World leaders sign baseballs
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: 950L

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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. It is 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. He lives in Garden City, N.Y.  He is a lifelong collector whose day job is in government affairs for a real estate trade group.
It began almost as a fluke in 1996. That's 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. He signed a ball and Kaplan was on his way.
Through the years, he has collected balls 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. His baseballs, along with bats signed by every living U.S. president, are on display through the presidential election (and the baseball playoffs). They can be seen at Long Island's Cradle of Aviation Museum.
Timely features of the exhibit are signed balls from Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. They share a display case.
Kaplan declined to put a price tag on the collection. He said it reflected countless hours of work. He staked 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 he will write to ambassadors, asking them for signed baseballs.
Pope Francis has not signed a ball. But Kaplan has gotten signatures from about 20 cardinals who may someday ascend to the papacy. He says he does his homework. He has gotten signatures of a country's lower-ranking political officials before they become president or prime minister.
Who remains on his wish list? One is former Cuban President Fidel Castro, a known baseball fanatic. Britain's Prince Charles is another. And Kaplan's holy grail of signed balls is Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"Toughest signature on the planet," he says.

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

  • briannar-pel
    10/24/2016 - 12:16 p.m.

    Baseballs were easy to store autographs on and everyone got a baseball signed so they did it for the world leaders.

  • levih-pel
    10/24/2016 - 12:18 p.m.

    Baseball is a sport that a lot of people play and a baseball is an object that could fit in a small place.

  • odaliss-pel
    10/24/2016 - 12:22 p.m.

    The baseballs could be played from someone.Some other stuff could not be signed because its not famous.

  • haleyf-pel
    10/24/2016 - 12:34 p.m.

    He wanted theme to be on baseballs so he would not lose theme and he said he was not going to sell theme because they mean a lot to him.

  • gavinp-pel
    10/24/2016 - 12:34 p.m.

    "It's been a passion, a labor of love and an obsession," says the 50-year-old Kaplan.

  • emilc-pel
    10/24/2016 - 12:37 p.m.

    Probably the autographs were collected on baseballs because he might of thought that it would be a lot eazier if he collected them on baseballs

  • amariad-pel
    10/24/2016 - 03:22 p.m.

    Baseballs are easier to have auto graphs on.

  • matthewd2-har
    10/24/2016 - 03:27 p.m.

    The autographs were most likely signed on baseballs instead of other objects because he had a passion for the sport, its a small object that dose not take much room, and its a BASEBALL its a thing!

  • yvonneh-pel
    10/24/2016 - 03:39 p.m.

    Randy wanted to show Margret Thatcher and many more leaders what a baseball is.

  • danielm-pel
    10/24/2016 - 03:40 p.m.

    It is a tradtion,it started by a fluke.

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