On Presidents’ Day, Major League Baseball’s forgotten star Dale Murphy was doing some garage clearing when he came across a baseball signed by one of America’s Commander in Chiefs:
Awesome, right? An autograph by a former President of the United States on a ball used to play America’s past time. And, on top of that, the former POTUS inscribed a message. What can stink about that?
Enter Deadspin, sport’s investigative journalist and occasional party pooper. In a post entitled “Dale Murphy Once Got A Lame Autograph from Richard Nixon,” Deadspin writer Tom Ley downplays the piece of memorabilia:
Two things: Richard Nixon’s handwriting was kind of terrible, and that autograph is bland and impersonal and uninspiring in a perfectly Nixonian kind of way. I like to imagine that Nixon spent a good five minutes coming up with that message, settling on it after also considering, “To Dale Murphy, swing that bat-Richard Nixon” and “To Dale Murphy, from a human man-Richard Nixon.”
To judge Nixon’s handwriting solely on a signature on a baseball is not fair to Nixon’s right hand. Tom Ley, like many others, do not realize how difficult signing a baseball actually is compared to, say, signing your name on a document. There is no flat surface (it is a ball after all), and, most times, there is not a table or a flat surface that you can use for support, either. Pay attention the next time you see a baseball player signing autographs. Many players take the ball, hunch over, and either rest it on their knee or their waist. Those are techniques one learns after signing baseball after baseball for years. Nixon did not have the slightest idea of “the hunch:”
Nixon’s non-baseball signature was actually rather decent; legible and clean:
It was definitely the baseball that affected the handwriting, and isn’t that what makes it unique?
Josh Hader, an 18-year old pitcher in the Baltimore Orioles organization agrees that signing a baseball was “a little awkward” at first, “but you get used to it:”
And what exactly is wrong with that inscription? How much would you pay to have a POTUS write something addressed to you, stating that he is a fan of yours?What does Tom Ley want? Does, “Dear Dale, You’re going to hit 398 career home runs and win two MVP awards but never make the Hall of Fame. Love, Richard Nixon,” sound better?