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Shortened Autograph Makes Big Difference

Bill Wagner - Babe Waxpak by Bill Wagner, "Babe Waxpak"
November 16, 2005

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Dear Babe: I have an Official National League Baseball autographed by Barry Bonds (abbreviated version of his signature; BBS). How does this ball compare to his full signature autograph on an Official Major League baseball? Now when he signs something, you can almost actually read "Barry Bonds."
Randy Muzio, Red Bluff, Calif.

There's certainly a big difference between the signature you managed to snag at the ball park and the autographs Bonds produces when he takes his time and, more than likely, is signing for a fee. Depending on whether you think the glass is half full or half empty, there's a 25 to 33 percent premium for a ball with the top-notch autograph or a ball with a "BBs" signature is worth 25 to 33 percent less than one with a readable name. Talking with the experts, I ended up with values ranging from $300 up to as much as $750 for a Bonds ball with that readable signature and some kind of authentication.

Dear Babe: I have a Christmas card from the Los Angeles Dons with Santa and his reindeer. However, the reindeer heads are those of football players with helmets. Instead of Santa, Don Ameche is driving the sleigh. The card has signatures of the players, including John Kimbrough and Ben Agajanian.
Paul Svetik, Palmerton, Pa.

This is a pretty obscure item. It's from 1947 or '48, the two years Kimbrough and Agajanian were with the All-American Football Conference team that was named for one of its owners - Ameche, an actor of some note. One has to assume that the autographs are preprinted, facsimile signatures. If that's the case, the card might be worth $25-$75, but that's just a stab in the dark. The value could double if it's actually signed.

Dear Babe: I have Post cereal cards of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. I think they are from 1961.
Jack Parker, Ringgold, Ga.

It's hard to tell from your letter if you have 1961 or '62 cards. If the cards show 1961 stats, then they are from 1962. Also, the cards have numbers in the upper left, which help identify their year. Either way, there were two versions of each card in both years. For 1961, cards came on the backs of cereal boxes and in 10-card sheets on thinner stock available through a mail-in offer. The Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards from the editors of Sports Collectors Digest lists Mantle (No. 4) at $115 for a card from a box and $100 for one from a sheet. The Standard Catalog has Maris (7) at $40 for a box card and $35 for one from a sheet. Beckett's Almanac of Baseball Cards lists both Mantle cards at $150 and both Maris cards at $30. All cards have blank backs. In 1962, Mantle and Maris not only had cereal box cards but also had cards included in an issue of Life magazine. The cards in the magazine had printing on the back. Be careful, the 1962 Mantle card has been counterfeited often in recent years, according to the Standard Catalog. The fakes are easy to spot because they do not have grid lines on the front where stats are listed. The Standard Catalog lists Mantle (5) at $80 for a box card and $75 for one from the magazine. Maris (6) books at $45-$30. Beckett's Almanac has both Mantle cards at $150 and both version of the Maris card at $25.

Dear Babe: I have a full ticket to Game 6 of the 1975 World Series. The ticket is in excellent condition.
Donna Eichorn, South Easton, Mass.

A full ticket from that great Oct. 21 game in which Carlton Fisk blasted his memorable 12th inning home run to force a seventh game against the Cincinnati Reds is worth around $300, said Phil Castinetti, owner of in Everett, Mass, a suburb of Boston. A stub is worth $150. Of course, by the time Fisk ended what many consider to be the greatest World Series game ever, it was already Oct. 22.

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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