Plenty of Bargains on the Dock of the Bay

When a player no longer signs through the mail, or never did in the first place, the only way to secure their signature is either in person or break down and buy it. Recently, I purchased several certified, pack-pulled autographs off my favorite auction site. Of course, these days, the site is trying my patience with all its dubious “improvements,” which nine times out of 10 favor the buyer and not the seller. In this case I’m the buyer, so all is well.

Bob Cousy Signature Rookies Gold Standard
The “Houdini of the Hardwood” was one of the best through-the-mail signers over the years. I did receive a signed personalized picture several years ago for free. A few years back, he started charging a fee, which is a reasonable $35, considering that he is one of the NBA’s all-time legends. I stumbled across a certified “Gold Standard” card while searching the key word “autographed.” Many times I search under the misspelling “autograped” and have snagged some great deals as a result.

I have always been a big fan of Signature Rookies and actually worked for a company years ago that did some phone promotion for the long-defunct company. They were one of the first companies that focused on certified autographed cards, many times including a signed card in every pack. That’s not to say they didn’t have their problems over the years. There were several stories that came out in the press about girlfriends and brothers ghost-signing the cards. But overall, they had some great products and I have seen the Gold Standard cards for sale quite often.

The picture in the listing was terrible – it was about 1/10 of a normal card – you couldn’t even see the autograph. But the seller had great feedback, and I chalked it up to getting another bargain. I paid $10 for the card and the autograph and card are in fantastic condition. I still want a signed floorboard from Cousy, so at some point I will bite the bullet and make out a check for $35.

Marks Brothers 2004 Upper Deck Legends
Many times my quest for a certified autographed card comes from wanting to complete a framed piece. In this case I had an 8-by-10 photo of Marino, Clayton and Duper and intended to get it signed someday. None of the three mentioned signs for free, and rarely did so throughout their playing careers. Duper and Clayton have managed to keep demand in their favor over the years by not signing through the mail. And Marino has always been a tough signature.

I bid on a group of three signed cards – Duper, Clayton and Mercury Morris. I bought all three for $16 – now I just have to find a good deal on a Marino card to complete the piece. I will then mat and frame the picture and three cards.

Flutie Fan
Although I live in western New York, I’ve never been a fan of the Bills. I’ve rooted for the Miami Dolphins since I was a kid. All my buddies argue that I should be a Bills fan because Buffalo is the closest geographical NFL city to Rochester. My response has always been that I rooted for the Rochester Jeffersons when they played here in 1924, and I live in Rochester, not Buffalo.

When the Bills signed Doug Flutie, I couldn’t help but pull for him. When Flutie was playing, he was the most exciting player on the field. He’s one of the few Buffalo Bills I ever rooted for and it was a blast to watch him.

I constantly come across Flutie items at garage sales, church sales, etc., and I always buy them. Recently, I picked up a standard plaque that features an 8-by-10, along with a nameplate and that cheesy gold, trophy-looking football decoration. I always rip whatever that decoration is off the plaque and replace it with a favorite card. This time I didn’t have a Flutie certified card, though I do have a signed football and Sports Illustrated from an in-person event. I started watching several auctions and realized his certified cards sell in the $20-$30 range. After losing several auctions, I finally won a San Diego card for $10. The keyword I used is another of my favorite searches: “auto.”

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