We all know about the auto pen. If memory serves, I remember reading they were first used by politicians. Of course, anybody that goes for autographs in the mail has to worry about secretarial signatures. We know about the actors that have used them for long periods of time (Jack Lemmon and Clint Eastwood, to name a few).
When I was the sportscaster for a radio station, I ran into a number of athletes that told me great autograph stories. Sometimes when baseballs were handed over the railing and into the dugout, they’d just hand them to ball boys for them to autograph. Sometimes it would be one player grabbing the ball, and signing other players’ names on it.
I recently mentioned Lakers broadcaster (and former NBA star) Stu Lantz in a previous blog. Well, he told me about one of the many reasons they hated signing autographs. He said, “After the games we’d stand there for an hour signing autographs. We were tired from the game, we wanted to get home to our families, and we’re in the cold trying to make the fans happy. The next morning we show up for practice and we saw scraps of paper with our autographs on them…all over the ground!”
He told me another story about how he and Hall of Famer Pete Maravich would sometimes sign each others names when people asked for their autographs on airplanes. They did it to entertain themselves, and I’m guessing the fans didn’t realize or care. Perhaps if they were passed down to their kids or grandkids…and they were being sold on eBay, somebody just said they weren’t authentic without knowing why they weren’t authentic.
In one of the many books I read about The Doors, somebody mentioned two young girls asking for Jim Morrison’s John Hancock (perhaps I shouldn’t use the name “John Hancock”, as Morrison was once charged with indecent exposure after supposedly whipping it out during a concert). Anyway, Morrison signed the picture they had with the name of a poet from the 1700s that he admired. The girls were so gitty with excitement, they probably didn’t even realize it until they got home (and back then, they didn’t have the luxury of Googling to find out who the name was Morrison signed). The signature probably got thrown away, which is a shame.
A lot of those stories came back to me recently when I saw a mention of this bizarre story in the sports section of our local paper. It was about a sports memorabilia collector in New Jersey that is making accusations about some New York Giants players scamming him.
Eric Inselberg filed suit against quarterback Eli Manning and the owner of the Giants, John Mara, for what he claims they did. He thinks they doctored helmets, jerseys, and other equipment to make it look like it had been used during games. That way these pieces could be called “game-worn” and garner more money.
There’s no way this guy will win this suit, because it’ll be so hard to prove. Yet I’m guessing things like this have happened before.
I remember in the early ‘90s at my radio station, we auctioned a number of things off for a charity. Our big ticket item was a motorcycle. We had an attractive DJ that was rather busty. A guy called and wanted us to auction one of her bras. Autographed! We called her at home to ask her, and she hung up on us after saying, “Absolutely not!”
Now, because I’m a charitable dude…I called her back and asked, “What if I go to the store and buy a bra, in your size. You wouldn’t have to wear it or even put it on. Just autograph it.”
She agreed to that.
The bidding got up to around $900. We were happy. The charity was happy. And somewhere there’s a person with a bra that they’re doing who knows what with…that is none the wiser.