A reason to Re-Joyce!

March 15, 2009 at 12:19 am | Posted in Autographs, My Cards, Trades | 2 Comments

I know that I am very far behind in posting about recent card trades; if you sent me something in the last month or so and I haven’t posted about it yet, rest assured that you’re on a list and I will be posting about it soon.  But I received something this week that I really wanted to post right away.  It was the first time that someone has obtained an in-person autograph and sent it to me.  Justin from Tampa Bay Sports Wasteland is a fellow Rays fan (although he’s an Orioles fan too) and we’ve made a few card trades in the past.  He attended the Rays Fan Fest at Tropicana Field a few weeks ago and he was kind enough to get a 2009 Matt Joyce card signed for me!

joyce_auto

That was a totally awesome thing to do!  Joyce, as you may know, hit 12 home runs in 242 at bats for the Tigers last year, and he was traded to the Rays for Edwin Jackson.  He grew up in the Tampa Bay area and he was thrilled to become a Ray.  Unfortunately he hasn’t been able to play in spring training yet, due to tendonitis in his lower right leg.  Because of that, he’s likely to start the season in Durham where I’ll get to see him play in person.  But it’s only a matter of time before he takes over Gabe Gross’ role as the lefty in the Rays right field platoon.  I think that he has the potential to be a big contributor to the Rays for many years to come.

As if that weren’t enough, Justin threw in a few other cards too.  The best one is this Upper Deck Cam Ward jersey card:

cam_ward_jersey

This is a card that even my wife is excited about.  Cam Ward is her favorite hockey player.  We attend a lot of Hurricanes games together.  For the third year in a row, the Canes are battling for one of the last playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.  Hopefully they will succeed in actually making the playoffs this year, for the first time since 2006 when they won the Stanley Cup.  If they do, Cam Ward will need to be at the top of his game in the net.

Justin also sent an Evan Longoria Documentary card that I needed, three 2009 Topps cards (Longoria, David Price, and the Longoria/Price dual card), and a Wade Boggs card and Jonny Gomes card for my collection of old Devil Rays.

Thanks again Justin, for your awesome generosity!

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Say it ain’t so, Joe!

July 21, 2008 at 2:33 am | Posted in Autographs, My Cards | 5 Comments

So, I was reading Wax Heaven the other day and I came across this interesting post about Doug Glanville responding to a mailed autograph request fifteen years after it was sent. The post generated a few comments about other people’s experiences with through-the-mail autograph requests, and I decided to chime in with my own experience:

When I was in middle school in the early 90s, I sent cards through the mail to a few of the top athletes of the day. I only got one back out of about five. The one that I got back was from Joe Montana. That card has been a treasured part of my collection ever since then, but I’ve always wondered if he really signed it or if he hired someone to “handle” the huge amount of fan mail that he must have been getting. Maybe I’ll scan it and post it on my blog soon to see what other people think…

Well, here is the 1989 Topps football card that I spoke of:

Needless to say, I was thrilled when I got this card back in the mail. I remember considering myself lucky to have gotten Joe Montana’s autograph before he retired, because after his retirement he would no longer have a team address to receive mail. I was impressed by the crisp blue signature on the card, but I knew that Montana must have received a huge amount of fan mail, and I wondered if he really signed it or if he hired some sort of assistant to sign cards that people sent to him.

Charlie from the Hawk to the Hall blog responded to my comment:

There have actually been industry rumors that about 90% of Montana’s autos are done with an “autopen” machine, along with a lot of other very popular athletes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autopen

I had never heard of an autopen machine, but apparently it is a machine that some athletes and celebrities use to add their “signature” to items. I did some research and came across Zipper’s Fakes, Phonies & Frauds site. It lists some common fake autographs that are often put up for sale. Joe Montana is on the list, and a great sadness filled my soul when I clicked on his name and found a picture of another card with a signature that is exactly the same as the one on my card. Take a look at it and you’ll see that not only is the signature exactly the same (but in a different color ink), it is the same size, at the same angle, and almost the same location on the card.

So I am now convinced that the autograph on my Joe Montana card that I received through the mail about 15 years ago is not actually an autograph, but a fake autograph that was generated by an autopen machine. And it really sickens me. I would have rather gotten no response at all from Montana than to get a fake autograph sent back to me. I took a lot of pride in the card and stored it in a top loader with all of my “best” cards for all of these years. What’s worse is that a lot of people probably have autographs like this and still think that they are real. Even worse, unsuspecting people are probably buying these fake autographs everyday. The marketplace is likely flooded with autopen-generated autographs of many different people.

I think that there should be uproar about athletes using autopen machines from fans and collectors. I can totally understand if an athlete gets so many autograph requests that he doesn’t have the time to fulfill them all. But I cannot understand why they would send back a fake autograph. Don’t they realize that fake autographs will make people more upset than not getting an autograph at all?

My biggest concern, however, is with the sticker autographs that are on many cards today. These are usually signed by the athletes at home and sent back to the card companies, where they are then placed onto “certified autograph” cards. I suppose that it would be difficult for someone to get away with using an autopen on the stickers, since every autograph would look exactly the same. But what’s to stop an athlete from hiring somebody who does a good job of forging their signature? How would the card companies (and collectors) be able to detect this? The implications are scary…

So, thanks a lot Joe Montana. For all of these years, I thought that you were a great guy for signing my card and mailing it back to me. I was wrong. I don’t want to use profanity on this blog, but there are a lot of vulgar words that would describe my feelings about you right now. You’ve shattered my faith in the honesty and ethics of every athlete out there.

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