Wednesday, April 29, 2009

John Randle and Lawrence Taylor

I was not planning to do anything much this weekend as I was just getting over a bad cold. However, I saw in the newspaper that former Viking great and future Pro Football Hall of Famer John Randle would be appearing at the grand opening of the new Northern Tool and Equipment in Minnetonka.

I have kept my autographed football card collecting mostly to Vikings from their Super Bowl teams, but I do have a few of my favorite Pro Football HOFers. Since John Randle was favorite of mine when he played, and he will eventually getting in the HOF, plus he was signing for free, I decide to take the long trek down to Minnetonka.

I arrived to find a smaller than expected crowd. That was fine as it meant I did not have to stand in line long. John Randle is a friendly man who had no problems using my pen to sign my card. He signed the card very nice. He added “Vikes” underneath his name. Some players add inscriptions like that under their names. The inscriptions span the gamut of things from Bible passages to HOF inductions years, to inspirational sayings. I don’t mind players adding the inscriptions as long as they are good and clearly legible.

Thank you John Randle for taking the time to sign my card so nicely, and treating all the fans including myself well!

Former Viking linebacker Ed MacDaniel was there too. He was an unannounced guest, so I did not have one of his cards along to sign. He was gracious about it, noting “they pulled me in at the last second”. He was enjoyable to talk with.

I had paid Chuck Foreman $10 at Twinsfest 2009 to sign a card of his. He was very friendly and engaging. He took the time to sign my card very nicely and he included his jersey number (44) and a 73 ROY inscription to note he was the 1973 NFL Rookie of the Year.

I mention the above because Chuck Foreman was signing with John Randle on Saturday. I brought along a couple of Chuck Foreman cards for him to sign since he was going to be there. I would have been better off leaving the cards at home. Chuck was unfriendly, refused to talk to most people; in fact he refused to look at most people. He also signed people’s stuff very badly. He did not write out his name like he did for me at Twinsfest, and I could barely make out the number #44. It looked more like a couple of lines than two fours.

I am not sure what motivated such behavior from Chuck. I assumed Northern Tool and Equipment was paying him to appear, so I assume he was getting some cash just like when I paid him at Twinsfest. Perhaps he was not feeling well, or simply would rather have been at home asleep. Not everyone can be nice all the time.

I hate to make any judgments, but the fact was as I watched other people’s reactions to their interactions with Chuck, he was not coming off looking very good. John Randle meanwhile was leaving a good impression with people.
One thing I have learned in collecting autographed cards in the mail and in person is that a lot success is based on timing. Catch a player at the right time; you can get a good autograph. Catch a player at the wrong time; you can get a bad autograph or no autograph at all.

Well on Saturday my timing with John Randle was great. Thanks again Mr. Randle!

Lawrence Taylor

Lawrence Taylor is perhaps the greatest defensive football player ever. This HOFer, 8 time 1st Team All-Pro, and one of only two defensive players to win MVP (former Viking Alan Page is the other), redefined the linebacker positions. He also led the New York Giants to their first two ever Super Bowl victories.

I had sent a football card to Mr. Taylor via the Pro Football HOF last year. I had seen other folks had sent to Mr. Taylor that way and received their card back signed nicely by this living legend. Well, I sent and nothing came back for a long time. Then I found out Mr. Taylor was competing on Dancing with the Stars. I did not know Mr. Taylor was a dancer, and I guess he wasn’t as he was recently eliminated from the competition. With new found time on his hands Mr. Taylor must figured he had better get to his mail.

It is always exciting to begin to see returns coming in from a player you sent to. I began to see many returns from Mr. Taylor, but had not yet received my card back. There is always that thought that goes through your mind “what if he decides not sign mine; or what if mine get lost or damaged in the mail.” Well after seemingly everyone else got him back, my signed card from Mr. Taylor arrived.

It is always a great feeling to receive a signed card from an iconic figure like Mr. Taylor. Thank you Lawrence Taylor!

Lawrence Taylor now joins Fran Tarkenton, Alan Page, Paul Krause, Ron Yary, Randall McDaniel, Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach, Bob Griese, Earl Campbell, Ozzie Newsome, and Bruce Matthews as HOF football players who have signed for me. For the record Page, Krause, and Yary require $ donations for autographs. Mr. Page and Mr. Krause use their donations to fund foundations that help others.
I am not thrill to spend too much money on Football HOFers, so we will see how many more I try to get. However, it is great to have the ones I have gotten so far.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Random Thoughts - Twins, Ex -Vikings, TTM

The Minnesota Twins opened their 27th and last season in the Metrodome Monday night. I have attended hundreds of Twins games at the dome and have many great memories. I hope to make at least one more trip down to the dome to see a Twins game. It will be bitter sweat to say goodbye to an old friend like the dome. Still I prefer to watch baseball outdoors. Yes, it will be near impossible to get a ticket to see the Twins at Target Field next year, but I figure once those trendy fair weather fans get a taste of the weather for April games, I will have my choice of seats come April 2011.

Last Saturday I attended the TCSCC sports card show. There was a good crowd and lots of dealers. The main attraction was an autograph signing by former Vikings Clint Jones, Sammy White, and John Gilliam. I was not into Clint Jones, and it appeared very few other people were as well. Sammy White and John Gilliam drew a bigger crowd. I paid for both White and Gilliam autographs. Both of them looked in good shape. Gilliam told me he was 64. Wow, it seems only like a few years ago I was watching play for the Vikings. In reality it has been over 30 years since he last played for the Vikings.

White made the mistake of wearing a Grambling shirt. Sammy went to Grambling, so that is why he wore the shirt. What he did not realize was everyone would see that big gold “G” on his shirt and assume it was for the Green Bay Packers. Well, he caught a lot of grief. Luckily it was all in jest. They both seemed like nice guys. Of course they were being paid to be there, but I have meet guys in the same situation act like jerks. Both seemed please not only to make some bucks, but chat with fans who remembered their glory days.

Bad news regarding my collecting autographs through the mail hobby (TTM). I saw several returns from A. J. Pierzinski coming from the White Sox spring training home of Phoenix/Glendale, AZ. This pleased me because I had sent to A.J. too. Well, I got one of those mail recovery envelops Tuesday. These are the envelops the Postal Service put damaged mail in. Well in it was one of my SASEs - one with a Phoenix, AZ post mark on it. I knew it was my A.J. card. Only there was no card. The SASE had been ripped in half. No card, only a key in the envelop. A key for what I have no idea. Evidently the Postal Service thought the key was in my SASE. So no card and a key I don’t need. I was not happy, but there is not much I can do except send to A.J. again and hope he signs again for me.

Thursday provide better news. I received a return from Will Clark. When Clark broke in with the Giants in 1986 it looked like he was a sure bet Hall of Famer. In fact his career with the Giants was very good. Unfortunately he went to Texas as free agent in 1994. Injuries followed and Clark never put up the big career numbers needed for the HOF. Still he was a 6 time All-Star and was MVP of the 1989 NLCS. I had sent to Will two other times and gotten no response, but the third time was the charm.

Will Clark’s nickname was “The Thrill”. Well it was a thrill got get Will to sign my baseball card. Thank you Will Clark!