Phillies TTM: 2011 Year in Review

This year I cut back on the number of requests sent out, and instead focused on filling out a few specific projects.  Over the previous two years I sent to a lot of requests to non-Phillies Hall of Famers and other notable players from the the 1950's/1960's.  I also had sent out many requests to current Phillies, which proved to be a losing battle.  The truth is, the Phillies are one of the hardest current teams to TTM.  Requests to "stars" are returned with pre-printed postcards, or ignored.  It was nice to get back to sending requests I knew would be returned.  I stuck to the plan and sent to reliable players.  This helped me achieve a 97% success rate, and complete (or almost complete) several nice projects.  

It was also nice to shake the "grim-reaper" status 2010 had pinned on me.  Last year, seven guys I had success with died within days/weeks of my item being returned.  One, Cal McLish, died before he could fulfill the request.  I received a note from a family member who notified me of his death and returned by card.  And I may very well have received one of the last signatures given by both Robin Roberts and Tom Underwood as both died within a week of my successes.  I am happy to report there were 0 deaths this year!

All in all, 2011 was a successful TTM year.  Here is the best (and worst) of my 2011 Phillies TTM experience:

Requests Out - 67
Successes - 65
Success Rate - 97%

Much improved success rate from 2009 and 2010.  I primarily relied on for good addresses, and steered away from current Phillies - who killed my average the past two years.

Hall of Famer Successes - 
Jim Bunning, Pat Gillick, Doug Harvey and Ernie Banks

Pat Gillick and Doug Harvey

Jim Bunning Number Retirement Insert

Fastest turnaround - 5 days
5 tied (Stan Lopata, Bobby  Shantz, Bobby Malkmus, Curt Simmons and Larry Bowa)

Longest turnaround - 

Sent in 2010, received back in 2011: 
  • Ernie Banks (392 days)
  • Johnny Briggs (284 days)
  • Jack Baldshun (278 days)
John Briggs and Jack Baldschun

Ernie Banks
Sent in 2011, received back in 2011: 
  • Gene Garber (93 days)
  • Bob Boone (71 days)
Main Projects - 

I was really focused on the older guys this past year.  As mentioned earlier, I had been bitten by losing so many things to the current/recent Phillies that I all but shut them out in 2011.  The guys who played pre-1990 seem to be a lot more reliable and I like seeing my stuff come back!

1950 Whiz Kids Team Photo
  • One of my favorite pieces, I bought this on eBay for $30 (with Ashburn, Hamner, Ennis, McDonnell, Seminick) with JSA authenticity.
  • Successes through TTM were - Curt Simmons, Stan Lopata, Putsy Caballero, Bob Miller and Jack Mayo
1950 Whiz Kids Team Photo
1964 Phillies Team Photo
  • I talk about this one at length in the Current Projects section of the site, but I really love this picture, too.  I have had a lot of success through the mail with the '64 team and even got to meet a few more of the guys in person this year.
  • Successes through TTM were - Gus Triandos, John Herrnstein, Art Mahaffey, Ray Culp, Danny Cater, Bob Oldis and Dennis Bennett.  I also got Roy Sievers, but he signed the back of the picture for some reason...I plan on getting it back out to him soon!
1964 Phillies Team Ball
  • Getting this ball in the mail was a real pleasure - and even solicited a couple personal responses from the players.  I have been able to collect 16 signatures from members of the '64 team this year.  If you don't already have any team items from this group, I highly recommend that you do it in 2012!
  • Successes through TTM were - Jim Bunning, Frank Thomas, Dennis Bennett, Bobby Shantz, Ed Roebuck, Clay Dalrymple, John Herrnstein and Art Mahaffey.
1964 Phillies Team Ball
1960 Sports Illustrated Cover
  • Again, I provided a lot of detail about this item in the Current Projects section of the site so I'll keep this nice and short.  Kept with the themed of signed SI's I had already established and allowed me to write to a few guys I hadn't previously gotten to...
  • Successes through TTM were - Alvin Dark, Bobby Gene Smith, Bobby Malkmus, Ted Lepcio, Bobby Del Greco, Joe Morgan, Tony Gonzalez.
Biggest Disappointment - 
Losing a signed 1960 Phillies team ball to Ruben Amaro, Sr.  He has a great return record (I have had previous successes with him), and I even sent $5, but still never got it back.  Not sure what happened, but it reminds you to always consider the possibility that what you send is not coming back.  Overall, not a big deal - I had 6-7 signatures (including Robin Roberts)...but more sweat equity built into the ball.

Favorite Success - 
Stan Lopata signed 1950 Inquirer insert.  I have been collecting the team inserts for the past three years.  Since then I have acquired 17 signed by the players.  Unfortunately, many of the Whiz Kids had died by the time I started collecting them, and as a result most in the collection were purchased at shows.  The collection of 17 pictures is definitely one of my favorite items - and being able to get one of the Whiz Kids to personally sign it for me is a highlight.  If you are unfamiliar with this set check out my earlier post on them.

Stan Lopata 1950 Inquirer Set
Favorite non-Phillies Success - 
I am also a big Eagles fan, and from time-to-time will send requests to former players of that team.  Growing up watching the team in the late '80s, early '90s there was no bigger Eagle than Randall Cunningham.  I picked up this Sports Illustrated on eBay, and mailed it out with $20 to Mr. Cunningham.  It took about a month, but eventually came back signed.  Awesome!

Randall Cunningham on 1989 SI