- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 22, 2007

Why do some of the Ron Lewis 500 Home Run Club prints (with the 11 autographs) have “Pete Rose Hit King Marketing” on the bottom and others are blank? — Greg Simon, Monroe, Conn.

Mike Breeden, an autograph expert and Tuff Stuff columnist who has been providing information and values for this column for more than a decade, attended that first show in Atlanta in 1989 that brought together the then 11 living members of the 500 home run club. Pete Rose and others he worked with at the time helped to promote the show, so that’s the connection to Hit King Marketing.

That show actually spawned the whole idea of a “club.” It generated a lot of interest and in the end tons of forged items that included Lewis prints, bats and balls. When I wrote about the 500 club items in 2002, one source said there could be as many as 60,000 to 70,000 fake items out there. The vast majority of 500 club material in the marketplace is phony.

“The ones with ‘Hit King Marketing’ were posters given out at the show,” Breeden said. “They are posters and not lithos [poster quality paper]. There are likely lots of them with authentic [signatures], because that’s what we were handed when we first went inside the show. There are also likely lots of them with fakes because there would have been some left over, or they simply could have printed more after the fact. The two I have, which are both signed, have the ‘Hit King Marketing’ logo across the white border at the bottom. If you were to frame them, you could easily matte that out.”

Others indicated that plenty of “Hit King” posters with phony signatures were introduced into the marketplace after the event.

“The Hit King pieces are a mixed bag and have to be evaluated (authenticated) on a one-by-one basis,” said Mike Gutierrez, consignment director for www.HeritageAuctions.com in Dallas.

It’s hard to pinpoint values, but the higher quality prints/lithos are probably worth around $2,000 these days. Posters probably go for a little less, assuming the signatures have been authenticated.

I am trying to get information on some deaf athletes. The list includes hockey’s Jim Kyte, baseball players William Hoy and Curtis Pride and football’s Kenny Walker. I also want to know if they ever had any cards. — D.C., Rialto, Calif.

You can use Beckett’s online price guide and alphabetical card list catalogs to find if the athletes had cards. Hoy, Pride, Kyte and Walker all have cards. The latter three are modern players and they each have many cards. Hoy, who was known as “Dummy” in the days before political correctness, has some cards, but they’re quite expensive since they are from the late 1880s.

I have a baseball signed by the 1961 Detroit Tigers. It’s in excellent condition, has never been handled and spent its first 40 years in tissue in the box and the last six in a plastic ball holder in a dark room. — Paul Cameron, Marietta, Ga.

The Tigers won 101 games in 1961, but still finished a whopping eight games behind the Yankees juggernaut led by Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris.

“If you want one, you will have your hands full finding one, but if you have one for sale, you will find it is not a hot commodity and there is not much demand,” said Robert Lifson, president of www.RobertEdwardsAuctions.com in New Jersey.

A ball signed by that Tigers team is worth $250 to $600.

Send questions to Babe Waxpak in care of The Washington Times, P.O. Box 492397, Redding, Calif., 96049-2397 or e-mail [email protected] Include card number, year and brand or a photocopy. Distributed by Scripps Howard.

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