CIT Group Holdings Inc. has hit a home run with a new direct-mail campaign.

Executives say the asset-backed lending firm has attracted lots of new business by sending baseballs signed by legend Willie Mays to the chief executives of CIT's 100 most-sought-after prospects.

Each baseball is delivered in a fancy walnut case with space for two other balls.

Here's the hook: To get the other two balls - which are signed by Stan Musial and Mickey Mantle - the CEO just has to meet with a CIT salesperson.

"We had a 90% response on the first mailing, and as a result have five rather significant signed deals," says Al Gamper, president of CIT, which is 40% owned by Chemical Banking Corp. and 60% by Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank.

Mr. Gamper won't say how much the deals are worth, but says they more than offset the cost of the program. Each case costs $100, and the balls start at about $50 each.

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