-- by Josh Suchon
The previous chapter of the Sharpie Scribbles, which compared the Alomars to the Ripkens, got me thinking about the multi-autograph baseball card. Some of the best in my childhood collection are the cards, photos and SI covers from the Alomars and Ripkens.
Now it’s time to list the worst multi-autograph baseball cards from my collection. In honor of the Olympics, we’ll use the Bronze, Silver and Gold to rank the worst.
Game Closers -- John Franco and Steve Bedrosian
These two person cards were almost always photos taken during the all-star game. They were a fun break in the middle of sets. Fleer did a good job of pairing together natural fits. The 1988 Fleer “Super Star Specials” were extra cool to me because they were taken during the 1987 all-star game in Oakland, which I attended.
The problem with this dual signature card is the different colored Sharpies that were used. I remember getting Steve Bedrosian’s autograph first. Blue is always the preferred color. The Bedrosion autograph is solid. He doesn’t take up too much space, stays on his body, and doesn’t write on his face.
Then came the John Franco signature. As a kid, you never want to complain about a professional ballplayer who stopped to sign for you. But it was one of those situations when Franco was trying to be efficient, and just used the first pen that was put into his hands for everybody’s autograph. Unfortunately, that was a black pen. It was also a black pen that was running out of ink. Oh well. It could be worse.
Classic Relief -- Dave Righetti and Dan Plesac
This is an example where using the same color can be a problem. You don’t know where one of these autographs starts and where the other ends.
Off the top of my head, I wasn’t positive who scribbled first, and who wrote over the other person’s signature. A month or so ago, I was actually talking to Righetti about autographs and getting his autograph. Without even seeing the card in question, Rags said he’s pretty sure that he screwed it up. That says as much about Rags’ self-deprecating humor than anything.
Truth be told, I’m pretty sure he’s right. And after spending way too much time studying it, it seems that Righetti is scribbling on top of Plesac’s scribble. Lefties. So hard getting a good signature from them. But again, it could be worse. Much worse.
Kirk Manwaring’s Double Double
I’ll never forget getting this signature. It was during spring training. I’d asked Manwaring to sign and he stopped. I had two of his cards on a clipboard. One was a card of himself. The other was this 1987 Fleer Major League Prospects card he shared with John Burkett. The two cards were well spaced apart. You did this, so the player’s hand could rest on the clipboard, without rubbing again the item, especially important when they’re sweating after a workout.
Manwaring wasn’t paying attention. He signed Burkett’s side of the card, instead of his side. Soon as he finished, he realized the mistake. It actually would have been awesome if he’d left his side alone, and then I could get Burkett on Manwaring’s side, and it would be a unique backward autograph.
Instead, Manwaring signed his side of the card too. That’s how I ended up with two Kirt Manwaring autographs on the same baseball card. Oh yeah, and he didn’t sign the other card. He left that one blank.
Note to readers: "Sharpie Scribbles" is a regular feature that looks back on my childhood autograph collection. It was originally inspired by the positive feedback on the “You Were Lucky, Hershiser” story. I’m blatantly stealing this idea from “Cardboard Gods” author Josh Wilker, who used his baseball card collection to tell the story of his childhood in the 1970s. Wilker gave me his blessing, so I’m using my autograph collection to tell the story of my childhood in the 1980s.