Saturday, February 27, 2010

Feb. 27 Report: Jim Breech

Jim Breech played in the NFL for 14 seasons, making 243 of 340 field goals (nearly 72 percent), 517 of 539 PATs (nearly 96 percent) and scored a total of 1,246 points.

Breech played for the Raiders (1979) and the Bengals (1980-1992).

His 1,152 points with the Bengals are a team record. He is second all-time scoring in consecutive games with 186 consecutive games, and he was a perfect 9 for 9 in OT field goals, an NFL record.

Breech also played in Super Bowl XVI and Super XXIII, and was perfect in both games, not missing a field goal or extra point in either one. In Super Bowl XXIII, he kicked 3 field goals and scored 10 of Cincinnati's 16 points.

Day of the Year: 58
Number of Autographs This Year: 101

Friday, February 26, 2010

Feb. 26 Report: Brandi Chastain and Bruce Jenner

Today was one of those days where opening the mailbox was a real treat. First of all I received two autographs today, which put me at the 100 mark just two months into the year-long project.

But as exhilarating as that was, I'm always a bit more excited when I see there is one of my golf ball packages awaiting. And inside today's package was a signed Nike golf ball from America's most famous soccer player -- Brandi Chastain.

Not only did she take the time to sign the golf ball, but she sent a letter back talking all about how she has fallen in love with the sport and how she has been working to improve at golf.

She also discusses her favorite courses and where she likes to play. A great golf content letter to go along with the signed golf ball and 3x5 inscribed cards she has sent me previously. What an awesome person she is.

Today must have been a big Olympics day, because in addition to Chastain's signatures I also received a few from Bruce Jenner. Jenner was the gold medalist in the 1976 Olympics in the decathlon, earning him an appearance on a Wheaties box.

Day of the Year: 57
Number of Autographs This Year: 100

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Feb. 25 Report: Jeff Montgomery, Rance Mulliniks, Kyle Clifton and Mike Renfro

Inched a good bit closer today today to hitting the 100-mark for different autographs obtained thus far for the year.

Being ahead of the curve is going to prove terribly important as I've hit the busy time at my day job. Translation is the next few weeks will probably be quiet on the autograph front as I've had no time to send new requests in the last week or so. Maybe I've sent three out in the last 10 days, with little chance for improvement on that in the coming few weeks.

That said maybe I'll still hit 100 before the end of February. Just two more days to do so!

Four different athletes responded today, including my first double success from baseball. Both Jeff Montgomery and Rance Mulliniks were kind enough to sign a few things for my collection.

Montgomery was a fine relief pitcher for the Kansas City Royals. He recorded 304 saves during his career and struck out 733 batters.

In 1990 Montgomery struck out three batters on nine pitches, becoming the ninth AL pitcher and the 23rd overall to accomplish that feat.

Mulliniks, who at one time was a Royal and an Angel, made his name with the Toronto Blue Jays. The Californian played in over 100 games each year for the Blue Jays from 1982-1989.

He batted over .300 in 1984, 1987 and 1988 and was named to SI's Dream Team as a utility infielder in 1984.

Mike Renfro player for 10 seasons in the NFL with the Houston Oilers and the Dallas Cowboys. He caught 323 passes in his career for 4,708 yards, scoring 28 TDs.

Renfro's best game came as a Cowboy in 1987 in a Thanksgiving Day game against the Minnesota Vikings. Renfro pulled in seven of Danny White's passes for 100 yards and three TDs.

Lastly is Kyle Clifton. Clifton followed his college career at TCU by playing for 13 seasons in the NFL. He led the NFL in tackles with 199 in 1988. His career totals are 1,484 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 12 interceptions,and 37 pass deflections.

Day of the Year: 56
Number of Autographs This Year: 98

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Feb. 24 Report: Ken Stabler

The Snake.

Kenny Stabler. The man who earned his nickname in high school after a long, winding touchdown run, was later recruited by Bear Bryant to play football at the University of Alabama and eventually won a Super Bowl in the NFL.

Stabler was a four-time Pro Bowl selection and was named league MVP in 1974. His time with the Raiders was part of a legendary group known as much for their play as for the escapades. Makes you long for the times when the world wasn't so PC.

Great add to the collection from this superstar quarterback.

Day of the Year: 55
Number of Autographs This Year: 94

Monday, February 22, 2010

Feb. 22 Report: Ivan Lendl, Ray Wersching, Casey Martin, Gary Plummer and Roosevelt Leaks

Mondays continue to be my best-performing days. Today I was quite surprised to receive five successes. Surprised because in recent weeks I've had to slow the number of requests I've sent out.

For the same reasons that I've decreased my requests (things are too busy at work) I'm also crunched for time tonight to post all the stories and photos. But I'm hoping to make up for that in the next few days.

In the meantime I can post one photo, so it goes to the Hall of Famer. Ivan Lendl, winner of 8 Grand Slam tennis championships, is now an avid golfer. When I spoke to him he said he would rather be in the golf hall of fame than the tennis hall of fame. You may recall that in this space just over a week ago I noted that Lendl was my 100th request of the year.

I wish they all turned around as quickly as this one did!

Here are images of the other adds for the day.

Day of the Year: 53
Number of Autographs This Year: 93

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Feb. 20 Report: Steve Balboni

I guess baseball is back on the minds of fans and former players alike. After enduring quite a lengthy drought of baseball autographs to start the year, I've added two in three days' time.

The second success comes from Steve Balboni, an 11-year veteran of MLB who hit for power and struck out with power. In 1985 he led the AL with 166 strikeouts but also set the Royals' single-season HR mark with 38.

Balboni was the starting first baseman in the 1985 World Series for the champion Royals. He batted .320 in the series win over the Cards.

Day of the Year: 51
Number of Autographs This Year: 88

Friday, February 19, 2010

Feb. 19 Report: Ray Childress

Today's success comes from former Texas A&M All-American Ray Childress. The native Tennessean was the third overall pick in the 1983 NFL Draft.

His was a multi-faceted defensive end/defensive tackle during his 12-year career with the Houston Oilers and Dallas Cowboys. He performed equally well as a pass rusher and a run stuffer. He was a five-time Pro Bowl selection (he made the Pro Bowl as an end and later as a tackle) who recorded 76.5 sacks during his NFL career.

Day of the Year: 50
Number of Autographs This Year: 87

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Feb. 18 Report: Chris DiMarco, Steve Walsh and Mike Smithson

Well, another first to report today. It only took 49 days of this project to get my first new baseball autograph in hand.

And it comes courtesy of former MLB pitcher Mike Smithson. Smithson played in the bigs from 1982-1989, competing for three different clubs during that span -- Texas Rangers (1982-1983), Minnesota Twins (1984-1987) and the Boston Red Sox (1988-1989).

Smithson, who compiled just a 76-86 record, may be best known for his role in the longest baseball game ever played. The game started on April 18, 1981 and ended on June 23, 1981 and was a minor-league contest between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings.

There is a great account of it here.

Steve Walsh had a great college career at the University of Miami, where he went 23-1 in his two seasons as starting quarterback. He led the Hurricanes to a national title in 1987 and was selected by his former coach, Jimmy Johnson, with the No. 1 pick in the 1989 supplemental draft to play for the Cowboys.

The problem was Dallas also picked Troy Aikman in the 1989 regular draft and we all know how his career went. In all Walsh spent 11 seasons in the NFL playing for six different teams.

His career numbers were 7,875 yards and 40TDs.

And my favorite success of the day comes from Chris DiMarco. The former University of Florida golfer has had an excellent PGA Tour career thus far. He's won several events, was the star of the winning U.S. Presidents Cup team in 2005 and has played in the Ryder Cup as well.

If it weren't for a guy named Woods, DiMarco would also have a Masters and British Open title to his credit.

Very pleased to add another former UF golfer to my collection. Just a few more to go!!

Day of the Year: 49
Number of Autographs This Year: 86

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Feb. 16 Report: Mike Hartenstine, Benny Barnes, Sean Landeta and Teemu Selanne

With no U.S. mail service on Monday due to the Presidents' Day holiday, I guess Tuesday was ripe for a few successes.

Though I also officially have my first failure. Bernie Kosar kept the two cards I sent him to sign and in their place sent a letter back saying he wants $20 to sign one autograph. No thanks Bernie. Call me old school, but I just have a hard time swallowing an athlete -- in particular a modern day star who made millions -- asking his fans for money to sign his name.

So I'm done with him and onto people who don't have a hard time giving a few seconds, literally, to their fans to write their name.

Mike Hartenstine, a former All-American at Penn State who was a second-round pick in the 1975 NFL Draft, spent most of his career with the Chicago Bears (1975-1986) and was a member of the Super Bowl XX winning team.

Not that Bernie is counting or anything, but Mr. Hartenstine actually took the time to sign three cards for me. That's probably 30 seconds of his time. If you're Bernie that adds up to about $20,000 for an 8-hour workday.

Bennie Barnes helped Stanford win two Rose Bowls in 1970 and 1971 before being signed by the Dallas Cowboys in 1972.

Barnes played cornerback for the Cowboys from 1972-1982 and helped them win Super Bowl XII. He had 11 interceptions in his career.

Mr. Barnes signed (gasp Bernie) two items for me to help me fill in two of my Cowboys 1980s team sets. And he didn't even charge 20 cents!

Sean Landeta played most of his career with the New York Giants, where he helped the team to Super Bowl XXI and XXV wins. Landeta led the NFL with a 37.8 net average in 1989, and led the league with 24 punts inside the 20 in 1990.

By the end of the 2005 season, Landeta had amassed 1,401 punts for 60,707 yards (43.3 yards per punt average), with 381 punts in the 20 and 166 touchbacks and a 35.3 net yard average. His punts, punting yards, and punts landing inside the 20 are all among the NFL's top five leaders in each category.

Landeta was the last active NFL player who played in the USFL for the Philadelphia Stars. On March 6, 2008, the 25th anniversary of the first USFL game, Landeta officially announced his retirement from football. He became the last USFL player to retire from professional football.

Don't tell Bernie, but Mr. Landeta signed two cards me too. And he even included his own card as the second autograph. And he didn't charge me for the card, either.

And this one ought to really get Bernie's attention. A possible future Hall of Famer (definitely not talking about Bernie) in Teemu Selanne returned a pair of cards to me today as well. And he, too, sent a second card of his own to me signed. And you guessed it, he didn't charge me for the autograph or the extra card.

Now we're talking about a guy who as I write this ranks 18th all-time in regular-season goals and in the top 15 or so in just about every category that has to do with goals. Good to know some people still appreciate their fans -- even if they do make millions of dollars today.

Day of the Year: 47
Number of Autographs This Year: 83

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Feb. 13 Report: Brian Baschnagel and John Dutton

Today marked the 100th request of the year I have sent out in my 2010 autograph campaign. Just for the record that request was to Ivan Lendl, the tennis Hall of Famer turned golf nut. Hopefully in this space in a few weeks I will be able to report that success as I add another signed golf ball to my collection.

I all I sent six different requests today since there will be no mail tomorrow or Monday for the Presidents' Day holiday.

In exchange for those six, the post office returned two of my previous requests today, both from former NFL players I watched growing up. First up is former Chicago Bears wide receiver Brian Baschnagel.

Baschnagel played for the Bears from 1976-1984, where he caught 134 passes for 2,024 yards -- an average of more than 15 per reception.

Prior to being the Bears' third-round pick in 1976, Baschnagel was a two-time Academic All-American at Ohio State.

Today's other success was from former Dallas Cowboys defensive end John Dutton. Slowly I seem to be filling in my Cowboys team set from 1980.

Dutton was the fifth overall pick out of Nebraska in 1974. He spent five years with the Baltimore Colts before joining the Cowboys (1979-1987). He made three consecutive Pro Bowls beginning in 1975, when he had 17 sacks for the Colts.

In 1980 Dutton was a part of one of the most formidable defenses in NFL history, playing alongside Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Randy White and Harvey Martin.

Day of the Year: 44
Number of Autographs This Year: 79

Friday, February 12, 2010

Feb. 12 Report: Ian Baker-Finch, Mark Price and Ozzie Newsome

Thankfully the streak I started yesterday was short-lived.

Today I follow up yesterday's shutout with a hat trick. Though oddly enough none of today's adds were from the hockey world. Instead I've added a major championship winner, a Pro Football Hall of Famer and a former NBA All-Star.

First up is Ian Baker-Finch. The Aussie won golf's oldest major championship, The Open, in 1991. Golf fans today recognize him from his announcing work, where he is highly regarded from his honesty and analysis, not to mention for being a great gentleman. I sent this card to his house and he obviously took it on the road with him, signed it and, according to the postmark, mailed it from Pebble Beach, where the PGA Tour is playing this week.

He was kind enough to add my requested inscription of "Open Champion 1991" to the card.

Going from the green to the gridiron, I added another Ozzie Newsome autograph to my collection. I've actually met Ozzie twice over the years and he has previously signed an 8x10 and a card for me, but this time I mailed him his 1983 Topps Sticker card as I try to complete that set. He, too , added an inscription, this time his HOF year.

"The Wizard of Oz" caught 662 passes at the tight end position, which made him the Browns' all-time leading receiver at that position. Those catches were good for 7,980 yards and 47 TDs.

Newsome caught at least one pass in 150 consecutive games, was All-Pro in 1979 and 1984 and was named to three Pro Bowls.

Lastly is the addition of Mark Price, a four-time NBA All-Star. Price was one of the league's most reliable shooters. His career ended with a 90.4 percent free throw shooting percentage and 40 percent three-point shooter.

Day of the Year: 43
Number of Autographs This Year: 77

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Feb. 11 Report: A Record Breaker

Unfortunately the title of today's entry does not come with a positive connotation. The record of 21 consecutive mailing days that I've received at least one autograph comes to an end.

Certainly a bummer, but not a shocker. As all of us sports fans know, all streaks eventually come to an end. I'm thrilled to note below that I am still well ahead of pace for obtaining 365 different autographs during this calendar year.

And, once again, I have the opportunity to begin another streak tomorrow.

Day of the Year: 42
Number of Autographs This Year: 74

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Feb. 10 Report: Ken Venturi

Nine days ago I sat down and wrote a very sincere letter to the 1964 U.S. Open champion, Ken Venturi. This man won perhaps the most grueling test of golf -- his country's national open championship -- in what is likely the most grueling conditions ever. The 100-plus degree heat and humidity over the 36-hole finale was almost more than one could take.

Venturi nearly passed out, but somehow managed to finish the tournament with a doctor in tow, claiming his first major championship.

Venturi has been nothing but class his entire career -- including his captaining of the Presidents Cup team and his decades in the announcer's booth.

I was not disappointed in my expectations of what this gentleman embodied. Not only did he take the time to sign my golf ball and card, but he also took the time to write me a nice response letter back. Oh, and he also included, in his words, "a little extra" something and signed one of his own personal items and sent that to me as well.

Overall a very nice day with this addition. Something for my Presidents Cup collection, Ryder Cup collection and U.S. Open collection.

Day of the Year: 41
Number of Autographs This Year: 74

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Feb. 9 Report: Fred Hawkins

Just a single update today, but one I'm happy with nevertheless. A little-known golfer who began playing the professional circuit in the 1940s, and continued playing on the Senior Tour through the early 1990s.

Fred Hawkins made the 1957 Ryder Cup team, and my instinct is he is likely America's oldest living Ryder Cup player. The 1956 Oklahoma City Open winner will turn 87 this year.

Definitely glad I was able to track him down and make this addition to my Ryder Cup autograph collection.

Day of the Year: 40
Number of Autographs This Year: 73

Monday, February 8, 2010

Feb. 8 Report: Ken Anderson, Billy Sims, Rodney Holman, Tony Mandarich and Eugene Lockhart

Mondays always seem to be pretty good days for me, and this Monday was no exception. Five football successes, including one of the very first I sent out in late 2009 to prep for this project of getting An Autograph A Day in 2010 (365 different through the course of the year).

To my amazement I still have had no success in my baseball attempts, which is 0-for-9 for the record. It's kind of perplexing considering every other category has multiple success -- football, basketball, hockey, Olympians, entertainers, models, etc.

The fun part about this project is there is always tomorrow -- at least through the end of December.

Enough of that, so let's get to the autographs.

Former Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson was one of the first attempts I made for this project, and it was returned today about six weeks later. He played his entire career for the Bengals (1971-1986), where he passed for nearly 33,000 yards, was a four-time Pro Bowl selection and was league MVP in 1981.

My second add today comes from former Oklahoma running back Billy Sims. Sims won the Heisman Trophy in 1978 and was the first overall draft pick in the 1980 NFL Draft. He played brilliantly in '80, '81 and '82, making the Pro Bowl each year. He had a career average of 4.5 yards per carry (5,106 yards on 1,131 rushes) midway through the 1984 season, when he suffered a career-ending knee injury.

Sims was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1995.

Rodney Holman was perhaps the best overall tight end in the league for a few years, where he combined brilliant pass-catching abilities with his usual stellar blocking efforts. He made three consecutive Pro Bowls beginning in 1988 and was a part of the Bengals' AFC Championship team that played in Super Bowl XXIII.

IN his 14-year career, Holman amassed 365 receptions, good for 4,771 yards and 36 TDs. Those numbers are still some of the best in Bengals history.

Eugene Lockhart was one of the few points of hope on some very bad Dallas Cowboys teams in the late 1980s.

In 1989, when the club went 1-15, Lockhart led the NFL and set a Cowboys record with 222 tackles. He added a pair of picks and set a franchise mark with 154 solo tackles. He was named to the Pro Bowl for his efforts.

Coincidentally, Lockhart replaced Bob Breunig (whose autograph I got on Jan. 19) at middle linebacker after Breunig hurt his back partway through the 1984 season and ultimately retired in 1985.

The final autograph of the day comes from one of the biggest busts in NFL draft history, but a man who has found another discipline in life in which he is very good.

Tony Mandarich was perhaps the most-hyped offensive lineman in NFL history coming out of Michigan State. He was drafted second overall in the 1989 NFL Draft -- ahead of Barry Sanders and Derrick Thomas.

Needless to say, he bombed in the NFL but has become a very talented photographer. I'm a semi-pro photographer, so I can certainly appreciate the efforts that go into some of Tony's work. Some really striking images if you take the time to look through his work.

Day of the Year: 39
Number of Autographs This Year: 72

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Feb. 6 Report: Rich Camarillo and Tom Rafferty

Well the football successes continue to roll in and I'm again happy to add to my 1980s Dallas Cowboys team set project.

The latest comes courtesy of guard Tom Rafferty (he didn't switch to the center position until 1981) who played with the Cowboys from 1976-1989. That span allows him to say he is the only offensive lineman to block for both Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman!

Prior to coming to Dallas, Rafferty was an All-American for Joe Paterno's Penn State team.

My second addition today is that of five-time Pro Bowl punter Rich Camarillo. Only Ray Guy has appeared in more Pro Bowls as a punter than Camarillo.

Camarillo played for 16 season in the NFL and led the league in punting in both 1985 and 1994. He owns NFL records for highest net average in a season (39.6 yards) and for yards per punt (44.5) in postseason play.

Day of the Year: 37
Number of Autographs This Year: 67

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Sad Note Today

A post that is a bit off topic, but one I feel compelled to make. I just learned of the passing of Bullet Bill Dudley, a Pro Football Hall of Famer and a gentleman who was warm, sincere and humble. A true legend with common man approachability.

One of his quotes from his HOF induction goes as follows: "[football was] great today, it was great years ago when it was first started here in Canton, and it’ll be greater tomorrow.” I hope anyone who was not familiar with him will take a moment to learn about his impact.

I truly appreciate the role he had in making the game great.

It seems like only yesterday -- though it was Feb. 24, 1994 to be exact -- that Bullet Bill was signing things for me and was as gracious as about any I've come across in my 5,000-plus autograph encounters.

I'll toast him tonight

Feb. 5 Report: Andre Reed and John Outlaw

Another pair of successes today, both from the world of football.

Very happy in particular with the addition of Andre Reed to my collection. Without a doubt a player who will one day join the ranks of the NFL's other elite receivers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Reed was nothing short of being among the most dominant ever to play his position, and he played in an era of other great receivers -- Art Monk, Michael Irvin, Tim Brown, Jerry Rice, Cris Carter and Jerry Rice. One day all of those guys will be enshrined, and I'm happy to say Reed signed a pair of cards for me, one of which can be seen here.

The second addition today goes back a few years prior, particularly to the 1970s when I was really growing up on football. John Outlaw was an unheralded defensive back out of Jackson State (the same school that produced Walter Payton and Jimmy Smith) whose unrelenting work ethic made him a star on Philadelphia Eagles teams that decade. He had five interceptions in 1975 and was a co-team leader in that category.

Day of the Year: 36
Number of Autographs This Year: 65

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Feb. 4 Report: Misty May and D.D. Lewis

Well as a new blog friend, Autographed Cards, noted yesterday there have been no baseball additions to my collection thus far this year. Unfortunately I'm still batting .000 in this category, but one of today's successes gives me hope that there will soon be a baseball success to report.

I say that because one of the first autograph requests I sent out late last year -- -and my first attempts included at least one from most every major sport including baseball -- came back today.

Two-time Olympics beach volleyball gold medalist Misty May returned my photo today, personalized, signed and inscribed! Certainly makes it worth the wait -- plus it gives me renewed hope on the baseball front.

I also received another addition to my 1980s Dallas Cowboys collection today in the form of D.D. Lewis. Lewis is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and is one of just a few players who have competed in five different Super Bowls. Certainly a very steady performer in his decade-plus career with "America's Team".

Day of the Year: 35
Number of Autographs This Year: 63

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

February 3 Report: Mike Cofer

For the third day in a row I've managed to hit the title of this blog (An Autograph A Day), this time securing the signature of Mike Cofer (LB).

Mike Cofer, the linebacker (so as to not be confused with Mike Cofer the kicker), was a former University of Tennessee player who was drafted in the third round of the 1983 NFL draft.

He had a solid career with the Detroit Lions for the better part of a decade. He totaled 62.5 sacks from 1983-1993.

Day of the Year: 34
Number of Autographs This Year: 61

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

February 2 Report -- Jan Stenerud

A great Hall of Fame add today from the only pure kicker ever enshrined in Canton -- Jan Stenerud. Stenerud was a revolutionary in the AFL, becoming one of the first soccer-style kickers in the league and he made a whopping 70 percent of his field goals there, while the league average was 53 percent.

Stenerud played in Super Bowl IV and helped the Chiefs win by making three field goals.

Day of the Year: 33
Number of Autographs This Year: 60

Monday, February 1, 2010

February 1 Report: Kendall Gill

One of the very first autograph requests I sent out in late December 2009 to get this project underway arrived today. It took just over a month to be returned, but the arrival of Kendall Gill gives me 13 consecutive mailing days in which I've had at least one success.

Gill was the fifth overall pick in the 1990 NBA Draft and he went on to score nearly 13,000 points, accumulated almost 3,000 assists and had just over 4,000 rebounds during his career.

Day of the Year: 32
Number of Autographs This Year: 59