|Friday, July 26
Updated: July 27, 1:27 PM ET
Experts point out several warning signs in signature
ESPN.com news services
BOSTON -- Hand-writing experts have told the Boston Herald that Ted Williams' signature on a hand-written document saying he wanted to be frozen after death shows key signs of forgery, and even strong similarities to the signature of his son, John Henry Williams.
"I'm suspect at this stage," autograph authenticator John Reznikoff of University Archives in Westport, Conn., told the Herald. "I would not authenticate it, which is not to say it is a forgery.''
Williams' scrawled signature, along with those of son John Henry and daughter Claudia, appears at the bottom of a handwritten note on a scrap of paper dated Nov. 2, 2000.
"JHW, Claudia and Dad all agree to be put into bio-stasis after we die,'' reads the pact, written with a ballpoint blue pen. "This is what we want, to be able to be together in the future, even if it is only a chance.''
Family attorney Bob Goldman said the note was written in a Gainesville hospital room four days before the Hall of Fame slugger had a pacemaker installed.
Reznikoff said the Ted Williams signature atypically dips and rises, rather than following Williams' characteristic straight line.
The signature by John Henry Williams follows a similar pattern. Reznikoff said both are similar in the "illiam,'' most notably the "ill,'' which slants almost identically. He also said the "a'' is heavily inked, a sign of drawing, while an ink spot between "d'' and "W'' suggests hesitation.
"There is a quality that indicates that the author of the John Henry Williams signature may be the author of the Ted Williams signature,'' Reznikoff told the Herald.
James Bell, a collector of Ted Williams items, told the Herald, "What are the odds Daddy and son would sign the same? . . . I wouldn't buy it.''
Several sources told the Herald that rumors that John Henry was signing his father's signature were common in the memorabilia circles.
Philip Castinetti of Sportsworld in Everett, Mass., told the Herald he was flying to a Florida memorabilia show with John Henry in 1991 when the son bragged of being able to sign his dad's name, and signed a napkin, Castinetti said. "It was identical. You couldn't tell the difference.''
The slugger's three children have been fighting over his remains since he died July 5 at the age of 83. John Henry Williams has had his father's body preserved at a cryonics lab in Arizona, where the dead are frozen in the hope they can be resurrected someday.
Bobby-Jo Williams Ferrell, the half-sister of John Henry and Claudia, wants to retrieve her father's body, cremate it and sprinkle his ashes off Florida's coast, as Williams' will dictates.
The dispute is almost certain to be settled by a judge.