Randy Smith: Sports Autograph Protocol

Friday, May 13, 2022 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith
As a member of the sports media it was an accepted fact that when you interviewed a sports celebrity, it was never appropriate to ask them for an autograph. I obeyed this unwritten law about 98% of the time. One of the few times I disobeyed it was around 1980 when I interviewed Mickey Mantle. I was covering the Rick Honeycutt golf tournament in Fort Oglethorpe and got a chance to ask "The Mick" a few questions. When the interview was over, I asked him to sign a baseball I had gotten from a Lookouts game a few nights before. He signed it graciously and even though I still have the ball to this day, his signature is faded so badly you can barely read it.
I guess it's the curse of not obeying that unwritten rule.

If I had paid no attention whatsoever to that rule I would have quite a collection of sports memorabilia. I still have a few things that I'm awfully proud of however, but I doubt if what I have is worth much at all. If I had been around when Joe DiMaggio married Marilyn Monroe, a baseball signed by both is worth close to $200,000. Or a Babe Ruth signed baseball is worth $388,000. The most expensive autograph that I could find signed by Mickey Mantle was sold for around $18,000. Now that's a lot of money for a signature but if you have an autograph of George Washington lying around your house, it could be worth almost $10 million. Or if you happen to have a signed Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln you could put a cool $3.8 Million in your pocket.

I sometimes wish I had not been so strict about not asking for autographs. I never had an autograph from my friend, the late Reggie White, nor do I have one of the late Hank Aaron. I have a few signed baseballs and pictures that friends have given me through the years but their value to me is mostly sentimental rather than financial.

I am also a huge Elvis Presley fan and somewhere out there is a jar with a big lock of his hair. It sold for $16,000.  I would personally rather have a signed album cover or a picture signed by 'The King."  Besides, how can you prove the locks of hair are real? I guess you could do a DNA test.

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Randy Smith can be reached at rsmithsports@epbfi.com

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