World leaders sign baseballs In this photo taken Friday, Sept. 30, 2016, autographed baseballs signed by Democratic and Republican presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and their running mates Tim Kaine and Mike Pence, are on display in Garden City, N.Y., at the Cradle of Aviation Museum. (AP Photo/Frank Eltman)
World leaders sign baseballs
Lexile

Move over Mantle and Mays. Make room for Mandela and Gorbachev.
 
Randy Kaplan has spent the past two decades tracking down world leaders for their signatures on baseballs, a quirky melding of memorabilia and history that has resulted in an impressive collection of more than 200 autographs from presidents, prime ministers, two kings and the Dalai Lama.
 
"It's been a passion, a labor of love and an obsession," says the 50-year-old Kaplan of Garden City, N.Y., a lifelong collector whose day job is in government affairs for a real estate trade group.
 
It began almost as a fluke in 1996 when he positioned himself outside a speech and got President Bill Clinton to sign a ball. The next day, Republican Sen. Robert Dole appeared at the same event, signed a ball and Kaplan was on his way.
 
Through the years, he has collected baseballs from Israeli President Shimon Peres, Vicente Fox of Mexico, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and some leaders who had no clue what a baseball even was.
 
One of his proudest moments came when Mikhail Gorbachev signed a ball during the former Soviet leader's short U.S. book tour in the late 1990s.
 
"He stands up, smiles, pushes the security guard away, takes the ball, sits down and signs it. That was amazing," says Kaplan, whose baseballs - along with bats signed by every living U.S. president - are on display through the presidential election (and the baseball playoffs) at Long Island's Cradle of Aviation Museum.
 
A timely feature of the exhibit: signed baseballs from Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump sharing a display case together.
 
Kaplan declined to put a price tag on the collection, which he said reflected countless hours of work staking out world leaders on visits to the United Nations, at speeches and other public events. Other times, he networks with friends through his business, or writes to ambassadors asking for signed baseballs.
 
Although Pope Francis has not signed a ball, Kaplan has acquired signatures from about 20 cardinals who may someday ascend to the papacy. He says he does his homework and has gotten signatures of a country's lower-ranking political officials before they become president or prime minister.
 
Still on his wish list: Former Cuban President Fidel Castro - a known baseball fanatic - Britain's Prince Charles and Kaplan's holy grail of signed baseballs, Russian President Vladimir Putin.
 
"Toughest signature on the planet," he says.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why were the autographs collected on baseballs instead of some other object?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (41)
  • zakrym-ste
    10/21/2016 - 01:00 p.m.

    I would never take a ball from that murderer. She should be in jail, not running to be a leader. I run over that ball with a lawn mower.

    • dylanb-pel
      10/24/2016 - 10:21 a.m.

      So true best comment ever

  • irisp-ste
    10/24/2016 - 09:22 a.m.

    The autographs collected on the baseballs has been an ongoing tradition for many players to take part in. The baseball signifies the classic American game and the player actually signing the ball adds even more value.

  • jakobm-pel
    10/24/2016 - 09:58 a.m.

    It probably meant something to him,which might have symbolized something from his past.

  • austinw-pel
    10/24/2016 - 10:19 a.m.

    Because he has a passion for baseball so he decided to get something he is passionate about and make it worth more to him

  • dylanb-pel
    10/24/2016 - 10:19 a.m.

    Baseball is a very important sport back when Babe Ruth was playing Baseball was big and it would be priceless if he got world leaders to sign these baseballs.

  • anibelm-pel
    10/24/2016 - 10:27 a.m.

    The guy liked baseball and it made it easier for him to save it. He would get famous baseball players to sign them as well. That's what he started using when he began to get autographs.

  • peytonw-cel
    10/24/2016 - 10:51 a.m.

    Some leaders don't even know what a baseball is. It's spreading the sport around the globe. These leaders of these different countries are seeing a new sport. Baseballs are usually signed when it comes to the sport and there's not a lot of other objects being signed. Baseballs are a common thing that gets signed by famous people so that's another reason.

  • calebw1-pel
    10/24/2016 - 11:04 a.m.

    They were collected on baseballs because Kaplan just said that it has been a passion of his when he started in the 1960's.

  • rodolfoc-pel
    10/24/2016 - 11:04 a.m.

    That is Randy Kaplan's passion.He is involved in government affairs. He gets autographs from leaders from all around the world. He has over 200 autographs from presidents, prime ministers, kings, and other specific leaders.

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