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Justice Sotomayor will not sign baseballs ...

There was a report in the Washington Post about our newest Supreme Court Associate Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, taking part in the surrounding festivities of a Congressional Women’s Softball Game in early June.

The game between female lawmakers and reporters was a fundraiser for a breast cancer charity, and the new Justice signed autographs for fans as she mingled in the congressional-side dugout. According to the Post, she would sign lots of stuff – programs, wristbands and T-shirts were mentioned – but balked at attaching her signature to a softball.


“Oh, I can’t sign that,” she told them, “because of the baseball case.” She added that she would sign anything else – just not a ball.

Sotomayor, as a federal district court judge in 1995, is widely credited with “saving baseball” when she ruled in favor of the players in the spring of 1995, ending the disastrous seven-month labor impasse that had so severely stained the game.

President Obama took note of her role in rescuing the 1995 season, citing it as a landmark achievement as he announced her selection as a nominee to the high court.

The Post story said that the new Justice didn’t precisely explain why she wouldn’t sign a ball, but the combination of her “because of the baseball case” quote and the historical context was more than enough to posit the surmise that she didn’t want a signed baseball with her signature showing up in an online auction.

The intrepid Post reporter even got confirmation of that conclusion from a spokeswoman from the Supreme Court. I would have tried to contact the Court for the same kind of confirmation, but they haven’t exactly been taking my calls since I tried to get Clarence Thomas to take the Coke-Pepsi Challenge with me in 1991. I thought the restraining order was a little over the top, but I guess I can take a hint.

Anyway, the Post story took the next logical step and went to the expert, Brandon Steiner of Steiner Sports Memorabilia, to ask what a Sotomayor-signed ball might fetch. Steiner opined that if there were only a couple, they might bring $599-$600 each; if she only signed one, it might go as high as $3,000.

To provide some context for the uninitiated, he said a Babe Ruth ball sells for $75,000-$80,000; a Derek Jeter ball could be found on the website for all of $514.99.

Ever the entrepreneur, he pitched his own idea for the new Justice: a limited-edition signing of, say, 500 balls that might sell for $50 to $100 apiece, with the proceeds going to charity.

“We’d be more than happy to help her expedite that, by the way,” the Post reported Steiner as volunteering.

I wonder if any of those Congressional knuckleheads now ostensibly playing hardball with Elena Kagan will think to ask her about her sports memorabilia signing habits. At least it would be something for which she could presumably provide a straight answer.

Meanwhile, the Democrats await their turn in anticipation of tossing Kagan some of those very same softballs that her fellow Justice, Sotomayor, won’t sign.

Golly, I love it when politics and the sports memorabilia hobby get all mixed up. Anybody want to buy my Pete Rose signed copy of the Dowd Report?