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Yasiel Puig among most-forged autographs in collectibles industry

Big League Stew

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If you happen to own a Yasiel Puig autograph and you didn't watch him sign the item in your presence, there's a good chance it's not his signature at all. At least 50-50, and likely higher. Among living athletes, only the signature of Michael Jordan is forged more often.

In another sign that Puig already has become one of the top sports stars in North America, he has been listed among the top 10 "most dangerous" autographs by PSA/DNA Authentication Services, says company president Joe Orlando. Puig is seventh on the list, after Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio and Jordan. The giants of sport.

It's pretty amazing that Puig ranks with them, considering he just finished his rookie season with the Los Angeles Dodgers two months ago. Batting .319/.391/.534 with 19 homers in 432 plate appearances, Puig also made spectacular plays on defense, and the bases, and he made spectacular mistakes all over the field. No player was more exciting, good and bad, in Major League Baseball. So it figures that collectors would want his signature. But above those of Muhammad Ali, Tiger Woods, Derek Jeter, Wayne Gretzky and LeBron James? Enough to fake? Apparently, so. From Sports Collectors Daily:

“It’s not uncommon for us to reject 50 percent or more of the signatures submitted to our company, especially when it comes to the more prominent names,” explained PSA/DNA authenticator Steve Grad who is one of the featured experts on the popular television series, “Pawn Stars.”

“PSA/DNA does not often receive obvious forgeries for evaluation,” said Orlando. “So, if our rejection rate for a particular autograph approaches 50 percent, then you can only imagine how high the percentage of forgeries actually might be in the overall marketplace.”

Puig couldn't have been able to participate in many card and memorabilia shows, with him being so new to the scene. So his authentic name couldn't have flooded the marketplace yet. This serves as a reminder to be smart about paying for autographs. Be there when the celebrity signs, or know the person who's there when the celebrity signs. If that can't be done, expect to pay a hefty amount for an item that has been authenticated.

Better yet, make like William Shatner and offer your hand to shake when coming across a celebrity. If you must take something from him or her, let it be their germs.

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David Brown is an editor and a Secret Santa for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rdbrown@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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