Fee-charging autograph signers haven’t hijacked this hobby…yet.
I counted five pages of prices in Harvey Meiselman’s 2013 Baseball Address List.
Bargains remain. Sid Bream, Dana Kiecker and Reggie Cleveland ask just one dollar per card autograph.
The top fees are $100 per autograph from two Hall of Famers, Yogi Berra and Bob Allen.
Oops. Wait a second. Hmmm…
Bob Allen. I looked him up.
Debut 1961 Cleveland Indians. Reliever for five seasons. Career 7-12, 4.11 ERA.
Wait! The page has a Bob Allen autographed card. Was that a $100 acquisition, too?
I contacted Sean Holtz, the talented founder, researcher and webmaster for the site. He replied:
As for Allen his signature is about 25 years old. Can’t remember exactly the year. I live in Florida, have my whole life, even went to middle school right next door to where the Expos did their Spring Training. Braves too. I would get countless signatures with all my friends. We would then trade. So I’d use a clipboard, put 3 cards across the clip, get them signed. My two other best friends did the same. We’d then trade! What I didn’t know was what a great idea that was decades later. Anyway, Bob had retired for a while. I didn’t have any cards for him, but there was a card shop there and we picked up a couple cards for him.
Crazy fee, $100! Wow! Maybe it’s a typo?”
That is no typo, baseball fans. The figure is confirmed
I asked Harvey for his take on lavish Bob Allen. He responded:
Tom – regarding Bob Allen, basically what he’s saying by charging a $100 signing fee is “Leave me alone. I don’t want to sign autographs.”
No secret with verifying the signing fees every year. I send out an autograph request to each player I have in my database as charging a fee and then confirm or update the signing fee information he sends back. You’d be surprised at the small percentage of players who donate their money to charity. There probably is a lot of the players who don’t specify a charity that do donate to charity but I don’t think it’s a high percentage.
Lefty Bob has my sympathy. Being a 1960s Indian was far from glamorous. Also, he pitched in 204 more major league games than I ever did.
Nevertheless, there’s no reason to take your frustration out on collectors who’re trying to complete a signed Topps set. Former players who want to leave their baseball life behind should ask Harvey to be removed from his 2014 edition, instead of punishing well-meaning hobbyists.
Coming Monday: a P.S. on Pete Rose.