I can't really explain it, but I was nervous about this one. It was way back in January when Padrographs Rod hooked me up with the elusive mailing address.. and it took me until the middle of August to finally get around to making the request, though it was high on my to-do list that whole time.
Chris Jones has been an enigmatic figure in my collection for a while now, sort of my personal Moonlight Graham. He was only the second person from my high school to play in the major leagues. And the first (Mike Reinbach) passed away many years ago, so Mr. Jones is by default the reigning patriarch of the Guys From Granite fraternity. The fact that "Chris Jones" is a very common name only further clouds the enigmatic nature of the situation, as searching for his cards is not easy, and googling him is pretty much a waste of time as 99% of the results will be for the other baseball player named Chris Jones (who debuted with the Reds in 1991), or maybe the other few guys with that name who've played in the minors over the past few years (or the football or soccer players who also have that name).
I just wanted it to be perfect. You never know how a TTM request will be received.. especially when customs are involved. I've heard about some old-timers who are like, "This is a FAKE CARD! I wasn't paid for the use of my likeness with this! Grumble grumble!" Worst case scenario is upsetting the guy.
Another concern of mine was the weather. Yeah, seems funny, but my customs are susceptible to the ink running when they get a little damp. I figured mid August would be safe, but lol, the day before this return came in, it rained. Thankfully it was dry the day the mailman dropped the return envelope off for me.
But enough lead-in, let's get to it!
Boom, if I may say so myself. Chris never got a real MLB card, so I made my own using the only photo I've ever seen of him not in a minor league uniform. I colorized the b&w pic and put it in a 1987 Donruss design (which might look familiar if you read my post from last month about 87D customs).
I sent 4 copies of this custom, and in my note I asked for one signed in return and said he could keep the extras, which he did. (I also sent a fine-tip red Sharpie for him to sign with [and keep].. an advanced TTM move I've only done once before.. for when you really want it to turn out well and not risk a crappy ballpoint pen or dried-out Sharpie ruining your request). I also mentioned how we both went to Granite Hills High School, and then Grossmont CC and SDSU (I nearly asked him which elementary school he went to, curious if our scholastic paths mirror back that far, though I resisted, thinking it might be creepy to do so).. and mentioned how collecting cards of players who went to my high school is a way I connect with my hometown after moving away a decade ago.
I think the back turned out pretty good, too! I take pride in my custom backs, gotta admit. Helps me stand out from other custom card makers who don't bother with the backs. But really it's just my OCD on the matter, as a blank-backed card feels incomplete to me. This is not only a rated rookie (that never was) but also a sunset card with full career stats. Turns out Chris read it and gave me props in a great note he included in his return...
Transcribing for posterity, he says:
Hey GavinWow! I've received nice little notes with my custom TTM requests before (including from Vida Blue himself!) but this takes the cake. I couldn't have dreamt of a better reply. This epitomises the greatness of the hobby for me and what it's all about.
Thanks so much for the cards. You did your homework on the career highlights. I didn't even remember that Nolan R. was pitching the game of my debut. I do remember that being on the same team as he was my greatest memory in the ML. Such a great guy as well as HOF no brainer. Take care and thanks again.
That picture was in spring training during an intersquad game on deck to face Vida Blue. Nice game face! I ended up punching out looking on a 3-2 slider. Nice!
Chris even wrote "Go Eagles!" on the back on the return envelope, a reference to our shared Granite Hills heritage.
Oh man, I'm so very happy with this return! While I wouldn't expect it to have big value on the secondary market, this signed card is now easily in the inner circle of best cards in my collection, right up there with my Trout autos and vintage Mantles.
Again, huge thanks to Mr. Jones for making my day by taking the time to sign and return my card and write that wonderful return note. And big thanks also to Rod as well as Brian at ABC Unlimited, the autograph dealer who kindly supplied the address. Much appreciated!