Monthly Archives: July 2011
>Last week I posted about the long, but ultimately fruitful chase for a pair of football cards autographed by former Denver Broncos running back, Donnie Stone. This week I had a similarly-difficult through-the-mail (TTM) success with former New York Titans defensive back, Roger Donnahoo. Roger Donnahoo played his collegiate football at Michigan State University. He was drafted by the New York Titans in 1960, and played in all 14 games. He pulled down five interceptions, which he returned for 89 yards. He also scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery. Despite his success, Donnahoo did not play beyond the 1960 season. He was injured in a training camp scrimmage in 1961, fracturing his shoulder and sternum while trying to tackle 240-pound fullback, Jim Joyce. Donnahoo never fully recovered, and was soon released. Topps, however, recognized Roger Donnahoo by making his card #156 in their 1961 football issue. Now more than 50 years after his playing career ended, Roger Donnahoo is living in Georgia. He can be described as a spotty TTM signer at best. Many collectors have sent Donnahoo a copy of his ’61 Topps card, never to have it returned. Among my other TTM collections, I am working on the AFL portion of the 1961 Topps set, and in April, 2008, I sent Donnahoo a card to sign for me. Two years went by without getting a response. Then, after reading a fellow collector mention a TTM success with Donnahoo on SCN (www.sportscollectors.net), I purchased another card and sent it off. I figured that my first card must have been misplaced or accidentally sent to another collector. But just like my first attempt, my second attempt was a failure. Frustrated by the situation, I eventually found a signed copy of the Donnahoo card on ebay, and purchased it for around $17. Not a bad price, I thought, for someone who was so difficult to obtain TTM. So I happily marked the card off my Want List, and moved on to something else. This afternoon I went out to the mail box not expecting to find much. I haven’t sent out any requests in months, and most of what I expected to receive has already come through. But surprisingly I found two of my Self-addressed, stamped envelopes. I opened them up and found autographed 1961 Topps Roger Donnahoo cards wrapped neatly inside my request letters; the first from April 21, 2008, and the second from March 4, 2010. The TTM collecting experience is truthfully quite unpredictable. You never really know what you are going to get; so few athletes are guaranteed signers. After three years of attempts and a frustration-based ebay purchase, I now have three signed ’61 Topps Roger Donnahoo cards. Anyone want to trade?
>When you set out to collect autographed sports card sets, you know ahead of time that it is going to be a legitimate test of your patience. Finding guys, sending cards, waiting for them to return, re-sending, finding new addresses, tracking down vintage signed cards of deceased players – it all factors into the collection. But every once in a while a particular player will prove to be exquisitely difficult to get. For me, one of those players was Donnie Stone, former running back for the Denver Broncos. I began collecting my signed 1963 Fleer set back in 2007. I purchased my set of 88 cards with about 45 of them already signed in vintage blue ballpoint. So to finish the set, I sent blue ballpoint pens to all of the guys when I sent them their cards. Pretty much everyone that I wrote to happily signed their card with the enclosed pens and sent them back to me – all but Donnie Stone. So I waited about six months and sent him another 63 Fleer card and pen – again, no luck. I mentioned this one day to Lance Alworth, who was a college teammate of Stone. Lance told me that Stone was a great guy, and to call him and say that Lance prompted my call. He was sure that Stone would sign then. So I called Stone and we spoke for about 30 minutes. He was very nice. We talked about college ball and the AFL. He said that he thought highly of Alworth, and even that he could help me get my Jack Kemp card signed. He said that he usually didn’t sign, but that he would for me and to send the cards. By this time I had expanded into collecting all of the AFL sets in autographed form, so I sent Stone his two cards – 63 Fleer and 1964 Topps. Nine months went by with no luck. I sent him a friendly reminder note, but still got nothing in return. Then two years ago I tried again. I had acquired a couple of very nice, vintage 8×10 action shots of Stone running against the Chargers. I had two of each print, so I figured that I would try to send him the prints as a gift and see if that gesture might get my cards signed. I sent him a Priority Mail envelope with a letter that again kindly reminded him that I never got back the cards after our phone conversation, the two prints, an excel printout of my 63 & 64 sets, with highlights to show his cards, a ballpoint pen and each of his cards. Again, nothing. This past March I decided to make one final attempt. Again I wrote a nice note, included the excel printouts, 63 Fleer and 64 Topps cards and a blue ballpoint. The only difference this time was that I also included a $20. I figured they were goners again after a month went by. But lo and behold, I went out to the mailbox today and found my return envelope postmarked from Oklahoma. I haven’t been sending out many cards lately, so I was cautiously optimistic about the cards inside the enelope. I grabbed a knife, slit open the top, and slid out two beautifully-signed Donnie Stone cards – 1963 Fleer and 1964 Topps. Most people won’t remember Donnie Stone, and his signature will likely mean little to the majority of football fans. But to me it represents a four-year hunt, and a very enjoyable through-the-mail success.