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Mike Schmidt would like players to sign their autographs more clearly, please.

Oct 2, 2012, 9:14 AM EDT


I don’t know who gave Mike Schmidt an AP column, but I’m kinda glad they did.

It’s hard to put your finger on it, but you get the sense that he has a list of grievances he’s long been waiting to air and now, finally, he has the chance. Not major grievances. He’s never overly negative, but there are things that stick in is craw, and I picture him wearing half-glasses and nodding to himself as he types these out, happy that he has a forum in which to do so. There’s something kind of stately about Schmidt when he tells people to get off his no doubt well-manicured lawn.

Today’s topic: players these days don’t sign their name clearly when giving autographs:

My signature’s value has never changed over the years. Sure, I know there is a class system in the industry, certain signatures retain value and others don’t. In my case, one reason it has retained value is it’s neat and you can read it. It is legible, shows respect and looks as though I put some effort into the process of creating a collectible item.

I’m not in the class of Andre Dawson or the late Harmon Killebrew. Their signatures are artwork. Their slow, methodical signing technique shows immense respect for their names and the items on which they appear.

And Schmidt is right about autograph hounds, by the way. People who have turned autographs into pure commerce instead of using them as hooks for good memories and chance encounters.

Anyway, fun read. I disagree with Schmidt on a lot of things he writes about, but I find him kinda adorable anyway.


  1. paperlions - Oct 2, 2012 at 9:28 AM

    I just don’t find much adorable about a person that thinks everyone should do everything the way they do it or they are doing it wrong.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Oct 2, 2012 at 9:30 AM

      It’s adorable because when he does that stuff no one on earth is gonna listen, but he still does it anyway.

      • paperlions - Oct 2, 2012 at 9:56 AM

        I guess I just focus on why someone does something and judge based on motivation, not on outcome.

      • phillyphannn83 - Oct 2, 2012 at 11:22 AM

        Dont fret Craig, we find you “adorable” too.

    • xmatt0926x - Oct 2, 2012 at 12:26 PM

      Paperlions, it’s not like he’s talking about political views or gay rights where he’s saying you should agree with him or you are wrong. He’s talking about signing an autograph legibly. It seems to me to be something that should be universally agreed on for anyone. If you are signing your name why would you not want it to be legible?Whether or not we feel it’s an important issue i’m not sure it’s worth your feathers getting all ruffled based on his opinion. The real issue is people acting like this is some warm and fuzzy thought from Schmidt based on wanting to do right by the fans. It’s not. Read his words. It’s all about money and his signature retaining value in the sports memorabilia industry. I love Mike Schmidt as a lifelong Phillies fan but if you have read enough stories about him and listened to enough of his radio appearances over the years you will know he is very obsessed with money, people’s salaries, things like that. Doesn’t make him a bad guy, but this isn’t an article from him about doing right by the fans and making sure that little Bobby and Sue have a neat autograph to treasure for life like some might make it to be.

  2. shaggylocks - Oct 2, 2012 at 9:29 AM

    Seriously, though, Andre Dawson has a classy signature. We can all agree on that.

    • Eberwizzle - Oct 2, 2012 at 10:15 AM

      I had to google image “andre dawson autograph”….DAMN!!!! that’s one sexy signature!!!!!!!!!!!

      • stlouis1baseball - Oct 2, 2012 at 11:05 AM

        Yep…Harmon Killebrew’s is sexy as well. #18 always signs legibly as well.
        There was a lengthy article in the Indianapolis Star about it a couple of years ago.
        He said if he is going to sign his name ensuring the signature is neat is the least he could do.
        He went on to say that he understands the collector’s aspect of it. He understands a lot of people sell them at trade shows. He also said it isn’t hard to pay attention to the person you are signing for and making a mental note of how many times they have been in line. Further, he said one, two…maybe even three times is understandable. Many people have Children, Parents, themselves, etc… to collect for. But when you see a dude in his 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, etc… attempt to come through numerous times it’s fairly obvious to identify those that are doing it to make money.

    • yahmule - Oct 2, 2012 at 11:16 AM

      The Hawk was my all time favorite player. When I was 16, he signed my all time favorite glove @ Dodger Stadium. A couple years later, my cousin lost the glove. It took me 20 years to forgive him.

    • cur68 - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:06 PM

      Yep. One of the all time great signatures even if it looks like he can’t spell “Andre”. A signature from The Hawk is a work of art.

      • hoopmatch - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:18 PM

        He probably mean’t Hawk Harrelson.

  3. lostsok - Oct 2, 2012 at 9:39 AM

    I get that there’s a “get off my yard!” quality that Craig is responding to in Schmidt’s tone, but…he’s kinda right. You watch some players (or artists) sign something, and they’re slow and pay attention…other’s don’t even seem to look at what they’re signing. Just a scribble, here you go. The correct word is, as Craig notes, respect. No, players (and artists) shouldn’t be obligated to sign autographs…but if they’re willing to, why NOT be respectful to the fans?

    • Old Gator - Oct 2, 2012 at 9:47 AM

      My favorite signature story concerns Pablo Picasso. He would sign his checks with doodles – which almost always made the check more valuable than whatever its denomination was. Hardly anybody ever cashed them. He rarely needed to leave any money in his checking account to cover them. I find this little window into the mechanisms by which we attribute value to stuff utterly hilarious.

      • stlouis1baseball - Oct 2, 2012 at 9:50 AM

        I always heard one of the reasons JFK paid for things with check’s was because people wouldn’t cash them. I don’t know if it’s true or not. But a neat story nonetheless.

      • mattyflex - Oct 2, 2012 at 9:56 AM

        I enjoy drawing on the pin pad when I use my card to purchase things, and then my doodle prints out on the receipt.

  4. Old Gator - Oct 2, 2012 at 9:41 AM

    I don’t collect autographs or much memorabilia about anything, at least not just to collect it. However, I do like Schmidt’s conviction that your signature is an aspect of your self-respect. I never really thought about it that way before, since to me the endless diarrhea of paperwork in our lives that requires signatures – in which category I include those pointless electronic signatures completing credit card sales and so forth – has pretty much bled the act of its significance. I routinely sign those electronic plates at the supermarket or Home Depot or whatever with names like “Clark Kent,” “G. W. Bush,” “George Antrobus,” “Jerry Garcia,” “Bilbo Baggins” or whatever comes to mind. They always go through, of course.

    And then along comes the adorable Mike Schmidt to remind me that you can find ways to make acts reduced by consumer capitalism to trivia, meaningful again. Thank you, Mike.

    • Utley's Hair - Oct 2, 2012 at 9:52 AM

      So GW Bush is still spending your money?

      • b7p19 - Oct 2, 2012 at 10:00 AM

        That made me chuckle.

      • Old Gator - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:10 PM

        Like it or not, G W Bush will still be spending our money well into the second or third successive generation.

  5. jfl229 - Oct 2, 2012 at 9:44 AM

    Schmitty never came off well in the general press, but in person was actually quite warm. An example of what he talks about: at a 1981 college luncheon, I leaned in to look at his 1980 WS championship ring. He immediately slipped it off and tossed it to me so I could show my daughterr and he talked about all the various things on the ring. .

    No big timing there.

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 2, 2012 at 9:52 AM

      I had the pleasure of walking a few holes with Schmidt’s Wife and Mother several years ago at a Pro-AM Golf Tournament in Lexington, KY. They were the most gracious people you could hope to meet. Very down to earth.

  6. sknut - Oct 2, 2012 at 9:55 AM

    Killebrew got on Michael Cuddyer and possibly Joe Mauer about their signatures, its a little thing but I think its neat they took the advice to heart.

  7. danaking - Oct 2, 2012 at 10:03 AM

    As a lifelong Pirates fan, I hated Mike Schmidt as a player because he killed us. Bat, glove, stealing bases. (He didn’t run a lot, but he had a sick success rate.) Even then, I respected him as someone who gave every indication of wanting to do things right. Now he doesn’t kill us anymore, and i can be an unabashed fan.

  8. pjmitch - Oct 2, 2012 at 10:04 AM

    Some players don’t like that their signature is “commerce” but there is one thing they could do to stop it and still be accomodating to real fans that want their signature for the memory aspect. Pretty simple also. They are handed a photo, ball or something else and they write (using Schmidt as the example)

    “To Pete, best always, Mike Schmidt”

    Not only do I now have a piece that should be so much more valuable to me personally, but my resale opportunity has been cut to nothing except for the market for people named Pete or other name

  9. Glenn - Oct 2, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    Is this one of those Onion stories that we all accidently take seriously?

  10. heyblueyoustink - Oct 2, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    I wish my doctors signature was clearer, that could lead to some happy times!

  11. southofheaven81 - Oct 2, 2012 at 10:27 AM

    And now, here’s Mike Schmidt with “You Know What Really Grinds My Gears?”

  12. Lukehart80 - Oct 2, 2012 at 10:41 AM

    Mike Schmidt needs a Festivus pole.

  13. steelturf76 - Oct 2, 2012 at 10:59 AM

    I know that this has nothing to do with baseball but 4 years ago I was at a NASCAR race in Pocono PA and I had a plain white shirt that I took just for autographs (I’m by no way a person who is a collector but we had garage passes and access to everything so I figured what the heck?). Out of about 25 signatures the only one that can be completely read is from Richard Petty, there are about 3-4 others where you can somewhat read the names and as for the rest, if it don’t have their car number next to it you wouldn’t even come close to knowing whos signature it is. Richard Petty did an interview once and the subject of his signature came up and he said…These fans pay hard earned money so they can come out and see our product and enjoy themselves, the very least we can do to show our appreciation is to take our time to sign our names so the fan will always know whos name it is. He was one of the greatest people I have ever met in my life, such a true and humble gentleman he is.

  14. Francisco (FC) - Oct 2, 2012 at 11:03 AM

    You know I think Mike’s right… I just checked my Omar Vizquel autograph… I can’t really tell it’s his name…

  15. Francisco (FC) - Oct 2, 2012 at 11:13 AM

    You know that’s a great pic of Mike. Phillies Cap, Sunglasses, Stern expression that will not tolerate any nonsense, and a great ‘stache. I mean now that Keith shaved his we’re going to have find some fallback options.

  16. magicrat13 - Oct 2, 2012 at 11:32 AM

    WOW….this is coming from the man who sent me a STAMPED signature when i sent him a self addresses post card when i was 9 years old…

    Sorry, he is an a$$wipe in my book….

  17. coryfor3 - Oct 2, 2012 at 11:43 AM

    I can only assume Mr. Schmidt’s attitude has changed since he refused to sign an autograph for me when I was a little kid. Stared right at me as my dad and I asked him and ignored me. Messy or not, I would have been thrilled with ANY autograph from him and he couldn’t bother. People actually willing to sign should be applauded whether penmanship is good or bad.

  18. moogro - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:13 PM

    Google it. Harmon’s is a work of art. But he’s getting a bit of a pass because it’s not legible, there just isn’t any other player with a similar name like “Hammer Kilimanjaro.”

    Unless R.A. Dickey changes his name.

  19. thatyankeedude - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:30 PM

    Ya I forgot GW Bush is still president. You talk about a whipping boy! My gosh when Obama skips meetings and takes vacations every other week you do realize that is more debt. Did Bush take those vacations? Did Bush fail to attend Obamas meetings? No. How about you libs quit complaining about the predecessor and actually take accountability. I forgot you may not know what that means. Accountability means that you are responsible for YOUR actions or failure to act. Bush hasn’t been president for the last 3.75 years and the debt continues to grow and violence towards America continues to get even worse. You think Obama has successfully stopped or even slowed down either one of those? Heck no he hasn’t. So he is accountable for the debt as well. Just like baseball when somebody doesn’t pull their weight the team sucks. If jeter and cano decide to stop showing up for Yankees games the Yankees are in trouble that doesn’t mean it is fricken joe Torres fault since he was the previous manager before Girardi. Girardi has to get those guys back on track and playing again. As far as autographing goes who gives a crap. Just sign it some what legibly, it’s not hard.

  20. dannythebisforbeast - Oct 2, 2012 at 10:08 PM

    Who’s Nancy?
    I have a team signed ball of 76 or 77 phillies. Even faded most are legible including Schmidts. If I got a ball with scribbled signatures 30 years later I wouldn’t be able to guess one. I don’t think it’s an issue that Schmidt needs to talk address because autographs are a business now. But it’s nice to have a good one

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