What’s in a name? Nickname autographs can add some variety to your collection

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By Ryan Cracknell | Hobby Editor

You’re an old-school football fan and have amassed a half-dozen Joe Namath autographs over the years. But do you have a “Broadway Joe”? If a Yankees fan pulls a standard Dustin Pedroia autograph, the reaction might be one of, “meh.” Make it a “Muddy Chicken” and, chances are, even the deepest of rivalries can be set aside.

Notable-Nicknames

Let’s face it, autographs are everywhere in today’s hobby. There’s a reason for that. But with so many out there, it takes a little something extra to make them special. To me, nickname autographs are one of those things. It’s a niche that adds something personalized. And they’re not too common, either.

Nickname autographs on sports cards have been around in various forms for more than almost two decades. With the growing number of high-end products over the last few years, they’ve become a little more common. Most sports have seen varying degrees of cards signed with player monikers. Even UFC cards have gotten in on the action. Yes, that means you can look for the likes of “Cupcake” and “Uncle Creepy.”

UFC Nickname Autographs

Then there are those cards that are intended to have nicknames but are missing the inscription. But we’ll save that for another time.

Most nickname autographs come in dedicated insert sets, which gives you the opportunity to go beyond a favorite player. Some of these can get quite pricey, but there are a couple that aren’t.

Another side perk of these types of autographs is the penmanship. Although not always the case, most give the impression that a little bit (or a lot) of extra time was taken.

2012 Playoff Prime Cuts Notable Nicknames Frank Howard

There are also those cards that take something that would normally be undesirable and give it something of a spin. I’m not sure I’d want to have an Aaron Hernandez autograph under normal circumstances, but this¬†2010 Press Press PE Sideline Signatures card isn’t normal.

2010 Press Pass Sideline Signatures Aaron Hernandez Chico

By far the most prolific insert when it comes to these types of cards is Notable Nicknames. It started all the way back in 1997 Donruss Signature Baseball and has continued off and on through to the present day at Panini. Notable Nicknames has bounced around a few brands but most recently it has settled in at National Treasures.

2012-13 Panini National Treasures Notable Nicknames Karl Malone

2012-13 Panini Classics Notable Nicknames Johnny Bower The China Wall

If you’re a baseball fan and National Treasures is out of reach, 2006 Fleer Greats of the Game Nickname Greats is a fantastic set. The base version highlights nicknames. That continues into the autographs where some great inscriptions can be found. My Tim “Rock” Raines didn’t cost me much, but it’s one of my favorite cards in my Expos collection simply because it’s different. Another favorite of mine is Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams, which not only has his name, but the attitude he had as a dominant closer back in the day, pre-Joe Carter World Series-winning home run.

2006 Fleer Greats of the Game Nickname Greats Mitch Williams Wild Thing

Whichever the sport, no matter the set, if you’re looking to add something different to your autograph collection, consider taking the time to hunt down some nicknames.

1997 Donruss Signatures Series Notable Nicknames Tony Clark 2001 Donruss Signature Series Master Series Signatures Ernie Banks Mr Cub 2003 Fleer Authentix Auto Patch Nolan Ryan Ryan Express 2011 Playoff Prime Cuts Notable Nicknames Jose Bautista Joey Bats 2012 Playoff Prime Cuts Notable Nicknames Johnny Bench The Little General 2012-13 Panini Classics Notable Nicknames Bobby Hull The Golden Jet 2011 Topps Five Star Quotable Autographs Greg Little Freak 2013 Panini National Treasures Notable Nicknames Joe Montana 2014-15 Panini National Treasures Notable Nicknames Jusuf Nurkic Bosnian Beast

Comments? Questions? Contact Ryan Cracknell on Twitter @tradercracks.

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Ryan Cracknell

A collector for much of his life, Ryan focuses primarily on building sets, Montreal Expos and interesting cards. He's also got one of the most comprehensive collections of John Jaha cards in existence (not that there are a lot of them). Got a question, story idea or want to get in touch? You can reach him by email and through Twitter @tradercracks.

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2 comments

  1. Larry 2 February, 2016 at 17:47

    I just found a demaryius “bay bay” thomas card on an eBay auction. I might have to bid, he is in the super bowl in a week.

  2. Travis 2 February, 2016 at 22:53

    I was able to get my favorite driver Kevin Harvick, autograph nickname card 1/5 “Happy” and went out and got the regular version autograph card as well. Had to have both versions

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