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Tales of Through-the-Mail Signing Success

In the latest Autograph Chaser article in SCD, Tom Talbot reveals success stories regarding Jack Nicklaus (and a very large golf ball), Jimmer Fredette and Mark Spitz.

Several years ago, my brother and I attended the PGA Championship in Rochester, N.Y. My brother splurged and bought a $45 giant golf ball to get signed.

I went with the event poster. I’ve always regretted it. I’ve never seen one of these unique balls again, and the 50 or so signatures on my brother’s ball are the highlight of his collection.

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In a recent auction on, I found one of the same golf balls and was the high bidder at $10. But I didn’t want to wait years to have someone sign it since the PGA only stops here once every five or so years. So I tempted fate and sent the ball out through the mail.

I decided on the best golfer of all time. Go big or go home. Off it went to The Golden Bear, Jack Nicklaus. Who would have thought a few years ago that Tiger may not have enough wins to eventually top Jack’s record for Major victories?

Nicklaus is hit or miss through the mail, although I have had good luck over the years. He’ll usually sign a unique item.
Or maybe I just got lucky. I did, and I didn’t.

I mailed the ball to his home address, and it came back about a month later. I knew right away when I lifted the box off the porch – the ball had broken in transit. When I opened the box, the ball had broken in several places. But they were clean breaks. I didn’t realize the ball was made of a hard ceramic material. The autograph is perfect and undamaged, which is uncanny. The ball broke along a line right beneath the signature. I super-glued it back together, used a white paint pen for touch up and bought a nice mirror-backed case to display my newfound treasure. Sure it would have been better if it came back perfect, but it adds a little character to it – and a good story.

Nicklaus did it all when he was on the circuit, and he is regarded by many as the best of all time. Tiger is still chasing his 18 career Majors.

The Fighter
In a previous column, I mentioned that I had mailed out the recent Sports Illustrated featuring actor Mark Wahlberg from the recent Oscar-winning movie The Fighter. Wahlberg depicts real-life boxer “Irish” Mickey Ward and his rise to the top.

In addition to the magazine, I also sent a boxing glove. In less than three weeks, both returned signed boldly in black sharpie. The movie won three Oscars, although somehow Wahlberg didn’t win an individual award. It’s great to see that even in their prime guys like Wahlberg are still willing to sign for their fans. And the unique Sports Illustrated cover will frame up nicely with the glove.

Getting “Jimmered”
“Jimmermania” has been sweeping the nation among hoop fans who can’t wait for March Madness to begin.

Who’s Jimmer?

Jimmer Fredette is the highly entertaining 6’2” point guard for the BYU Cougars. “Entertaining” doesn’t even do this guy justice. Phenomenal, spectacular, ridiculous would better describe his game. He can shoot from anywhere on the court and looks like he was born with a basketball in his hand. If his opponents double-team him outside, no problem. He’ll just drive to the hole and make you look foolish.

He leads the Mountain West Conference and nation in scoring, averaging 27 points a game, and this year had 47 points against Utah and 43 on San Diego State. Not only that, but he’s a great guy. He’s very poised in his interviews, very giving and doesn’t run from the fans. He’s even been signing all his fan mail, which at this point is probably dropped off in a large mail truck that pulls up to the BYU campus.

Jimmer signed two 8-by-10 photos in two weeks mailed to the BYU Basketball address. I can’t wait to see this guy in the tournament.

Spitz Signing Again

In the ever-changing world of collecting autographs through the mail there are always athletes who decide to start signing or stop signing over the years.

A perfect example is the recently deceased Duke Snider. Snider signed a ton of free autographs but was off and on in his last 10 years, probably due to health and age.

One athlete that I had never seen as a through-the-mail success is Olympic swimmer Mark Spitz. But that changed about six months ago when collectors started reporting successes sent in care of his home address.

I immediately mailed out his Allen & Ginter card that I never thought I would get signed unless I met him in person. I also sent an old Kodak Olympic card. He signed both in just a few weeks. His autograph is very unique – I guess you could call it sloppy. Nonetheless, it looks like it would be hard for a forger to duplicate. I now have a world class swimmer’s autograph in my varied collection.

Spitz is best known for his seven gold medals at the 1972 Munich Games. Of course, we all heard about this record because it finally fell in the 2008 Olympics when Michael Phelps earned eight.

Spitz is also known for the outstanding mustache he sported during the Olympics. There are very few sports legends that rival that ’stache, except for maybe Rollie Fingers.

This address, as well as thousands more, can be found at