The LuLac Edition #1725, August 20th, 2011
PHOTO INDEX: OUR "INTERVIEW" LOGO.
This week Alex Rodriquez came up to PNC Field to play in two rehab games. Naturally there were people who wanted his autograph. I spoke with a local guy who has been an autograph collector for a long while. Here’s our talk.
Q: So you’re a collector, going to see A Rod and snag an autograph?
A: I’m going to see him but the autographs are for the kids.
Q: But kids are pretty slick, they can sell it on Ebay.
A: Sure but there’s a little part of me who still thinks there's a bit of a fan in all of us.
Q: You have an extensive collection.
A: Yes I do. I started collecting right after high school which was 1968. I’d be standing by the Yankee and Phillie parking lot watching them get out of their cars and trying to share a moment.
Q: So since you’ve been doing this a long time, what changes have you seen other than the players making more money in the way they respond to autographs?
A: They are more cynical today. I’d get stuff signed in the 70s and 80s at the park and at card shows. The old major leaguers needed card shows to supplement their income, not the new guys.
Q: Did the cynicism become widespread even with the older players?
A: Oh yes. If you met them outside of a card show, some would ask you point blank, are ya gonna sell this? And I’d always ask them to put a mark on it like my name, a number, that type of thing.
Q: You see these things on sale from autograph houses, how can you be sure of its authenticity?
A: Unless you are standing there in front of the guy seeing him sign it, you can’t.
Q: How about if you want to sell it?
A: Okay, unless you are standing there in front of the guy seeing him sign it and have your picture taken while the guy is actually doing it!
Q: A lot of forgeries?
A: Yes. I’d say 75% of what is out there, now this is my opinion only is a forgery. It started with the clubhouse boys signing balls for the stars and then when greedy show operators started to duplicate signings with fakes, yes.
Q: Tell me about the Barry Halper situation.
A: Barry Halper was a tycoon with Marcal Paper Products in New York. He was a minority owner of the Yankees. He had this huge collection. Shoeless Joe Jackson’s uniform, a lock of Babe Ruth’s hair. A lot of stuff. The collection was so big the Hall of Fame had items in their wing. After he died Southebey's’ had an auction and his family got millions. Now the Hall has given his items back, and there is an investigation starting because it has been determined that a lot of stuff was fake. This was a big blow because this guy was the gold standard. His stuff was in the Hall. They made DVDs of his collection where he sat with the stars of baseball, Mantle, Martin and a few others and essentially bamboozled them. He liked about where he got them and he made people lie (old ball players) to back up his story. This was huge.
Q: So what’s your advice to people who want an item?
A: Meet the guy. Don’t go through another “friend”.
Q: What do you collect now?
A: Just the new Yankees and Phillies at the minor league level. I buy myself a poster with the new Iron Pigs and Yankees on it and go to the Welcome Home dinner or the park and get them to sign.
Q: Best guy you ever met?
Q: Worst guy you ever met?
A: Mays. You had to catch him on a day when he liked people.
Q: And you could see him signing your item, right?
A: You got that right pal.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Here is a link to the person referenced in this interview regarding fake baseball memories.