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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Koufax, Drysdale signatures worth more if on official NL baseball

Dear Babe: I have a baseball with just two autographs on it – Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. Possibly more interesting is how I came about having this baseball along with others. I was the right field ball boy at Anaheim Stadium in 1968. I eventually became the Angels batboy, spent one year working on the ground crew and then a couple years as clubhouse manager. I’m sure you must be aware that back in the 1960s and early 1970s most every autographed baseball was actually 20 percent to 40 percent signed by the batboys and or clubhouse manager. The batboys were paid $5 per game. We’d report to work after baseball practice at our high schools around 4-5 p.m. and then stay after the night game to shine all the shoes and pick up the clubhouse. For extra income and to the delight of some of the players, we’d practice the autographs. Once we were good enough, some players would pay us to sign the balls. Nearly every night there would be two dozen balls on a table in the clubhouse along with a sign-off sheet. All the players and coaches were expected to sign the balls. My Koufax/Drysdale ball is an American League ball I had signed during the Freeway Series.

– Joe Anderson, Riverside ...

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Dear Babe: I have a baseball with just two autographs on it – Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. Possibly more interesting is how I came about having this baseball along with others. I was the right field ball boy at Anaheim Stadium in 1968. I eventually became the Angels batboy, spent one year working on the ground crew and then a couple years as clubhouse manager. I’m sure you must be aware that back in the 1960s and early 1970s most every autographed baseball was actually 20 percent to 40 percent signed by the batboys and or clubhouse manager. The batboys were paid $5 per game. We’d report to work after baseball practice at our high schools around 4-5 p.m. and then stay after the night game to shine all the shoes and pick up the clubhouse. For extra income and to the delight of some of the players, we’d practice the autographs. Once we were good enough, some players would pay us to sign the balls. Nearly every night there would be two dozen balls on a table in the clubhouse along with a sign-off sheet. All the players and coaches were expected to sign the balls. My Koufax/Drysdale ball is an American League ball I had signed during the Freeway Series.

– Joe Anderson, Riverside

We’ve talked about “clubhouse” signatures for years, but this is the first time readers are getting an inside look from someone who actually signed baseballs for players. Of course the practice dates decades before the 1960s.

Mike Gutierrez, consignment director for Heritage Auctions (www.ha.com) did say he has not come across secretarial or clubhouse sigs of the two former Dodgers star pitchers. He noted that they did do some signings together in the 1980s and 1990s. He valued the ball at $400. However, that value will be dampened by the fact that the sigs of the two National League HOFers is on an A.L. baseball.

Dear Babe: I have a game ball signed by all 3 Ripkens from ‘87 or ‘88 when all three were together on the Orioles. It has ballpark soil on it and is signed in black permanent marker. All three signatures are on one panel – Cal Sr. on top, then Cal Jr. and Billy on the bottom.

– Janet Cahall, Weare

Cal Ripken Sr. is the only man to manage two sons in the major leagues. Connie Mack and Yogi Berra each had a son they managed, but Ripken Sr. stands alone. He managed Cal Jr. and Billy in 1987 and six games into the 1988 before he was fired by the Orioles. He was replaced by Frank Robinson, who went on to lose another 15 straight to set a major league record of 21 consecutive losses to start a season.

Managing his sons is Cal Sr.’s claim to fame. Of course, Cal Jr. is a Hall of Famer, who holds the record for consecutive games played at 2,632. Billy’s claim to fame is his infamous 1989 Fleer baseball card with the obscenity clearly visible on the bat handle.

“That’s a really cool baseball! I would say the value is in the $200-250 range,” said David Kohler, president of www.scpauctions.com.

Babe Waxpak is written by Bill Wagner. If you have a question for Babe Waxpak, include your full name and hometown, the card number, year and manufacturer or send a photocopy. Please do not send cards. The address is: Babe Waxpak, Box 492397, Redding CA 96049-2397 or email babewaxpak@charter.net.