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One fan's legends ...

12/20/2010

This missive from the mailbag caught my eye:

    I was about 12 or 13 in a baseball card shop in Norcross, Georgia, back in the '80s (when there were baseball card shops) perusing their display cases and buying myself a few packs of Topps cards, and noticed some old guy sitting by himself along the opposite wall of the store. As I passed him, he said "Hey, want an autograph?"

    I said "Sure," and he pulls out a photo and signs it. At the time, I didn't recognize or even know who "Bob Feller" was, but felt pretty lucky to get it years later.

    - Jeff (Atlanta)

When we think of the autograph market in the 1980s and '90s, we tend to think of card shows and huge lines for autographs signed by Willie and Mickey and sometimes even Joe D. Those guys drew the big crowds, because they had huge constituencies. At the same time, there were Hall of Famers, truly great players, who were paid small fees to attend shows, sign some autographs for dealers in a room somewhere, then sit at a table just in case anyone happened to know who they were.

I attended a show in Kansas City once, and that day the featured old-timers were Hoyt Wilhelm and Luke Appling. To me, these guys were legends. And yet, there they were, sitting together and swapping tall tales with each other because literally no one else in the room was interested in their signatures or their stories.

It seemed odd to me, at the time. I suppose that it still does. But the simple fact is that we live in a world where Francisco Cervelli's autograph on a baseball is probably "worth" more than Phil Cavaretta's or Walt Dropo's.

Hey, more for us.