BABE WAXPAK/SPORTS COLLECTIBLES: Personalization hurts signature value
June 16, 2013 2:10 AM

Dear Babe: My family was very good friends of Lou Gehrig. He was at my grandmother’s house many, many times. I have my mother’s autograph book. Lou wrote a message in it and signed it. The autograph reads: “To Peg: The queen of lovely and regular girls — With kindest personal regards. Cordially, Lou Gehrig.” He had a very nice handwriting.

— M.C., Nashua, N.H.

Gehrig is a New York Yankees Hall of Famer known as the “Iron Man.” He is a true iconic figure among collectors. While Cal Ripken Jr. may have surpassed his once-thought unbreakable record of 2,130 consecutive games in the major leagues, the appetite for Gehrig memorabilia has not waned.

He was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 1939. He died June 2, 1941. Many refer to ALS as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Gehrig had 1,995 runs batted in (RBIs) in 17 seasons. His career batting average was a whopping .340. Gehrig owns three of the top six RBI seasons in baseball. He was selected to each of the first seven All-Star games, but he did not play in the 1939 game. He retired a week before it was scheduled to be played.

He was the American League’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 1927 and 1936.

He won the Triple Crown in 1934, leading the AL in batting average, home runs and RBIs.

Gehrig was the all-time leader with 23 grand slams for seven decades until Alex Rodriguez tied him. If Rodriguez doesn’t return from his latest injury and alleged drug woes, the record should stand for a long time. There are a number of current players with 12 slams, but, based on their ages, it doesn’t appear as if any have a real shot at the record.

Gehrig is often on the mind of sports fans these days because of another heroic battle being waged against ALS by former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason.

Gleason was a free agent signed in 2000 by the Indianapolis Colts. Gleason, using a computer that synthesizes his voice, announced the Saints two third-round picks in the recent NFL draft.

His appearance on the New York draft stage came just a few days after he returned from a seven-day trip to Peru.

Now back to our regularly scheduled answer.

This type of signature would probably be considered a “cutie,” an autograph that would end up being displayed matted (so only his name appears) with a photo. The fact that it is personalized makes a big difference in value. The best scenario would be if the letters in his name don’t touch any other words.

Mike Heffner, president of, said this type of Gehrig sig would be worth $3,000, but dropped the value to $2,000-$2,500 because of the personalization. Mike Gutierrez, consignment director for Heritage Auctions ( put it in the $1,600-$2,000 range, saying that since it was personalized it would be toward the lower end.

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