Mark answered some questions that Nachos Grande had on his blog concerning autographs. I figured since I'm in a question answering mood and looking to get away from pure book reviews, this would be a fun post.
1. What is the best autograph you own?
I've written about this one already.
2. What is the best autograph that you've ever pulled from a pack of cards?
Like Mark, I don't buy a lot of cards. Again, I previously wrote about this one. An autograph in a pack from a dollar store? Have to love it.
3. What is the worst autograph you've ever pulled from a pack of cards?
I'm pretty certain the above autograph is the only one I've pulled from a pack.
4. Do you try to get autographs through the mail? If so, what sort of success (or failure) stories do you have?
Yes, I do. My favorite failure story....I've written about. Success story....hmmm...I think I have to go with Ken Johnson. Johnson threw a no-hitter in 1964 for the Houston Colt .45's. There was no score in the game going into the ninth. Johnson got the first batter to ground out then Pete Rose laid down a bunt (just wrong and this alone should keep Pete out of the Hall of Fame). Johnson fielded it and threw the ball away putting Rose on. Rose went to second and then scored when Nellie Fox booted a ball. It was the first complete game nine-inning no-hitter that resulted in a loss for the pitcher that threw the no-hitter.
When I wrote Johnson, I asked him if it was still difficult for him having cost himself the no-hitter with his own error. Johnson, now in his seventies, responded with a simple two word reply: "Hell Yes!!!!".
5. Who was the subject of your first ever autograph?
Pittsburgh Pirate catcher Ed Ott. A friend of the family worked for a bank that had box seats at Veteran's Stadium right on the edge of the visiting team's dugout. He took my family to a game. I'm pretty sure it was this game. In the middle of the game, as the Pirates were coming off the field, my Dad asked Ed to sign my baseball glove. Ed obliged. I initially thought that maybe my Dad knew Ed since he asked so nonchalantly which I thought was neat. We're also originally from western PA and being a little kid I thought the Pirates actually all lived in the Pittsburgh area or something. Maybe Ed and my Dad went to high school together (I didn't realize that my Dad was ten years older than Ed). Then I realized he didn't know Ed which upset me because I would have really liked Dave Parker's autograph instead. As I've gotten older, I've realized just how unusual (and nice) it was for Ed to do that in mid-game.
6. Do you actively collect any autographs (certain players, teams, brands, etc)?
The actively portion has died out. Perhaps some day I will renew a couple autograph projects.
7. Which is better: Autographs or Relics?
Autographs. It saddens me that a company would destroy a piece of memorabilia to insert into cards.
8. What do you think of cut autos?
I don't like them. Again, you're destroying something original for the sake of making a card.
9. What is your favorite autograph design (say in the last 5 years)?
I couldn't tell you. I don't pull enough cards. Anything where the autograph is on card. Autographed stickers and cuts are lame. Oh, and there's the Upper Deck Sweet Spot cards with the faded signatures. That was horrible.
10. If you could get the autograph of any five people (dead or alive) who would you want a signature from (and why)?
1. Rowland Office for less than $25.
2. Christy Mathewson. My all-time favorite ballplayer. Ideally, it would be a checkerboard that Mathewson owned and signed that was sold in the Barry Halper auction. I believe Penny Marshall (Laverne) owns it now.
3. Niccolo Paganini. Because I'm not going to pull one from a pack of violins.
4. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Have to have an author and I can't think of one that would be cooler.
5. Augustus Herring. Some day I might write a book about this overlooked aviation pioneer.