Talking Autographed Baseball Books With Veteran Dealer Bobby Plapinger

Want a unique copy of
this Hall of Famer’s book?
To quote from Bobby’s
sale catalog:
SIGNED by Gaylord Perry & INSCRIBED
 to the catcher Alan Ashby
as follows: “It’s great to have you with us.
You will have many great years to come.
 The best to you and your family.”
Ashby came up with the Indians
 in 1973 & played parts of 4 seasons
 with them – all as Perry’s teammate. – 85.00

Baseball books have a best friend. His name is Bobby Plapinger.

Many know about good baseball titles. Bobby knows what makes a memorable autographed baseball book. I’m grateful that he shares his knowledge and experience with us in this e-interview.

Q: Any tips for getting baseball books autographed (pen to use? Get title page signed?) Who knows? Readers may be contacting you with their recently-signed books to buy?

A: This is really a matter of personal preference. Mine is to have the signer use an ink pen – black or blue – & sign the front flyleaf – the 1st blank page, or the title page.

If it’s someone I know – or have met – I just tell them to do it however they want to.

I like ink better than sharpie because it just seems clearer to me – also, the pen tends to make very fine indentations into the paper, which can help for future identification purposes.

Some people like “personalizations” others don’t. I tend to prefer a “straight signature” unless the signer is an aquaintance of some kind – but I don’t make a big stink about this either. If someone wants to write “To Bobby…” or the like, I don’t protest.

And… of course a personalized signature is less likely to be forged & thus can be good proof of authenticity if & when that’s required.

The one thing I think you should AVOID at all costs, is having the dust jacket or cover, of the book signed. While it can be easy to display, they’re subject to damage from moisture, light or worse & can easily smear, smudge and/or fade. And “protecting” a dj with a signature on it – something you should do, as described above, can actually damage the signature on a signed dj. I’ve seen the ink from a sharpie or marker signature, transfer from the dj to the mylar cover – that fades & smears the original signature.

I’m always open making offers on books. Just remember, just like the guys on “Pawn Stars” (& it’s brethren & spawn…) I’m buying for resale – so chances of my paying a premium on a recently signed book are pretty small.

It’s kind of ironic – but you can buy signed books from most of the Hall of Famers who are doing shows these days for far less than an autograph ticket to have the guy sign the book at a show.

You’d like to think you could sell your signed Hank Aaron autobiography for more than the $200 – $300 you just paid to have him sign it…

You’d be hard pressed to do so.

And that means MY offer will be even less…. ALOT less….

Look at the prices in the signed book list. Figure I’d pay you approx 10%-30% of my asking price for your books, IF, I want them.

Q: Collectors get phobic about collectibles, wanting everything under glass or in plastic. DO YOU TOUCH THE ACTUAL SIGNED BOOK, one gasps?!?

Tips about displaying/preserving/enjoying an autographed book?
A: Again – this is a matter of preference. Books are remarkably hardy if you keep them dry, away from direct sunlight & relatively clean.

You want to store them on shelves. “Standing up”. You want to avoid long term storage of “stacks” of books lying on their “backs” – can lead to dj wear & tear, bumps & bruises & the like.

If you have large oversize books you can “stack” them – as long as they’re protected – on a shelf – NOT the ground.

If the shelves provide cover from dirt/dust – all the better. Use a feather or “swiffer” for dusting, cleaning.

I like to use mylar dust jacket covers – often called “Brodarts” (for the primary manufacturer – although there are a number of different brands) to protect jackets. They help defend against dust, moisture & for older jackets, prevent further deterioration of jackets that already have some age wear.

You can get “acid free museum quality” dj covers if you’re really anal – but the “standard” issue should suffice for all but the most particular.

I think the whole point of books is that they should be read. So – yes – I touch my books. But… carefully – you don’t need to wear white gloves – but you might want to make sure your hands aren’t dirty and/or sticky. Teach kids to treat books carefully, and/or keep yours away from those who are still learning.

You can, if you like, put all/some of your books in mylar bags & for some that are old and/or rare and/or fragile, this might be a good idea. But in general I think books “breathe” the environment around them & enjoy doing so – and an occasional dusting/cleaning – is more than sufficient for preserving most books in most environments.

I like to think that I treat my books – both the ones in my “personal collection” and the ones I sell – carefully and respectfully. But I once got into a big argument with a collector at a show – I write my book prices – in pencil, lightly – in the upper right corner of the front flyleaf (or 1st white page) – & this guy was outraged that I would even consider writing in such a valuable artifact. Even when I explained – demonstrated in fact – that the “writing” was easily removable & then indetectable – he insisted I was wrong to mar the books in that way.

So… as I say… It’s a matter of personal preference.

I like the look of books on a bookshelf. A whole array of “spines out” – really appeals to me. To break up the monotony I use “tchackes” – little figures, pennants, puppets, pictures etc.etc. etc. I also like to display a few favorite books “face out” – with the cover facing the room.

This takes up a little more space, but looks really nice. I think. Then again – I’m used to a bookstore where you use “face out” to entice customers to buy stuff. But I think the principle is the same.

Plus, you can, if you like, change the books you “face out” – which can really change the “look” of your room.. well…. your shelf at least.

Q: What’s your feeling about autographed bookplates?
A: I think part of the appeal of signed books is the notion that the signer actually touched – however briefly & minimally – the book.

You lose that with a bookplate. Also – bookplates lend themselves to fraud – as it’s alot easier to “practice” signatures on cheap inexpensive bookplates that take up no space, than on a pile of books.

That said – many publishers of “signed limited editions” have the signers autograph blank sheets of paper which are later bound into the books. So in those cases, the signer never touches the book & the buyer never knows the wiser..

Well… you do now.

Jerome Holtzman once told me he had “stacks” of sheets of paper signed by Bill Veeck sitting in his basement waiting for a future printing of the “Holtzman Press” “signed, leatherbound edition” of “Veeck As In Wreck” which never materialized.

In spite of my general dislike for signed bookplates, I guess there could be exceptions – if you have custom bookplates & every “signed book” has one in them, that could be kind of cool. I always thought it would be neat to mount signed baseball cards of a player inside his biography/autobiography. In the days of common “by mail” signings, it was a lot easier and cheaper to send cards through the mail than books – not to mention the risk of potential damage in shipping to the book.

I never followed through on this plan – but I still think a library full of “signed” books w. the signatures on attractive bb cards – would be a pretty neat one.

Q: Tell the readers how to get your autographed baseball book sales list by e-mail.
Send me an e-mail at

and I’ll send you the list. I generally just “paste” it in to the e-mail. If you’re mailing from work, make sure to add that address to your “address book” or else it will just get bounced back to me because corporations hate little, local ISP like “” .

I can also attach a PDF of the Spring/Summer Baseball Catalog which lists the majority of my current inventory.

I welcome questions and/or comments about signed books – or anything else you think I can help with. I don’t “social network” but I always answer e-mails & occasionally speak on the phone.

Coming Monday: A troubling headline for autograph collectors

Detroit Tigers Manager Billy Martin DID Order Spitballs, Confirms Pitcher Fred Scherman

“Throw a spitball? Me?”

Pitcher Fred Scherman was a true team player.

He listened to his manager and did his best. No matter how bizarre the game turned.

Let’s flash back to Aug. 30, 1973 in Detroit. Cleveland’s Gaylord Perry is working on a six-hit shutout.

After the loss, Martin complains to the media that umpires refused to listen to complaints about Perry throwing illegal greaseballs. In retaliation, the fiery skipper claims that he ordered both starter Joe Coleman and reliever Scherman to throw spitters, too.


“Yes it was true and yes I did. I didn’t know how to throw a spitball so I just spit on it and threw it.”

A certain manager was dismissed by team officials three days after flashing such brazen honesty.

Scherman racked up a career-high 20 saves for the 1971 Tigers. As opposed to a win, how much did a save mean 30 years ago? How much did it bring in next season’s contract?

“The ‘save’ got less respect. Our GM did not reward me well for my efforts.”

Scherman rewarded me with his reflections on Sept. 17, 1971. He registered a six-hit win against the mighty Orioles. Did he want to be a starter after such success?

“That was a great day. Starting or relieving didn’t matter, as long as I got to pitch.”

Tomorrow: Eric Soderholm, in the shadow of Minnesota superstars.

Pitcher Gary Kroll ‘Balks’ At Ump Jocko Conlan

Don’t believe everything you read.

Oops! I mean, don’t believe what you read ELSEWHERE.

In the book The Ballplayers, pitcher Gary Kroll suffers from a biased bio note:

“As a nervous ML rookie, however, he committed a league-leading four balks in just 24 innings.”

Hmmm…I wrote to Kroll, wanting his side of the story. He replied with some juicy insights, including:

“I was trying to use a move that Art Mahaffey used with great success, but it didn’t work too good for me. Jocko Conlan was one of the umps that called a balk on me.

I said, ‘Jocko, Drysdale (Don) uses the same move and you don’t call a balk on him.’

He said, ‘Yeah, but he does it faster.’

What!!! I think his name being Drysdale had something to do with him getting away with it.”

I noted Kroll beat future Hall of Famer on April 18, 1965. Before a home Shea Stadium crowd, Kroll yielded just four hits while getting two of his own. His memories?

“It was raining and I was better than Gaylord that day, even though he had Mays and McCovey on his team. he tried to bust a couple of fastballs by me and I turned them around.”

Kroll topped 300 strikeouts in one minor league season. He recalls his first K in the majors with an ironic footnote:

“Gordon Richardson with the Cardinals. The same Gordon Richardson that teamed up with me to no-hit the Pirates in the spring of ’65. Go to website.”

I closed my letter, stating:

“My ‘career’ ended in Little League. However, I can close my eyes and I’m back on the field again — like it was yesterday.”

Kroll wrote…

“I know what you mean. So do I!”

Thanks to for the game account!

This Catcher Called for Gaylord Perry’s Spitter

Same Autograph As 1967!

Jack Hiatt wore many caps in his baseball career:

1. Catcher-first baseman
2. Partner-in-crime
3. Director of Player Development, San Francisco Giants

Yep. Hey? What was that second one?

I asked about handling Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry’s “special” pitch. Did umpires ever object?

Hiatt didn’t mince words, writing:

“With Gaylord, he threw his spitter off a fastball sign I gave him. I had to adjust to it! Easier than you would have thought!”

Hiatt is an unsung hero to Giants fans who have rejoiced in the team’s post-season appearance. Hiatt retired after a 16-year career discovering and stockpiling talent. How did he measure his annual success in years when San Francisco didn’t have perfect seasons?

“As long as we could give the Big Club a choice of three to four players, it was a successful year! We had always had, and have, a lot of pitching with us now, and spread all over the major league due to trades.”

Lastly, don’t forget that Hiatt knew how to swing the bat. Exhibit A: April 25, 1969, all before the Candlestick faithful. As he tells it:

“On April 25th, 1969, my first AB with Willie Mays on first and two out, I hit a two-run HR to RF. In the 7th, RBI single and in the 13th, a grand slam walk-off to right center!”

Thanks,, for the coverage!