You wouldn’t believe how I got my Letterman auto

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor | Commentary

As David Letterman prepares for his final show on Wednesday — a career that has spanned more years than I’ve been alive — I couldn’t help but think about one autographed photo in my collection.

Exactly when I got it, I don’t remember. I didn’t see him sign it, either, but I’m fairly confident that it’s real.

The best part? You wouldn’t believe how I got it more than 20 years ago.


What did it cost me? Very little — either two stamps or a few minutes to type an email. Seriously, the guy who has pretty much worked all these years — 6,028 broadcasts and more than 19,900 guests as of tomorrow per CBS — took the time to sign autographs for fans who took the time to write a letter or send a message politely requesting one.

I really don’t remember many other details about my autograph at this point. However, I do remember getting a simple 8-by-10 envelope in the mail one day with one sweet piece of baseball memorabilia inside. (I’m calling it baseball — he’s holding a bat!) There are no markings on the photo other than his black-ink signature that’s partly obscured by his jacket.

It’s a simple black and white glossy print on photo paper with a small white border. No copyrights, no corporate logos. It’s just a photo symbolic of a different time for collecting — though maybe his signing habits have never wavered. (I have no idea — my through-the-mail autograph days are long since retired.) Now that I think about it, the photo probably arrived in a Worldwide Pants envelope now that I think about it — but I didn’t save that. (Five moves, four states in 20 years — envelopes aren’t as important as what comes in them.)

Today, this autograph resides in my collection inside a Beckett Grading Services slab with a James Spence Authentication stamp of approval — I have few doubts that it’s not legit. I’m sure there are many other Letterman guests in my collection — no Bill Murray though, but I know I have a Jerry “The King” Lawler. (Still need a Drew Barrymore.)




All these years later, he doesn’t have a single authorized trading card appearance — or even any cut autographs — in the Beckett database. That’s surprising to me. He does have an appearance in an Avengers comic. I have one of these tucked away somewhere for when they make that book into a movie. (Might happen. You don’t know.)

I’m sure card companies have tried to land him for sets in the past. Maybe that’s still a possibility for the future. With nearly 20,000 guests, I’d imagine an autograph checklist and highlights set might have some potential.

That’s a fun idea for a collection … now I need to go find a list of past guests whose autographs need to go with my Letterman.

I have a feeling they might cost me more, too.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Sports Card Monthly magazines. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

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  1. Peter 19 May, 2015 at 20:15

    Bill Murray is part owner of the St Paul Saints. A few years ago they hosted the American Association All Star Game and Bill Murray was there. Luckily I had a baseball with me and got him to sign it for me before the game. During the game I remembered I had this cool card of him as Carl Spackler that came in the 20th or 25th Anniversary DVD package. I raced home 20 miles, found it, and made it back just as the game ended. Bill was down on the field visiting with the players. His autograph on this card is one of the prizes of my collection.

    p.s. – the St Paul Saints first game in their new CHS Field is this Thursday night. I was at an exhibition game there yesterday and had a long, fun conversation with the majority of the team, Mike Veeck, who confirmed that Bill Murray will be there Thursday night. If you’d like me to get his autograph on something, let me know…we might be able to work out some sort of trade.

  2. David D 19 May, 2015 at 21:05

    and-you need a Reggie auto too on a large 8 by 10 photo for your memorabilia collection, Chris!

  3. John Russell 26 May, 2015 at 16:27

    He would still sign, up to the very end. I sent him a photo about a month before the final show. It came back unsigned, but he did send his own (better) 8×10 signed in silver. Class act.

  4. Patrick 26 August, 2021 at 08:10

    I got Stan lee to sign my copy of avengers meet David letterman but I don’t think I’ll every be able to get David’s autograph

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