Dear Babe: I bought a Roy Campanella autographed baseball bat at a public auction several years ago. The signature is clear and bold on a new bat. As you can see, it also came with a certificate of authenticity from Coach's Corner. The auction was held in 2007 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Nashua, N.H. The auction company was Federal Auction from Gaithersburg, Md. Coach's Corner did not organize the auction. The auction had only a few sports items.
-- R.D., Nashua, N.H.
Babe: I got some strong reactions to this, R.D.
"This is NOT good, by any stretch of the imagination. Hate to see this stuff still floating around," said David Kohler, president of www.scpauctions.com.
"No way! Bad," said Mike Gutierrez, consignment director for Heritage Auctions (www.ha.com).
"The signature is fake," said Mike Heffner, president of www.Lelands.com auction house in New York.
This isn't to say that Campanella, a Hall of Famer, didn't "sign" some items long after he was paralyzed in a car accident early in 1958.
"He did sign some bats in the early 1990s," said Mike Breeden, a Sports Collectors Digest columnist and autograph expert. "They contrived a way for him to do it, but it wasn't much of a signature. His signature was mechanically aided in some way, but he was holding the pen. The signatures from those signings appear to have been signed in a slow and methodical way. They are sloppy, but it was the best he could do.
"The pace of the signature on this bat appears to be too quick for anything that Campanella could have done at that point. Also, all the bats I've ever seen from these signings were Campanella Louisville Slugger models. This is an Adirondack Big Stick with no player endorsement."
"Close to 100 percent of all post-accident Campanella signatures offered in the market are forgeries," said Ron Keurajian, an autograph expert from Detroit.
Da Babe had no luck tracking down Federal Auction. Two phone numbers listed on the Internet have been disconnected. No replies came back from an email sent to one person listed under the company name.
The Crown Plaza said it was against its policy to release any info on clients. However, that tune might change, since the hotel allowed Federal Auction to use one of its rooms to sell -- at least -- one phony item.
If one searches the Internet, there are a number of articles and references to Coach's Corner -- none is complimentary. The mega auction site, eBay.com, won't accept auctions with items from Coach's Corner.
Sports Collectors Digest does not accept its ads.
"We haven't accepted their ads for the past several years due to the questionable nature of many of their products," said Tom Bartsch, the publication's editor.
Da Babe did speak with Lee Tryhall, who identified himself as the general manager for online auction house -- www.myccsa.com.
"If you have a bat with a legible Roy Campanella signature, we didn't sell it," Tryhall said, adding that his company does not authenticate items. He said anyone could make up a certificate to look like it came from Coach's Corner.
A bat with a machine-signed Campy "signature" is probably worth $400-$600. A lot of three bats with machine-signed sigs sold for $1,527 in one his auctions in 2007, said Robert Lifson, president of www.RobertEdwardsAuctions.com.
(Babe Waxpak is written by Bill Wagner. If you have a question for Babe Waxpak, include your full name and hometown, the card number, year and manufacturer or send a photocopy. Please do not send cards. The address is: Babe Waxpak, Box 492397, Redding, CA 96049-2397 or email email@example.com.)