Frequently Asked Questions
1. When did you decide to start an autograph authentication service?
I actually started work on forming an authentication service on several occasions, as far back as 1996, but time limitations always seemed to prevent it from coming to fruition. When 2006 rolled around, I had more time to devote to establishing the service and finally launched it in May of 2007.
2. Why did you decide to start an authentication service?
Several reasons. In general terms, when you have spent five decades of your life involved with something as specialized as autographs, you feel like you have a unique level of knowledge and experience - and as a result, are able to make a contribution in the field of authentication. More specifically, I feel the field of authentication needs to become more specialized to increase accuracy and reduce mistakes.
In addition, I am concerned about certain trends in authentication that I believe are unnecessary and counterproductive - those being encapsulation and placing stickers on items. I wanted to provide an alternative to those practices. Yet another factor is the authentication field has become almost monopolistic. Everyone knows that monopolies are not good in any industry and they should not exist in authentication, the same as any other field. Finally, I saw this as an opportunity to help raise money for my favorite charity, animal shelters.
3. Why donít you approve of encapsulation of autographed items and the placing stickers on them?
As for stickers, thatís pretty simple. It is applying a foreign substance onto an item that was not intended to be on it, which I believe, defaces, detracts from, and devalues the item. They are an unnecessary eye sore.
As for encapsulation, I am not in favor of permanent encasing of any collectibles. That said, I believe there are some categories of collectibles that lend themselves more to encapsulation than others, due to the sheer nature of the item. I would include coins and signed baseballs in that group. While one could argue the merits of the encapsulation of unsigned gum cards, I believe the encapsulation of autographed paper items is a different matter. Long before the encapsulation of cards began, the practice of grading cards was an essential part of that segment of the hobby. Grading provided information regarding the condition of a card. The value of a card is in large part determined by itsí condition. The slightest mishandling of a card could severely affect itsí value and encapsulation protected the card from damage. For cards, encapsulation was an integral part of the grading process.
While some of the reasons that I am opposed to the encapsulation of autographs could be applied to cards, I believe they apply far more with autographs. A major reason for the encapsulation of cards - protection from damage - is not nearly as relevant with autographed items. There are other types of holders available for such items that offer protection from damage and provide the option to handle, mat, frame, place in album/binder, or do whatever one wishes with the item. Following are the reasons I am opposed to encapsulation of autographs, especially paper items:
4. You mentioned authentication mistakes being made as a factor in the establishment of First-Hand Authentication. Are you referring to items being passed as authentic that are not real, or items that are real that are rejected as not-authentic?
- 1. You canít touch the item. People have collected autographs and any number of other collectibles for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. A great part of the joy in collecting any item is being able to handle the item, hold it your hand, etc. For example, part of the joy in owning a Roger Maris autograph is, to hold in your hand, an item he had in his hand and signed.
If you encapsulate an autograph, you take away that option. Autographs are basically toys for adults (and kids, of course.) Can you imagine if, when you were a kid, you received a package of toy soldiers but were told you couldnít open it, that they had to stay in the package? Or that you received a bicycle but was told you were not allowed to ride it? If you canít touch the item, what good is it? I canít even begin to comprehend why someone would want to have an autographed item that they canít touch. I feel these types of items were meant to be handled and enjoyed, not to be locked up in a contraption in which human hands will never touch them again. I believe that defeats the purpose of collecting.
- 2. The holders that encapsulated autographs are typically placed in are rather bulky, therefore, difficult to store and enjoy.
- 3. The size of the typical holder/label limits the amount of information that can/should appear on an authenticated item, ex. Details about the signature, date of authentication, name of the authenticator, etc.
- 4. I believe that encapsulation in and of itself does not necessarily mean the autograph inside is authentic. I have seen items in encapsulated holders that I believe contained non-authentic signatures. When that occurs, all the person has is an encapsulated fake.
- 5. Potential for counterfeiting. I think by now everyone knows that the autograph market is filled with dishonest people who are willing to use any and all options to make easy money by defrauding unsuspecting buyers. Whether it is forgeries, counterfeits or whatever, buyers of autographed material should do all they can to ensure the items they purchase are authentic and original. I believe it is possible for autographs in encapsulated holders to be counterfeited. Therefore, I believe that if an autograph is encapsulated, it may be difficult, if not, impossible to tell if the item inside is an original or a counterfeit. Why take the risk ?
- 6. I believe that encapsulation of autographs is more a marketing gimmick than anything else, that some collectors inexplicably find appealing. Personally, I think itís idiotic, so Iím just not going to do it.
5. In addition to stickers and encapsulation, FHA does not issue the commonly used Certificate of Authenticity (COA.) Why is that?
Because the standard Certificate of Authenticity commonly used in this industry typically does not include an image of the item and autograph. As a result, I view them as having minimal value. I believe every authentication documentation should include an image of the autograph. Cost-wise, it would be more expensive to produce a high quality certificate that includes an image of the item than it is to produce a Letter of Authenticity (LOA.) And with the COA being a smaller size than a LOA, it would not be able to contain as much information. As a result, it is just not feasible to do them.
The argument of those in favor of the COA is that the company issuing them has an image of the autograph posted on their web site, available for viewing. But what happens if their web site is temporarily down when you want to view it? Or what if the company should discontinue operation? Then what have you got? The closing of any authentication firm is impossible to predict. This isnít rocket science. The best form of authentication documentation is a tangible item which contains a photo of the item and signature.
6. Will FHA issue one blanket LOA for a group lot of signed items?
No. I view those as having even less value than a standard COA. I believe it would be very difficult to verify that any item did, indeed, originate from a lot that was authenticated as a group. Any authentication documentation issued by FHA is done on a individual basis.
7. FHA only authenticates names that you have First-Hand experience with. Why is First-Hand experience so important?
For one, because the opinion of authenticity is based upon exemplars that you KNOW are authentic. In addition, when you are with dealing a select number of names, in most cases you have seen them so many times that the signature literally gets ingrained in you. You know exactly what it should look like. There is no guesswork involved, so the authentication is of the highest quality.
8. Some authentication firms will authenticate almost every name, from every field, from every time period. Do you believe that any one person or firm can accurately authenticate the signature of virtually every celebrity who ever lived?
Of course not.
9. Then why is this practice allowed to go on?
You have to understand the history of how authentication services evolved. In the beginning there werenít, and still arenít, a lot of qualified authenticators out there. Some of the firms who were among the first to enter the field began to authenticate virtually any name that came their way - whether or not they were qualified to do so - in order to satisfy the needs of their clients. Since the industry was initially built on one-stop-shopping, and due to a limited number of quality authenticators, it became acceptable among some for this system to exist. People didnít really stop to think, ďHow can any one person or firm be an expert on virtually everyoneís signature?Ē So a lot of people jumped on their bandwagon in the beginning and have stayed there - very much like an incumbent politician. Some of these firms are more concerned with trying to corner the market than to provide accuracy on each item they are asked to authenticate. Many sellers like the status quo, because it is much easier to use one firm to authenticate all of their items than it is to use multiple companies. Another factor is there is currently no governing body that oversees the authentication field. As time goes by and more and more hobbyists learn of the mistakes that are made, the demand for specialization will increase.
10. Are hobbyists aware that a lot of authentication mistakes are made?
Yes and no. There are hobby insiders and outsiders. The insiders are fully aware of whatís going on. The majority of outsiders - which are the average collectors - are very naÔve, and accept an authentication opinion based solely on a company name - without even knowing who the authenticator was or what that authenticatorís qualifications are. In most cases, they are unaware when they have purchased a non-authentic autograph that has been passed as authentic. In terms of total numbers of hobbyists, since there are a lot more outsiders than insiders, itís an educational process thatís going to take time. But you can only fool the public for so long.
11. What is the major difference between the two primary levels of service FHA offers - Letter of Authenticity (LOA) and Brief Opinion?
The LOA is for items that one already owns, whereas the Brief Opinion (while available for items already owned) is recommended for those considering an item not yet purchased.
12. What is the difference between the various types of Letter of Authenticity (LOA) services that FHA offers?
The Standard LOA is the primary level of LOA service. It is a letter on company stationery which includes an opinion of the authenticity of an autographed item and includes an image of the autograph. The wording of the authenticity opinion is brief and in general terms.
The Premium LOA is an optional add-on to Standard LOA service. The opinion of authenticity contains more details about the signature, and contains an additional, supporting example of that subjectís signature, which is provided by FHA.
The Mini LOA is simply a smaller sized reproduction of a Standard or Premium LOA.
13. How long does it take to authenticate an autograph and is that a factor in FHAís authentication fees?
Some autographs are easier, thus less time-consuming to authenticate than others. Sometimes an authentication opinion is reached within a couple of minutes and sometimes it can take much longer. There is no set amount of time that each authentication takes. By limiting my authentication opinions to those names with First-Hand experience, many decisions are reached fairly quickly. Authentication fees are based primarily upon the value of the signature as opposed to the amount of time spent on the authentication.
14. Why is the authentication fee based upon the value of the signature instead of the amount of time required to do the authentication?
For example, if I do a LOA for a Don Drysdale autograph where the fee is $20 and the retail value of the item is $100, I canít charge the Roberto Clemente fee of $100, because if I did that, the authentication fee is equal to the retail value of the item. On the flip side, I canít charge a $20 fee for a Roberto Clemente LOA, when that item may be worth for $2,500, if the fee is $20 for Drysdale too. In addition, it would a logistical nightmare to try to do authentications based on the amount of time spent because you donít know how long it is going to take until you have it your hands. If I did that, people would be unable to know what the authentication fee is until after they sent their item in. Who wants to buy something without knowing what it is going to cost first? There has to be some type of system and it seems basing the authentication fee on the value of the item is the fairest way to do it.
15. FHAí s fees structure does not include an extra charge for so-called ďPremiumĒ items. Why is that?
A couple of reasons. ďPremiumĒ items are often oversized pieces, like bats and jerseys, which FHA does not authenticate. In addition, itís logistically simpler to just have one price, regardless of the item type. Itís possible that could change down the road, but for now, thatís how itís structured.
16. Most authentication service companies do not offer any type of discount or refund on items found to be not-authentic. FHA offers a 50% refund on autographs found to be not authentic with itsí Standard and Premium LOA service. Why did you decide to offer such a refund? And if the owner of a non-authentic autograph gets a refund from the seller of the item as a result of FHAís LOA, why should they receive a refund?
For one, I got into this more to help raise the level of the authentication field than I did for financial reasons. I guess the collector in me played a role as well. Itís bad enough when one finds out that the autograph they purchased is not authentic. Then, to have to pay money to find that out is like pouring salt on the wound. So I guess I wanted to help ease the pain a little. Many sellers of non-authentic autographs are long gone, so not everyone who has purchased a fake will ultimately get their money back. I have no way of knowing who might be able to get a refund and who will not. In addition, aside from assisting the owner of a non-authentic autograph in obtaining a refund from the seller, the LOA has little, if any, value - whereas a LOA issued on an item that is authentic does contain value. I offer the refunds on non-authentic autographs because I think it is the right thing to do.
17. On FHAís LOA Feeís Chart, the minimum price is $20.00. What should I do if I have autographs of lesser value names that I would like to get authenticated? I do not want to pay more for the authentication fee than the item is worth.
Obviously, it would not make sense for one to pay $20.00 for a LOA if the item is only worth $10.00 to $15.00. If someone has a quantity of lesser value names they would like authenticated, I am willing to try to work something out on the price. I would suggest sending an e-mail detailing what you would like authenticated. I will review the information and get back with you on a price for individual LOAís for the group.
18. How do you determine if an autograph is authentic or not?
I look at the signature to see how it compares to First-Hand authentic examples. Virtually all signatures have characteristics that are unique to that individual. I examine the signature for things like letter formation, size and slant, pen pressure, fluency, etc., - factors I mention on the About Authentication page. When I first look at an autograph, usually I have an immediate first impression - which can be one of several things ranging from; ďdead-on,Ē ďlooks good but signed a little differently than usual,Ē ďnot sure,Ē ďI donít think so,Ē and ďno way.Ē Then, I delve into it deeper using the aforementioned factors, and if necessary, bring out the exemplars, then make a decision. If the characteristics of the signature (like those previously mentioned) are consistent with First-Hand authentic examples, it passes, if theyíre not, it fails, and if I am not sure, I consider it inconclusive.
Since the names I authenticate are signatures I know like the back of my hand, many times exemplars are not necessary. But there are occasions I do use them. The vast majority of exemplars that I use come from my huge personal collection of First-Hand autographs. For certain names, I have a checklist of key characteristics of the signature that are a useful tool in determining authenticity.
19. Are your First-Hand exemplars from a one-time encounter, or do they extend beyond that?
Due to the fact that I have been collecting almost continually since 1960, of the vast majority of names that I authenticate, I have obtained their signature multiple times over extended time periods. In addition, over the years, I have been fortunate to acquire large portions of the collections of some of my collector friends. These guys were also first-hand collectors and their collections were among the best around. Of those items, I was often present when they were signed. Due to either a lack of interest or financial reasons, they decided to liquidate their collections. Those items reinforce what I already had in terms of exemplars.
20. You mentioned that you have often obtained multiple signatures of the same subject. How many autographs is the most you have obtained from a subject at one time?
Former Pirates outfielder Bill Virdon and former major league pitcher Bob Miller each signed 21 autographs for me one day in 1965. The same year, Don Drysdale signed 17 cards for me one afternoon. He just stood at the front desk of the Netherland Hilton Hotel and signed them all. Most of the cards were duplicates. I think he was curious why I wanted so many, but he really didnít say anything, he would just sign one, kind of give me a funny look, then sign another, etc. until they were all signed.
21. Whose autograph would you say is forged the most?
Of the names that I authenticate, Roberto Clemente is the most forged. Of those I do not authenticate, probably Babe Ruth.
22. Do you believe provenance should be considered when rendering an authentication opinion?
The issue of provenance can be a bit tricky. I believe it depends on the situation. Provenance cannot make an autograph authentic when it clearly is not. What it can do, however, is, if there is a little bit of doubt, give consideration to the source of the material. For example, if the signature in question is bordering on inconclusive because it was written a little differently, if youíre leaning in one direction, you might want to give consideration to the source of the signature. But that can involve having intricate knowledge of the source of the item, information that may not always be available when authenticating. And even though I believe that sometimes the source of the signature can be an asset, there are limitations. For example, sometimes non-authentic signatures wind up in the hands of respected longtime hobbyists, with huge collections or inventories, especially when many of their signatures were obtained thru the mail. So, you see, the issue of provenance can get very complicated.
Ideally, I believe the signature should stand on itís own. I canít say categorically that provenance should be used in all cases, because, unfortunately, there will always be those who will make up a story on how the autograph was obtained. But on the other hand, there are a lot of people with legitimate accounts of the acquisition of their signatures, and you canít just dismiss that. I do not see this as a major issue because provenance does not factor into most authentication determinations - only in cases when determining authenticity is very difficult. Also, authentication and provenance are really two separate things. But provenance certainly has itís place. As a collector, even when I could tell an autograph was authentic, I liked buying items that came with provenance because I think it adds a little extra enjoyment knowing the history of the item and where it came from.
23. Do you believe that one should get a second independent opinion when having an autograph authenticated or just go with the first one they get?
Thatís hard to say. I guess it depends on who the authenticator is and what name they authenticated. It certainly canít hurt anything by getting a second opinion. People do it all the time with medical conditions, car repairs, etc. Actually, considering there is no system in place to catch the authentication mistakes that are made, getting a second opinion might not be a bad idea. In many cases, a second opinion is not necessary. But I donít know how one would go about determining which items are deserving of a second opinion and which are not. It would be easy to say limit second opinions to those names that are commonly forged, have a high value, or are difficult to authenticate, but who determines that? And what about names that donít fall into those categories, including ghost-signed items which are frequently passed as authentic? In an ideal world, the public would benefit if all autographed items came with at least two independent authentications.
24. What do you think should happen if two authenticators disagree on the authenticity of an item?
Ultimately, it is up to the owner of the autograph to decide whose word he wants to take. But I believe serious consideration should be given to the authenticator with the most credible level of experience with that name. Either that or get a third or even fourth opinion.
25. Have you ever purchased an autograph, and when you received it, determined it was not authentic? If so, what did you do about it?
That has happened more times than I can count. Over the years, I have purchased autographs from a number of sources, including some longtime collectors with huge collections. Some of those collections were just fabulous, with lots of great stuff. But within those vast collections were a small, yet important number of non-authentic signatures - most of which were obtained thru the mail and contained secretarial/ghost-signed signatures.
When that occurred, generally I would contact the seller and in a nice way, without going into specifics, tell them I just didnít like the signature and wanted to return it for a credit toward another purchase, or in some cases, a refund. In virtually all of these cases, the sellers were totally honest people, proud of their collections, and were truly unaware the signature they had sent was not authentic. The sellers respected my knowledge of autographs and I handled such situations in a diplomatic way. As a result, while they were not pleased when I returned an autograph, that displeasure was kept to a minimum, the credit or refund I requested was granted, and our transactions continued.
26. Do you plan to offer grading service in addition to authentications?
No. Grading and authentication are two separate practices and I have no interest in the grading of autographs. Similar to encapsulation, I believe grading is far more relevant with cards than autographs. With cards, grades are often formed based on subtleties - ex. A crease only visible upon close inspection. But with autographs, the visual appeal of a signature is fairly obvious - ex. Boldness, contrast, location, quality of signature, etc. Therefore, I donít see where the grading of autographs serves any useful purpose, except in cases where an image of the autograph is not available.
When used informally to inform prospective buyers of the quality of an autograph, I think grading is fine. But I am not in favor of formal grading with permanent labeling. Signatures can fade over time, so a grade assigned to an item today might not be the same grade it would receive five years from now. Once a grade is assigned, it is permanent, even if the signature deteriorates afterwards. In such an instance, an item would then contain an inaccurate grade. When you factor in that grading can be very subjective, I am not convinced that formal grading of autographs is a great idea.
27. You have occasionally offered autographed material for sale to the public. Will you continue to do so now that your authentication service is up and running?
I was never a full-time dealer, never wanted to be. Iím basically a collector with a big appetite for autographed items for my personal collection. So I would sell a few items here and there, in part, to help pay for new items I bought for my collection. Over the years, on average, I would run one or two ads per year in Sports Collectors Digest (SCD) and run a few handfuls of items on internet auctions several times per year. When I launched FHA in May of 2007, at my choosing, I announced that I had placed a moratorium on offering autographed material for sale, and lived up to that pledge. I did so in order to alleviate the concerns of some who may not have been familiar with me and my extensive background in autographs. Now, a year and half later, with more and more hobbyists familiar with me, I donít know what the future holds. Having collected autographs since 1960, I have an abundance of material. In addition, my collecting interests change from time to time, which results in having additional autographed material become available for sale to the public. So, Iím no different than anyone else that has material they wish to liquidate. My preference is to engage in selling activities the way I have always done it - offering items for sale sporadically, based on my mood and time availability. But based on feedback I have received from a number of collectors, itís possible I may have to reconsider that philosophy. The feedback I have received indicates that buyers do not care for my pattern of offering a handful of items one day, then disappearing for a few months, and so on and so forth. They very much would like to see me have a more consistent presence in the marketplace. So I may have to increase the frequency of my selling activities more than I would prefer, in order to accommodate the wishes of the public.
28. Is there a conflict of interests if one both sells and authenticates autographed material?
I am aware of and understand the perception and concern some have about those who sell and authenticate. Most of those concerned about this issue speak in generalities and do not really know the individuals involved. People should be aware that there is perception and then there is reality. There is a perception that if someone sells autographed material and also authenticates autographs, that there is an inherent conflict of interests - that by selling autographed material, it would affect their authentication opinions. But thatís making an assumption that anyone who sells and authenticates is dishonest. If someone actually did that - allowed their authentication opinions to be influenced by their selling activities - word would get out and they would be branded as untrustworthy. They would not be around for long. This hobby is actually quite small, and people talk. The best asset anyone in this business can have is their reputation. You only get one, and once itís gone, itís gone forever. Is it possible someone could try to do that? I guess itís theoretically possible, but highly unlikely. But if it was ever proven that someone was actually stupid enough to jeopardize their future by intentionally misrepresenting the authenticity of an autograph, by all means, they should be exposed and run out of the hobby. But the reality is one should not assume things about people that they do not know to be true. I have been an autograph collector for 48 years and have had a presence in the hobby for over 30 years. I have an impeccable reputation for honesty and integrity and plan to keep it that way.
The reality is there are very few people out there with the experience necessary to render credible authentications. If you want the best people possible to do authentications - those with considerable First-Hand experience - it is possible or even likely that will be someone who, at least occasionally, sells some autographs from their collection. Sure, you can go out and grab someone off the street with no autograph experience, and let them authenticate autographs. But is that what collectors really want? I donít think so. That has actually been done already to some degree, and I have seen the results of it. And itís not pretty. In fact, there some are authenticators in large authentication firms who are virtual unknowns in the autograph field.
There are other people who regularly sell and authenticate, so Iím hardly the one who does it. I believe that in some cases, someone who is able to bring two positive elements to field of autographs should be celebrated, not condemned. Some of those who do both do third-party authentications. Yet others authenticate only the material they offer for sale. Some of these people are among the most knowledgeable and honest in the industry. As long as any such seller offers a lifetime guarantee of authenticity (which, of course, I do), I donít see an issue with it. Many who criticize those who sell/authenticate do so for ulterior motives. My extensive background in autographs is unprecedented and Iíve earned the right to do both. That said, I am aware of the issue and have taken it into account. In order to separate the authentication service from any potential selling activities, any LOA issued on an item I offer for sale would not be on FHA company stationery, but rather the same company letterhead I have used for years, ďThe King of AutographsĒ (KOA.)
It should be noted that the potential for willful misrepresentation of the authenticity of an autograph is not limited to those who sell/authenticate. I have heard of instances in which authenticators who were not involved in selling autographed material intentionally misrepresented the authentication of an item due to a personal vendetta against the seller. The issue isnít does someone sell/authenticate. Itís the integrity of the individual authenticator.
29. In your years of autograph collecting, who were among the most and least accommodating subjects?
There were a lot more that were accommodating than were not, but the following names stand out: MOST ACCOMODATING; Don Drysdale, Rico Carty, Dale Murphy, Dick Barnett, Johnny Unitas, Bobby Hull, Muhammad Ali, and The Beach Boys. LEAST ACCOMODATING; Dick Stuart, Alan Wiggins, Dick Barnett, Raymond Floyd, Bob Seger, and David Crosby.
30. Whose signature is the most difficult to authenticate?
Bob Dylan. Sometimes he signs right-handed, sometimes he signs left-handed, and most of the time, he doesnít sign at all. In addition, his signature varies quite a bit, especially the right-handed version. He is definitely one of those names where at least two independent authentications should always be done. One should be wary of a Dylan autograph authenticated by someone who never met him. If I were looking to buy a Bob Dylan autograph, my preference would be to find one that comes with provenance. That said, we will accept Dylan material, and as is the case with all names, if weíre not 100% sure, we will call it Inconclusive.
31. How does skill play a role in authentication?
I believe skill comes from knowledge, experience and instinct. Obviously, the more experience one has with a signature, the more knowledge they gain, which adds to their authentication skills. But instinct, while difficult to quantify, is important as well. Some were blessed with the ability to hit a baseball. I was blessed with excellent instincts when it came to autographs. While I could provide numerous examples, I will give one involving Roger Maris.
In 1965, I was into full-swing with my autograph collection. Living in a National League city - Cincinnati - I was very successful at obtaining
autographs of baseball players from visiting National League teams. But I was unable to meet players from American League teams. At that time, the two autographs I wanted to obtain the most were Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle. I had made friends with a high ranking baseball executive who also lived in Cincinnati. One day, I asked him if it was possible for him to get me an autograph of Maris & Mantle. He said he would see what he could do. Several months later, an envelope arrived in the mail which contained 8x10 photos of both Maris and Mantle, both signed in a black felt tip marker, both signed with ďBest Wishes.Ē Though I had never before seen an authentic autograph of either player, I had a general idea what Mantleís
autograph looked like (from seeing the rubber-stamped signatures I received thru the mail.) I had even less idea of what Marisí signature looked like.
My initial excitement of receiving these signed photos quickly faded, as I began to look at the autographs a little closer. The Mantle signature was close to what I had expected but there was something about it I just did not like. I thought the Maris signature was even more suspect. Within a few minutes, while I wasnít 100% sure, I concluded that neither signature was authentic. I was very disappointed. This conclusion was made on nothing more than pure instinct.
A couple of years later, in 1967, Roger Maris was traded from the Yankees to the St. Louis Cardinals. All winter I anticipated Marisí appearance in Cincinnati and planned to go to the Cardinals team hotel to try to get his autograph. During the Cardinals first trip to Cincinnati that season, I went to the Netherland Hilton Hotel in the afternoon. Upon arriving in the hotel lobby, I spotted Roger Maris sitting in a chair. I was very excited to meet him and get his autograph. I had brought a number of things I wanted him to sign, including some baseball cards. I also brought along that 8x10 photo I had received in the mail.
When I approached Maris, I handed him a stack of cards, and asked him to sign them. He said he would sign, ďOne,Ē signed the one on top of the stack and handed the cards back to me. It was clear he was limiting the number of autographs he would sign. I was hoping to walk away with more than one autograph and I also wanted to know - for sure - whether or not he signed that 8x10 photo. So, a couple of minutes later, I walked back up to him and showed him the photo. I did not initially ask him to sign it. I told him that I had received the photo from a baseball official and wanted to know if that was his signature on it. Without hesitation, he said that was not his signature. When I asked how he could tell, he mentioned several things, including the ďB,Ē in ďBest,Ē and the ďWĒ in ďWishes,Ē - adding ďI donít make my Wís like that.Ē I then asked if he would mind signing it, and Maris proceeded to sign and inscribe it for me. It turned out that my instinct all along was correct that it was not his signature on that photo - and the same for the Mantle photo. Instinct like that is not something that can be taught.
A footnote to this story. On subsequent visits to Cincinnati later on during the 1967 season and the following year, Maris was much more accommodating, signing multiples without hesitation.
32. Do you belong to any autograph organizations?
I am a long-time member in good standing in the UACC.