|Chris Potter with Rocky Colavito|
“It started with Dean Chance. I got to know him by going to a show and he just kind of took a liking to me,” said Potter. “Dean being Dean, he’s a business man. He asked if I had friends that collected autographs. He asked for me to get things for him to sign and he would give the money to his church. I got maybe 15-20 of my friends and we were able to raise about $1,000 for his church.”
Potter is set to embark on another round of signings with over 30 retired major leaguers that include the reclusive Rocky Colavito, All-Stars Jimmy “Toy Cannon” Wynn, George “Boomer” Scott, Don Kessinger and Steve Sax.
Using these signings to fund his road trips and the full-scale services of his business Chris Potter Sports, he was also able to bring some much needed financial support to players that baseball had left behind.
“These guys are remembered in baseball history, but baseball doesn’t want to remember them. A guy like [95-year-old] Danny Litwhiler wasn’t able to travel, but I traveled to him. When I handed him the money, there were tears in his eyes. He was in an assisted living facility and really needed the money.”
As Potter started to befriend more players, they became the referral system that enabled him to expand his network. As his reach lengthened, he was able to link teammates that haven’t spoken in decades.
“I found out it was a tight knit circle. … It’s been really nice, because I’ve been able to put these guys back in touch. I get their number from a friend of a friend and they tell me they haven’t spoken in 50 years. It’s heartwarming for me that I’m putting these guys back in touch. They’re rekindling relationships,” said Potter.
Collectors that are under the guise that Potter is doing easy work while exploiting these players need to think again. Traversing the United States to provide his service doesn’t come cheaply.
“We bought our car in April and since then there are 37,000 miles on it. Our expenses are ungodly amounts. Hotels, gas, food … it’s not like you can go to the grocery store and cook meals at home; you are constantly eating out,” said Potter.
The hectic pace of visiting multiple players per day has Potter on a similar schedule as a touring artist.
“The time we have on the road, we’re lucky if we get something small at the hotel in the morning and then getting back at 8-9pm and it is McDonalds or something fast. We’re always on the go,” he said.
Potter has even said that he’s been approached by a few television producers who have wanted to document his travels ala a reality TV show, but so far nothing has materialized.
For those skeptical about the reliability of Potter's service, one of his customers has entrusted him to handle an autograph book so valuable that it is flown across the country for his signings.
“We have a book that we handle for a customer who lives in Las Vegas. He flies out to us to hand deliver this book to me. It has over 7,000 signatures in it. It has Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams several times over, Stan Musial, etc. It is priceless. It can’t be sent in the mail,” said Potter.
Collectors can rest easily knowing that their items are being taken care of in a manner as if they were handling it themselves.
“With us, you know your item is going to be handled correctly. People are picky about the type of pens they want used and they want their cards signed in the right spot,” said Potter. “If it is an expensive item, then I would definitely let it be handled by a professional. That’s what we offer, a service to the collectors.”
For the full list of signings offered by Potter, please check his website. All items are due by Monday, December 9th, 2012.