Revisiting My Autograph Bucket List

As a Vikings fan, I hate the Packers, and I consider it against my religion to support anything Packers related in terms of my buying habits. That particular tendency has led to a number of issues when trying to acquire a Brett Favre auto to fill in the spot it should hold in my Vikings collection. I have wanted a Favre auto for a while, but it was nothing more than adding to my collection of autos from the greats of each sport. Now that the greatest QB in Packers’ history is wearing (or wore depending on future decisions) my purple and gold, I feel his auto has reached a higher spot on my autograph bucket list.

A long time ago, I commented on the list of players I want to get autographs from to make my collection complete, a list that has some odd names on it for someone who rarely buys players not related to Minnesota. I have already obtained some of the players that I want to get, but there are sure a lot more that I will need to complete the task at hand. I have Walter Payton, a player that Im sure Vikings fans hated forever, but still someone you need to have in a “Football Greats” collection. I also have Hank Aaron, a player I have admired since I read a biography of him in elementary school. I now have Emmitt Smith, which is funny for a Vikings fan, because his superstardom will be forever tied to one of the worst trades in NFL history. Lastly, I have recently acquired Sandy Koufax as well, a player I sought out due to his dominance of the game in a time where dominance didn’t come easy. After all of that, still no Favre, mainly because of how many of his cards feature Green and Gold.

I started looking for one over the weekend because I had some extra money to throw around after some ebay sales did well, and I was shocked at the prices for his cards. Not the VALUE of his cards, but the prices people thought they should go for. When ending in auction, Favre’s cards rarely top 200, even for the lower numbered ones for high end products, but that doesn’t stop people from posting auction after auction at higher than three and four hundred. It basically prices them out of my consideration, and I am forced to wait for something better to come along. I was considering purchasing a mini-helmet, but I am out of space to put anything but a card on my shelf. Because of that, I am quite limited in my purchases. To tell you the truth, I would actually want a Vikings sticker auto above anything, but the hoard of Vikings fans prevent that from being anywhere even close to affordable. I assume with the backlog of Panini and Topps stickers, this year it will become much, much easier to accomplish.

So, with that, I assume you are all waiting with baited breath who is on my autograph bucket list, and I am definitely going to give you what you want. Natch.

Football

Walter Payton – DONE
Joe Montana
Jerry Rice
Barry Sanders
Emmitt Smith – DONE
Brett Favre
Dan Marino
Johnny Unitas

Baseball

Hank Aaron – DONE
Sandy Koufax – DONE
Mickey Mantle
Ted Williams
Willie Mays

Basketball

Michael Jordan
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – DONE
Magic Johnson
Larry Bird
Wilt Chamberlain

Golf

Tiger Woods
Jack Nicklaus – Have somewhere, but lost for lack of a better term
Arnold Palmer – Have what seems like pre-printed TTM, still need

Boxing

Muhammad Ali

I have a few Peterson autos including my 2008 Exquisite Auto /10 that I am debating whether or not I should trade to get more of these cards. Sadly, I now have more Peterson stuff than I can display, and the two I have taken down (including the Sayers dual) are not important for me to keep. Who knows, maybe coming events at work will give me more disposable income to play with. San Antonio living has definitely put us in a great position financially and thanks to a few great investments, I have had a lot of luck crossing names off this list.

Jared Allen At The Sun Times Show: Results Are Just As Awesome

Along with Percy Harvin, I also commissioned someone to get me Jared Allen, who was also signing at the show. Eric did a great job with helping me out, and I now have a second piece to add to my collection that I absolutely love. Although the price turned out to be a little more expensive than I had originally hoped, I still think it was well worth the money.

(CLICK TO ENLARGE)
Thanks again to Eric!

Looking Into My In Person Autograph Collection

I love autographs, and I have said on numerous occasions that autographs are what brought me to card collecting. My dad collects autographs, my brother collects autographs, and I STILL collect autographs of all of my favorite players and celebrities. Cards are my preferred way of growing my collection, but I never turn down a new opportunity.

This weekend in Chicago, I saw a chance to add to my collection when two of my favorite Vikings sign at the Sun Times Show there. Although I have condemned card shows as a place you shouldnt go to buy cards, autographs are a different story. Lucky for me Percy Harvin and Jared Allen dont charge that much (yet) for their signatures, and I am having a few people secure me a signature of them to display next to my Adrian Peterson stuff.
Here are my thoughts on it. In baseball, the signed official league ball is the preferred piece of memorabilia to have signed. Its universal, there is a standard, and players know where to sign. I have many baseballs that have signatures of all my favorite players, mainly because they are easy to display and fun to appreciate. In football, there isnt something like that. A standard football is too big, and a jersey can be extremely expensive and hard to prep for display. Therefore, the football mini helmet has become the preferred signing vehicle, even starting to gain favor with a lot of the players per a discussion I had with Beanie Wells during a signing here in LA.
Based on that fact, and my own personal affinity for the football mini helmet, I decided that it was going to be my piece of choice for this signing. I also thought it was a good idea to pay for the inscription, and Ill get to that in a second. Since my Adrian Peterson mini helmet is signed in silver, I asked my helpful acquaintances to do the same. I figured they would all look nice side by side on my shelf.
On a side note, I have two signed mini authentic NFL footballs. One by Percy Harvin and one by Stafford and Moreno. The mini footballs are a perfect size to display, but very few people make displays for them. I had a hell of a time finding a display, but settled on a custom one from eBay. Yes, it turned out great, but these minis could be the new OMLBs like in baseball. Take note Ultra Pro.
Moving on to the inscription part of the auto, this is where people usually use every creative bone in their body, or they pick something standard like HOF or whatever. Me, I love having personalized autos because my goal is not to sell them. Even though I could have gotten Harvin to sign “ROY 2009″ and Allen to sign “Mullet Militia,” I wanted something more personal to display on my shelf. I decided on “To Adam” because I rarely have the chance to get something like that. I can always buy other stuff that has the inscriptions that I was just explaining, and that is why I want something that is more just for me.
I guess you can consider me the set collector equivalent of the Autograph hobby. The reason is that I dont collect the autos to sell, but rather to keep. Making money on an auto isnt my goal, its more the fun of adding to the collection. This is similar to some of those collectors out there who try to complete set after set because its fun for the sense of accomplishment, not to make money on their completed product. Despite that my taste in cards is completely different, I have adopted a similar MO for autos. So much so that I even have a hierarchy of what I like signed.
Baseball – 1. OMLB, signed in blue ball point ink 2. Bat that is used by the player, not just some bat 3. Mini batting helmet 4. jersey signed on the back number 5. 8×10 photo
Football – 1. official mini helmet 2. authentic NFL football 3. photo 4. jersey signed on the back number 5. mini NFL authentic football with white panel
If I can get any of these things personalized, I will. When I got the chance to meet Beanie Wells, I had him sign the football “To Adam” just like above. People at the shop he was signing said I was nuts to do it that way, but I continued to tell them that I was a collector not a seller.
Even if I dont get the chance to meet the player themselves, I am very happy doing things the way I do it, and that is all that matters. If you are a collector just like me, I would definitely find your niche as well. Find something that makes you happy in a similar way and then go for it. There is nothing cooler than a man cave filled wall to wall with autographs. It never ceases to amaze me what people are capable of.

They Cost How Much?!?

Recently, one of the readers of SCU emailed me about an idea for a product based on the idea of eliminating scrub autos. He was concerned about the amount of value one gets out of a box in relation to the price one pays for said box, a feeling that many of us have on a regular basis. In most cases, when you pull an auto of a backup’s backup, you wont get more than a dollar in return if sold. Considering that these types of hits litter the products year round for all three companies, he wanted some justice in his wax buying.

What most people dont understand is just how much players actually charge for the autographs that the big three put into their products. Its this type of misunderstanding that lead to people’s poor attitude about busting wax as a way the companies are screwing them out of their money. Although the attitude IS justified, there really isnt a way to fix it without ridding products of autographs completely in some cases. We all know that wouldnt fly with most of the collectors out there, myself included, so there is a resulting high profile dilemma on what is happening in terms of signatures.

Just to give you some of the information, player autographs are one of the most expensive parts of a product. You already knew that, though. What you may not know is the degree that this cripples parts of some releases. Players like Emmitt Smith and Joe Montana charge so much for their autograph, that they have almost priced themselves out of many products. I have heard figures as high as $225 per card, but nothing lower than $150 for every signature they sign. How crazy is that?!? Think about it for a second, and then think about how many players like that are necessary for a checklist to be considered viable. Even younger players like Adrian Peterson, Matt Ryan and Reggie Bush also charge a ton, with cards costing the companies as much as $150 a piece just to have them sign.

It doesnt end there, unfortunately for us. Even for rookies that will most likely never play a down, card companies are forced to pay them more than you would expect. I have confirmed figures as high as $35 per card for the lower tier of the rookies who attended the premiere, a figure that surprised me to no end.

What all of this leads to is higher prices on boxes and more and more scrubs being used to fill out checklists. Why? Because its required by the league to have X% of the set being rookies, and because its too expensive to do it any other way. There are always exceptions like Paul Hornung and other older people who charge very little, but the majority of the athletes want a ton.

This also factors into stickers versus on card, as I have been told there is no difference in price paid for the auto. Im guessing this is the main reason that Upper Deck has pretty much done whatever they could to avoid stickers, as it seems like more of a waste to pay for an auto if it isnt directly on the card going into the pack.

As long as this is forced to continue by the players, wax prices will never drop as long as they contain autographs. Personally, I am happily able to accept the trade-off due to my love for autos, but a portion of the older collectors have sworn off wax altogether because of it.

Im not sure what the future holds, but I dont think it will ever be like it was, especially in terms of price. With the subjects of the cards becoming more like primadonnas every year, its not always the fault of the people who produce the products. Yet, because of a lack of info that is out there, most of us just blame them anyways. Maybe its time to show us what’s really going on.

Autographs and Hunters – Drawing the Line

When it comes to the opportunities to get autographs, I get shaky and anxious. I cant tell you about the feeling, but I have the idea that most of you have experienced it. There really isnt anything like the chance to meet your favorite player, and you better believe that I live for it when the chance comes around.

Luckily for me, I have had the chance to meet every single one of my favorite players, with the exception of Adrian Peterson. As a kid, I got to meet Kirby Puckett on the field of the Metrodome during batting practice. I got to meet Kevin Garnett at a Target signing during his first year in the league. I got to meet Joe Mauer twice, and you already know the story behind that one. My apartment is full of signed memorabilia from all of these players as well as Adrian Peterson, despite the fact we have never met. I have said before that being involved in the sports card hobby is my way of feeding my hunger for player autographs, and still I feel jittery when I get the chance to meet anyone famous, let alone the players I follow.

Despite my innocent “im not ever going to sell any of this” attitude about it, autograph hounds like myself fall into two categories. The first category consists of people like me who will hold onto whatever they get forever. The second category is full of people who do whatever they can to get the most autographs possible to sell rather than to keep. Type 2 hounds are also the reason that people like Neil Armstrong and JD Salinger never sign anymore, and certain practices have led to record prices in auctions due to lack of supply.

Where do you draw the line, however? I know that if I see a famous person, Im going to ask for a signature if I have something for them to sign. Does that kind tenacity lump me in with the guys who wait outside of hotels for athletes with backpacks filled with baseballs? I havent ever done something like that before, but I have tried to fight through crowds to get the signature of a few bands that I loved growing up.

Considering how many lines I have waited in to meet someone, four hours at a time, six hours, I think maybe even eight hours once, I consider myself to be borderline. The thing that I think separates me is that 95% of my autographs have been from sanctioned signings, and most of the others are from TTM and other times.

Where do you draw the line? Im not a guy that will fight through throngs of screaming kids to shove a card into the face of a player at a game, but I will go out of my way to attend places where I know athletes and actors to be. I guess its a grayer area than once expected.