Monday, January 30, 2012

Defacing a card, or an "Auto" in collector speak

This is a crazy hobby, isn't it?

Technically, having a guy autograph your card without a certificate of authenticity makes the value of the card go down as far as Beckett goes. After all, it's defacing the card!

But what do those people know, anyways? "TTM" or "In-Person" autographs are still cool.

I can't say I've ever tried to obtain a TTM auto, and I haven't gotten a new in-person autograph in a long time.

But that doesn't mean I don't cherish the ones I already have.

I had the privilege of meeting the late Mark Fidrych at one of the first card shows I can remember going to as a kid. I had him autograph a baseball, which is displayed proudly in my room.

My dad bought this Fidrych autograph for me a while back. These types of autos work well with cards that already have facsimile signatures on them.

It's interesting to see how a guy's signature changes over time.

I won this one in a contest on one of my trading forums.

I don't collect Mike Mussina, but the red background on these Cracker Jack cards are a nice platform for an autograph.

A fellow collector sent this one to me out of the blue last year.

John Olerud will always be one of my all-time favorite players, and this one is certainly a cornerstone of my collection of his.

A card shop I used to frequent had a little box of in-person autographs on the counter for fifty cents a piece.

An autograph of the "Wild Thing" for two quarters? Heck yes.

The story behind these is better than the actual autographs.

My grandparents live pretty close to where the Kane County Cougars (single-A) play their ballgames. Sometimes we'd hit a baseball game when we went to visit them.

One of the times, we unwittingly bought tickets for a doubleheader. We were all set to leave after the first game when they announced that the second game would be starting in an hour or so. Quite the surprise, if I do say so myself.

Between games, some of the players were on the field signing autographs. I had just bought the team set from the gift shop, so I tried to match the players on the field with their cards. So in one day, I got to walk onto a minor-league baseball field and get some autographs from actual professional ballplayers?

It was all a twelve year-old could ever ask for.

This is probably my favorite from my in-person autograph collection.

Fergie Jenkins was signing free autographs one day at a sporting goods store called Galyan's, which was celebrating its grand opening. ("Galyan's" is now Dick's Sporting Goods.)

I bet that I was one of the few people to bring a non-Cubs item for Fergie to sign. It's cool because he even signed it at the same angle as his '82 Topps facsimile signature. His autograph has changed a lot since his playing days.

Me and my dad still laugh about that day because, of course, the guy in front of us in line that day was the guy you see at every card show. Talking on the phone, two backpacks full of stuff, ten zillion things for the guy to sign with the obvious intention of reselling them. Keep in mind that this was a free autograph session, and there were a lot more people in line behind him. Needless to say, it took a long time for the guy to get his stuff signed.

As a kid, I was puzzled as to why anyone would do that. Now I understand that jerks do still make up an extremely small percentage of the card community. But that's true in any hobby.

I swore I saw a little bit of relief when Mr. Jenkins saw a kid was next in line, with just one card for him to sign. A card that meant something other than dollar signs. A card that he'd keep forever.

I'm proud to say that that hasn't changed with any of these in-person autographs.

That's why they're so great.


Mike said...

Great memories!....i remember how much fun you had at the Kane County Cougars game,and at the Jenkins signing!....And I think I was just as excited as you were (maybe more!)when we met the Bird!....It was really cool to have him sign my 1977 Rolling Stone magazine with him on the cover!

Spiegel83 said...

That is a great deal for a Mitch Williams auto. The Mussina card does look great signed.

'30-Year Old Cardboard said...

I consider myself somewhat of a Fergie Jenkins 'Super-Collector' and I am curious as to why you think his auto has changed since his playing days. From everything that I have seen, and own, his auto is basically the same...

Just wondering...

'30-Year Old Cardboard said...

Great auto of Mussina, by the way. He usually picks the best spot to drop an autograph...

Nick said...

The end of the "Jenkins" on the in-person auto is more of a straight line, with the facsimile it's easier to make out the letters in his last name.

That might've just been because he was in a rush with signing hundreds of autographs all day. It's actually not that different now that I look at it a little more closely.

'30-Year Old Cardboard said...

I think a lot of it also has to do with the pen/marker being used.