to be tougher signers sometimes by including something extra for them. When I make customs, I send some extras for the player in a cardboard piece that says "These are for you to keep, hope you enjoy!" and then two to be signed in another cardboard piece that says "Will you please sign these two and return? Thank you!!"

Now, have I gotten shot down a few times? Yeah! But not enough times that I dont continue sending extras! I have had some nice results, and sometimes players who ask a small fee will waive that or return my $5 or $10 I have sent, as a thank you for the extra cards. Some have even written nice notes to me thanking me and complimenting my work, which is always super cool!


So many individuals will sign, its just a matter of getting the right address. I often use other forums to check recent successes, and then use to verify a home address. You don't need a membership, ordinarily you can find an address without the premium white pages.
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A tip for today: sometimes decorating the outside of the envelope helps a success along, as it is eye-catching! I used some stickers on an astronaut request, and it came back quickly!
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And once in awhile it's time to be real and come back down to earth and realize that when you pull out all the stops sometimes it just isn't going to work for you.

About a year ago I wrote to Nolan Ryan with a custom I had made. I saw that he had signed a few things for free through the mail. I sent him two customs for himself and requested that he please sign just one of mine. His Texas Majesty decided not to but kept the two for himself and there was a note on his price list that said "thanks for the cards!" But it wasn't signed.

Personally, I thought it was a nice card, why not scribble those 9 letters on there??

Today I checked my informed delivery and saw that my SASE with the envelope sent to Jim Lovell which I had decorated and done my very best to make stand out was coming back.

Unfortunately it came back with no signature, no note, and minus the two cards that I sent him to keep. Bummer.

But hey.....Ya win some, ya lose some, its all the same to me!
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Hey friends,

There are several websites that are my go-to sites for collecting, and I wanted to share them here!

This site lists signings in person (IP) across the country, you can search by state. They also offer some mail-in signings as well, which is nice.

Fanmail is just that, a huge site full of addresses for celebrities, movie stars, musicians, and athletes.

So a little trick for sending 8x10s through the mail:

I use a manila envelope and cut it to fit in the envelope. I then cut all the edges off of a plastic sheet protector and tape it in the center of the folder, and put the photos on either side of the plastic, to protect them in the mail.

Also, 3 stamps on the outside envelope, 3 stamps on the inside envelope will get it there and back!!
This was a great article with some more great tips and tricks, a lot for spring training and ballpark requests, or "IP graphing" person autographing!