As mentioned in a previous column, recent Heisman Trophy candidates can be tough autographs to acquire. This year, I’m having good luck with several of the best college players in the nation, including two that have been mentioned predominantly in the Heisman Trophy debate: Colt McCoy and Graham
Last year, many eyes were on Hawaii’s dynamic quarterback Colt Brennan. This year, Brennan’s college days are over (he’s riding the pine for the NFL’s Washington Redskins) and Daniel “Colt” McCoy is the new colt on campus. “The Real McCoy,” as some refer to him, is a three-year starter for the Texas Longhorns and is a dual threat through the air and on the ground. Texas only has one loss on its record (to its in-state rival) Texas Tech and fellow Heisman candidate Graham Harrell. McCoy signed a picture I sent to the Texas Athletic Department.
Harrell calls the signals for the Texas Tech Red Raiders and is in the last year of his four-year run. The Red Raiders only loss this year is to Oklahoma. Harrell has always been near the top or at the top of passing yards during his tenure, and this continues to be the case during his senior seminar he holds once a week on the college gridiron. Harrell signed in care of the Texas Tech Athletic Department.
I have requests out to Tim Tebow of Florida and Sam Bradford of Oklahoma, but no such luck yet. Tebow has been a tough autograph since his Heisman win last year, and I haven’t heard of many successes from Bradford. Two of four isn’t bad for a Heisman chase in 2008.
On my weekly thrift-store circuit, I usually spend a significant amount of time looking at the books. I like to read a lot of suspense novels and also come across quite a few sports books. I have found many signed sports autobiographies over the years but last week was a first. I purchased a hardcover sports book that contains famous quotes from many of the best pro players in all the major sports. One of my favorite quotes in the book is from Pete Rose who once said, “I would walk through hell in a gasoline suit to play baseball.” Typical Pete, no one loved to play the game of baseball more. It’s too bad his gambling and ego continue to overshadow his accomplishments.
Inside the book, tucked inside the cover was a signed picture of Brooks Robinson! I couldn’t believe it. Someone donated the book, never realizing that this autograph was along for the ride. It’s absolute dumb luck that I picked up this book, because the Orioles are my favorite baseball team and Brooks has always been my favorite player. He was the first pro player I met when I was 15 years old, and once you meet Brooks, you never forget him. Robinson was one of the best third baseman of all time, and probably an even better person. The picture is his Hall of Fame photo that lists his stats and date of induction. I bet this autograph has been hiding in this book since 1983. It has a few stains on it but the autograph is perfect, and this is a great addition to my collection.
Brooks is one of the best in-person guests according to many promoters. I have met him at public signings two or three times and he makes it seem like he’s there to meet you, not the other way around. For his entire career and many years following, Brooks was also one of the best through-the-mail signers. Now all his signings go through my favorite card store in Baltimore called the Dugout Zone. Brooks makes several in-store appearances at the store throughout the year to conduct signings, and collectors can mail in their own items as well. Brooks’ fees are very reasonable. According to his official website, www.brooksrobinson.com, cards are $30, balls or pictures are $35 and deluxe items such as jerseys or bats are $55.
Another thrift store search, another success. This time it was “Mr. Hockey,” Gordie Howe who, along with his wife Colleen, signed his book “And Howe.” For a buck, I would have bought the book anyway. I’ll trade a dollar for a signed cut of “Mr. Hockey” any time. I’ll probably trim the signature out and mount it with a one of his cards because it’s a small signature. What can you say about Gordie Howe? He played until he was in his 50s and is always mentioned as one of the best. Howe owns two important six-packs – he won six Hart Trophies as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player, and six Art Ross Trophies as the league’s leading scorer. Gordie turned 80 years old this year and was recognized with the NHL’s first Lifetime Achievement Award. The word “legend” doesn’t do Howe justice. SCM