UNDATED: autograph shows.
Undated (AP) _ ″And that was it,″ he said. ″I won’t do them ever again, no matter what the money is. The kids get screwed. All they really want to do is talk to you, get to know you, and they really don’t get to do that at these shows. If you start talking to one kid after the other, you’ll never get through the whole line.″
Wolf, who promotes shows in New Jersey, said Mattingly recently was offered $100,000 for a single appearance. Mattingly confirmed the figure was close, but he turned it down. He also has turned down shows for $50,000.
Minnesota Twins outfielder Kirby Puckett can’t wait to get out of the deal he signed last year.
″At the first card show, I felt bad seeing those little kids paying to get my autograph,″ Puckett said. ″It didn’t hit me right. I felt it in the heart. I made a vow that once the contract is over, I’m done. I’ll still sign, but not for money.
″I wouldn’t do it for a million dollars.″
Certain players refuse to sign certain items.
DiMaggio won’t sign bats or balls anymore. Some say it’s because anything round becomes painful to sign over and over in long lines; others say it’s to keep the trading price of autographed bats and balls from falling too low.
Lynn said he quit signing baseball cards ″years back when I realized what was happening. People had ulterior motives.″
Money again. And here’s why: The cards and collectibles book lists the value of a Don Drysdale autograph at $7, an autographed baseball card at $30. Lefty Gomez’s autograph is worth $6, an autographed Perez-Steele card is worth $70.
According to promoters, Hall of Famers such as DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle might get as much as $50,000 for a single appearance. The minimum is about $2,500 for the 24th man on the roster. Around $10,000 is average.
″Gregg Jefferies wanted $9,000,″ said Tom Wehmeyer, who promotes shows for Elks Club charities in New Jersey and inquired about the New York Mets rookie for a recent show. ″We can’t afford that.
″I can’t see anybody paying that kind of money for an autograph,″ Wehmeyer said. ″Look at this Greg Jefferies. He’s charging $9 or $10 for an autograph, and now he’s hitting, what, .250? And you’re supposed to stand on line and pay $10 for this guy?″
Even some promoters who can afford it don’t like paying big prices for players. They feel the baseball card dealers, who pay for booths or tables at these shows, suffer when the players show up. After all, the main business of these shows is to sell cards, not signatures.
″Suppose a guy comes in to your show with two or three kids, and they each want two or three autographs,″ said LaPreta, who promotes on New York’s Long Island. ″That’s a lot of money. How much do they have left for cards?
″The baseball cards are where you should really be spending your money because the dealers paid to get a table there.
″I know one dealer that did a show at Howard Beach with Terry Leach and Mackey Sasser, and with the money he paid those two and the turnout he actually had, he lost a lot of money. Now, he’s out of the business.″
Still, the selling of autographs has gone big time, and many promoters are making money from the publicity that players generate.
″Kids are always here with their parents, so there is never any kid needing an autograph without the few bucks fee,″ said Bachrach, president of Sports Marketing Services Ltd., which promotes shows in the Chicago area.
″The only complaints I’ve heard have been generated by the media.
″I have yet to see a ballplayer walk away from a kid and refuse to sign an autograph because the kid didn’t have the money.
″So far, people are happy. They keep coming.″
END ADV Weekend Editions Sept 23-24