I have a Khoury League baseball with a dozen or so autographs by pro baseball players from the 1950s-60s era, including Duke Snider, Stan Musial and Sandy Koufax. They certainly look real, but I have found no way to verify them. How could I have these signatures authenticated? -- R.T., of Belleville
If you want to swing for the fences when you sell that ball, you may have to step up to the plate with some big league bucks to have the ball examined by an online authentication service.
That's the pitch I get from my sportswriting colleagues Norm Sanders and Steve Korte, who add that big names may be worth the investment but your run-of-the-mill players may not.
If you decide to go ahead, one of your best bets may be the PSA/DNA Authentication Service at www.psacard.com on the Internet.
Founded in 1991, Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) bills itself as the largest third-party grading and authentication company in the world. Since it opened, it says it has certified more than 21 million collectibles from baseball cards to concert tickets to Super Bowl rings. In 1998, it started PSA/DNA in response to widespread counterfeiting, forgery and piracy of autographed collectibles.
What you'll have to do is send them the ball -- and, of course, a check. The cost depends on what is the most valuable signature on the ball along with the total number of signatures. You'll find a lengthy list of fees on the website.
For example, verifying a Koufax signature alone is $50 as opposed to $25 for a Musial. But in either case, you can have five to 19 signatures on a ball verified for $100. If they are genuine, you then could choose to pay an additional $75 to have the autographs graded on a scale of 1-10.
What you'll get for your money is a letter of authentication and a grade of the autograph condition. They estimate that the turnaround time is about 20 days.
For complete information about their services and what items can fetch, go to their website or call 800-325-1121 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. To deal with someone local, PSA has two authorized St. Louis dealers: Goodwin & Co. at 9607 Mill Hill Lane (314-849-9798 or www.goodwinandco.com) and All-Star Sportscards (314-469-6161).
Thanks for telling us recently about the sad passing of Bruce Bradley. What an intelligent and interesting personality he was. I heard that he was writing a book called "God of Skeptics, Scoundrels and the Mildly Curious." (Doesn't this sound like him?) Was the book ever published? -- C.R., of Trenton
It looks like his legacy may be limited to your memories of his voice on the radio. He apparently checked off the air without ever seeing that book in print. I find no indication that such a book was ever published by Bradley or anyone else.
Vickie Newton back
If you haven't stumbled across her yet, former KMOV-TV star Vickie Newton has returned to the airwaves, this time anchoring the George Zimmerman trial in Florida for the new Soul of the South Network.
Based in Little Rock, Ark., the new network, which launched on Memorial Day, was started to "celebrate and honor the culture of the South, especially African-American," according to former Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Richard Mays, the network's board chairman.
Find more at www.ssn.tv or Newton's website, www.thevillagecelebration.com.
Zeno Birkner, of Belleville, wrote to say that my recent column confirmed what his dad had told him about the old railroad stop northwest of Belleville known as Birkner Station. He said when the railroad (now MetroLink) came up the valley, his great-great-grandfather Johan/John gave an easement -- provided they set up a rail stop known as Birkner Station. Johan later moved to the Hecker area, where he is buried.
In addition, Doug Gain of the Belleville Historical Society says he has acquired a badge from the mineworkers union local at Birkner, leading him to suspect that Birkner was largely a mining settlement until the coal ran out.
What Middle Eastern capital was once known as Philadelphia?
Answer to Thursday's trivia: She might show it off when she's performing, but nobody had better try to touch singer-dancer Jenny Frost's navel. Along with being afraid of heights, rats and snakes, she says she is an omphalophobe -- or someone who fears having her bellybutton touched or tugged by herself or others. "I really, really, really hate bellybuttons," she said once. "I've got a completely irrational fear of them. Plus I find it painful. It's like I will vomit on you if you touch my bellybutton." The word comes from the Greek "omphalos" for "navel" and "phobos" for "fear."
Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427 or firstname.lastname@example.org or call 239-2465.