2020 – Collections: Boughtographs

(Ignore May 1, 2017 publish date – this was published on February 14, 2020)


Apparently, I’ve coined a new term. Last year, I posted about autographs that I happened to acquire in person during the course of my career (https://iaintjustmusic.bobleafe.com/?p=7963). But I also have some that I purchased either online or at auctions: bought autographs.

Admittedly, it’s a shakier proposition to do it that way – it’s not exactly an industry known for honestly – but some situations have a better feel than others and sometimes familiarity with certain signatures can increase your confidence by a couple of percentage points.

The vast majority of these sigs are sports-related and most of those are supposedly Mickey Mantle’s – my childhood hero – who I got to take ONE picture of (with Whitey Ford) at Yankees Spring Training camp in Fort Lauderdale in 1982. Go to http://bobleafe.com/ and find it under “New York Yankees”.

So let’s start with him:

I should mention that most sports signatures online come with a ”Certificate of Authenticity” (CoA) that can be as phony as some of the sigs. Some look absolutely legitimate and some really are, but it’s difficult to know for sure, so I’m including the CoAs I received. Maybe you can tell what’s legit.

This photo is of Yankees manager Casey Stengel and Mickey in 1956 when he won the Triple Crown for leading the league in batting (.353), home runs (52) and runs batted-in (130):

There was no actual CoA – just this sticker on the back:


This shows Mickey and RFK at Yankee Stadium in 1965. The CoA shows a blue signature. I don’t recall if mine was blue when I got it:


These are two photos involving Mickey and a mermaid; one includes Whitey Ford. Mickey’s signatures look different. So do the CoAs (“…from my personal accumulation”?):


Mickey, Billy Martin and Whitey Ford go fishing. I’ve found a couple of these online and either they all signed it or no one did. This is the only one I’ve ever seen where only Mantle signed it. This one is also a fairly crappy-quality print that I sharpened a bit. Still, the sig could be real (the CoA only mentions Mantle):


Plaques are notorious for having fake signatures. This sig doesn’t look too bad, but the CoA is a CoC: Certificate of Collectible, which I’ve never heard of and certainly doesn’t sound like authentication. Plus, this particular “limited edition” plaque is #2,010 of 5,000? I can’t imagine Mickey Mantle (or any star) willingly sitting down to sign 5,000 of anything, so I’m guessing that one pic with a good sig was copied 5,000 times and slapped on plaques:


One signature that I WAS fairly confident in was on the cover of the 1997 Mickey Mantle auction catalog cover that was also signed by his business manager, Greer Johnson. I have #110 of 536 – the latter number being the number of home runs he hit in his career.

However, Mickey died in 1995. See Lelands notes below:


On to other Yankees:

This fading signature belongs to Chris Chambliss, who is shown after hitting a walk-off home run against the Kansas City Royals in the deciding ALCS Game 5 that sent the Yankees to the World Series in 1976:


Another fading sig is that of Don Larsen, shown pitching in the 9th inning of his perfect game against the Dodgers in 1956 – the only perfect game in Major League postseason history. The CoA is kinda crappy:


Old Yankee Stadium, old Yankees’ signatures on this one. There are supposed to be 12 sigs, but only 9 are visible. Fading/faded away are those of Bobby Richardson, Joe Coleman and Bobby Brown. Whoever wrote on the C0A misspelled a couple of last names:


Phil Rizzuto and Yogi Berra are shown in their playing days:


Years later, here’s Phil as a Yankees announcer. His signature looks a little less steady (but the CoA sure looks classy):


Al Leiter is mostly remembered in the NY area for his time with the Mets, but over a decade earlier, he was a Yankee………….that’s what attracted me to this plaque. I haven’t bothered to check on the signature and there’s no CoA:


I bought this Joe DiMaggio plaque when I bought the Mantle one, so it has the same weird CoC that Mickey’s does. Joe D signed pix for 5,000 plaques? I don’t think so. Like the Mantle plaques, perhaps a pic with a good sig was copied 5,000 times and put on the plaques:


Other baseball people:

This pic shows the track of Bobby Thomson’s 1951 “shot heard ‘round the world” at the Polo Grounds in New York. Google the story if you’re unfamiliar with it. This is NOT a good photo copy. Perhaps the signature is better:


While I never liked the Red Sox (or Ted Williams), I’ve always liked this early shot of him and it’s a nice-looking signature. This not only has a very formal-looking CoA……..it also has an equally formal-looking CoG (Certificate of Guarantee), so it MUST be good (I hope):


Eric Davis and Darryl Strawberry played against each other in high school and both made it to the major leagues, where they continued to play against each other. Because I had a musical encounter with Darryl in 1987, I decided to get this (no CoA):


When I was gathering all these pix for this post, I could not recall who Pete Gray was – surprising since his story is so unique. He played for only one season (1945) for the St. Louis Browns. He appeared in 77 games, batted .218 with no home runs and 13 RBI – not exactly memorable stats.

So why is he remembered? He lost his right arm as a child (he was right-handed), yet made it to the major leagues as an outfielder, as you can see in the pix. His story is quite interesting and worth Googling:


The last Major Leaguer shown here was not a player, but rather a long-time umpire whose name may sound familiar to those of a certain age: Al Barlick, whose career covered mostly the 40s, 50s and 60s. His loud call was memorable, but I can’t find a recording of it anywhere:


Other signatures:

Mixing sports and music, Muhammad Ali knocked out the Beatles in Miami in 1964 and signed this print that hangs in my living room:



Former NJ Governor Brendan Byrne apparently attended Jimmy Carter’s 1977 inauguration with a New Jersey contingent and signed this for someone.  Page 4 (bottom) has a Washington, DC street map:


In 1982, New Jersey Senator (and former New York Knick) Bill Bradley signed this for a noted autograph collector, Curtis Iddings, Jr:


These are the original members of Grand Funk Railroad – one of my favorite bands from ’69-’71 (no matter what the critics said). No CoA:


Uncle Floyd is probably New Jersey’s best-known funnyman/piano player/entertainer. His “Uncle Floyd Show” is legendary. I was the show’s photographer and had a great time, but I had nothing signed by him, so when I saw this little Casio keyboard with his distinctive (and now fading) signature, I grabbed it. Go to http://bobleafe.com/ and scroll down to “U” to see all the shenanigans (and bands):


Anybody remember watching “Dobie Gillis” in the early 60s? The left side of this pic is from the show and the right half is star Dwayne Hickman years later:


I was never a fan of British comedy shows – I couldn’t understand what they were saying most of the time – until “Keeping Up Appearances” came along. I think I’ve seen every episode multiple times.

One day, I looked it up on eBay just to see what popped up and found cast-signed 8x10s that were going for at least $200 each. So I employed an old buyer’s trick to see if I could save some money.

You wouldn’t believe how many people can’t spell the simplest words in their auction titles. Consequently, buyers who CAN spell can’t find their auctions, so I search using misspellings. In this case, I tried “appearances”, using only one “p”.

Bingo! Someone was selling a “Keeping Up Apearances” cast-signed photo, starting at $40 and was waiting for bidders to begin falling all over themselves while raising the price into the hundreds……….except that there were no bidders and the seller also neglected to set a minimum reserve price. I got it for $40 and the seller was PISSED!

Too bad.

Signature-wise, we’ve lost Emmet, Richard’s almost gone, and Onslow is starting to fade. It’s still worth a hell of a lot more than $40 – even without a CoA:

As a certain President likes to say, “I love the uneducated” (he also doesn’t spell well and he does love himself, doesn’t he?).


I always try to finish off each post with something out of left field, but none of what I had collected really fit the bill………….until I remembered something VERY unrelated to everything else (but related to me).


You probably have the senior year high school yearbook of one or both parents, right? Inside are the signatures of everyone in the class……….except for your parent. Who signs their own yearbook?

So, years ago, I started searching eBay for a 1938 Teaneck (NJ) high school yearbook. When I finally found one, I contacted the seller and asked if it contained the signature of Norman S. Leafe.

I was told it did! I bought it.

The yearbook belonged to a Dorothy L. Parrish, who played a lot of sports and had a collection of lump sugar (that’s what it says under her picture). The book also contained the commencement program, a 50-year reunion booklet and her high school diploma.

My father (on the right) signed her yearbook thusly: “Best wishes to the quieter of the Parrishes”, but unfortunately, he did not write his normal signature.

Dad was the managing editor of the Te-Hi News and hoped to become editor of a metropolitan daily (way off on that one, Dad). It also mentioned that he “was fond of the weaker sex” (they talked that way 82 years ago), but yeah – he was a ladies’ man.

Because of his school paper duties, his nickname was “Loose Leafe” and that’s how he signed the yearbook: with one big “L” to begin, smaller “oos” above smaller “eaf” in the middle and one big “E” at the end.


Because I had to buy the yearbook, this is definitely a boughtograph – a word I’m going to start Googling periodically to see if it ever catches on.


(Don’t hold your breath, Bob.)




May 8, 2020

This has been so much in plain sight in my living room for a couple of decades that I completely overlooked it. It hasn’t helped that the signature is pretty sun-faded.

Gaylord Perry – beside being well-known for throwing the spitball – is the only pitcher to ever win the Cy Young Award in both leagues. He has signed this cloth sack from his peanut farm in North Carolina:


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