Top 20 Baseball Autographs in the Hobby
The autographs that pass through the doors here at PSA/DNA are the lifeblood of the signature collecting hobby, and each has a special place for a given collector in the market.
In an effort to categorize those autographs that appeal to the widest range of collectors, we’ve elected to rank the top autographs from each sport.
Today, we discuss the Top 20 autographs from America’s most collected sport – baseball.
These twenty autographs are ranked according to a combination of factors, including popularity, historical significance and value.
Do you agree with our baseball list?
Read through the slideshow to see how we rank the Top 20 Baseball Autographs in the hobby.
Baseball’s all-time hit king may have tarnished his on-field reputation through gambling indiscretions, but that hasn’t slowed his proclivity for signing autographs.
While the ample supply of Rose autographs in the marketplace have suppressed his autograph’s value, it doesn’t change the fact that no autographed baseball collection is complete without Rose’s signature.
Looking for an interesting inscription? Rose has added "I'm sorry I bet on baseball" alongside some of his autographs.
Learn more about Pete Rose’s signature on PSA AutographFacts.
Never one to slight a collector, Lajoie featured a methodical, legible signature signed as "Larry Lajoie" and occasionally would sign his full name "Napolean Lajoie." As an added bonus, Lajoie dated a large number of his correspondences under his signature.
Learn more about Nap Lajoie’s signature on PSA AutographFacts.
Nolan Ryan’s signature could be compared to his best pitch – a fastball. It was typically signed quickly by Ryan who was an accommodating signer during his entire career.
As a rookie in 1966 with the Mets, Ryan’s signature was small but legible. By the time he reached the Angels in the 1970s, his autograph was large, full of life and character. In retirement, Ryan takes more time with his signature and even signs large quantities for charity.
Learn more about Nolan Ryan’s signature on PSA AutographFacts.
Finding a real signature of Joe Jackson is incredibly difficult. His signature appears on a number of stock certificates kept in his family and willed to his sister, who sold them in the early 1990s. Most are double-signed and rarely surface.
Jackson’s illiteracy was public knowledge and his signature was childlike. He wrote his name with his wife’s help. The end result was choppy and barely legible, which explains why he did it so infrequently.
Learn more about Joe Jackson’s signature on PSA AutographFacts.
This powerful slugger’s autograph is almost a thing of legend. While some examples exist, they rarely surface (and when they do, they command staggering prices).
Gibson’s autograph is elusive and the reason is simple – Negro League players were rarely asked for their signatures. When they were, they were not placed on premium items, and instead, found their way onto scraps of paper or scorecards.
The former catcher’s scrawl was just that – very childlike, slow and deliberate. Gibson, who died at the young age of 35, struggled to sign his name and offered three common variants: Joshua Gibson, Josh Gibson and J. Gibson.
Learn more about Josh Gibson’s signature on PSA AutographFacts.
Joe DiMaggio’s signature went through developing stages early in his life, when he was still wrestling with exactly how to sign his name. While his signature went through some changes in the 1940s, it remained almost the same throughout his life.
As the years progressed, especially after the 1970s, DiMaggio’s long and looping "g's" in his last name became smaller but, overall, his autograph remained a work of art.
Learn more about Joe DiMaggio’s signature on PSA AutographFacts.
A prolific signer and letter writer during his post career, Cy Young was a great signer via the mail and in person, signing autographs right up until his death in 1955.
Cy Young’s autograph is not in abundance, but finding a signature on a 3x5 or government postcard is not a challenge. However, materials signed by Young during his playing days are virtually non-existent. Single-signed baseballs are very difficult to acquire, as are autographed photos.
Learn more about Cy Young’s signature on PSA AutographFacts.
Williams’ autograph was highly marketed in the 1980s and early 1990s while Teddy Ballgame was a fixture on the sports memorabilia show circuit. His signature remained relatively consistent from the 1960s, until 1994, when Williams had the first of his two strokes.
A treat for collectors for over five decades, William’s signature was always unmistakable, large and graceful.
Learn more about Ted Williams’ signature on PSA AutographFacts.
Met Ott’s name was short, but that didn't keep the legendary ballplayer from making a beautiful autograph for fans and collectors. Simply penned "Mel Ott" for the majority of his career, his autograph was very legible.
During the late 1920s, he signed his full name "Melvin Ott" from time to time, mostly on team-signed baseballs. Also during the 1940s, a clubhouse attendant occasionally signed team baseballs for him.
Ott's autograph can be found on a variety of items, including 3x5s, GPCs and album pages, which are the most common.
Learn more about Mel Ott’s signature on PSA AutographFacts.
During Christy Mathewson's playing career, signing autographs for fans was not common. The practice of fans asking players for autographs didn't start in earnest until the 1920s, as the popularity of Babe Ruth helped change the game.
A handful of Mathewson checks from the 1920s have made their way into the hobby, mostly thanks to his wife who used to honor fan requests by sending his cancelled checks through the mail. These collectibles are coveted and bring a premium in the marketplace.
Learn more about Christy Mathewson’s signature on PSA AutographFacts.
The Big Train’s signature was typically very neat and almost always legible. When signing the sweet spot of a baseball, his signature would take up the entire space, making for a beautiful keepsake.
Johnson died at age 59 in 1946, before mailing requests to players' homes was commonplace, making his autograph tough.
Learn more about Walter Johnson’s signature on PSA AutographFacts.
Foxx often changed with his signature, signing many variations of his name, including "Jim Foxx", "Jimmie Foxx" and "Jimy Foxx."
Double X’s signature also changed in style. The "J" in his first name went through a transformation, looking dramatically different over the years.
Most of the authentic Foxx material seen on the market is from the 1950s and 1960s. That said, collectors should be careful with vintage signed letters, photos and postcards.
Learn more about Jimmie Foxx's signature on PSA AutographFacts.
Derek Sanderson Jeter’s popular signature is compact and to the point. The Yankees legend’s autograph has certainly evolved from his high school and minor league scrawl to his major league signature. Due to a long-term signature deal with Steiner Sports, finding Jeter's autograph shouldn't be an issue on baseballs, photos and jerseys.
Early Jeter signatures, signed before he hit New York, are in short supply and should be considered rare by modern standards.
Learn more about Jeter’s signature on PSA AutographFacts.
Sanford "Sandy" Koufax's signature is handsome and legible. Today his signature has become less precise from what it was in the 1960s and 1970s, but it still remains a gorgeous creation.
Koufax only signs approximately a thousand autographs each year, all done during a single, private signing.
Koufax single-signed baseballs command a serious price in the marketplace and are in great demand.
Learn more about Sandy Koufax’s signature on PSA AutographFacts.
Roberto Clemente, who perished in a plane crash in 1972 while en route to Nicaragua, possessed one of the most desirable signatures in baseball. Obviously, his autograph is scarce for the above-mentioned reason but it is also tough as a result of something else.
What is it? Find out on PSA AutographFacts.
Ty Cobb, known for this tenacity on the field, signed frequently off the field. Most of the material known of Cobb is from his post-playing days. Signatures from Cobb's playing days exist in decent numbers, but are certainly tougher to find than ones penned after his retirement from the game.
One of the most prolific letter writers in baseball history, Cobb would often pen long letters of correspondence to family, friends and fans alike. In addition, his signature took many shapes and forms during his life.
Learn more about Cobb’s signature on PSA AutographFacts.
Jackie Robinson's number (42) is officially retired by every major league ballpark and his legendary status continues to grow to this day.
#42’s signature developed over the years and evolved from a signature with very little authority to a fast flowing signature with authority. This transformation began prior to his professional career and continued up until his death.
Thanks to the sale of his cancelled checks and correspondence, signed Robinson material is not rare, but it is valuable.
Learn more about Robinson’s signature on PSA AutographFacts.
Gehrig's autograph was typically penned so every letter was legible but, if hurried, he would occasionally sign an abbreviated version dropping the "ou" and just signing "L. Gehrig."
After his retirement from baseball in 1939, Gehrig signed very few items, with most of his correspondence and requests for his autograph handled by his wife Eleanor.
The Iron Horse’s career and life was cut short by Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Gehrig died in 1941, two years after retiring from baseball. Most of the Gehrig material that survives has been penned on team-signed baseballs.
Learn all the details of Gehrig’s signature at PSA AutographFacts.
In the 1950s, Mantle’s signature went through some small changes, going from a very upright and innocent looking signature to a more stylish version. In 1956, this more stylish version of his signature took hold and it became slightly more flamboyant as the years went on.
During much of his playing career, Mantle rarely signed. Occasionally, he signed an autograph at the ballpark, team hotel or during spring training. He rarely signed team baseballs or fan mail.
Get all of the details on Mantle’s signature at PSA AutographFacts.
Who else? In the world of autographs, there is nothing more symbolic than this man's graceful stroke.
Babe Ruth's autograph is, quite simply, the most desired in the hobby. Luckily for contemporary fans, Ruth was, perhaps, the most prolific signer of his era. Nevertheless, the zeal for items signed by the Sultan of Swat has not wavered in nearly 80 years, leaving demand to outweigh supply.
Fittingly, Ruth's signature was quite representative of the man – bold, flamboyant and striking. During the prime of his career, Ruth often would place quotes around "Babe" when signing his name. This practice mainly ceased during the late 1920s.
In the latter stages of his life, when Ruth was being treated for cancer, he had a nurse sign some of his fan mail. Although these were non-malicious forgeries, it is still important to note.
There are also several variations of his signature. From the abbreviated "GH Ruth" often found on cancelled checks, to his popular "Babe Ruth" to his rare, full-name version "George Herman Ruth," they are all highly desirable. Any one of the Babe's signatures would sit center stage in a serious autograph collection.
Get full details on Ruth’s signature at PSA AutographFacts.
Want more? Check out PSA Lists.