CooperstownExpert.com is proud to be the venue for the display of one collector’s lifelong pursuit of baseball autographs. Jim Smiley began seeking signatures of members of the Baseball Hall of Fame in the early 1980s. His first foray into purchasing autographs came when Ty Cobb’s granddaughter flooded the market with canceled personal checks of the Tiger great. The princely sum of $40 secured the autograph of The Georgia Peach and so began an obsession with learning about baseball history through collecting autographs.
An ESPN SportsTicker reporter from 1992-2007, Jim has covered the Dodgers as a credentialed member of the media for more than two decades. During that time he has reported from the Baseball Winter Meetings and the World Baseball Classic. Along the way he established and cultivated relationships throughout the game in the United States and Japan. Jim and his collection have been featured on ESPN and on television, radio, Internet interviews, and newspapers coast-to-coast.
More than three decades in the making, Jim’s collection has the autograph of all but three Hall of Fame members who debuted in Major League Baseball since 1900. He hopes to someday come across the signatures of those three players, Eddie Plank, Adie Joss, and Ross Youngs.
CooperstownExpert.com features many signatures of players in the 1800s as well. Here you can see the autographs of Cap Anson baseball’s first member of the 3,000 hit club, Jack Chesbro the last 40-game winner, Morgan Bulkeley the first National League president, and early contributors Henry Chadwick and Alexander Cartwright. Add to the list the signatures of 1800s men Cy Young, Honus Wagner, Amos Rusie, Hugh Jennings, Harry and George Wright, Jesse Burkett, Barney Dreyfuss and other and the depth and breadth of the collection becomes astonishing.
Even the Hall of Famers whose autographs are absent from the collection have a page on CooperstownExpert.com. Sliding Billy Hamilton who first wore a big league uniform in 1888 is represented in the collection with his personally owned solid silver Lifetime Pass to both National and American League games. John Montgomery Ward and his 1879 debut are in the collection with correspondence between Ward and a pair of signed letters from Al “Deerfoot” Kaiser. Every member of the Hall of Fame has a page on the site.
Many shinning stars and contributors to the game are also on the site. Locks for enshrinement like Derek Jeter and Bruce Bochy have pages as do players just below the Cooperstown bar – Dave Parker, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat and the like. You can read about Gentleman Joe Moeller the youngest LA Dodger starting pitcher who spent a lifetime in the game or Fred Goldsmith who lays claim to the invention of the curveball.
CooperstownExpert.com isn’t limited to player pages. Stunning Stories and Historical Happenings are there as well. You can read about Barry Bonds’ battle with an official scorer, Cal Ripken’s quest to break Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played streak, or even about the Dodgers’ longtime organist, Nancy Bea Hefley.
There’s quite simply no other site like CooperstownExpert.com on the Internet. We encourage you to peruse the site, uncover your favorite pages, and offer your feedback, comments, questions and corrections. Out of the vault and onto the Internet, this collection in here for the public to enjoy.