If you read the article, Schmidt had problems reading the autographs of the current Phillie players and talked about the pride and passion he took in signing autographs for fans. Kind of an interesting take when you think about how many times some players must be asked to sign. So, I took a little bit of time this afternoon looked through my autographs and have picked out some of my favorites and least favorites and sorted them into some groups. Let's take a look:
John Hancock? No, Brad Fullmer.
There are a few players who still obviously take time and pride in their signatures. These are my favorite three:
1999 SP Signature Brad Fullmer Autograph
I pulled this card out of a pack of SP Signature back at the Cape Girardeau Mall and was incredibly irked that I pulled this card out of a per pack autograph product. A week later the card grew on me and it stayed in my collection. Today, it has become the benchmark by which all autographs are judged. Honestly, as a teacher I wish I could write that neat and would probably guess that a Brad Fullmer autograph line would include a sign that would stress patience and quality over quantity.
2001 Topps Finest Terrence Long Autograph
This was another early favorite autograph. I came for the left-handed version of the Terry Steinbach batting helmet, but was hooked by this cool signature. Five star all the way.
2005 Upper Deck Signature Ken Griffey Jr. Decades Autograph
I have only seen Ken Griffey Jr. sign one in person autograph in my whole life and it took a long time as far as signatures go. The man has signed autographs in every Upper Deck product for the past fifteen years and is now signing for Topps. If you go on Ebay or COMC you have a wide variety of autographs to choose from over that time period. What's incredible is that Griffey has not changed his autograph very much over that time. Quite impressive in my book and a really good signature to boot.
Other nominees include: Drew Storen, Andre Dawson, Harmon Killebrew, Jacque Jones, Jim Edmonds, Tony Gwynn, Victor Martinez, Andres Galarraga, and Al Gionfriddo
These aren't the best or cleanest signatures, but I would recognize them anywhere. I am sure many other collectors are in the same boat.
2000 SPX Chipper Jones Autograph
Chipper Jones has a nice signature and lots of certified autographs out on the market. There are also a lot of autopen autograph floating around, so if you were going to invest in a Chipper 'graph I would spend the extra money to buy one that is certified. I think his signature is a notch down from the group above, but is still an easily recognized autograph.
1994 Upper Deck Mickey Mantle/Ken Griffey Jr. Dual Autograph
Classic Griffey autograph, but I also really like Mantle's autograph as well. There is something about the M's that's really distinct. Always been a fan of this signature.
2004 Leaf Limited Andruw Jones Monikers Autograph
I was never quite sure how Andruw Jones got Andruw Jones out of this signature, but I could recognize it anywhere. Andruw Jones has signed a ton of cards too. Really an easy autograph to find.
Other nominees include: Todd Helton, Stan Musial, Ryan Howard, Mike Piazza, Nomar Garciaparra, Bob Gibson, Aubrey Huff, Orlando Cabrera, Carlos Delgado, Ryne Sandberg, Mike Mussina, Mike Schmidt, Jason Schmidt, and the Fabulous Molina Brothers.
I see two clear winners here. First, the worst signature that I own clearly belongs to Geronimo Gil. This is just simply horrible.
2002 Donruss Originals Geronimo Gil Signature Marks Autograph
Fortunately, Donruss limited production of this card to only 200 copies. I am guessing that it took all of ten minutes to sign all 200 cards. Really bad.
My other low style points autograph belongs to relief pitcher Jose Valverde. The sad part about Valverde's signature is that he has changed it over time. Changing, or evolving, signatures is really common. Look at Mark McGwire or Enrique Wilson and you can see how a signature can transform in a positive manner over time. Valverde....
Well, it start off poorly in 2002 when he autograph first appeared in the Bowman's Best release as a Diamondbacks prospect.
2002 Bowman's Best Jose Valverde
Pretty bad stuff. Now, Valverde has actually made his autograph worse. He has signed for almost all of the Topps products this year and I haven't decided how this happened, but.....
2012 Topps Triple Threads Jose Valverde Jersey/Autograph
Other nominees include: Manny Ramirez, Greg Maddux, Jon Jay, Fernando Tatis, Kevin Kouzmanoff, and Justin Verlander
Overall, I think that Schmidt makes some valid points about autographs. Some of them can be difficult to read, or challenging to match up to a player. It's obvious some players really don't care about how their signature looks and will just sign something to get it over with. However, there are still players with really nice signatures who take pride in their autograph and give fans and collectors a nice product to seek out for their collections. There are also players who might not have a recognizable signature, but can still be appreciated for it's effort and appearance, such as my current favorite:
2010 Topps Chrome Drew Storen Autograph