Saturday, January 30, 2010

January 30: Doug Ford, Anna Kournikova, Justin Leonard and Jimmy Cefalo

Suffice it to say that I am once again addicted to the autograph collecting hobby. One of the highlights of every day now is checking the mail to see who has responded to my requests.

The mailman was late today, so that gave me the extra time to write five requests today, but more fun than that is it was worth the wait for the postman to come.

I'll start off with a great autograph for a gentleman who should most definitely be in the World Golf Hall of Fame. That is one Doug Ford, a two-time major winner and a staple on Ryder Cup teams from the mid-1950s through 1961.

He was kind enough to sign both a Ryder Cup photo and a Masters logo golf ball. A terrific add to my Masters ball and Ryder Cup collections. Not to mention I now have him before he officially becomes a HOF member.

Staying with the golf theme was a quick turnaround from PGA Tour star and 1999 U.S. Ryder Cup hero Justin Leonard. I had saved a logo ball from the 1999 Matches for more than a decade and it finally paid off. To have Leonard's signature on this ball is a must-have for the Ryder Cup collection. He is responsible for probably the most famous shot in Ryder Cup history!

Thirdly I am quite pleased to say that Anna Kournikova was a gracious signer as always. The tennis star and supermodel signed a pair of photos for me to add to my collection. Definitely shots that will find their way into a frame and will have a place on the wall. In fact I may frame her photo along with that of Natalie Gulbis for a tremendously easy to look at frame!

The fourth and final addition to my ever-growing collection was that of former Miami Dolphins receiver Jimmy Cefalo. The Penn State grad played for six season with the Dolphins and is perhaps most well remembered for his 1984 catch of a Dan Marino pass that broke the record for most touchdown passes in a season.

Day of the Year: 30
Number of Autographs This Year: 58

Friday, January 29, 2010

January 29 Report: Mary Lou Retton, Steve Grogan and Tracy Murray

The successes keep streaming in, well ahead of any expectations I had when I sent out this quest to re-new a hobby of mine that dates back to the 1970s.

Amazingly I am almost on pace to hit two autographs per day through the first month of the year. Of course I expect any day now that the return level will come way down, but today there were three successes awaiting my arrival.

First is the autograph of a young lady who really captured the heart of a nation in 1984 and whose performance was really one of the defining moments of that decade. Of course I am referring to the great Olympic gymnast, Mary Lou Retton.

If you're going to have a collection of Olympic autographs, you can't have a collection without Retton's signature.

The second success was from long-time New England Patriots quarterback Steve Grogan. He passed for nearly 27,000 yards in his NFL career. In 1976 he had 12 rushing touchdowns, an NFL record for quarterbacks. Grogan really put the Patriots on the playoff map as their experience prior was barely blip.

Lastly I received the signature of former UCLA basketball standout Tracy Murray. Murray averaged more than 18 points per game for the Bruins before leaving after his junior season to play in the NBA. He was a No. 1 draft choice and played for six different teams during his NBA career (1992-2003).

Day of the Year: 29
Number of Autographs This Year: 54

Thursday, January 28, 2010

January 28 Report: Jim McMahon, Bruce Armstrong, Scott Norwood, Walt Williams, Brad Daugherty and Hersey Hawkins

From this point forward I'm expecting no more than 1 or 2 autographs per day s I've gotten past the initial blitz to see how my mailing campaign would fare. I've been stunned so far with the results, so it was really surprising to receive six different successes today.

Ill start with a cool add to my NFL and Golf collection, all in one. Jim McMahon, a former All-American at BYU, quarterbacked the Chicago Bears for many years, most notably during the 1985 season when the Bears won Super Bowl XX.

McMahon is definitely a free spirit, and one who has taken to golf perhaps more avidly than he did in football. He regularly plays in his bare feet and is great fun with his fans at the celebrity tour events.

So I asked him to sign a golf ball for me, which he did and he even inscribed it as follows, "To Mark Hit Em Straight Jim McMahon 9 SBXX".

Keeping in the football field, I also added the signature of one of the most dominant offensive linemen of his era, Bruce Armstrong. Armstrong was named to six Pro Bowls during his 15-year career with the New England Patriots.

Definitely a No. 1 pick who lived up to his expectations.

Staying in the AFC East, we move just a bit over to Buffalo where kicker Scott Norwood agreed to sign for me as well. The former James Madison University player was one of the last USFL holdovers who played in the NFL. Norwood kicked for the Birmingham Stallions in 1983 and 1984 before catching on with the Bills in 1985, where he eventually became the club's all-time leading scorer.

The other three successes come from the NBA, which is without a doubt the weakest section of my present sports autograph collection. Basketball has never really been "my sport", but I still appreciate the talent and dedication it takes to make it to the highest level in your field of athletics.

That said, I've added the signatures of Walt Williams, Brad Daugherty and Hersey Hawkins to my ever-growing collection.

Williams was a No. 1 draft pick out of Maryland, who essentially helped bring the school's hoops program back from the dead in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He played 11 seasons in the NBA with six different teams and scored nearly 8,400 points in his career.

Daugherty followed a great career at the University of North Carolina by being the overall No. 1 draft choice in the 1986 NBA Draft. He was an All-Rookie first teamer who went on the be a five-time All-Star. Sadly his career was cut short by a back injury, but he still had over 10,000 points, 5,200 rebounds and more than 2,000 steals.

Lastly Hersey Hawkins put his signature on a few cards for me as well. Hawkins was a No. 1 draft pick in 1988 who played for 14 season in the NBA. During that time he scores 14,470 points.

Day of the Year: 28
Number of Autographs This Year: 51

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

January 27 Report: Lee Roy Selmon

Great success today from the Tampa Bay Bucs' first-ever draft choice who turned out to be a Pro Football Hall of Famer.

Lee Roy Selmon, who won the Outland Trophy and the Lombardi Award while at the University of Oklahoma, signed a poster I had held on to since about 1980.

Selmon is the most talented player to have payed in Tampa and certainly for anyone growing up watching football in the 1970s, he's the face of the Bucs' franchise.

Day of the Year: 27
Number of Autographs This Year: 45

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

January 26 Report: Natalie Gulbis

Even driving up to my house today I thought the mailbox looked better than usual. As soon as I opened it and saw an envelope postmarked in Nevada I knew exactly why it looked so great -- Natalie Gulbis was waiting in my mailbox (or at least autographed pictures of her).

This LPGA star and Solheim Cup champion signed a stunner of a picture for me. I'm pretty sure this one will find a way into a frame and a spot on my wall. She's truly beautiful and talented.

Golf definitely has the most genuine players of any sport.

Day of the Year: 26
Number of Autographs This Year: 44

Monday, January 25, 2010

January 25 Report: Greg Landry, Doug Dieken, Haven Moses, Little Jimmy Dickens, Mariel Zagunis and Hal Sutton

Another day of awesome successes today. Cramped for time tonight, but can't let this project get too far behind or I'll never get unburied.

Quickly, I received autographs today from former Lions QB Greg Landry, former Browns tackle Doug Dieken, and former Broncos star Haven Moses.

Three additional non-football successes as well. I received a quick turnaround from Country Music Hall of Famer Little Jimmy Dickens and two-time Olympic gold medalist Mariel Zagunis.

Lastly, and my favorite of the day and probably one of my favorites all year, was a 2000 Players Championship pin flag signed by Hal Sutton. I was there at the TPC Sawgrass to watch Sutton's performance -- easily the gutsiest one I've ever witnessed in person.

Who can forget Sutton urging his shot to "be the right club today!" as he held off Tiger Woods for perhaps THE signature win of his career.

Day of the Year: 25
Number of Autographs This Year: 43

Saturday, January 23, 2010

January 23 Report: Billy Maxwell, Tony Galbreath and Neil Lomax

Had been wondering the last week or so about whether Billy Maxwell would respond to my autograph request. Since he lives just across town I figured I hear back from him pretty promptly, and today I was rewarded quite nicely.

I had made a custom 4X6 print from an image I had taken of the Ryder Cup and had put his name and Ryder Cup year on it. (I've done the same for several other Ryder Cuppers). Not only did he sign and return two of those prints, but he also included 2 other Pro Set golf cards of his own. How awesome is that??

I had two additional successes today -- that of former NFL quarterback Neil Lomax and former running back Tony Galbreath.

Galbreath played for more than a decade with several teams, and was on the Super Bowl XXI winning Giants team.

Lomax had a brilliant career at small Portland State (he held 90 NCAA records when he left there) before being drafted in the second round of the 1981 draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. He passed for more than 22,000 yards in the NFL and was twice selected for the Pro Bowl.

Day of the Year: 23
Number of Autographs This Year: 37

Friday, January 22, 2010

January 22 Report: Tommy Aaron and Dan Majerle

Back-to-back days of great apparel adds to the collection. Right on the heels of the Brett Hull jersey comes the return of my University of Florida Golf Shirt. I've been working on getting all the former UF golfers who have played on the PGA Tour to sign this one shirt. To date all of the signatures have come in-person, but I deviated for Mr. Aaron since he doesn't have much of a playing schedule anymore.

I wrote him several weeks back and asked him for permission to send him this shirt to add his signature to. He replied with a letter telling me he'd be glad to sign the shirt. So I sent it and he added his autograph in black Sharpie like all the others.

This was a must-have signature as he was the man who put the UF program on the map!

I also received back today several cards signed by former Phoenix Suns star Dan Majerle. Majerle is one of the best signers out there and truly a man who is great to his fans.

Day of the Year: 22
Number of Autographs This Year: 34

Thursday, January 21, 2010

January 21 Report: Brett Hull

Without a doubt my favorite success to date. The reason I started watching hockey back in the early 1990s was because of Brett Hull with the St. Louis Blues. Way back then I got a Blues jersey and recently got it to Brett to sign.

He did an awesome job of signing it right on the front in blue Sharpie with his number 16, just as I asked.

It's great when someone you've admired for so long turns out to be such a great guy. This will soon be framed and hanging next to my other jerseys. Awesome addition!!

Day of the Year: 21
Number of Autographs This Year: 32

January 20 Report: Johnny Rembert

A quick return today from a former New England Patriot. Johnny Rembert, who lives nearby and is the athletic director at Ed Waters College at present, signed a pair of football cards.

Rembert was a two-time Pro Bowl linebacker in 1989 and 1990 and played in Super Bowl XX.

Day of the Year: 20
Number of Autographs This Year: 31

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

January 19 Report: Lynda Carter, Van Eeghen, Fritsch, Breunig, Mark Moseley, Blair Thomas, Bennie Blades, Robert Parish, B.J. Armstrong and Trafton

Wow! My hopes were more than met today when I flipped open the mailbox. A total of 10 successes today, which really moved me ahead of my autograph-a-day quest for 2010. This is a new record for me in a single day, which I'll need to remember on the days when the mailbox is barren.

A mixed bag today, including one from an actress, an Olympic gold medalist, a few basketball and quite a few of my favorite collection, football.

First up is a photo of an original Roberto Campus digital drawing of Wonder Woman. I was blown away by Roberto's work when I first saw it and I'm loving having this item signed by Lynda Carter. Carter, of course, is most well known for her role of Wonder Woman in the 1970s, and she was Miss World USA in 1972. Thrilled with this addition to my collection!

Also in today's mail were the signatures of several former NFL players I enjoyed watching in the 1970s and 1980s -- a period that was so formative in my love of football and sports in general.

A special nod goes out to former Raider Mark Van Eeghen. I sent him three different cards and a total of 5 if you count duplicates. I offered him the duplicate cards to keep for himself, and he wrote a nice letter back saying he took me up on my offer and kept one. He signed the four others and sent them back to me. What an awesome guy Mark is! Here's one of the cards he signed.

Other NFL players from that era who returned signed cards to me today were Ted Fritsch, the former center for the Atlanta Falcons and Washington Redskins ...

Bob Breunig, another member of "my team" growing up, the Dallas Cowboys ...

and Mark Moseley, the only kicker to ever be named NFL MVP. Moseley added the NFL MVP inscription to his card, which I requested. Great add!

Fast forward a few years and you'll recognize the great Penn State running back Blair Thomas. Thomas was a member of the Nittany Lions' 1986 National Championship team and was the second overall pick in 1990, though a series of injuries kept him from fulfilling his NFL promise. Nevertheless, a great college football player and one I have wanted for a long time.

Bennie Blades is another standout college player who won a National Championship while at Miami in 1987. He was also a winner of th eJim Thorpe Award and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

The lone Hall of Fame autograph that arrived today was that of former Boston Celtic Robert Parish.

B.J. Armstrong, the former Chicago Bull, also signed a card for me.

Lastly, 2008 Olympic gold medalist in the discus, Stephanie Brown Trafton was generous with here time too as she signed a 3x5 index card I can use for framing with a photograph later.

Today has really gotten me pumped on how awesome this year is going to be with this project to look forward to every day when I come home. Hope you enjoy following along.

Day of the Year: 19
Number of Autographs This Year: 30

Monday, January 18, 2010

January 18 Report

Another holiday for the USPS so it's been two days since the mail has run. Hopefully that means Tuesday's delivery will be packed with a few extra surprises.

I'm taking some free time tonight to go after a few music legends, Charlie Daniels and Little Jimmy Dickens. I haven't added music autographs to my collection since I had John Arch sign all the Fates Warning album covers -- which still rank among my favorite signatures ever.

Day of the Year: 18
Number of Autographs This Year: 20

Sunday, January 17, 2010

January 17 Report

Going to spend a few hours watching NFL Playoff games today and writing a few autograph requests while I do. Hopefully in a few weeks some of today's requests will turn into successes.

Among the autographs I'm requesting today are Anna Kournikova, Justin Leonard, Steve Bartkowski and Steve Grogan.

We'll see who responds first!!!

Day of the Year: 17
Number of Autographs This Year: 20

Saturday, January 16, 2010

January 16 Report: Mike Gminski

Managed to hit the one-a-day goal today, scoring an add to my basketball autograph collection. Mike Gminski, the former No. 1 pick out of Duke, was kind enough to sign a few cards for me.

At the time of Gminski's graduation from Duke he was the school's all-time leader in points, rebounds and blocked shots. He was named as one of the ACC's greatest 50 players in 2002.

In the NBA Gminski scored nearly 11,000 points, had almost 6,500 rebounds and was just shy of 1,000 blocks.

Day of the Year: 16
Number of Autographs This Year: 20

Friday, January 15, 2010

January 15 Report

After a big day yesterday, I'm blanked today. What can you say, other than you win sometimes and you lose sometimes.

Still slightly ahead of schedule, however, on my quest to get 365 autographs in a calendar year.

Day of the Year: 15
Number of Autographs This Year: 19

January 14 Report: Louis Oliver, Jim Hart, Deron Cherry, Kevin Butler and Mike Rozier

It's early in the year, but I set a new personal record for the number of successes in a single day. Five former NFL players returned signed cards today so I've made up some ground in case I need it in the coming days/weeks/months as I steam toward adding 365 autographs to my collection in 2010.

First up is former University of Florida standout and first-round draft pick by the Miami Dolphins, Louis Oliver. I watched many games at Florida Field while Oliver was a Gator and I'm thrilled to add this to my growing Gator Collection.

Next up is Jim Hart, who had an excellent career in the NFL from 1966-1984. Especially considering was not drafted out of Southern Illinois and ended up passing for nearly 35,000 yards and was a four-time Pro Bowl selection.

A great link back to my earliest days watching football and the most defining period in my young football life. Judging from my collection this was the first significant year of card collecting and I'm happy ot add this 1979 Topps card to my collection.

I was a big Chiefs fan from 1989 on, primarily because my favorite college player, Derrick Thomas, was drafted by them and I was in need of a new team as the new ownership in Dallas unceremoniously got rid of my childhood icon, Tom Landry. So this add from former Chief great Deron Cherry is most welcome. The Chiefs had some great defenses and this free safety was an anchor all his career. 50 interceptions and six Pro Bowls are a few of his achievements.

Thanks Deron!!

The day's fourth success came from former University of Georgia and Chicago Bears kicker Kevin Butler. Funny thing looking at this card is he was erroneously listed as a Punter on the front of the card.

He played with the Bears from 1985-1995 and finished his career with the Arizona Cardinals. He retired as the Bears' all-time leading scorer with 1,116 points.

Lastly I've added Mike Rozier's autograph to my collection. Rozier, of course, was the Heisman Trophy winner in 1983. He played in the NFL and the USFL and he was gracious enough to sign this 3x5 index card I can add to my Heisman collection.

Day of the Year: 14
Number of Autographs This Year: 19

January 13 Report: Anna Tunnicliffe

Received a beautifully signed and inscribed photograph today from Olympian Anna Tunnicliffe. She won the gold medal in the 2008 Games in Beijing for the Laser Radial (sailing). Very nice success from my second Olympian this year.

Day of the Year: 13
Number of Autographs This Year: 14

January 12 Report

The streak of five consecutive mailing days with an autograph comes to an end. No new additions to the project/collection today.

Day of the Year: 12
Number of Autographs This Year: 13

January 11 Report: Gary Fencik, Joe Ferguson and Jeff Lageman

Today marks a streak of 5 consecutive mailing days where I have some success to report. Two of these three former NFL players competed in the 1970s and the other was most prominent in the 1990s.

First we have the former Chicago Bears safety Gary Fencik, whio played 12 seasons for the team and retired as their leading tackler and interceptor. He was part of the victorious team that played in Super Bowl XX and he was named to two Pro Bowls, proving the Yale grad could play football as well.

Joe Ferguson was a standout at the University of Arkansas where he was the Southwest Conference Player of the Year before being drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the third round of the 1973 draft.

During his NFL career, which spanned from 1973-1990, Ferguson passed for nearly 30,000 yards. I was saddened to hear that in recent years he has battled both leukemia and cancer. Thankfully this appears to be in remission. We'll keep Joe and his family in my prayers so that there is not another medical issue as significant as those two in his future.

Lastly today we have Jeff Lageman, the former University of Virginia standout who, despite his size, made a fine career in the NFL as a linebacker. First for the New York Jets, who drafted him in the first round of the 1989 draft, then later for the upstart Jacksonville Jaguars franchise.

Day of the Year: 11
Number of Autographs This Year: 13

January 10 Report

Sunday=No Successes. At least after 10 days I can say I'm on track to make the one autograph per day goal. Long way 'til the end of December however, so I'm not getting overly confident.

Day of the Year: 10
Number of Autographs This Year: 10

January 9 Report: Catherine Zeta Jones, Chris Hanburger and Rick Mirer

Glad to report three successes for the third day in a row today, two of them football and the other is my first actress addition of the year.

Ladies first I suppose, so here is Catherine Zeta-Jones. The stunning actress from Wales was performing at the Walter Kerr Theater in New York when she signed this program from her performance in "A Little Night Music".

She's an avid golf nut and I was hoping to get her to autograph a golf ball for me, but she instead opted for this program. Still very happy with this success from a beautiful and talented leading lady.

Alongside the Zeta-Jones signature came that of two former football players. One was more successful than the other on the professional level, but a nice add nonetheless.

Chris Hanburger was one of the finest linebackers of his day back in the 1960s and 1970s. Somehow he's managed to be overlooked for Pro Football Hall of Fame consideration to date, but he's certainly got some impressive stats. He was an All-Pro four times and was selected to nine Pro Bowls in his career. He amassed 19 interceptions and was a feared competitor who earned the nickname The Hangman because of his clothesline tackles.

Truly one of the greatest Washington Redskins of all time - and there's been some serious quality there over the years.

The third in my trio of successes today came from former Notre Dame quarterback Rick Mirer. He was brilliant in college but a bit of a disappointment in the NFL. My worst memory of Mirer was when he led Notre Dame against Florida in the 1992 Sugar Bowl. My former school (UF) was trounced by Notre Dame and RB Jerome Bettis was a one-man wrecking crew. That game stung a bit as you can still tell.

That sour memory aside, I'm still happy to add a great NCAA autograph to my collection.

Day of the Year: 9
Number of Autographs This Year: 10

January 8 Report: Bobby Humphrey, Paul Tagliabue and Brandi Chastain

Added a field goal to my autograph a day quest today. For the second day in a row I received three successes, one from a former football player, another from an administrator and the third from an Olympian.

The first was Bobby Humphrey, the brilliant running back from the University of Alabama who was a two-time All-American.

As an NFL rookie he rushed for more than 1,100 yards in 1989 and played in Super Bowl XXIV for the Denver Broncos. He played in the Pro Bowl in 1990 when he rushed for more than 1,200 yards.

Paul Tagliabue, the former NFL Commissioner who presided over the league from 1989-2005, also responded to my request. Football fans will remember Tagliabue for a number of reasons -- the expansion of the league, revenue sharing and no lockouts or strikes during his tenure and a strict substance abuse policy are all parts of his legacy. He made an indelible impact on the game so many Americans enjoy today.

Time will tell how Roger Goodell will be viewed as Tagliabue's successor.

The third autograph obtained today is from Brandi Chastain. She probably has the most memorable Sports Illustrated cover (not to mention Time and Newsweek) of the last few decades, appearing sans shirt and in her sports bra after shedding the shirt in the 1999 Women's World Cup following her winning goal.

Chastain has also won two Olympic Gold medals to date for her soccer play, first at the 1996 Games in Atlanta and then at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece. In addition to signing her name, she also added several inscriptions, which can be seen here.

Great successes today!

Day of the Year: 8
Number of Autographs This Year: 7