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Picture of Athlete Signing an Item Doesn't Mean Much

Bill Wagner - Babe Waxpak by Bill Wagner, "Babe Waxpak"
September 28, 2005

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Dear Babe: I have an autographed Ken Stabler full-size Raiders Riddell helmet with certificate of authenticity and a picture of Stabler at the signing.
Anthony Williams, Corning, Calif.

A full-size Raiders Riddell helmet is valued at $250 by Tuff Stuff. That's looking like the high end based on online auction results. Naturally, if it's a game-used helmet, the value jumps into the $1,000-$1,500 range. The COA is nice, but remember having a photo of any athlete signing anything doesn't mean the photo is of the item you have. It just means he signed one - whether that's yours or not remains to be seen.

Dear Babe: I have a photograph of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Ruth has a shirt that says "Bustin' Babes" and Gehrig's shirt says "Larrupin Lous." It is from a barnstorming tour in 1927. It says on the photo the signatures are their own. The photo is 8x14 inches and is still wrapped in cellophane. The Curtis Management Group (CMG) produced it.
Armondo Lucci, Bellflower, Calif.

This is one of the most famous and oft-copied photos of the two Yankee greats. I assume you mean the package has the info about the autographs. CMG is the company that has the image rights to many celebrities, including a host of athletes. CMG said it granted a license for the photo to a company called Product Exposure. There are two versions of the photo. One has one signature of each player. The second has two signatures for each. More than likely someone with a print had the players sign it. Then this photo was copied. As I said, the photo probably has been copied thousands of times. A new copy such as the one you have is only worth $25, if that, said Mike Heffner, president of auction house in New York.

Dear Babe: I found a picture (photo enclosed) signed by Ted Williams among some keepsakes.
M. Panagoulis, Nashua, N.H.

The picture of Williams taking a swing with the catcher and umpire behind him is one of many that have been reproduced often. A nice 8x10 signed by Williams would be worth $300-$500, said Phil Castinetti owner of in Everett, Mass., a suburb of Boston. However, based on the photo you sent, it looks like the picture is heavily damaged with some white blotches where the emulsion has been ripped off and a tear in Williams' autograph. In that condition, I'd be surprised if it was worth as much as $25.

Dear Babe: I have 30 of the 33 cards issued by Red Heart dog food. I'm missing Stan Musial, Richie Ashburn and Mickey Mantle.
Jim Hickerson, Cartersville, Ga.

The Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards from the editors of Sports Collectors Digest lists a near-mint set of 33 1954 Red Heart cards at $1,850. Beckett's Almanac of Baseball Cards has it at $2,000. Mantle at $400-$500 is the most valuable followed by a short-printed Musial card that lists for $275-$400. Ashburn books for $65-$80 and is also a short print. Most others list for $25-$70.

Dear Babe: I have a Ken Griffey Sr. S216 Louisville Slugger bat, with his name etched on the barrel. It is unsigned, but I think it's game-used.
Randy Muzio, Red Bluff, Calif.

A quick check of Dave Bushing's vintage bat guide compiled for auctions does list S216 as a model used by Griffey Sr. with a value of $350.

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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