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.
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.
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).
While the Cardinals website lists signers alphabetically, I am showing them from most expensive to least expensive, broken arbitrarily into four pricing groups.
|Middle of the pack||Baseball||Photo||Baseball||Photo|
|Daniel Ponce de Leon||$75||$45|
Former Cardinals greats
This group is signing baseballs only, with five of the 12 willing to personalize (for an additional $100).
|Hall of Famers||Baseball||Photo||Baseball||Photo|
|Tony La Russa||$90|
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.
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:
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