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The Sports Memorabilia Lawsuit

The collection of sports memorabilia is a divider. Either you completely understand it or you are flumuxed by the concept that someone would actually pay for an autograph or something game worn.  There is no in-between. You can’t be like Homer Simpson watching an NFL football game while waving a pennant that simply says “Football”.

To some, this blog might be as interesting as if I wrote about the word “underground” as being the only word that begins and ends with the letters “und”. See, not that interesting.  Or the reminder that you can spell “racecar” or “level” starting at the beginning or end.

If sports autographs just don’t excite you, I still hope you stick through this seemingly “more book than blog”. It does finish with a lawsuit story.

In 1999, Frank Deford wrote a Sports Illustrated article titled, “The Ring Leader“. In it, he describes NBA player Bill Russell as the greatest team player of all time.  In the article, Deford tells about the time that one of Russell’s teammates asked him to sign an autograph. Russell might have been known as a team player, but he refused to sign his autograph for a teammate. As he has told many, “I’m sorry, I don’t give autographs”.

Bill Russell has signed a few autographs for charity. Now, his autograph carries a high value because of the few items out there that he has truly signed. Normally, he will just offer to shake hands when he declines to sign.

Years ago, I was a volunteer with the Bruce Smith celebrity golf tournament. I helped coordinate the various players to be picked up from the airport for the charity event. We would bring them to a central location, where they would then be given their introductory packets that would describe the events for the weekend.

When we brought these players/celebrities back to the hotel, we would take them to a table. There, we had placed several items such as footballs, large and small helmets, photographs and even golf balls. We would ask them to autograph items before we handed them their hotel keys. That provided some items for selling, to help raise money for the charity.

The purpose of the tournament was to raise money for the Bruce Smith Foundation. At the time, he was still a player with the Buffalo Bills, so many of his teammates came to help his foundation. There were also many players past and present that came. Those included such names as O.J. Simpson, Dan Marino and Marcus Allen. In fact, O.J. threatened to punch the driver that I had lined up to take him back to the airport. Would you imagine that Simpson might have a temper?

I could regale you with story after story about sports autographs. I personally collect items and have some things hanging in our office. I am interested in old baseball player autographs that specifically include contracts.

For instance, we have a framed contract that Reggie Jackson signed. It was his rookie contract with the Oakland A’s and includes the executives of the A’s. Another contract is one that Tom Seaver signed with Topps, where he was paid one dollar to use his likeness for his rookie card. See, I can get carried away with stories. I guess those items are only worth what someone is willing to pay for them.

I write this blog about autographs because of an article at titled “See You in Court, Tiger! Woods Slapped with Trial Subpoena“.


Tiger was scheduled to be in Miami-Dade Circuit Court after being subpoened to testify. A business called Gotta Have it Golf is suing Woods for 1.75 million, claiming that he failed to provide them with an agreed amount of autographed memorabilia for them to sell.

There is some history for Woods with this business. In 1997, he joined Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus in a suit against them to stop that business in the unauthorized sale of their images in signatures. So, it would be curious that Woods then followed up by signing an agreement to sign items for them. This just shows again the value of a signature to some people… while others just shake their head and wonder why!

DID YOU KNOW that two dogs were among the survivors of the Titanic? (thought this better be a short one!)

And for pic o’ day, you may feel like you lost track of time. So… a timely pic o’



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