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NFL and LAPD Join Forces to Deliver Cards with a Message

Bill Wagner - Babe Waxpak by Bill Wagner, "Babe Waxpak"
September 18, 2005

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Dear Babe: I have a baseball signed by the 1974 Atlanta Braves that includes the signatures of Henry Aaron, Phil Niekro and Eddie Mathews among others. There is one name I can't figure out. It looks like it starts with a "D" and ends with "llo." I also have a football signed by the 1969 Jets. Unfortunately, the signatures of Joe Namath and others are faded. Among the readable signatures are those of Don Maynard, Matt Snell and Babe Parilli.
Lorraine Vinson, Rome, Ga.

Of course, 1974 was the year Aaron broke Babe Ruth's record and his last with the Braves before being traded to the Milwaukee Brewers. The ball is worth around $300, said Dean Zindler of Zindler's Sports Collectibles in Norcross, Ga. My guess is that your unknown name is that of pitcher Danny Frisella. As for the Jets ball, it's probably worth $100-$200 with all those faded sigs, said David Kohler, president of in Laguna Niguel, Calif. An average ball with Namath and the rest of the team is worth $1,000-$1,500, Kohler said.

Dear Babe: I have a baseball signed by Lefty Gomez in old blue ink.
George Clayman, Grand Island, Neb.

It looks like a single-singed Gomez ball should be worth around $250-$300, said David Kohler, president of in Laguna Niguel, Calif., and Mike Breeden, a Tuff Stuff columnist and autograph expert.

Dear Babe: I have a Bronko Nagurski signature written over the ad for a wrestling appearance. It's not well displayed. I have at least three handwritten notes from John Wooden to me on UCLA stationery mailed while he was coaching there. I realize he probably wrote thousands of these. The gist of the Wooden notes deal with simply thanking me for writing to him. But to show you how stupid I am, I actually wrote once and made some suggestions about playing the high post and something else. The greatest coach in the country wrote back and said I was probably right on all counts. What can I say? I was a fanatical fan.
Gordon Omarzu, Desert Hot Springs, Calif.

If you were looking for a definition of gracious, John Wooden wouldn't be a bad place to start. It's not surprising that he had a positive comment on your advice. The Wooden letters are probably worth $100-$150 for all three, said David Kohler, president of in Laguna Niguel. Based on your description, I'd say the Nagusrki signature is worth $50.

BABE NOTE: Life is full of choices. Los Angeles police officers will be using football cards to try and help teach youngsters how to make the right choices. For the next year, LAPD members will hand out Upper Deck football cards - each with its own positive message for young folks. The whole idea is strengthen the relationship between L.A.'s police officers and the city's youth. Some 100,000 three-card packs will be handed out in the next 12 months. The program was unveiled Sept. 6 at a press conference with the 250 young people in attendance getting the first cards.

The 32-card set features one player from each team, including Peyton Manning and Torry Holt plus top rookies Alex Smith, Ronnie Brown and Braylon Edwards. Each card will include a message offering young people encouragement in the areas of teamwork, character building, the importance of family, ethical responsibility and the importance of staying in school, among others. For example, "A successful future begins in the classroom" is the statement that appears on the back of Manning's card.

Here are the 32 cards in the set: Anquan Boldin, Arizona Cardinals; Ronnie Brown, Miami Dolphins; DeAngelo Hall, Atlanta Falcons; Daunte Culpepper, Minnesota Vikings; Kyle Boller, Baltimore Ravens; Adam Vinatieri, New England Patriots; Eric Moulds, Buffalo Bills; Joe Horn, New Orleans Saints; Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers; Jeremy Shockey, New York Giants; Rex Grossman, Chicago Bears; Jonathan Vilma, New York Jets; Chad Johnson, Cincinnati Bengals; Kerry Collins, Oakland Raiders; Braylon Edwards, Cleveland Browns; Jevon Kearse, Philadelphia Eagles; Roy Williams, Dallas Cowboys; Jerome Bettis, Pittsburgh Steelers; John Lynch, Denver Broncos; Torry Holt, St. Louis Rams; Kevin Jones, Detroit Lions; Drew Brees, San Diego Chargers; Javon Walker, Green Bay Packers; Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers; Domanick Davis, Houston Texans; Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle Seahawks; Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts; Joey Galloway, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Byron Leftwich, Jacksonville Jaguars; Steve McNair, Tennessee Titans; Priest Holmes, Kansas City Chiefs; Clinton Portis, Washington Redskins.

About the author
Bill Wagner is a veteran journalist with 37 years in the newspaper business as well as being a former Army combat correspondent in Vietnam. He developed the Babe Waxpak sports card column in the 1980s and took over authorship in 1993, expanding into sports memorabilia and autographs as well as answering questions on cards.

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