Hobby Musings: Catching up with former MLB player Jeff Frye – In addition to being a former MLB player, Jeff Frye, has onfield accomplishments that include hitting for the cycle during his career. Among his other current roles, including as a player agent, Mr. Frye also recently became a viral sensation for the videos he posted online. It turns out he’s also a bit of a memorabilia collector. I had the chance to catch up with him and talk about his experiences with sports memorabilia, including an interesting story regarding the Baseball Hall of Fame.
KS: Jeff, did you ever imagine the sports card and memorabilia world would become as big as it is now?
JF: No, no. I mean as a kid, I remember getting Topps baseball cards in the package and a hard, crappy piece of bubble gum. I started collecting when I was very young. I think the cards were something like 25 cents a package.
KS: What do you think has changed the most about it now compared to when you were playing?
JF: It seems like the newer cards are more valuable than the old-time cards, and I don’t really understand that. I took some older cards of mine a few years back to a collector. I was very disappointed to find out the value of them, especially when compared to today’s market for cards.
JF: I was looking at some of my cards while going through fan mail. I guess I like my rookie card, the Topps 92 card*. Another one I really liked was where I was jumping in the air making a throw, but the back of the card tells the story of when I became a father for the first time, so that was cool.
*Editor’s Note: Jeff Frye’s first Topps card is from 1993
KS: Is there a trading card of yourself that you didn’t like when you saw it?
JF: There’s one where I’m breaking my bat. I didn’t like that one, because you see that I got jammed in there during the at-bad pretty bad, which resulted in the bat shattering. But yeah, I didn’t care for that one.
KS: Fans do love their autographs. How many signature requests would you say you receive in a week now?
JF: 5-10 probably in a typical week. It has really increased in the last few months though with all the social media stuff I’ve been doing and the coronavirus pandemic.
KS: What is the strangest thing anyone has asked you to sign?
JF: Body parts. I think someone asked me to sign their arm or something like that. Nothing that was all that peculiar. I probably wouldn’t have signed something that was weirder than that.
KS: Conversely, what is the coolest thing someone has ever asked you to sign?
JF: A few times, people sent me pictures of themselves as kids with me while I was playing. As adults, they were now sending them to me asking to have them signed. I actually saw on Facebook that someone posted a polaroid picture from when they were younger with me. Ironically for the times, I’m wearing a tank top that says Corona on it. It’s nice to see those pictures and have it come full circle, though it does make you feel a little old.
KS: What memorabilia, if any, did you keep from your career?
JF: I’ve got a lot. I used to collect signed baseballs, so I probably have a few hundred of those. I’d send them over to the other team’s clubhouse to get signed by the best players or guys I liked. I’ve got an autographed Cal Ripken Jr. jersey made out to me. That’s really awesome.
I kept the bat from when I hit the for the cycle. The Hall of Fame asked me for the bat, but I kept the one I used. It was a Nomar Garciaparra model bat, but I blacked out his name with a sharpie. Part of me thought it would be odd giving them a bat that didn’t have my name on it. I ended up giving them a Jeff Frye model bat instead. I had the cycle bat framed with my jersey and the lineup card and a few baseballs from the game. It’s in my house now.
KS: Is there anything you didn’t keep that you wish you had?
JF: There’s not really anything I can think of. When you’re playing, you think your career is gonna last forever, so you don’t always think in the moment about keeping stuff or wishing you would have gotten something. Looking back on it, I wish I would have gotten more stuff from Nolan Ryan. I have an autographed jersey of him that I got from a charity auction. I used to give a lot away, like my bats. Sometimes I’ll see those items come up and be asked to sign them.
KS: In one of your many hats, you work as a sports agent. Do you ever give your clients advice on things like trading card deals or interacting with fans and autograph requests?
JF: Not direct autograph requests from fans, but trading card deals, yes. I’m in the business of negotiating them for my clients, including the autographs where they get paid for signing.
KS: Overall, how do you think baseball players feel about autograph requests?
JF: Annoyed, honestly. I think at first it’s flattering, but I think after you come home from a long road trip and there’s something like 200 envelopes with autographs requests next to your locker, it can be disheartening. Our time is limited during the season, and it can feel overwhelming to try and accommodate all of those.
KS: If a fan wanted to get your autograph now, what would be the best way to do it?
JF: Send it to my address. I’m thinking about getting a PO Box to help with the additional requests. The best way would be to reach out to me on social media, and I can give you my address personally so you can send your request.
You can follow Jeff Frye on Twitter @O3jfrye
Hobby Musings: Catching up with former MLB player Jeff Frye
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