19 Days in Postal Purgatory — story of Johnny Bench SP Auto
So, it’s no secret at this point — I am working feverishly on the 2000 Greats of the Game baseball autographs set.
This set, as I have said here and in one of my recent Beckett Baseball Monthly columns, is easily one of the most iconic sets of our hobby’s history. It is one of the best looking and boasts one of the strongest signature lineups. And even though it is nearly a decade and a half old, there is a loyalty to the brand as many of the harder-to-find autographs fetch a serious premium.
Well, in August at The National, I met two guys who formed a business relationship. At their booth I spotted a handful of short prints that I needed for the set. At the show I was able to nab two of the cards, Tommy Henrich and Dave Winfield. But there were still at least three others that I needed that they had.
In the weeks after the show I reached out to the dealers and they still had the cards that I needed. We struck a deal for the Johnny Bench, whom I think has one of the best-looking autographs in the sport. And so I sent a money order to the dealers in exchange for the card. The card then was presumably stuffed into a padded envelope and mailed from New York — en route to me in California — on Sept. 13.
The seller sent me an e-mail advising as such and even provided the tracking number. The package was also insured. I checked the tracking info and it estimated that delivery would be made to me on Sept. 16. I was stoked.
Well, Sept. 16 came. No package.
Then Sept. 17 came. No package.
Sept. 18 came and went and still no package.
I feared that the package might be lost, but I waited a few more days knowing full-well that the package would have fallen behind a bin somewhere. After all, I had a deal just two weeks earlier in which I sent a card from California to Georgia and it took 10 days for it to arrive. Frustrating, but I know things happen.
Well, I waited and after 10 days I reached out to the dealers to advise that the package had not arrived and that if there was anyway they could check with their post office. After all, the last shipping information showed that the package had merely departed the post office. No further updates after that.
At this point I realized that I could receive text messages advising me of every time the package is scanned along the route so I signed up for that.
And then just hours after I sent the e-mail to the dealer, I received a text message advising that the package had departed from … New Jersey.
Perplexed I was. But hopeful I remained. (whattup, Yoda!)
So I sent an e-mail to the dealer advising of movement and we both were excited as it seemed that the package should be in my hands within just a few days and then w could proceed with a second purchase.
Well, guess what? The trail went silent. After departing New Jersey on Sept. 23, 2014, there was no update for a week. I had no card. I had no clue where the card really was. And on Sept. 30, a week after the last update, I spoke with the dealer by phone and he told me that he had spoken to the post office — they advised to wait another week and if the package had not arrived then to proceed with the insurance claim.
At this point I figured the card was at the bottom of the ocean, stick in the wheel well of some airplane or just sitting in some postal carriers home — theft does occur, we all know that.
And then lo and behold that same night, as I was preparing to put my kids to bed, I get a text message advising that the package was in California.
Overnight I receive multiple text messages advising that it had been scanned here, sent there and ultimately placed out for delivery.
And so, after 19 days in what I’ll call “Postal Purgatory” the card arrived. My 2000 Greats of the Game Johnny Bench short printed auto has arrived and taken its place along with the other legends of this set.