by Ben Milch
They're among the names you immediately think of when you think about the game's legends. That doesn't mean you'll have to scrimp and save for weeks to afford these baseball autographs. Recent sales are proof that patience and a bargain-spotting eye can get you what you want.
1) Joe DiMaggio
Joe DiMaggio is remembered as one of the game's most graceful athletes -- a picture player both at bat and in center field. Many rate his 56 consecutive-game hitting streak in 1941 as the top baseball feat of all time. The Yankee Clipper used an unusually wide stance in winning two batting championships and three MVP Awards. In 13 seasons, he amassed 361 homers, averaged 118 RBIs annually and compiled a .325 lifetime batting mark. At baseball's 1969 centennial celebration, he was named the game's greatest living player.
Despite his lofty status as one of the game's greats, Joe D's autograph is surprisingly reasonable. A recent sale of one of his items was an autographed store model glove from the 1940's-1950's authenticated by JSA, which sold on eBay on December 3 for $461. Or, one can purchase a nice autographed 16 x 20 photo of the Yankee Clipper for less than $200, as shown by a recent sale at a Huggins and Scott Auction on December 1 where a Steiner Sports Authenticated photo sold for $199.75.
Ted Williams was one of baseball's greatest hitters. Combining keen vision with quick wrists and a scientific approach to hitting, he set numerous batting records despite missing nearly five full seasons due to military service and two major injuries. His accomplishments include a .406 season in 1941, two Triple Crowns, two MVPs, six American League batting championships, 521 home runs, a lifetime average of .344, 17 All-Star game selections and universal reverence.
Teddy Ballgame was with us for a long time, so his autograph is actually extremely accessible for the collector on a budget. For example, an autographed Williams baseball graded PSA DNA 8 sold recently for just $349.86 via a Goodwin Auction on November 11. Or, a collector could have picked up a signed Ted Williams bat, with authentication, for less than $200 via a recent eBay auction.
3) Dizzy Dean
Jay Hanna Dizzy Dean, the brash Cardinals' fireballer, burst upon the big league scene in 1932 and averaged 24 wins over his first five full campaigns. A winner of four consecutive National League strikeout crowns, Diz was 30-7 in 1934 (the last NL pitcher to record 30 wins) when he and his brother Paul led the Gashouse Gang to the world championship. A broken toe suffered in the 1937 All-Star Game led to an arm injury that eventually shortened his playing days. He later embarked on a successful--and colorful-- broadcasting career.
Although he died in 1974, Dean's autograph can be found at a reasonable price. For example, just recently on November 26, a signed Hall of Fame Plaque card authenticated by PSA DNA signed for $202.51 via eBay. Or, if you are trying to save a couple extra pennies, a Dean cut autograph authenticated by PSA DNA sold via eBay for $140 shown by a recent eBay sale on December 6.
4) Jimmie Foxx
A fearsome power hitter whose strength earned him the moniker The Beast, Jimmie Foxx was the anchor of an intimidating Philadelphia Athletics lineup that produced pennant winners from 1929-31. The second batter in history to top 500 home runs, Foxx belted 30 or more homers in 12 consecutive seasons and drove in more than 100 runs 13 consecutive years, including a career-best 175 with Boston in 1938. He won back-to-back MVP Awards in 1932 and '33, capturing the Triple Crown in the latter year.
Because Foxx passed away in 1967, he did not have much time to hit the baseball card show autograph scene as many of his contemporaries. That means his autograph often sells for thousands of dollars, depending on the type of item. Yet, a collector can sometimes pick up a nice Foxx signed cut on an index card for a reasonable price, such as the JSA authenticated sample that just sold on eBay on December 4 for $442.21.
5) Satchel Paige
Leroy 'Satchel' Paige was a legendary storyteller and one of the most entertaining pitchers in baseball history. A tall, lanky fireballer, he was arguably the Negro leagues' hardest thrower, most colorful character and greatest gate attraction. In the 1930s, the well-traveled pitcher barnstormed around the continent, baffling hitters with creatively named pitches such as the Bat Dodger and Hesitation Pitch. In 1948, he was sold to Cleveland on his 42nd birthday, becoming the oldest player to make his Major League debut while helping the Indians win the pennant.
Paige was world renown for his showmanship and popularity. As a result, he was always gracious to sign his John Hancock for a fan, even for unique items like a business card authenticated by PSA DNA which sold on eBay on December 7 for $324.99. Or, for the rare St. Louis Browns collector, one could obtain Paige's autograph on a Browns official scorecard, like one JSA authenticated sample which sold recently on eBay for $212.50.
Ben Milch is one of the founders of SigPrices.com, a site that tracks the selling prices for autographs across multiple platforms.