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It was the summer of 1981.  My family and I were vacationing in Wildwood, New Jersey.  We were staying at the El Coronado Resort.  I noticed that there was a film crew in the pool area.  Phil Esposito and Sugar Ray Leonard were being interviewed.

I immediately ran to the lobby to ask for a piece of paper and a pen.  The woman behind the desk supplied me with my necessary autograph materials.  She knew exactly what this 11-year-old kid was up to.  She smiled as she handed them to me.  “Good luck!”

I was able to achieve Phil Esposito’s autograph that day.  I was not successful with Sugar Ray Leonard, but both athletes made themselves available for photographs with me and my sister.

While attending graduate school at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 1991, I met a friend who was a fan of the opera.  We visited Lincoln Center, and we waited in the parking garage near the stage entrance to meet Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti.  Each tenor autographed my criminal law textbook on separate occasions.

My Placido Domingo autograph (top) and Luciano Pavarotti autograph (bottom).  Both tenors autographed my criminal law textbook in the parking garage at Lincoln Center back in 1991.

As autograph collectors, we often purchase new acquisitions.  We often sell old acquisitions.  Old favorites are often replaced by new favorites.  But we never forget our first.  Who was your first?

Views: 318

Comment by terrier8HOF on July 26, 2022 at 9:23am

Jackie Robinson and Bob Feller, at their 1962 HOF induction

Comment by Steve on July 26, 2022 at 9:57am

For me, it was basketball hall of farmer Bob Lanier.  When he was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks from the Detroit Pistons, the Hall of Fame asked for one of his shoes (largest in NBA history), he gave them one, and he gave me the other and autographed it for me.  Other than that, it was Bob Feller and Mickey Mantle, both in 1979.

Comment by Mike Shepherd on July 26, 2022 at 10:37am

Wow, Terrier!  You never cease to amaze with your personal history of autograph collecting.

Comment by Mike Shepherd on July 26, 2022 at 10:38am

Very cool, Steve!  Thanks for sharing.

Comment by Rich on July 26, 2022 at 11:35am

I *think* it was Jeff Reardon in the early 90s.

Comment by Kai Jones on July 26, 2022 at 11:52am

Willie Nelson. Man, he was stoned to the bone too!

Comment by Jason H on July 26, 2022 at 12:31pm

I love this thread, its cool hearing how people get started.. my 1st technically was a signed pennant at Disney World back in 1985 when I was 5 years old. It was during a meal, people in costumes came around and signed their character names.. I didn't think much of it at the time but now I regret not keeping it.. 

My 1st real autograph was right outside my house in Chicago back in 1991. Rick Sutcliffe of the Cubs was stuck waiting on our side street to cross a busy street. (Specifically Kimball and Berteau) traffic was sometimes backed up over a block long because there was never time to cross in heavy traffic. I had time to run in, grab my stack of Cubs cards and rush back out to him still waiting to cross Kimball.. this would become a huge spot to receive Cubs autographs.. Sandberg, Santo. My friends said Maddux too but I never saw him.. all just for stepping outside my door and waiting after games.. our street was a shortcut to get to the expressway. I also heard Santo owned a bar up the street as well but it was never confirmed because I was 11.. anyways, Chicago decided to put a 4 way stop sign at that corner which moved traffic along too quickly.. that ended to good old days.. I actually had to go to Wrigley if I wanted an autograph after that.. my cousin told me I should start writing letters. I started writing without SASE, just a simple letter asking for an autograph.. my 1st success was Mark grace, he paid for postage on his own and included his own card signed.. 2nd was Harry Caray... after that, I was hooked for life

Comment by Mike Shepherd on July 26, 2022 at 1:33pm

Very nice, Rich.

Comment by Mike Shepherd on July 26, 2022 at 1:40pm

Kai, I was also successful with Willie Nelson.  He autographed my ticket stub outside of the stage entrance to the Beacon Theatre back in 2002.  He was very kind.

Comment by Mike Shepherd on July 26, 2022 at 1:47pm

Jason, you just reminded me of something.  My first autograph was also one that I achieved in Walt Disney World.  The year was 1976.  Mr. Smee!  Great story about the Chicago Cubs.  Thanks for sharing.


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