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Author Topic:   Astronaut signed baseballs and golf balls

Posts: 474
From: Northville MI USA
Registered: Aug 2005

posted 02-28-2011 10:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for yeknom-ecaps   Click Here to Email yeknom-ecaps     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A couple of astronaut signed baseballs and golf balls have been offered for sale lately got me wondering why astronauts would be asked to sign these items.

I completely understand a baseball player signing a baseball or a golfer signing a golfball. But I don't know of a rational for asking an astronaut to sign such an item (except maybe Shepard on a golf ball).

To flip it around (though I haven't seen any), I don't know of a rational for a sports player to be asked to sign something like a rocket model.

Can collectors of these provide some insight for me? Thanks.


Posts: 3622
From: Midwest, USA
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 02-28-2011 02:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This discussion has come up several times in the past, so you might be able to find more on the topic by doing a search through the collectSPACE message boards.

With baseballs, they are a popular media for some American autograph collectors, usually for collecting the signatures of prominent Americans...whether they be baseball players or not. The reasoning is that a baseball, by itself, is a symbol often associated with America. Also, I suspect that baseballs offer a means for collectors to gather all of their signatures on the same media and therefore have a consistent collection. (An index card would also serve the same purpose but might be a little "bland" for some collectors.)

Of course, there are also many collectors (and celebrities) who don't understand the desire for collecting signatures on it's often puzzling why one would want to get an astronaut to sign a baseball. Indeed, some astronauts prefer not to sign baseballs simply because they had nothing to do with the sport. For example, Buzz Aldrin now asks $1500 to sign a baseball, if you insist on getting one signed.

In the end, it comes down to the preference of each collector to decide what media they want to collect signatures on. It's one of those cases where you either understand the appeal...or you don't understand it.

Personally speaking, I think signed photographs are much more interesting and attractive!

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 28757
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-28-2011 02:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Why do astronauts sign baseballs? Because they were baseball players...

steelhead fly fishing

Posts: 26
From: Cape Canaveral, FL
Registered: Aug 2010

posted 02-28-2011 04:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for steelhead fly fishing   Click Here to Email steelhead fly fishing     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Collecting autographs on baseballs has been an American hobby since the late 1800s. Baseballs were more common and accessible to the general public than photographs at the turn of the century. For purposes of collecting autographs, baseballs are small, provide good contrast, and usually provide a good surface for signatures. A good autograph from Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, or Shoeless Joe Jackson can fetch several thousands of dollars (often more than the same signature on a photo).

The crossover to other famous celebrities signing baseballs started in the early 20th century. William H. Taft was the first U.S. President to throw out the ceremonial "first pitch" in 1910 in at a game in Washington, DC. Every US President since then has thrown out a "first pitch". Presidential autographs on baseballs are another subset of autograph collecting as many of the presidents would sign balls for the players on the respective teams at the game attended when the first pitch was thrown.

This crossover has included every subset of celebrities including musicians, astronauts, movie stars, and military heroes. It is nice to hold an object in your hand that you know the signers held in their hand to sign. I think it is part of Americana and the historical love of baseball that it is still used as an autograph surface. You really don't see the same connection with basketballs or footballs outside their respective sport.

Personally, I too prefer an on a good photo of the astronaut.

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