Late night talk shows are the perfect place to hear autograph stories. You see, the talk show hosts and the stars, get sick of just coming on and promoting their latest movie and telling the same stories about what it was like to work with Meryl Streep.
Last night on The Tonight Show (which I watched only because Letterman and Kimmel were repeats), comedian and actor Steve Byrne of the show Sullivan & Son (TBS) was one of the guests.
Former Steeler and Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw was on the show. When he moved down a seat to bring out the next guest, Byrne came out. He told a hysterical story, that I’m assuming is true. It’s also a story all autograph collectors fear. KIDS!!!
Byrne came out and shows this old baseball. I wasn’t paying attention to the story at first, since I was writing on the computer. It was old and scuffed up, and he said it was his dads prized possession because it was signed by Willie Mays. He said that since his dad always said how much he loved him as a son, he thought his dad would like it if it also contained his signature on it. Obviously, the dad was furious when the 10-year-old signed the ball and ruined it. Byrne then explained that Terry Bradshaw was a big hero in their house, and he’d love it if he signed a football. He showed the football that Bradshaw signed for him backstage, and then Byrne explained, “I’ll give this to my dad, and all will be forgiven. He is going to love this.”
The crowd erupted into applause, appreciating a good story and what would make a good gift. Byrne then smiled and said “But first…I’m going to sign it, right below his signature.”
With that, he signed the football he was going to give his dad, as the crowd laughed.
I once played a trick on a guy at a July 4th party. He had over 100 autographed baseballs on a shelf. Obviously, I enjoyed looking at them. And anybody that knows autographs, has seen all the big names before. You know exactly how Pete Rose makes that P, and Mickey Mantle with the M’s. The Beautiful Ted Williams that always looks the same. The Willie Mays signature that is really neat, but hard to figure out how that first letter is a W.
Well, the guy with the baseballs was in charge of the BBQ. I asked his wife, in another room, if she had an old baseball I could have. She found one, and I promptly forged the signature of Mickey Mantle. It’s an easily recognized signature. I then went outside, in front of where he was grilling, and started playing catch with his son. The kid was 10, and I told him after he caught the ball 5 times, to say to me in a loud voice “Why is their writing on this baseball?”
This boy has a career in Hollywood ahead of him, because he did it perfectly. He caught a lob I threw, examined the ball curiously, and yelled to me, “Why does this ball having writing on it?”
His dad dropped the brush he was using to marinate the meat, and grabbed the ball. His jaw dropped as he saw the Mickey Mantle, but within seconds he said “This isn’t from my shelf, is it?”
Not wanting him to have a heart attack on my watch I said “No, I was just messing with you.”
It was a great 4th of July. Nothing like marinated meats, practical jokes, and checking out a cool autograph collection.