Bill White Slams Autographs

Say it ain’t so, Bill.

I searched his memoir Uppity for insights about why he stopped accepting fan mail, choosing the “Return to Sender” route. Was he becoming baseball’s Greta Garbo? Had Dr. Mike Marshall influenced him with talk of autographs and real heroes?

Instead, he clings to the old, simplistic notion of everyone being a greedy dealer. He writes:

“When I was a player we never thought twice about giving some kid an autograph, or handing out signed baseballs…These days, of course, a lot of the big-name players have six-figure contracts with agents to market their autographs, and professional dealers have squeezed out the kids. If you give somebody an autographed baseball these days, you can probably expect to see it on eBay a week later.”

White endured years of racism and prejudice. He writes with restrained clarity, offering compassionate reviews of loudmouths like Cincinnati owner Marge Schott. Books that I’ve read by Frank Robinson and Bob Gibson boil over with an anger tsunami at bigotry. White is detailed but measured in his criticisms.

How I would have loved even one extra page detailing his views on fan mail.

Pondering Bill White’s ‘Uppity’ Autograph

White still begins each
autograph with that
dynamic “B”

How long will Yankees announcer-turned-author Bill White keep signing autographs? For a unique perspective on White’s signature, I turned to bookseller Bobby Plapinger of Oregon’s R. Plapinger Baseball Books.

“I suspect that the “supply” of signed copies of Uppity will come pretty close to equalling demand for same fairly quickly – UNLESS there’s is now, or at some time in the future, something really “special” or.. notorious, about the book or White.

I don’t believe his reticence to sign has caused his autograph on items other than books to be especially expensive – I could be wrong though.  If I’m not… the cost of a signed book right now – assuming you’re not one of the lucky ones to attend one of the tour stops – is probably retail for the book + cost of a Bill White autograph.

Once the book gets remaindered … ITS cost will drop severely – so… at that point the value would be – pretty much whatever White’s signature on a different item would be, as the “value” of the unsigned book will be negligible – if that…

I suppose it’s possible that at some point in the distant future… when Bill & I & you are long, long gone… there could be some demand for signed copies of this book from future buyers.. but.. geez.. I can’t even tell you there will BE future buyers for books – used or otherwise – that far in the future.

It will probably not come as a surprise to you to learn that some of the people who come to see Bill on his “limited book tour” are doing so with the intent of reselling books he’s signed for them at a profit.

It’s not unusual to see one or two… sometimes more – of these – appear on e-bay relatively soon after purchase/signing.  Currently there’s one listed at a “buy it now” price of 79.99.  It’s been there since April & the seller’s now soliciting “best offers”. So I’d say current price is somewhat less than $80.

Now.. maybe once people read your blog & realize how few signings White is doing it’ll increase demand a bit – there are currently 2 signed copies for sale on various used book sites – one for $107, the other for $165….You’d think the two less expensive copies ($80 & $107 would be gone in a month or so…. Will be interesting to see what “the market” is offering then.  In the “old days” I might even be tempted to make the e-bay seller an offer, in the hope/belief that at some point in the not-too-distant future I could justify asking $165-ish…..  but.. that was then & this is now.

Of course….. if in the book – or because of the book – Bill admits to having an affair with Steinbrenner’s wife – or with George – or some such thing…. that could cause prices to skyrocket.  But the book’s been out long enough that I think you can assume something like that is highly unlikely.

Now.. if you had a copy of the new ESPN book signed by Chris Berman, Mike Tirico & Tony Kornheiser – THAT might get you a couple of bucks……!!!!!

Anyone can receive a PDF of my 2011 Signed Baseball Book List by e-mailing me at baseballbooks@opendoor.com & requesting one. 10% off if they mention your blog & buy something.”

Bobby is a true baseball fan and avid reader. He’s the best teammate out there for help building an all-star lineup of baseball books.

Bill White Book Means Temporary Autographs

Will he ever autograph
a card again?

I just found Bill White’s memoir Uppity at the library.

I’ve just started reading. I cheated, seeking out a review before I started.

There’s no clue in the index for the “A” word.

Autographs.

Sure enough, I’ve seen a couple of photos of the former All-Star, National League president and Yankees broadcaster at bookstores…

holding a pen!

Yes, the author has been signing for book buyers.

White made hobby news when he contacted baseball address list maker Harvey Meiselman. He wanted no more fan mail. White wanted removed from future listings. For the past decade, White signed grudgingly (at most), taking years to respond to the ultra-few lucky collectors he’d acknowledge.

When White took this huge step, the hobby world assumed it might never see a White autograph ever again. Now, the speculation grows. Will a book buyer be able to convince Bill White to autograph a card?

Coming Tuesday: Cardinals pitcher Dick Hughes compares Jack Buck and Harry Caray.

Mark Twain Today: Sign Fan Mail or ‘Die’?

“The report of my death was an exaggeration.”

— Mark Twain


No, the superstar author wasn’t trying to avoid getting fan mail by faking his own death. He just cleared up a mistaken reporter who confused Twain with an ill relative in London.

There’s more confusion over the motives of several retired baseball players. Fan mail has been returned with a “Deceased” notation. Not a “refused” or “RTS.” As if the hobby world will cease and desist only when they think the signer is dead, suddenly making a rumor real?

According to http://www.sportscollectors.net/, the latest mystery man has been John Goryl, former infielder and Twins manager. One check with baseball address king Harvey Meiselman clouds the picture. According to Harvey, Goryl moved across town.

The humorous part of this development mirrors any Mark Twain story. Will a baseball retiree stop getting pension checks after trying to throw autograph collectors off the trail? Could Major League Baseball announce the “death” to the universe?

Harvey noted that more than one collector-customer of his Baseball Address List has found a retiree returning mail “deceased,” even when the person is anything but. Health problems could be a factor. Or, the former baseball player feels he’s given enough back to fans, as was the case of Bill White.

The message for this disturbing trend is clear: don’t assume willing signers will give out autographs forever, even when they’ve been out of the spotlight for years. Those tasting anonymity may be the first to put their pens down.

Don Drysdale’s Inside Pitch to Collectors


Don Drysdale saw the humor in autographs.

Mickey Mantle once said:

“I hated to bat against Drysdale. After he hit you he’d come around, look at the bruise on your arm and say, ‘Do you want me to sign it?'”

Before Drysdale’s 1993 death, he ended a years-long willingness to sign free through the mail. His 3-by-5 offer read…

Dear Baseball Fan:

Due to the increase in overhead (office space, secretarial service, postage and so on), from now on, it will be necessary to have a service charge of $3 per signature. No personal checks accepted.

Thank you for your understanding.

Don Drysdale

There was no pretense of an unnamed charity. Likewise, he didn’t rage about collectors who’ve sold his autograph and exploited his kindness. Additionally, he didn’t close the door like Andy Messersmith or Bill White, saying NO to all TTM collectors.

To the end, Double D was a no-nonsense guy dealing with hitters and collectors.

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