A Different Winter Warm-Up Autograph Approach in 2021

A major component – arguably THE primary focus – of the annual St. Louis Cardinals Winter Warm-Up fan event is the opportunity for Cardinals fans to meet, secure autographs and take photos with their favorite figures on the current team and from the club’s history.

In a normal year, I would present here a multi-year comparison of the signing price for the various autograph providers. The for-fun exercise illustrates the team’s perception of fan demand for the signers. After all, the goal is to secure as much money as possible for the team’s Cardinals Care charity. But each person can only sign a set number of autographs in 120 minutes, so the goal is to sell out all autograph tickets at the highest price the market will bear.

However, 2020 is not a normal year in any way – and that is carrying into 2021, as well.

First and foremost, the virus means the in-person event cannot be held this year, traditionally over Martin Luther King weekend in mid-January.

However, the club is still offering fans the opportunity to secure autographs remotely. This necessity clearly removes two key elements that appeal most – meeting the subject and taking a photo with him.

Daniel Ponce de Leon (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Still, the third key element is still available for a number of Cardinals subjects in 2021 – an autograph and perhaps a personalized message, if the subject is willing. However, rather than the fan bringing his or her own item to be signed, this year, either signed baseballs or glossy photos are provided as part of the price.

Another difference is that with the full event, almost all of the Cardinals’ 40-man roster are present. At least with the initial group of announcements for 2021, right at half, 19, are signing. Along with them are two non-roster top prospects, Nolan Gorman and Matthew Liberatore, plus manager Mike Shildt.

Another popular group consists of former Cardinals stars, which this year include five Cooperstown Hall of Famers, four team Hall of Famers and three prominent playing alumni.

Tony La Russa (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Another casualty of 2021 is the usual 20 to 24 former Cardinals providing free autographs will not be available.

Autograph prices still vary by individual, with the additional variation this year being whether the items (baseball or 8×10 action photo) will be signed as well as whether or not they will be personalized (30-character limit).

Current Cardinals

While the Cardinals website lists signers alphabetically, I am showing them from most expensive to least expensive, broken arbitrarily into four pricing groups.

Current Cardinals Autographed Personalized
Top dogs Baseball Photo Baseball Photo
Paul Goldschmidt $100 $200
Jack Flaherty $75
Matt Carpenter $50 $150
Paul DeJong $50 $150
Autographed Personalized
Middle of the pack Baseball Photo Baseball Photo
Dakota Hudson $45 $145
Dexter Fowler $45 $145
Harrison Bader $45 $145
Jordan Hicks $45 $145
Miles Mikolas $45 $145
Tommy Edman $45 $145
Matthew Liberatore $40 $140
Mike Shildt $40 $140
Nolan Gorman $40 $140
Autographed Personalized
Value picks Baseball Photo Baseball Photo
Andrew Miller $75 $45
Daniel Ponce de Leon $75 $45
Ryan Helsley $75 $45
Jake Woodford $60 $35
Autographed Personalized
Emerging players Baseball Photo Baseball Photo
Andrew Knizner $50
Austin Gomber $45
Kodi Whitley $35
Lane Thomas $35
Tyler Webb $35

Former Cardinals greats

This group is signing baseballs only, with five of the 12 willing to personalize (for an additional $100).

Greats Autographed Personalized
Hall of Famers Baseball Photo Baseball Photo
Bruce Sutter $90
Ozzie Smith $90
Ted Simmons $90
Tony La Russa $90
Whitey Herzog $90
Autographed Personalized
StL HOFers Baseball Photo Baseball Photo
Chris Carpenter $75 $175
Jim Edmonds $75
Ray Lankford $75
Willie McGee $75 $175
Autographed Personalized
Alumni Baseball Photo Baseball Photo
David Eckstein $60 $160
David Freese $60 $160
Lance Berkman $60 $160

The deadline to order personalized autographed baseballs and photos is Thursday, December 24 at 11:59 p.m. CT. Non-personalized items may be available until Monday, January 18. But quantities are limited, so do not wait to secure your favorites. New choices may be added later and this article will be updated accordingly.

Remember that the proceeds go to Redbird Rookies and charitable grants to other non-profit organizations that help kids, so the needy are the true winners.

To place your orders, head to cardinals.com/wwu.

Update

I have heard from a number of Cardinals fans who are upset at the flat shipping charges of $15 per item, no matter the quantity purchased. For example, it feels like price gouging to the max to be charged $90 to put six photos in a two-day mailer that the US Postal Service charges $7.75 for.

Someone in the Cardinals hierarchy screwed up by not simply baking the shipping prices into the cost of the items, causing ill-will with the very fans they are trying to court.

P.S. For those interested in last year’s analysis, it can be found here:

Cardinals Winter Warm-Up Autograph Prices for 2020


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