The following is intended as a warning to memorabilia and autograph collectors. The Pujols Family Foundation is NOT an authenticator of signatures. Please use caution when purchasing ANY autographed item and seek the service of an authenticating professional before you buy.
By Todd Perry, Executive Director
Pujols Family Foundation
Please be aware that many top autograph authenticators say that Albert Pujols is one of the most forged signatures in the hobby today. The reasons vary, but unfortunately the main reason is that due to Albert's very rare signing appearances, supply and demand has driven his signature to near the top of retail price points in the hobby market. Anytime this happens, dishonest and unscrupulous people try to take advantage of the unknowing public with fake and forged signatures on a variety of items and memorabilia.
Now that Albert and the Cardinals have their first World Championship in 25 years, the supply and the demand will grow even higher for Albert's signature and so will the number of fakes on auction sites like eBay.
The on-line memorabilia store at PujolsFamilyFoundation.org is the only place I know where Albert Pujols regularly signs and releases authentic game used memorabilia. Please note: Albert does not accept any compensation from any of the items sold at our on-line store. There is no broker or middle man in any of these transactions. 100% of the purchase price for any item goes directly to the ongoing work of the Pujols Family Foundation.
Here are a few basic rules to remember when buying Albert's signature:
1) If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The market determines the retail of true, authentic memorabilia. If someone has something listed at 20% to 50% off of actual value… BEWARE!
2) Please note: Albert does not sign jerseys or bats for the public. If there is a bat or jersey for sale, without documentation from the St. Louis Cardinals or the Pujols Family Foundation, I would be very wary. If the description says something like: "I got this bat signed at the team hotel when Albert came to town…" chances are the item is fake. The Foundation's memorabilia store is the only place I currently know where you can buy an authentic autographed Pujols bat.
3) I was told at the Winter Warm Up in 2006 that some dealer had 60-signed Pujols jerseys he was looking to sell. I actually saw one of the signed jerseys and the signature looked pretty good… the problem is, I know Albert did not sign 60 jerseys all year in 2005! Albert hardly ever signs jerseys. When I say "hardly ever"…. let me put that into perspective… in the almost two years I have worked for him, I have seen him sign less than 12 jerseys. If someone shows up with Pujols signed jerseys in bulk, please let us know, then… Run! Authentic autographed Pujols jerseys are very, very rare.
4) As for game used items: Buyer Beware! There are a number of bad items with letters from some pretty reputable authenticators who clearly don't have all of the facts. For instance, Albert has told me directly: "I have never swung a Mizuno bat in a Major League game… ever." Yet, there are several dozen "Game Used" Mizuno bats in the hobby as we speak. Most of these game used items are very big-ticket items, so there are a lot of incentives to cheat here. Another important detail is that Albert does not go through a great number of jerseys during the year (like some superstar players), so the number of authentic Pujols game worn jerseys is always very low when compared to his peers. For more information about game used Pujols items, here's a resource of a great article published in 2005 in Sports Collector's Digest from Rob Steinmetz and recently updated by Rob Steinmetz and Jeff Scott in 2006:
5) Albert will not sign anything sent to the foundation or to his home.
6) Remember, a Certificate of Authenticity (COA) is only as good as the organization behind it. You can usually bank on authentic letters from MLB, Cardinals Care, and of course, the PFF representing authentic merchandise; however, please know that these letters themselves can also be doctored and forged. Our PFF hologram will always be numbered and the number will match both the item and the COA. Just remember, a COA from "Earl's Collectibles" is only as good as ol' Earl himself…. Know who you are buying from. Ask questions. If you have ANY doubts… pass on the item.
7) 2006 World Series Team signed memorabilia: There are very, very few authentically team signed World Series items in existence. I have only seen two (and they both belonged to Albert), and I have yet to see a legitimate WS team signed item on eBay.
In no way are we trying to corner the market or say unless you purchase your signed items from the PFF store, they are fake. What I am saying is that there is an epidemic of fake and forged Pujols signatures in the hobby right now. Our on-line store is simply our way of bringing authentic Albert Pujols memorabilia to the collector, while helping those less fortunate. Please email me directly with any questions or comments - email@example.com. I would like to post some of your comments on the site to share with others.
Please be careful out there!
01.02.07 UPDATE from Todd Perry
Over the past several days I have been getting a lot of e-mail asking me to authenticate their Albert Pujols memorabilia. First let me say, that in hindsight, I probably asked for that one seeing that I posted a gallery of 'Junk Signatures' that I pulled down off of eBay.
Even though I have seen Albert sign his name thousands of times, and am very familiar with his signature and how it has changed over the past 6 years, I am not an authenticator.
For this reason, I am pulling down the 'Junk Gallery' and letting my article stand on it's own. Just remember: With any signed memorabilia, you should educate yourself on what a real autograph looks like and buy only from people you know and trust.
Finally, the PFF exists to help people. Nothing more, nothing less.
Have a great New Year,