Westport Resident Tries to Unthaw Fate of Ted Williams’ Body

Rob Sullivan, Fairfield Minuteman - 8/8/2002
As the body of one of the greatest players in the history of baseball lies in a frozen state and millions of fans and admirers follow the developments, a Westport resident may hold the key that will unthaw the process.

John Reznikoff of Westport is the owner of University Archives on Richmondville Avenue in Westport and one of the world’s foremost authorities on autograph authentication. During the last week, his expertise in the field caused him to receive a great deal of attention from national news organizations.

“I’m schedule to go on CNN shortly,” said Reznikoff, who is on a short list of experts that are routinely contacted by the media.

Reznikoff has not been called to testify in the Williams case, but the possibility remains open.

The ultimate disposition of Williams’ body has made headlines recently, as the slugger’s three children have gone to court to settle the dispute. John Henry Williams and Claudia Williams have argued that their father desired to be cryogenically preserved, while older sister Bobbi Jo maintains her father wanted to be cremated and have his ashes spread across the Florida Keys. Williams’ body is now frozen and in an Arizona laboratory, and jurists will decide whether he remains that way.

Williams outlined his desire to be cremated in a 1995 will, but his children John Henry and Claudia have produced a note allegedly dated Nov. 2, 2000 expressing the “Splendid Splinter’s” wish to be frozen until a cure for his chronic heart condition can be found.

Reznikoff has been frequently asked his opinion of the validation of Ted Williams’ signature on the note, and the Wesport expert is not ready to pronounce the signature as authentic.

“Based on what I’ve seen I cannot authenticate the signature, but nor could I call it inauthentic,” he said.

The note was written on the eve of Ted Williams’ heart surgery in 2000 and reads: “JHW, Claudia and Dad all agree to be put in biostasis after we die. This is what we want. To be able to be together in the future, even if it is only a chance.”

The note is signed by all three, but Reznikoff is unwilling to attest to its validity.

“In my opinion, the Ted Williams signature is very close to the John Henry Williams signature,” Reznikoff said. Reznikoff suggested the two signatures may have been authored by the same hand.

Reznikoff is widely recognized as one of the top experts in the autograph authentication. University Archives was founded in 1979 and Reznikoff has been busy as his calling ever since.

He was employed by the U.S. Postal Service in a sting operation in 1985, and has testified in a number of high profile cases in recent years. Besides testifying for the Justice Department, Reznikoff testified on behalf of former boxer Joey Giardello against Universal Studios, successfully arguing the movie “The Hurricaine” defamed Giardello’s reputation. He has also testified on behalf of George Puckett V, authenticated checks from Charles A. Lindbergh used to purchase the Spirit of St. Louis, and appraised Westport resident A.E. Hotchner’s collection of Ernest Hemingway’s papers.