As a kid, I was really into autographs. I loved the chance of stumbling upon a famous person and stopping them, dead in their tracks, to sign away their given name. I loved smelling the fresh-scrawled ink.
I got both John McEnroe and Jack Kramer’s autographs the same day while they were hitting some tennis balls at the National Tennis Center, in Flushing. Dad clued me in who Kramer was— the great champ. McEnroe, I obviously knew, but wasn’t a big fan. I was more or a Lendl and Wilander disciple, but I took both scribbled papers just the same. For anybody who knows anything about collecting, a paper signature is about the least valuable autograph you can find, unless you nab something really unusual like a personal check, an old contract, a stock certificate or the Declaration of Independence.
I have Andre Agassi’s John Hancock on an index card, Steve Garvey’s on a scorecard, Lenny Dykstra on a bat, Tommy Agee and George Foster on the same first baseman’s mitt, Pete Rose, Brett Saberhagen, Don Mattingly on 8 x 10 glossies, Ricky Henderson, Stan Musial, and Phil Rizzuto on separate balls, Craig Lesley’s book “Sky Fisherman”, Smoking Joe Fraiser on a ticket stub, Charles Schultz on an Illustration, and Lou Ferrigno— the original Incredible Hulk— on a promotional black and white photograph, before the show first aired.
I have many more autographs, but I could go on ad nauseam. I don’t really keep up with it, and yet I am not willing to part with them. Maybe I’m too lazy. Maybe I just don’t want to let go.
It’s a bit moribund appraising these items. Think about it, whatever price they fetch is kind of like saying what a share of their lives are worth. That’s not why I’m not into them now. I’m just not into material possessions as I used to be. And I haven’t gone Buddhist or Trappist Monk. I’m hooked on ideas and possibilities. And so far I haven’t found the material thingamabob that can hold them.
Oops there goes another one.