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Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Mike Schmidt: Autographs getting way too hard to read

Wow! I thought I had wandered over to the the main objectives page at The British Academy of Graphology…again.

The point is this generation and its athletes have allowed the autograph phenomenon to assimilate into a game, of sorts. Who will be where and when, and what scam do seekers need to run to take advantage of the moment? It’s a game the fans and players play every day. Collectors using small children and pretty girlfriends to get sellable merchandise, hiding out at various locations with briefcases, planning their attack just to get a scribble.

No longer a handshake, smile and a short conversation and the personalized autograph that seals the memory. Now you get a scribble. And for some reason, fans accept it as normal.

...Am I off base here, thinking that there is some link to one’s level of respect for his signature as it relates to his respect for where it might be displayed? Or has the environment hardened the players to the point of not caring either way?

Don’t be surprised if the future of those famous athletes’ autographs is simply their uniform number. Why not? At least you can read it. And it suffices for proof that the fan and the athlete shared space. Actually, I think a stamp makes more sense. Think about it, conversations aren’t part of it, handshakes either, why not a legible stamp? Bop, bop, bop - think how many more can be done in the same time, albeit the value of each one would certainly drop.

Probably too much to ask for a wholesale change in attitude from both sides. As if the players will sign neat and speak to the fans while signing, and fans and collectors will respect the player’s right to privacy in certain areas and not stalk them near hotels and airports.

Repoz Posted: October 02, 2012 at 05:20 AM | 57 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: phillies

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   1. Justin T., Director of Somethin Posted: October 02, 2012 at 06:51 AM (#4250703)
OMG
   2. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: October 02, 2012 at 07:10 AM (#4250708)
I got a Minnie Minoso autograph when I was a kid and he was about 70. I was never sure if it was upside down.
   3. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: October 02, 2012 at 07:12 AM (#4250710)
Good for you Mike Schmidt. He always comes across as a thoughtful, reasonable guy to me.
   4. bob gee Posted: October 02, 2012 at 07:47 AM (#4250728)
i collected in the early / mid 80s as a teenager. ron kittle was by far the neatest i ever saw.

but i got tom seaver's at a show (i was a dealer at a show, so i got a free pass; i don't think i paid for an autograph), and it was virtually indecipherable.

that was back in fall of 85, i believe. i gave up collecting autos the next year, first sold some, then gave the others away.
   5. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: October 02, 2012 at 08:31 AM (#4250749)
I went to Jerry Remy's baseball camp as a kid. Remy's signature was sufficiently scrawled that you could show it to the newbies and convince them that "J--------- R------" was actually Jim Rice and send them on a wild goose chase for the Sox' big star of the time.

Signatures have been messy since the 70s at least.
   6. BrianBrianson Posted: October 02, 2012 at 08:47 AM (#4250754)
Nobody born after ~1980 knows how to write. I think I know enough characters that I could piece together how to sign my name, but it'd take me a moment. The movements are way too foreign for me to practically sign anything. I'm considering just signing with an X, rather than my usual signature, which is kind of a circle then a line.
   7. Bourbon Samurai Posted: October 02, 2012 at 09:12 AM (#4250773)
Get on my lawn!
   8. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: October 02, 2012 at 09:25 AM (#4250785)
Neatest-looking autograph I've seen over the last few years was Shannon Stewart's signature on some insert card I happened to pick up around 2005. My own signature is completely indecipherable & has been for most of my life -- my script was only passable to begin with (first "C" I ever made, back in 6th grade, was in handwriting), & then a few years of scribbling down testimony during trials as a newspaper reporter sent it all the way over the cliff.

   9. BDC Posted: October 02, 2012 at 09:27 AM (#4250791)
Second-hand story, but: near the end of Mike Schmidt's playing career, a good friend of mine met Schmidt coming off an elevator in San Francisco. He couldn't resist asking for an autograph (that is, my friend couldn't). Schmidt apologized and said he had no pen; my friend apologized and said he had nothing to sign. They wandered over to the front desk in search of materials, found a hotel pad and pen, and Schmidt signed the top sheet of the pad, floridly but indeed very legibly (I had the autograph for years afterwards). So the man walks the walk, anyway :)
   10. Hack Wilson Posted: October 02, 2012 at 09:30 AM (#4250797)
Yes, I agree, during the 50s I had no trouble reading anything, these days everything is harder to read. What happened to the world? I've given up trying to read the crawl during ball games. The solution: everything, including autographs, should be twice as big. (Maybe three times.)
   11. AROM Posted: October 02, 2012 at 09:52 AM (#4250834)
After the 1981 season, Topps came out with a baseball card set that included player autographs. Most of those were illegible.
   12. Rants Mulliniks Posted: October 02, 2012 at 09:57 AM (#4250844)
My wife grumbles about my pathetic excuse for a signature, but at least it always looks the same. They don't even teach cursive writing in school anymore, at least not in my province.
   13. dlf Posted: October 02, 2012 at 10:01 AM (#4250852)
Yes, I agree, during the 50s I had no trouble reading anything, these days everything is harder to read. What happened to the world? I've given up trying to read the crawl during ball games. The solution: everything, including autographs, should be twice as big. (Maybe three times.)


I have found that the pixels on computer monitors have gotten shaky the last couple of years. And ink on printed material is definitely less well defined than it used to be. I am certain that this is a universal quality control issue and has nothing to do with declining eye sight as I reached 45.
   14. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: October 02, 2012 at 10:07 AM (#4250855)
Is teaching cursive a worthwhile endeavor?
   15. BDC Posted: October 02, 2012 at 10:12 AM (#4250867)
When I started doing a lot of administrative work about 15 years ago, and had to sign things all day long, my signature actually got *more* legible. I slowed it down, simplified it, and basically just wrote my first initial joined to my surname, large and very clear. It was perhaps a reaction to seeing bunches of other signatures on these documents that were like the autographs Schmidt describes. Part of my thinking was certainly, hey, I'm just middle management, not a Hall of Famer. Who am I to be slashing B____ D____ C_____ across a page ...
   16. Shredder Posted: October 02, 2012 at 10:15 AM (#4250871)
Nobody born after ~1980 knows how to write.
I was born before 1980 and have horrible penmanship. I can sign my name fine, but you can pretty much just read the W and two Ls in William, the H for my middle name, and after the S to start my last name it's more or less chaos. I have to sign a lot of checks at work, so I get a lot of practice, but I really don't see any reason to change it now.

I wonder how much kids even have to write anymore. I had very few high school assignments that needed to be typed, and while I guess there were more in college, I still remember trying to track down the handful of people in the dorms who actually had a computer so that we could type up assignments. That was less than 20 years ago. I'd venture to guess that everything is typed these days. I get thank you cards from nieces now, and while one can write OK, the other has horrible penmanship, and she's 15. I actually love that about her, because she's just about perfect in every other way. Perfect grades, a very fine ballerina, just took second in the state science fair as a freshman (though I should mention the state is Alaska), unfailingly polite and well spoken. But man is her penmanship awful.
   17. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: October 02, 2012 at 10:21 AM (#4250874)
I was born before 1980 and have horrible penmanship. I can sign my name fine, but you can pretty much just read the W and two Ls in William, the H for my middle name, and after the S to start my last name it's more or less chaos. I have to sign a lot of checks at work, so I get a lot of practice, but I really don't see any reason to change it now.
I've always had lousy penmanship, but I used to have a pretty decent, repeatable signature. Now if I'm actually writing with a pen it often feels like I'm trying to sign it with someone else's hand, the muscle memory is all glitchy. I blame the ubiquitous electronic signature pads used for purchases.
   18. Rants Mulliniks Posted: October 02, 2012 at 10:22 AM (#4250876)
I think its funny when men write like girls. I work with a guy who writes in big loopy letters with a leftward slant, if you didn't know any better you think you were reading something written by a high school girl ( from 30 years ago). This guy can also write simultaneously with both hands though, so he's got that.
   19. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 02, 2012 at 10:24 AM (#4250881)
The worst signature is Willie Mays. Not because it's unusually illegible, but because he so often writes it upside down, sideways, or any way other than in the normal upright position. I handled about a dozen autographed Say, Hey!s when I had my book shop, and only one of them was signed upright**. It's hard not to believe that this isn't a deliberate act of contempt on his part, or at best complete indifference.

**I paid a dollar each for the others and gave them away to kids whose parents bought something else.
   20. zack Posted: October 02, 2012 at 10:29 AM (#4250889)
I slowed it down, simplified it, and basically just wrote my first initial joined to my surname, large and very clear.


I do something similar, my signature is now just my initials with lines. I cross my Z's, (and #### the stupid cursive Z), so my first name is: Z     , and the line for my last name works out to throwing a tarp over the letters.

I do take a perverse joy in signing those credit card electronic pads by holding the pen like a stick and writing a big sloppy X.
I'd venture to guess that everything is typed these days.

Pretty much. I've been out of college for 8 years, and a lot has changed since then, but the only thing we had to write were those damn blue book exams. By the end of a philosophy or poli sci exam I couldn't extend my fingers fully. My sister teaches in a poor inner-city school and even there they give all the kids laptops now.
   21. Brian C Posted: October 02, 2012 at 10:45 AM (#4250902)
Agreed with others that this is not a new phenomenon. My eighth-grade PE coach used to be a minor league ballplayer (this guy), and was buddies with Doug Strange, who in 1992 played for the Cubs. So he arranged for Strange to get a team-signed ball for me that year. Lots of well-known names on that ball - Sandberg, Maddux, Dawson, Sosa, Grace, Girardi, and of course, Strange himself, who I never met but who I nonetheless hold in very high regard.

Anyway, my point is, at first I didn't recognize half the signatures on the thing, and especially those by Maddux, Sandberg and Dawson. I orginally thought that Sandberg's was Gary Scott (it looks like this). Maddux is probably the poster child for what Schmidt is talking about - his was just an indecipherable scribble. Dawson's script is beautiful in its way but hard to figure if you don't already know what it is. I didn't realize that any of those guys had signed it until I was looking through a Vineline or maybe some other Cubs catalog from the time a couple months later, and saw ads for signed merchandise, and managed to make the connections.

Not that I'm complaining, of course. I couldn't care less how legible the signatures are. The idea of a ball being passed around the clubhouse, specifically for me, was practically more than my eighth-grade self could handle. Still it's one of my most prized possessions.

Good dude, Coach Link. I lost contact with him after I switched schools, but that was a fun year, having an ex-ballplayer around. He thought it was pretty funny that I was a Cubs fan, though - he never quite said so, but I got the distinct impression that the Cubs were kind of a joke among players. He chose his words carefully, but he didn't think much of Jim Lefebvre, that's for sure. Nonetheless, he signed my yearbook "The Cubs might win a pennant someday", so if nothing else he was an optimist.
   22. McCoy Posted: October 02, 2012 at 10:53 AM (#4250907)
I had a baseball with the Seattle Mariners' logo imprinted on it with Willie Mays' signature on it. Gor it from my uncle as a gift when I was a little kid. If he hadn't told me it was Willie's signature I never would have guessed it was his. Ended up using it to play a game of baseball and it sailed over the neighbor's fence and lost it.

Also had Mike Tomzack's autograph on a mini-football and that autograph was pretty hard to read as well. The dog got that one.
   23. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: October 02, 2012 at 10:53 AM (#4250910)
The worst signature is Willie Mays. Not because it's unusually illegible, but because he so often writes it upside down, sideways, or any way other than in the normal upright position. I handled about a dozen autographed Say, Hey!s when I had my book shop, and only one of them was signed upright**. It's hard not to believe that this isn't a deliberate act of contempt on his part, or at best complete indifference.


Why would this be an act of contempt? I don't mean that ########, just curious. My guess is that a lot of these things gets signed in a rush and it's grab-sign-return then move onto the next one. Were I in that situation I wouldn't be spending time orienting the book/paper/whatever I'd just scrawl my name and go. I guess I should concede that maybe I'm an ass though.
   24. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: October 02, 2012 at 11:02 AM (#4250925)
My sister teaches in a poor inner-city school and even there they give all the kids laptops now.


Don't tell Ray!
   25. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: October 02, 2012 at 11:12 AM (#4250942)
A friend of mine had a ball that was signed by Tom Seaver and Gary Carter at a game Seaver announced and Carter played in around 1990. I don't remember how legible their signatures were, but we played baseball with the ball, so I guess it didn't matter.
   26. GregD Posted: October 02, 2012 at 11:22 AM (#4250951)
I take this article as Mike Schmidt's way of telling us "Hey my life is pretty ####### awesome but I don't want to crow about it so I'm just going to invent bullshit complaints so you think I'm not just hanging with my harem of Brazilian swimsuit models.
   27. Greg Schuler Posted: October 02, 2012 at 01:35 PM (#4251135)
Is teaching cursive a worthwhile endeavor?


No - one of the factors in the FDA drug approval process for the brand and generic name of a product is how it will look written in a prescription. Doctor's handwriting being what it is, several names get rejected because they look like something else when scribbled.

Also, q - it's not a two, it is a capital Q.
   28. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: October 02, 2012 at 01:50 PM (#4251159)
Did the autograph market go kaput along with the sports card bubble bust? I've got quite a few autographed baseballs from the likes of Aaron, Bonds, Mays, Griffey, and Frank Robinson and have the COA for them around here somewhere. My attachment to them in minimal, since I haven't cared much about sports memorabilia since the late '90s.
   29. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: October 02, 2012 at 01:53 PM (#4251166)
Oh and more on topic, my handwriting used to be quite lovely, but eroded in high school, most likely due to trying to keep diligent notes. It's an actual mental effort to sign my entire name on anything these days. Not because it's a long name, but because my signature is so shitty looking that unless I'm paying attention, I'll only sign my first name and not realize it (or even be able to tell by looking at).
   30. Swedish Chef Posted: October 02, 2012 at 02:05 PM (#4251203)
Is teaching cursive a worthwhile endeavor?

Oh yes, when I was nine, I used to read comics in class instead of repeating all those squiggles hundreds of times during the handwriting lessons. When the teacher confiscated all the comic books I had in my desk, I brought a huge astronomy tome from the library instead. So I have cursive writing to thank for my excellent knowledge of cosmography.
   31. The District Attorney Posted: October 02, 2012 at 02:08 PM (#4251212)
I cross my Z's, (and #### the stupid cursive Z)
I have no idea what a cursive Z is supposed to look like.

I have no time for cursive and am glad it's dying. What is the point? It was always stupid. "Let's have two types of writing, one easy to read and one hard to read, and basically the only time we'll require you to use the hard-to-read one is when you're putting your name on especially important documents."
   32. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: October 02, 2012 at 02:14 PM (#4251223)
Picture an armless gibbon rooting inside a termite hill with a branch stuck up his butt. That's pretty much my signature.
   33. Squash Posted: October 02, 2012 at 02:14 PM (#4251225)
Lawns are getting harder to mow too.
   34. Swedish Chef Posted: October 02, 2012 at 02:17 PM (#4251232)
I actually would like to be able to do shorthand, it's fast enough to be useful.
   35. DL from MN Posted: October 02, 2012 at 02:21 PM (#4251241)
ron kittle was by far the neatest i ever saw.


Harmon Killebrew had the clearest signature. It was a point of pride for him and he would take Twins rookies to task if they signed sloppily. It's one reason why you can generally read the autographs of Puckett and Hrbek among others. Part of Harmon's legacy he left to the Twins organization.

My kids are still forced to waste valuable classroom hours learning cursive handwriting. Cursive was invented so you didn't have to pick up the pen when using an inkwell (which would cause drops of ink to spatter on the paper). It should have died 50 years ago. It is sad that they spend time teaching it to children who could be learning all sorts of things that actually matter.
   36. Random Transaction Generator Posted: October 02, 2012 at 02:21 PM (#4251244)
The only capital letters I can write in cursive are G and H, my own initials.
I haven't written a cursive sentence in about 25 years.

I took a typing course in high school on an electric typewriter, and had a computer at home.
After that, I don't think I ever wanted to "write" another sentence again.
If I take notes, it's in block capitals. It often ends in sore fingers and wrist if I have to write for more than 5 minutes.
If I answer the phone and have to take a message for my wife, I will scamper to a computer, open up notepad, and type in the message. Then I'll cut/paste it into an email and send it to her.
   37. Squash Posted: October 02, 2012 at 02:22 PM (#4251246)
The worst signature is Willie Mays. Not because it's unusually illegible, but because he so often writes it upside down, sideways, or any way other than in the normal upright position. I handled about a dozen autographed Say, Hey!s when I had my book shop, and only one of them was signed upright**. It's hard not to believe that this isn't a deliberate act of contempt on his part, or at best complete indifference.

Willie is notoriously cranky, so this might be a silent rebellion. They can make him sign (or pay him a lot of money to do so) but they can't make him do it the way they want.
   38. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: October 02, 2012 at 02:24 PM (#4251252)
What is the point? It was always stupid. "Let's have two types of writing, one easy to read and one hard to read, and basically the only time we'll require you to use the hard-to-read one is when you're putting your name on especially important documents."


Pretty much all written languages have developed a shorthand form that allows for more rapid writing, particularly important when important documents were handwritten and/or dictated. Why should English be any different? In fact, the difference between our capitals and lowercase (or uncials) is that the former were used for formal Roman inscriptions and the latter were more easily handwritten and used in letters and such. Same goes for Greek.
   39. Swedish Chef Posted: October 02, 2012 at 02:29 PM (#4251258)
Why should English be any different?

And we got rid of runes when chiselling stuff into stone declined as the preferred medium for writing.
   40. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: October 02, 2012 at 02:38 PM (#4251282)
After the 1981 season, Topps came out with a baseball card set that included player autographs. Most of those were illegible.


The notorious black-bordered (notorious from a collecting & condition standpoint; black magnifies every bit of wear) '71 set did, too. A decade later, right after I moved to Phoenix, my memories of those signatures allowed me to win a T-shirt as one of the seven people who correctly identified the couple of dozen autographs reproduced in the New Times' weekly puzzle. The main trap, as I recall, was that Matty Alou's looked more like Walter Alston's ... or maybe it was the other way around.
   41. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: October 02, 2012 at 02:41 PM (#4251285)
If I take notes, it's in block capitals. It often ends in sore fingers and wrist if I have to write for more than 5 minutes.


My handwriting is a mixture of cursive & printing. Which is pretty common, from what I've seen.
   42. BDC Posted: October 02, 2012 at 02:41 PM (#4251286)
Harmon Killebrew had the clearest signature

One of the few ballplayers whose autograph I have – I just looked at it, and you're quite right, classic cursive. I have a ball signed by the Twins, c1970, and they're almost all schoolhouse-cursive signatures (I wonder how many are by the clubhouse attendant). The exception is Tony Oliva, neat and in all caps.

Part of it is the kind of pen one uses, of course. This Twins ball is signed in ballpoint. Felt-tip pens were the slippery slope; they just slide over a baseball or other medium. With a ballpoint, you've got to get some purchase and shape your letters, especially on leather.
   43. Bruce Chen's Huge Panamanian Robot Posted: October 02, 2012 at 03:20 PM (#4251340)
I blame my horrible penmanship on my left-handedness.
   44. UCCF Posted: October 02, 2012 at 03:23 PM (#4251347)
Mike Schmidt: Autographs getting way too hard to read

Mike Schmidt's Wife: Stop squinting and use your damn glasses already
   45. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 02, 2012 at 03:30 PM (#4251361)
The worst signature is Willie Mays. Not because it's unusually illegible, but because he so often writes it upside down, sideways, or any way other than in the normal upright position. I handled about a dozen autographed Say, Hey!s when I had my book shop, and only one of them was signed upright**. It's hard not to believe that this isn't a deliberate act of contempt on his part, or at best complete indifference.

Why would this be an act of contempt? I don't mean that ########, just curious. My guess is that a lot of these things gets signed in a rush and it's grab-sign-return then move onto the next one. Were I in that situation I wouldn't be spending time orienting the book/paper/whatever I'd just scrawl my name and go. I guess I should concede that maybe I'm an ass though.


Willie is notoriously cranky, so this might be a silent rebellion. They can make him sign (or pay him a lot of money to do so) but they can't make him do it the way they want.

There's nothing I can add to Squash's response, especially since it jibes with every first hand account I've heard about the way Mays acts during autograph sessions.

   46. TribeGuy Posted: October 02, 2012 at 03:32 PM (#4251365)
As an avid autograph collector (over 200 signed baseballs, and several hundred more cards) I appreciate what Schmidt is saying about legible signatures.

It has got to be a tough balance for players, especially at the ballpark. They are trying to get ready to do their jobs, or have just finished their job and here dozens (or more) strangers are screaming at them to take time to sign baseballs or other oddly shaped objects. And even if they do stop to sign there will always be somebody who doesn’t get an autograph and will curse the player up and down for not taking more time. Plus it must be frustrating for players to know any autograph they sign is likely just generating free revenue for that “fan” when they turn around and sell the thing on E-bay.

At games I try never to expect to get somebody’s autograph, just so I don’t end of disappointed if they ignore me, but it is frustrating when they do stop to sign and the most they can manage is a half-hearted scribble. I do expect more at a card show where I am paying for the privilege to get a player’s autograph and things are more organized and orderly.

While I do think legibility is becoming less common in general, I guess I just hope players’ autographs are consistent so I can demonstrate down the road that the scribble is actually that player’s mark.

What does bother me is when players have a different signature depending on the situation. Barry Bonds, I have observed, only ever signs something that resembles “B.B.s.” when he is signing for free in public, but will sign a more complete “Barry Bonds” when he is getting a portion of the proceeds. He is certainly not the only player to have two (or more) versions of a signature, a premium version and a regular version, but given the rampant amount of forgeries on the autograph market it just increases the confusion about what can be considered an authentic autograph.
   47. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 02, 2012 at 03:33 PM (#4251366)
I've only had a handful of earlier (i.e. pre-1980's) autographed baseballs, and almost without exception, the names are always very easy to read. This even goes for team-signed baseballs tht I've seen (1953 Nats; 1955 Yankees) where the space for each individual name is limited.

Of course some of those signatures were undoubtedly the product of a clever clubhouse forger, but at least the forger took the trouble to make the forgee's signature legible.
   48. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 02, 2012 at 03:40 PM (#4251376)
As an avid autograph collector (over 200 signed baseballs, and several hundred more cards) I appreciate what Schmidt is saying about legible signatures.

Ditto, although in my case I've got about 100-150 autographed books and almost no autographed baseballs. I'd always sell the signed baseballs and keep the best copies of the signed books. The neatest autographed book I've got is John Steadman's 1958 history of the Baltimore Colts, which is signed by virtually every major member of that year's team, including Gene "Big Daddy" Lipscomb, who died only a few years later and only signed his nickname. EVERY signature on the two endpaper pages is clearly legible.

The book it hurt most to part with was a first edition copy of John Updike's Assorted Prose, which included "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu". Both Updike and Williams signed it on the page facing the first page of the story, and I've yet to see another copy like it offered anywhere.
   49. DL from MN Posted: October 02, 2012 at 03:40 PM (#4251377)
I think Shoeless Joe's autograph is so rare partly because it was nearly illegible so his wife did the signing for him.
   50. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 02, 2012 at 03:48 PM (#4251390)
I think Shoeless Joe's autograph is so rare partly because it was nearly illegible so his wife did the signing for him.

Like most illiterates back then, 99% of Shoeless Joe's authentic signatures consisted solely of the letter "X". I'd be highly suspicious of any "signatures" of Jackson's that actually contained his name.
   51. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: October 02, 2012 at 04:05 PM (#4251408)
The neatest autographed book I've got is John Steadman's 1958 history of the Baltimore Colts,


Neatest one I own is a signed copy of Morris K. Jessup's The Case for the UFO, a fraudulently hand-annotated (not by Jessup) copy of which spawned the whole "Philadelphia Experiment" mythos at some point after Jessup's suicide. Picked it up off eBay circa 1999 for around $29.
   52. Jose Molina wants a nickname like "A-Rod" Posted: October 02, 2012 at 04:17 PM (#4251429)
My brother, Dan, modelled his "D" after Dave Stieb's cause it was cool. For a time I was bitter my name didn't start with a "D", cause none of the autographs I got had a cool looking "N" I could emulate.
   53. Rowland Office Supplies Posted: October 02, 2012 at 04:39 PM (#4251462)
You know who signs a helluva autograph? Sir Jackie Stewart. Google Image Search it. Looks like calligraphy straight off the Declaration or the Magna Carta.
   54. phredbird Posted: October 02, 2012 at 05:13 PM (#4251509)
I blame my horrible penmanship on my left-handedness.


i had a helluva time learning penmanship as a kid because of this. i had a very good teacher who was patient with me, but it was still hard. eventually i moved over to printing when i had to write by hand. i decided to try writing a sentence or two in cursive just now and it looked pretty awful.
   55. phredbird Posted: October 02, 2012 at 05:20 PM (#4251522)
this guy had trouble with penmanship too.
   56. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: October 02, 2012 at 06:13 PM (#4251585)
Penmanship: why everybody remembers John Hancock, and nobody remembers Geo. Hopkins.
   57. chisoxcollector Posted: October 02, 2012 at 07:42 PM (#4251709)
The worst signature is Willie Mays. Not because it's unusually illegible, but because he so often writes it upside down, sideways, or any way other than in the normal upright position. I handled about a dozen autographed Say, Hey!s when I had my book shop, and only one of them was signed upright**. It's hard not to believe that this isn't a deliberate act of contempt on his part, or at best complete indifference.


The companies that represent Willie Mays have started to put forth a disclaimer at all of his autograph signings. Something to the effect of "We are not responsible for any damage Willie might cause to your item". An acquaintance of mine is getting every hall of famer to sign a poster... it is quite impressive. Willie proceeded to sign his autograph right on top of Cal Ripken's autograph. Not only that, but he paid around $250 for that privilege.

I have obtained about 25,000 autographs in my life, though my collection has recently been narrowed to just White Sox autographs. While there have always been a few players that scribbled their names, there has definitely been a downturn in the quality of the average signature in the last 20 or so years. Up to and including the 80s, the majority of players had somewhat legible, or at least interesting autographs. Now there are probably no more than 5 guys per team that have nice autographs.

Some recent guys that have nice autographs: Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer (there's that Killebrew influence mentioned upthread), Ugueth Urbina, Jeff Keppinger, Mariano Rivera, Pat Neshek, Pedro Martinez... can't think of any others right now.

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