I like autographs much better than relics. There I've said it. "Hi, my name is Dan, and I like autos."
I mean, who wants a piece of Manny Trillo's clothing, which, by the way, probably was cut from under the arm of his jersey or the crotch of his pants, that's why it's that discolored yellowish-tannish-whitish. Who are these guys that are giving up there clothes? I don't see any baseball players running around in their thongs. Is this like President Shrub signing things where he changes a pen after each stroke so that some schlubb from North Fiddle-sticks can say that he has a pen once touched by a President? C'mon! These guys might soon start changing jerseys after each pitch!
Give me a great autograph, or even an average one, any day over that base that Ron Hassey may have stepped on at some point in his career.
I have started collecting current and former Indians' autos, including Vizquel, Eckersley, Sizemore, Sabathia, Hafner, Martinez and several up-and-coming youngsters. That is something that anyone can relate to: something that is signed by a person, done by hand. It is something that will last. Something to look back on, especially if you got it yourself.
My father is 82, and he is starting to become forgetful. He does remember things from his youth and most of his adult life as if it was yesterday, but can't remember if he played golf yesterday. He has handed down to me a most precious gift, though: his autograph book from when he was an usher at Cleveland Municipal Stadium in the late 1930's and early 1940's. He was 16 in 1941, still a year or two away from joining the Army and going to Europe. He used to bring an autograph book with him to the Stadium, and hand it down to the dugout (when players were much more likely to sign without asking you for a donation), and they would pass the book down the line and everyone would sign it. This is the way in which I could cross-check the schedules and rosters and verify which season and team it was and when they signed it.
It is an amazing autograph book, with the likes of Lou Boudreau, Ken Keltner, Vic Wertz, Bob Feller, Luke Appling, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams, and many, many others. But the one that stands out, without a doubt, is the Joe Dimaggio autograph. My dad's story is that Joe D. signed this the day his famous 56-game hitting streak was broken by several great plays at third base by Ken Keltner, as well as the rest of the Indians. No, there is no date on the signature, so there is no way to definitively verify that this is true. However, by going through the schedules, I have verified that he did get Joe's signature from that very series! And really, how can I doubt his story. He remembers that, if not much else.
With the closing of Yankee Stadium this year, I have thought of going to The City and taking my son and father for a final glimpse of The House. I have tried to get in contact with the Yankees to see if they would be interested in displaying the autograph book, or maybe even showing it to the current Yanks, if any of them are autograph collectors and interested in such history. No word yet, but I'll update this when I do hear from them. (Hopefully.)