The Autograph Expert

Signature Analysis and Signing Habits of Hall of Famer Stanley Raymond

S tanley Raymond Harris was born on November 8, 1896 on Ball Street in Port Jervis, NY. His father, Thomas, was a Welch immigrant and Pennsylvania coal miner who was a semi-pro battery mate with Hughie Jennings. On his mother's side, she derived from Swiss decent. A brother, Merle, is credited with teaching him basketball and baseball at an early age. Neighborhood friends dubbed him the moniker of "Bucky". His parents divorced shortly after moving to Pittston, PA in 1901 and at the age of thirteen, he quit school to work in a colliery.

The right-handed hitting and fielding (and writing) Harris got his first minor league position in 1915 after several years playing amateur ball for several coal mine teams in the area. The 5'9 ½", 156 lb. was given many of his early opportunities from nearby Scranton resident and Hall of Famer Hugh Jennings (born in Pittston) who invited him to try out with Detroit in spring training in 1916 down in Waxahachie, TX. From there, the shortstop turned third baseman turned second baseman, struggled in the Central League (Muskegon), Virginia League (Norfolk), New York State League (Reading), International League (Buffalo) and for an independent team (Baltimore Drydocks). He returned in 1919 to Buffalo where he excelled playing at second base and hit .282. Clark Griffith of Washington bought his contract for $5000 after being impressed by his play, suffering a broken finger in a double header.

His first full season (1920) was the only time he ever batted .300. Despite playing basketball in the off season against the wishes of Griffith, at the tender age of 27, he was awarded the manager's job in addition to his playing duties. The 1924 season was to become his finest. For the first time in the franchise's history, the Senators won the World Series in seven games against McGraw's Giants. His success made "The Boy Wonder" the talk of The Capitol's social circles and his marriage in 1926 to Elizabeth Sutherland, daughter of the former Senator Howard Sutherland from West Virginia, was considered a major social event. At the end of 1928, Griffith traded the "slowing down" Harris to Detroit where he played in a total of 11 games in two years while performing skipper duties.

From 1930 to 1956, Bucky exclusively managed for the next twenty-seven seasons. His resume at the helm of Major League clubs included Washington (3X), Detroit (2X), Boston, A.L., Philadelphia N.L., and New York A.L. where he won his only other World Series in 1947. Minor League managing and administrative stints included Buffalo of the International League (1944-46) and San Diego of the Pacific Coast League (1949). He then scouted, and handled "special assignments" for three A.L. clubs. Regarded as one of baseball's most knowledgeable and respected managers, Bucky gained the player's loyalty with his low-key approach and integrity. His failing health ended his baseball career in 1971 after the Senators moved to Texas. Suffering from Parkinson's, Harris spent most of his final years in a nursing home. Unable to attend his Hall of Fame Induction on August 18, 1975, he was elected by The Hall of Fame Committee of Baseball Veterans primarily for his managerial career. He died in Bethesda, MD on his 81st birthday on November 8, 1977. He was buried in Hughestown (PA) Cemetery with private funeral services. At his passing, his surviving children included D.C. Judge Stanley S. Harris, Stockbroker Richard S. Harris and Sally H. Gooch.

Harris was an obliging signer in the mail and in person like most sports figures of his time. On formal paperwork, he would typically sign Stanley R. Harris. with period punctuations, however, for autograph purposes, "Bucky" Harris. Much like my style, Bucky favored not lifting his pen off the paper when signing his name. The only break in the action came between the formations of the capital "H". His initial stroke was downward only to double over to form the two loops in the "B". Without delay, he would construct the fully legible "u-c-k-y" that tended to narrow the spacing between the more acutely angled "c-k" combination. The "y" dips slightly below the base line when it drags backwards make the initial stroke of the "H" Here's where he lifts the pen and forms a capital "j-like" interlocking stem that reaches upward into an open looped "a". The double "r"s are similar, moving into a traditional "i" and "s" that loops to the right. Towards the end of his life, responses to mail were sometimes unanswered, probably reflecting his poor health. His signature diminished in size, flow and speed. It became very scratchy and tightened up substantially.

Harris is not a particular target for forgers. The demand for his autograph is not substantial other than being a member of The Hall. 3x5 index cards are generally available at $65 and government postcards outdistance them at $100. Signed baseball cards are a minimum of $150, but this depends on the value and condition of the card. Yellow, or gold, Hall of Fame plaque postcards manufactured by the Curteichcolor Company are uncommon and should sell for $175-$200. This style can be found with either green or black back printing.

Surprisingly, personal cancelled checks have never appeared in the market, however, they would be a welcomed sight for collectors. It is impossible for Harris to have signed a Dexter (1978-9) or Mike Roberts Company (post-1980) era postcard. Perez-Steele Art Postcards on Harris were not printed until 1981. Single signed baseballs are rarer than hen's teeth and should start at $2,500 for anything decent. Typed-signed letters are infrequently offered at $400 and handwritten letters should sell at a premium of at least $600. Watch out for secretarial versions on ball club letterhead! Team signed baseballs and album pages are a more common form of his signature and the pricing is subjective. Bats, jerseys, hats, gloves and other popular post-1980 signed collectibles are not to be found.