John Rogers produced at least hundreds of fake autographed bats and baseballs during his reign of deceit before the FBI caught up with him. We know that now after another large donation of bats that once carried bogus signatures of some baseball’s all-time greats was made to a youth baseball program in his home state.
Rogers, a former sports memorabilia dealer/collector and photo archivist, was sentenced in December to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty fraud in a Chicago federal courtroom. He was also ordered to pay $23 million in restitution to banks and individuals who loaned him money over several years but never saw it return. He began serving his sentence early this year.
The RBI League of Little Rock, AR recently accepted a donation of 279 of the fake signed bats Rogers marketed. That donation came not long after the FBI presented similar programs in Chicago with about 250 bats and dozens of phony autographed baseballs. The forged signatures included Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and other Hall of Famers. Rogers’ businesses were based in the Little Rock area, where the FBI carried out a raid in 2014. He was charged in federal court two years later.
Arkansas Online reported that each player in the local RBI league received one of the wooden bats while future players will receive the rest. They were turned over to the league by a local man who had purchased them from Rogers, only to find out later the autographs weren’t genuine.
“We’re extremely grateful to the FBI for thinking about us,” said Little Rock RBI League Commissioner Dillon Hupp.
The signatures on the bats and baseballs handed out in Chicago last month were rubbed off or crossed out before they were given away. The bats themselves were high quality and a forfeiture order by the court enabled the FBI to go forward with the project of putting them into the hands of young players who might not otherwise have the chance to use good quality equipment.