Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve loved collecting things. I assure you, there’s no hoarding going on here. My collections freely come and go. If a collection stops being fun, it’s off to a new home for someone else to enjoy. My earliest collections include bottle caps, license plates, stamps, marbles, rocks, baseball cards and comics. As I grew older, I started acquiring vinyl albums, old beer cans, sports memorabilia, even more comics and autographs. Each and every item I’ve collected has been shuffled off to a new owner. The only exception is a hand full of autographed items, each accompanied with great memories. Here are a few of my favorites.
Autographs are special. I don’t buy autographs from dealers. Most were acquired in person and a few were gifted to me. The first autograph I ever received was obtained on the day I was born. My great-aunt and uncle were at a Milwaukee Brewers baseball game. They went down to the field and got a player by the name of Pete Broberg to sign a ball for me. Pete inscribed the ball with the following. “Dear Adam, I hope you find your Eve someday. Pete Broberg.” Pretty special right? Unfortunately, teenage Adam used the baseball for battling practice and left it on the ground where the dog finished it off. Even though I don’t have it, I’ll still never forget it.
Like most of my school chums, I was heavily into baseball cards. I so desperately wanted to get a few of my favorites autographed. I remember tracking down the mailing addresses for all the ballparks. This was no easy task during the pre-internet days. It was like I had discovered a map leading to a treasure chest of autographs. I spent an entire summer stuffing envelopes full of baseball cards, each accompanied with a letter that went something like this. “My name is Adam. I am 11 years old. I am the biggest fan of the (insert team name here). My favorite player is (insert player name here). It would be really cool if (player) could sign these cards. I’ve included a self-addressed stamped envelope so you can return them to me. Thank you very much. Go (team name)!” I actually got a few back and they were autographed! Most contained my non-autographed cards and a form letter thanking me for being a fan of (insert team name). Certainly was a memorable summer for me.
My wife and I spent an afternoon at the old ballpark on the first day of our honeymoon. We wanted to commemorate our trip with a unique keepsake. There was a vendor that sold handmade wooden baseball bats. We had the bat engraved with our last name and our wedding date. That bat accompanied us to many baseball games where it was autographed by several of our favorite players. The autographs aren’t worth very much, but that was never the point. I will always have vivid memories of waiting in long lines, gathering the courage to ask for a signature and experiencing the sheer joy of interacting with the players.
Not every autograph has sentimental value. Some are just plain funny. For instance, I have an Alice Cooper signature on a golf scorecard. It reads, “To Dumbhead Adam, Your Pal Alice Cooper”. My great-grandmother also collected autographs. One of her favorites ended up in our collection when she passed. It’s an old black and white photo of a gentlemen named Durward Kirby. Mr. Kirby was a television host and announcer in the 1950s and 60s. The photo is signed, “Yours for romance, Durward Kirby”. I can only imagine my great-grandmother being overjoyed when she received that one.
My collection of autographs is a collection of great memories. There are more autograph-seeking adventures to be had and more autograph-seeking memories to be made. I look forward to them all.