I've had a few questions asked to me recently about the TTM process. First off, in case you aren't aware TTM stand for "Through The Mail". I thought I would put together a post outlining the process.
Step 1: First I have to decide who I'm going to send a TTM request to. I typically use the TTM Manager site on Sports Card Forum to see who signs autographs. Nothing is every gauranteed when sending a TTM request but I like the odds to be in my favor of getting something back signed.
Step 2: Once you know who you are going to send to, the next thing you need is an address. The Sports Card Forum TTM Manager page also has addresses for Spring Training Stadiums, MLB Stadiums, and personal addresses for retired players. So I typically use this site for addresses.
Step 3: Next, I write a nice letter to the player. I typically keep them fairly short, typically about two paragraphs. The first paragraph introduces me and I talk about the player. I might include a specific memory I have about them or just talk about their career. The second paragraph is where I ask the person to sign the items that I'm sending. I always make sure I say please.
Step 4: When sending the TTM request, I always send a SASE, or a self addressed stamped envelope. So, inside the envelope (4 1/8 x 9 1/2 inches) addressed to the player, I include the letter, the cards or items I would like signed, and another envelope (3 5/8 x 6 1/2 inches) that is addressed to me that has a stamp on it. For the SASE, I always try to use an envelope that is a peel and stick envelope, so the player doesn't have to actually lick the envelope.
I always just send the cards by themselves, not in a pennny sleeve or top loader. Most of the time the cards come back just fine. Ocassionally a corner or two will be dinged just a little bit, but usually it's not that bad.
Some people write "Do Not Bend" on the outside of their envelopes. I don't, and like I said, most cards come back just fine.
Looking at the Sports Card Forum TTM Manager site should give you an indication of how many cards the person will typically sign. Sometimes players will only sign 1 card no matter what. Other times they will sign 4 or 5.
Some players or former players charge for TTM autographs. Sometimes they request a donation to a certain charity. Most of this information is available on the Sports Card Forum TTM Manager site, but you might send to someone and get something back saying that they charge.
Sometimes I will send "extra" cards and tell the player they can keep a few cards. Sometimes they do and other times they just sign them all and send them all back.
Be prepared to get nothing back. You just never know, so just be prepared to not get anything back. So don't send any cards that you would be devestated if you didn't get them back. Even with players who are typically great TTM signers, this happens occassionally.
Have fun! For 90 cents, the cost of two stamps, you might get an autograph or two!
Please feel free to post any tips or comments that you might have so we can share them with the rest of the blogging communitty.