My three favorite on-card autographs

There have been some posts on other blogs recently about the author’s three favorite on-card autographs, so I figured I’d chime in with a trio of my own. Here I showcase my 1998 Donruss Signature “Sample” Clemens auto; 2001 Topps “Team Topps” ’52 reprint Willie Mays; and my 2000 Fleer Greats of the Game Nolan Ryan.

No. 3: Roger Clemens

In 2000, my online outlet for trading baseball cards came in the form of the America Online Message Boards. Believe it or not, they were pretty active. It was a bit chaotic and unorganized, but I managed to find a few trading partners, and learn a bit about some people. One of the people with whom I had some communication was a guy who claimed to work for Donruss, Leaf, Playoff.

At the time I had a redemption pending with DLP for a useless NFL Europe rookie signature card, and I had been waiting for its return for nearly a year. When this person learned of the problem, he asked who my favorite player was. I replied with Roger Clemens.

At the time there were very few Clemens autograph cards on the market, and the ones that were out there cost quite a bit. When I replied that Roger Clemens was my favorite player, the person told me that he’d see what he could so and less than a week later this card arrived.

To say I was shocked would be an understatement. This card, according to the person who sent to me, is limited to less than 10 copies — although I have NEVER seen another one like this. The card resembles the pack-issued 1998 Donruss Signature cards, only this one bears a gold foil “SAMPLE” stamp on the rear instead of a serial number.

To this day I feel a bit guilty about having received this Clemens in place of a common football autograph. But the card was intended to go into my personal collection and it has remained there for nearly a decade now. It was my first Roger Clemens autograph and remains one of the more intriguing pieces of my collection.

No. 2: Willie Mays

I had some awesome luck during the early part of this decade. During one of my pack-buying binges I went to a 7-Eleven and purchased the remaining 18 packs of 2002 Topps Heritage they had sitting on the counter. About half way through the box I snagged a Willie Mays auto-relic numbered to 25 copies. That card remained with me for about three years until I decided to “downgrade” to a more simple Mays autograph.

Some would call that Mays a pull of a lifetime; at the time it was the No. 2 as just a year earlier I happened upon a 2001 UD Hall of Famers Walter Johnson cut signature limited to just five copies. THAT was a pull of  a lifetime.

I digress. In 2004 I sold my Mays auto-relic, serial number 01/25, and purchased this 2001 Topps 1952 Topps reprint autograph for less than half of the price for which the Topps Heritage auto-relic sold. This card may not be as rare as the auto-relic, but in my opinion it looks 25 times better. It’s a clean auto on a reprint on a classic card. For my money, I do not think a better on-card Willie Mays autograph exists.

No. 1: Nolan Ryan

I’ve written about this card before, but the story is one I love to tell over and over, because it was the day I called my shot like Babe Ruth. If you want to know the full story about this card, take a look at my post from March 14,2009. The short version: I called my shot.

Of all of the cards sitting in my display cases, this card remains one of the top cards I’ve ever owned, simply because it was what I was looking to pull when I purchased just a few packs from the card shop.

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