There are a number of very interesting blogs dedicated to baseball cards and the hobby of collecting currently in orbit in cyberspace. I try to read as many of them as possible. Steve over at White Sox Cards recently posted a bizarre entry documenting how he had been contacted by an eBay “user” claiming to be a baseball player who went on to lambaste him for what he believes was an attempt to forge his autograph on a card.
The player in question is Darren Clarke, a relief pitcher. The card in question is his standard base card from the 2007 Topps 52 Rookies set when he played with the Colorado Rockies. The autograph in question is the facsimile signature that was printed on all of the cards in the run with exception of 3,000 cards. Topps paid Darren to sign those 3,000 cards, then inserted them randomly into packs along with similarly autographed cards by other players to increase sales and collector interest.
Topps has been printing facsimile autographs on their sports cards for decades, and most people seem to have no problems accepting them for what they are. Every second blue moon or so, I will run across a silly person attempting to sell a card that I want on eBay under the false assumption that the facsimile autograph is real. I’ve never heard of a player not being familiar with Topps reproducing their signature from their contract on their baseball cards, but anything is possible.
However, it appears that person claiming to be Clarke is insisting that the facsimile signature on his card is not his in the first place. While it cannot be presently ruled out as an elaborate hoax by one of Steve’s buddies, it appears that either Darren is mistaken, or someone at Topps has forged his signature (or made some sort of error).
While I’m not a handwriting expert, I would have to say that I see quite a difference in the signature in question in comparison to this autograph I received in person this past July.
Especially noted is the difference in the “D.” Although portions of my signature may differ from time to time, I would say that the initial “K” is more or less consistent.
Obviously Topps makes mistakes. Case in point is the facsimile signature used on these two cards from the 2006 Topps 52 Rookies set. I was intrigued when I first noticed that both Tony Francisco Pena (card no. 36) and Ramon Antonio Pena (card no. 274) not only had similar names, but also had IDENTICAL signatures.
I pretty much abandoned my quest to solve how and why that may have happened after not hearing about it from any other source. Also, anyone I pointed it out to didn’t hesitate to accuse me of having too much free time on my hands. At least I now know that I may have an audience for my ravings the next time I run into Darren Clarke.
If you love a good mystery, be sure to stay tuned to White Sox Cards to see how this one plays out! Things being as they usually are in this crazy, tiny world, I predict that Darren Clarke (currently a free agent if I’m not mistaken) will end up on the White Sox roster at some point in his career, and will end up buying Steve a beer.