GARDEN CITY, N.Y. — 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’s a quirky melding of memorabilia and history that has resulted in more than 200 autographs from presidents, prime ministers, two kings and the Dalai Lama.
Kaplan sometimes gets signatures by staking out world leaders on visits to the United Nations. He also goes to book signings or public events. Other times, he networks with friends through his business, or writes to ambassadors asking for signed balls.
The balls are on display at the Cradle of Aviation Museum on Long Island, an exhibit that coincides with the baseball playoffs and the closing weeks of the presidential election.